Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The journals have been filled with loud complaints of the cruelty with which the Spanish authorities treated the Contoy prisoners while they detained them in custody. There is not a word of truth in these complaints, as the good plight of the prisoners when landed in the United States amply proves. They were well treated, and no unusual or unnecessary severity was exercised against them, - no further severity than that of guarding against their escape, and their intercourse with their sympathizers or accomplices. We are well aware that the mass of the American people, believing all the falsehoods and retaining all the prejudices of their ancestors current in the days of Queen Elizabeth, are prepared to credit any absurd tale of Spanish cruelty that any idle vagabond chooses to invent; but this much is to be said of our countrymen, that they are probably unrivalled in the facility of believing every thing - except the truth. No people can surpass them in their ability to believe falsehood without evidence, or to reject truth though supported by evidence complete and irrefragable. It is one of their titles to the admiration of the philosophers of the nineteenth century.

We are not the apologists of Spain ; but we may say this much for her, that no nation has been more maligned, and no national character more vilely traduced, than the Spanish. There is no nobler blood in Europe than the brave old Castilian, and a more elevated or virtuous peasantry than the Spanish is not to be found in the whole world. Time was, and not long since, when Spain was the freest country in Europe, worthy even of all admiration for her noble political institutions. She was, at no distant date, the ruling European nation, surpassing in grandeur and power all that Great Britain now claims to be. Domestic dissensions, fomented by foreign influences, foreign and civil wars, French invasion, French philosophism, English protection, radicalism, rebellion, revolution, and the terrible struggle for her very national existence against the colossal power of Napoleon, in the zenith of his pride and his strength, have for the moment reduced her from her former relative position among European nations, and induced many in both hemispheres to forget the gratitude that is due her for her eminent services and eminent sacrifices to the cause of religion and European and American civilization ; but she is still a living and a noble nation, with a recuperative energy in her population to be found in no other population in Europe, and lowly as she lies at this moment to the eye of the superficial spectator, she has in her all the elements of her former greatness, and before her a long and glorious future. She has still a believing heart, a loyal soul, and an inbred reverence for religion and morality. The spoiler's work is wellnigh finished, and the infidel and sacrilegious revolutionary storm has wellnigh spent its fury, and the day draweth nigh for her to put off her garments of sorrow, and to put on her robes of joy and gladness. She has had, no doubt, her faults, and will have them again, but as to her cruelty it is mildness itself in comparison with the tender mercies of the renowned Anglo-Saxon, who, after twelve hundred years of culture, seems still to cherish in his heart the habits and tastes of his piratical ancestors.

But our failure in the discharge of our duty to Spain extends farther than we have stated. Cuba, in consequence of our remissness and inefficiency, is still in danger of piratical attacks from our citizens, or at least of their attempts, in concert with disaffected Cubans, to get up a democratic revolution in the island, and involve it in the horrors of civil war.

Spain has been put to great trouble and expense in defending that island from our machinations, which it was our duty to have spared her, and she is obliged to continue her armament and defences on the war footing, and that to defend her province from the hostile invasions of the subjects of a government which professes to be at peace with her. This is not an endurable state of things. Does it comport with our honor as a nation to suffer it to continue ? Have we not the will and the power to restrain our lawless citizens, and to compel them to respect the rights and the property of a friendly power? Are we reduced either to the moral or physical necessity of compelling nations with whom we have treaties of peace and amity to arm themselves to the teeth, and everywhere keep watch and ward against the depredations of our American citizens and subjects? We would fain hope not, and we look with confidence to the new administration to take efficient measures to reassure Spain, to indemnify her for the wrongs she has suffered in consequence of our remissness, and to relieve her from the necessity of keeping up any extra garrison in Cuba to protect her possession of that island from the aggressions of persons subject to the government of the United States. We have full condence that, in the hands of the present Secretary of State, the errors and blunders of his predecessor will be repaired, and that our foreign relations will be managed with wisdom and enNEW SERIES. - VOL. IV, NO. IV.

65

ergy, with jealous regard to the rights and feelings of other nations, and to the dignity and honor of our own.

We hope, too, that our citizens will participate in the reaction against wild and lawless democracy, or Red Republicanism, which appears to have commenced in the Old World ; and that, remembering that justice exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to any people, they will retrace their steps, and return to the wholesome principles embodied in their fundamental institutions. It is time for them to pay less attention to the acquisition of territory, and more to the acquisition and maintenance of national honor. We have, morally considered, fallen to a fearful depth, but we have not fallen so low that we cannot, if we choose, rise again. We have prided ourselves on our institutions, and have claimed to be a model republic. We are not, as a people, wholly insensible to the opinions of the civilized world, and we wish all nations to admire our political institutions, and to model their own after them. This is all laudable enough. But we cannot expect them to do it, unless we retrace our steps, and show that we ourselves adhere to the principles of our institutions, and are governed by them.

Hitherto republicanism in the Old World has been associated in the minds of intelligent and honest people with barbarism, the absence of public and private virtue, contempt of religion, disregard of the most sacred obligations and relations, the loss of personal freedom, war on the Church, on morality, on property, on the family, and on society itself. It should have been ours to have proved by our example that this is only an accidental character of republicanism, and that a people may be republican, may dispense with kings and lords, without lapsing into barbarism or interrupting the progress of Christian civilization, - that such a people may be cultivated and moral, refined and religious, free and loyal, respecting the rights of God as well as the rights of man, preserving the sanctity of marriage, and the integrity of the family, respecting the rights of property, the rights of sovereignty, and the independence of nations, and maintaining peace and order under the reign of law. This should have been our mission, but we have been recreant to it; we have been latterly identifying republicanism with democracy, and American democracy with the European, and doing our best to prove by our example, that in all lands democracy degenerates into license, becomes immoral, irreligious, and aggressive. We have been furnishing kings and aristocrats with strong arguments against republicanism, and in

0 favor of their system of government. Instead of aiding the emancipation of the oppressed of other lands, we have given their masters new reasons for withholding from them those sranchises we so highly esteem, and have double riveted the chains of the slave. The Christian world may well exclaim, in view of our example for the last twenty years, “God save the king ! for if licentious and despotic kings are bad, licentious and aggressive democracies are worse.”

We are for ourselves neither monarchists nor aristocrats, but according to the best of our knowledge and ability a loyal American citizen ; yet we cannot shut our eyes to the dangerous and utterly immoral and dishonorable career upon which the American people to a fearful extent have entered. It is difficult, it may be too late, to arrest them ; but as one of the people, as one who yields to no man in his love of his country, and attachment to her government, we assure them that they will never secure true freedom and prosperity in the way they have thus far sought them. If they value national honor, if they love liberty, they must return to the recognition of law, the obligations of morality, and the duty of religious faith and worship. No nation can recede from law without falling into anarchy, or depart from God without precipitating itself into hell. All is not gold that glitters. All change is not improvement. All motion is not progress, and every novelty is not a conquest from the domain of truth. Let our citizens meditate these commonplaces, and form a more just estimate of themselves. They have territory enough, — quite too much; they have room for all the virtuous expansion of which they are capable ; let them learn to be content with what they have, and that it is as base to steal a province from a neighbouring state, as it is to pick a neighbour's pocket, or to steal bis sheep.

We have taken no notice of what is said about the tyranny with which Spain governs Cuba, for we have no authority to supervise her internal administration, and are bound to treat her as an independent and a Christian nation. We must annul our treaty with her before we can put her out of the pale of civilized nations, and we must put her out of that pale before we can have any right to supervise or interfere with her treatment of her own subjects. But what is said about Spanish tyranny and oppression in her colonies is all unfounded. Spain does not oppress and never has oppressed her colonial subjects, and Cuba would have far less real freedom as a democracy, than she enjoys as a province of the Spanish monarchy. So it was said that the other American colonies of Spain were oppressed, and as far back as Jefferson's residence in Paris as the minister of the American confederacy, intrigues were begun with us to convert them into independent republics. We need only to compare what they are now with what they were under Spain, to comprehend the value of assertions as to Spanish tyranny and oppression. Let us leave Red Republican cant, learn to be just and honorable, and labor to secure liberty at bome. . So shall we best promote freedom abroad.

ART. V.- Conversations of an Old Man with his Young

Friends. No. IV.

C. NotwITHSTANDING all you say, your doctrine is distasteful, humiliating, and repugnant to the natural instincts and aspirations of the human heart.

B. No doubt of it. But is that to its reproach, or to yours?

C. How can you expect us to embrace a doctrine repugnant to our feelings and tastes, that contradicts our natural tendencies and aspirations ?

B. I do not expect you to embrace it by a natural predilection, and it is certain that you cannot embrace it without the grace of God moving and assisting you to do so.

Z. But is it not a sufficient condemnation of a religion, that it is contrary to our nature, above our natural strength, and can be embraced only by violence to our nature ?

B. If our nature were sufficient of itself to attain the end for which its Maker bas intended it, and if it had not fallen and become corrupt and enfeebled, perhaps so.

W. Surely our nature is all that God has made it, and it would be unjust on his part to demand of it what it is not able to do.

B. That all may be, and yet God may justly appoint us to a destiny above our natural reach, because he may provide us with graces and helps above our natural powers adequate to its attainment. And in this he would show himself, not only just, but superabounding in goodness. In our nature he has promised us only the good to which that nature by its own powers is adequate. But in the order of grace he provides something better, a far higher good for us, and furnishes us with sufficient

« AnteriorContinuar »