A citizen of America to the Citizens of Europe

Of the Present State of Europe, and the Confederacy

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Of the Present State of Europe, and the Confederacy

In the first place the Confederacy is not of that kind that forms itself originally by concert and consent. It has been forced together by chance - a heterogeneous mass, held only by the accident of the moment; and the instant that accident ceases to operate, the parties will retire to their former rivalships.

I will now, independently of the impractica- [begin page 106] bility of a partition project, trace out some of the embarrassments which will arise among the confederated parties; for it is contrary to the interest of a majority of them that such a project should succeed.

To understand this part of the subject it is necessary, in the first place, to cast an eye over the map of Europe, and observe the geographical situation of the several parts of the Confederacy; for however strongly the passionate politics of the moment may operate, the politics that arise from geographical situation are the most certain, and will in all cases finally prevail.

The world has been long amused with what is called the β€œbalance of power.” But it is not upon armies only that this balance depends. Armies have but a small circle of action. Their progress is slow and limited. But when we take maritime power into the calculation, the scale extends universally. It comprehends all the interests connected with commerce.

The two great maritime powers are England and France. Destroy either of those, and the balance of naval power is destroyed. The whole world of commerce that passes on the ocean would then lie at the mercy of the other, and the ports of any nation in Europe might be blocked up. [begin page 107]

The geographical situation of those two maritime powers comes next under consideration.

Each of them occupies one entire side of the channel from the straits of Dover and Calais to the opening into the Atlantic. The commerce of all the Northern nations, from Holland to Russia, must pass the straits of Dover and Calais, and along the Channel, to arrive at the Atlantic.

This being the case, the systematical politics of all the nations, northward of the straits of Dover and Calais, can be ascertained from their geographical situation; for it is necessary to the safety of their commerce that the two sides of the Channel, either in whole or in part, should not be in the possession either of England or France.

While one nation possesses the whole of one side and the other nation the other side, the northern nations cannot help seeing that in any situation of things their commerce will always find protection on one side or the other. It may some times be that of England and sometimes that of France.

Again, while the English Navy continues in its present condition, it is necessary that another navy should exist to control the universal sway the former would otherwise have over the commerce of all nations. France is the only nation in Eu- [begin page 108] rope where this balance can be placed. The navies of the North, were they sufficiently powerful, could not be sufficiently operative. They are blocked up by the ice six months in the year. Spain lies too remote; besides which, it is only for the sake of her American mines that she keeps up her navy.

Applying these cases to the project of a partition of France, it will appear, that the project involves with it a DESTRUCTION OF THE BALANCE OF MARITIME POWER; because It is only by keeping France entire and indivisible that the balance can be kept up. This is a case that at first sight lies remote and almost hidden. But it interests all the maritime and commercial nations in Europe in as great a degree as any case that has ever come before them. In short, it is with war as it is with law. In law, the first merits of the case become lost in the multitude of arguments; and in war they become lost in the variety of events. New objects arise that take the lead of all that went before, and everything, assumes a new aspect. This was the case in the last great confederacy in what is called the Succession War, and most probably will be the case in the present.

I have now thrown together such thoughts as occurred to me on the several subjects connected [begin page 109] with the confederacy against France, and interwoven with the interest of the neutral powers.

Should a conference of the neutral powers take place, these observations will, at least, serve to generate others. The whole matter will then under a more extensive investigation than it is in my power to give; and the evils attending upon either of the projects, that of restoring the Bourbons, or of attempting a partition of France, will have the calm opportunity of being fully discussed.

On the part of England, it is very extraordinary that she should have engaged in a former confederacy, and a long expensive war, to prevent the family compact, and now engage in another confederacy to preserve it. And on the part of the other powers, it is as inconsistent that they should engage in a partition project, which, could it be executed, would immediately destroy the balance of maritime power in Europe, and would probably produce a second war, to remedy the political errors of the first.

Directory: econ -> ugcm -> 3ll3 -> paine -> Volume9

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