Slike strani
PDF
ePub

will of its new sovereigo, do what it could not do before. It contains, of course, no adequate and certain provision against even the perpetuity of the dilemma, which it creates. If, therefore, a civil society is not competent, when in entire possession of the sovereignty, to enter into such promises to the members of other societies, as necessity or convenience may require, and to remain Unanswerable for the breach of them, into whatsoever shape the society may ultimately be cast, or in whatsoever hands the government may ultimately fall; if a sovereign, entirely in possession, is not able, for that reason alone, to incur a just responsibility in his political or corporate character to the citizens of other countries, and to transmit that responsibility, even, to those, who succeed him by displacing bim, it will be difficult to show, that the moral capacity of a civil society is any thing but a name, or the responsibility of sovereigns any thing but a shadow. And here the undersigned will take the liberty to suggest that it is scarcely for the interest of sovereigns to inculcate as a maxim, that their lost dominions can only be recovered at the expense of the unoffending citizen of states in amity, or, which is equivalent to it, to make that recovery the practical consummation of intermediate injustice, by utterly extinguishing the hope of indemnity and, even, the title to demand it.

" The undersigned will now, for the sake of perspicuity and precision, recall to the recollection of his Excellency the Marquess di Circello the situation of the government of Murat at the epoch of the confiscations in question. Whatever might be the origin or foundation of that government, it had for some time been established. It had obtained such obedience as, in such times, was customary, and had manifested itself, not only by active internal exertions of legislative and executive powers, but by important external transactions with old and indisputably regular governments. It bad been (as long afterwards it continued to be) recognised by the greatest potentates as one of the European family of states, and had interchanged with them ambassadors and other public mipisters and consuls. And Great Britain by an order in council of the 26th April 1809, which modified the system of constructive blockade, promulgated by the orders of November 1807, had excepted the Neapolitan territories with other portions of Italy from the operation of that system, that neutrals might no longer be prevented from trading with them.”

• The wrong, which the government of Murat inflicted upon American citizens, wanted nothing, that might give to it atrocity or effect as a robbery, introduced by treachery ; but, however pernicious or execrable, it was still reparable. It left in the sufferers and their nation a right, which was not likely to be forgotten or abandoned, of seeking and obtaining ample redress, not from Murat simply, (who individually was lost in the sovereign) but from the government of the country, whose power he abused. By what course of argument can it be proved, that the incontestable right, from which that government could never have escaped, has been destroyed by the reaccession of his Sicilian Majesty, after a long interval, to the sovereignty of the same territories ?

“That such a result cannot in any degree be inferred from the misconduct of the American claimants is certain ; for no misconduct is imputable to them. They were warranted in every view of the public law of Europe in holding commercial communication with Naples, in the predicament in which they found it, and in trusting to the direct and authentic assurances, which the government of the place affected to throw over them as a shield against every danger. Their shipments were strictly within the terms of those assurances, and nothing was done by the shippers or their agents, by which the benefit of them might be lost or impaired.

66 From what other source can such a result be drawn? Will it be said, that the proceeds of these confiscations were not applied to public purposes during the sovereignty of Murat, or that they produced no public advantages with reference, to which the present government ought to be liable? The answer to such a sug. gestion is, that let the fact be as it may, it can have no influence upon the subject. It is enough, that the confiscations themselves and the promise of safety, which they violated, were acts of state, proceeding from him, who was then and for several successive years the sovereign. The derivative liability of the present government reposes, not upon the good either public or private, which may have been the fruit of such a revolting exhibition of power, emancipated from all the restraints of principle, but upon the general foundation, which the undersigned has already had the honour

to expose.

" To follow the proceeds of these spoliations into the public treasury, and thence to all the uses to which they were finally made subservient, can be no part of the duty of the American claimant. It is a task, which he has no means of performing, and which, if performed by others, could neither strengthen his case por enfeeble it.

And it may confidently be insisted not only that he has no concern with the particular application of these proceeds, but that, even, if he had, he would be authorized to rely upon the presumption, that they were applied as public money to public ends, or left in the public coffers. It must be remembered, moreover, that whatever may have been the destiny of these unhallowed spoils, they cannot well have failed to be instrumental in meliorating the condition of the country. They afforded extraordinary pecuniary means, which, as far as they extended, must have saved it from augmentation of its burdens, or, by relieving the ordinary revenue, made that revenue adequate to various improvements either of use or beauty, which, otherwise, it could not have accomplished. The territories, therefore, under the sway of Murat must be supposed to have returned to his Sicilian Majesty less exhausted, more embellished and more prosperous, than if the property of American citizens had not, in the mean time, been sacrificed to cupidity and cunning. It must further be remembered, that a part of that property was notoriously devoted to the public service. Some of the vessels, seized by orders of Murat were, on account of their excellent construction, converted into vessels of war, and as such commissioned by the goveroment; and the undersigned is informed, that they are now in the possession of the officers of his Sicilian Majesty, and used and claimed as belonging to him."

This letter, after some delay, was answered by the Marquess di Circello, though Mr. Pinkney had at the time left Naples for St. Petersburg. We shall give some extracts from the reply, and the reader will perceive, that the Neapolitan government have declared themselves, by no means, responsible for these demands. In this position, they have gone one step beyond any other European state.

6 The demand of Mr. Pinkney would not be, on this account, the less invalid, since the confiscation and sale of the American vessels and cargoes were acts, which proceeded directly from the power and from the will of Bonaparte. There exists, in fact, in the arcbives of the treasury a report of the minister, Agar, who presided over that department in 1809, addressed to Murat, who was then at Paris.

" The minister relates in this report, that two American ships had arrived at Naples, one from Salem, the other last from Algiers, laden with colonial produce, and that the necessary orders had been given to put the same under sequestration, conformably to the directions, antecedently issued from higher authority, with respect to the other vessels, arrived at Naples before the departure of Murat for Paris.

“ He proceeds then .to point out the great benefit, which the treasury would derive from opening the market to the colonial produce lying on board those ships, or in the custom house of Naples, by the duties, which would be collected upon the sale of it, and upon the export the oils which the Americans would take as return cargoes.

“ The minister remarks, in fine, that the confiscation itself of the American vessels and cargoes was but an inconsiderable resource, compared with the very great advantage, which would bave resulted to the treasury from an active American trade, could it have been tolerated in the ports of the kingdom.

66 Murat did not deem himself authorized to decide in any way, and submitted the report to his brother in law Napoleon, who decreed in margin, that the vessels and cargoes should be confiscated, because the embargo laid in the ports of the United States induced bim to believe, that the produce must be British property, and its introduction into the continent a breach, therefore, of the too famous Berlin and Milan decrees.

-“ Murat then, let it be repeated, was but the passive instrument of the will of Bonaparte in the confiscation of the American ships, and if this could give birth to responsibility, such responsibility should no longer be imputed to the country, over which he reigned, and still less to the government, which has there resumed its lawful authority.

66 The other and not less important consequence is, that the treasury, which was the fund of the State, never enjoyed the proceeds of the confiscations, and that, instead of being employed to alleviate the burdens of the people, or applied to the improvement or embellishment of the country, as is supposed in the note of the 26th of August, those proceeds only served to feed the caprices and the oriental pomp of the family of Murat and his adherents."

No further measures have been adopted in regard to the Neapolitan claim.

CHAPTER VIII.

RELATIONS WITH PORTUGAL,

Trade in Mediterranean, exposed to Barbary cruisers, first led to diplomatic intercourseHumphreys sent to Lisbon in '91–Freire to this country-Legation suspended in 1801-Smith in '97— Portugal, small possessions in Europe-Brazil, an empire-In time of Pombal, court had design of going therePortuguese, maritime people-Court prepared to leave Europe in 18024 Finally sailed in 1807, for Rio, just as French were entering Lisbon-Coronation of Don Pedro in BrazilThe first in the New WorldRelations with Portugal-Sumpter and Grahain ministers-Privateers-Correa de Serra-Dearborn appointed to Lisbon-Commercial treaty-Attempts a negotiation-Treaty with England and state of kingdom delay it-Ultra royal revolution in Portugal - England and Holy Alliance untagonists— Dearborn's account of Don Miguel's revolt and submission-Singular transaction-Obtains permission to return to United States Offer of box with brilliantsBrent, Chargé-Constancio and Pereira Portuguese Chargés.

The state of our commerce in the Mediterranean, first led to a diplomatic intercourse with Portugal. The circumstances of alliances, boundaries and original claims have conferred a peculiar character and uncommon importance upon all the relations, both of the confederation and the present government, with France, Spain and England. And though Portugal fell within the limits of the European trade, allowed by the mother country, we are not aware that the commerce of that nation, or its situation, or any other consideration, presented motives to a correspondence, which were not common to nearly all the European states. But the war, in which Portugal was engaged with Algiers in the early part of President Washington's administration, suggested the expediency of sending a minister to that court.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »