TOPICS OF THE DAY.
PEACE THROUGH PEEL.
THE full amount of the debt which this country owes to Sir Ro- nsar PEEL as a peacemaker, has not yet been reckoned by the public. The materials for a complete estimate have been wanting. We are all pretty well informed on some items of the account ; but there are others as to which most of us know so little as to be hardly aware of their importance. We have plenty of information with respect to the Afghan War, the Opium War, and the warlike disposition of France at the close of Lord PALMERSTON'S career; we all understand Lord AUCKLAND'S monstrous folly, and the means by which it has been retrieved ; we can all see how Lord ABER DERN is free to draw good out of evil, by turning Lord PALMER &TON'S Opium War to the account of peace and commerce—by consulting justice towards the Chinese in the substitution of Bri- tish goods for opium as our medium of exchange with China ; we are all conscious of Lord PALMERSTON"S energy in the mad work of creating among the French a strong and almost universal feeling of hostility towards England, while it is obvious that Sir ROBERT PEEL'S bearing towards that proud and sensitive people has a contrary effect : but there are two parts of the world as to which scarcely anybody in England knows the degree of warlike danger which existed twelve months back, and still less how entirely. the removal of that danger in both places is the work of the hands of Sir ROBERT PEEL'S agents. We allude to the United States and Canada. With respect to the accuracy of the additional information we are about to communicate as to the extent of the danger and the means of its removal in both places, we confidently appeal to the few in England who have a competent knowledge of the sub- ject; and among these, with a belief in his rare preference of truth to party, we appeal to Lord MORPETEL
Ia is telling no news to say, that the subjects of difference be- tween England and America, which had approached the war point under Lord PALMERSTON'S management, and of which Lord Asit- BURTON'S mission has disposed, involved no very important question of national interest on either side. Neither party required any concession which it would have been worth a month's war to obtain. It was impossible that the success of either nation in a war should have prOduced any great advantage for the victor. There was no object of gain for either nation to which its hostile efforts could have been directed : the sole aim of hostilities, on either side, would have been to injure and humiliate the enemy. It was a quarrel of pride, and would have been a war of hatred. This was plain enough at the time, and has been proved by the ASHBURTON
treaty, which established without gain or loss as respects the interests of either nation—excepting always the vast gain to both of avoiding a war directed to mutual injury. Who either in Eng- gland or America objects to the treaty as having sacrificed some national interest P Nobody, excepting only, first, Lord PALMERSTON and the Morning Chronicle—secondly, a certain party in Canada, who long for a war with America as the probable means of their restoration to provincial power and whose press rudely attacked Lord ASHBURTON throughout his mission—and, lastly, a very dis- honest class in the States, who fancied that a war with England might spunge out their debts owing to British capitalists. Such is the rogueish brotherhood which alone pretends that national interests have been sacrificed by the ASHBURTON treaty : " not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare that which was put therein." PALMERSTON, APNAB, SWINDLE, and Co. naturally complain ; but both the na- tions rejoice at the event, while neither professes to have gained by it : the conclusion is inevitable, that the difference which Lord Atareuaron and Mr. WEBSTER have accommodated, was exclu- sively a difference of pride on both sides. But questions of wounded pride between nations are the most difficult of all to settle. It is in their very nature to require bloodshed and exhaustion, punishment and suffering enough, as the means of a state of mind in which reason prevails over the angry passions. In this case, happily, there was a great inequality in the degrees of angry feeling on the two sides. England, indeed, was not angry; except as she was somewhat provoked by the irri- tation of America. Nearly all the disposition to war was on the American side. And now we come to a matter of fact. Every- body who was on the spot knows—Lord MORPETH is as intimately convinced as Lord ASHBURTON—among recent English sojourners in America, whose testimony none would question, such as Mr. HORSLEY PALMER, there is not one who doubts—that at the moment of Lord ASHBURTON'S appointment the inclination to a war with England was active throughout the United States—in the South as well as in the North, in the West and on the seabord, among all classes alike—to the extent of making war inevitable, not only if the war feeling had been in any degree further provoked, but also unless a revolution of sentiment had been promptly occasioned by something. How this pugnacious disposi- tion of the Americans had been produced, clearly appears from the first operation of Sir ROBERT PEEL'S mode of dealing with it. Lord ASHBURTON'S mere appointment had instantly the most curious effect. In one week, the tone of nearly the whole press of America had changed : in every company, where before only words of war bad been breathed, there were now heard expressions of respect and kindness towards that country whose blood relationship to the United States is never forgotten by Americans. Love or hatred among near kindred is commonly stronger than in other cases; and it was now as if the elder brother first held out his hand in token of a wish to avert the approaching contest : the junior was over- come. To those whe are aware of all the influences of national kindred on the feelings of Americans towards England, and who also recollect the uniformity of knowledge and sentiment which prevails in the United States, this picture will not appear over- coloured. It is a plain description of what really took place : and it shows—what might indeed have been established by plenty of other evidence—that Lord PALMERSTON'S haughty indifference and affronting procrastination in his treatment of the difference between England and America, had been the principal causes of that Ame- rican towards England which the mere appointment of Lord ASHBURTON did so much to allay. It was the compliment, the act of civility, the proffer of peace, comprised in the special mission of a man of so much mark, and so well known for his respect and re- gard for the people of the United States, which contrasted so very usefully with Lord PALMERSTON'S war-provoking diplomacy. But Lord ASHBURTON had much to accomplish after his arrival in America. The difficulties with which he had to contend were chiefly two. These were, first, the dread of the pride of young and calculating America, lest she should be overreached in a bargain by the fox from the old country, who was famous for his skill in managing any sort of business : and, secondly, there was the dead lock upon the machine of general government in the United States, arising from the state of collision, which still exists, between the Representative bodies on the one hand and the Executive on the other; whence it was reasonably inferred by the most competent judges, that the Senate, giving effect to the sentiments of the House of Representatives and of the people at large, would withhold from President Trestle the glory which is due to the peacemaker. The relations of Maine with the United States, as a sovereign state stickling for territory, really constituted a minor obstacle to peace, which would be overcome if the other two could be removed. These other two, and then the third, were removed by Lord ASHBURTON with his own single hand. He carried all befbre him, by means, first, of thoroughly understanding that he had to treat rather with a whole people than with a government ; secondly, of his own intimate knowledge of the character of that people ; and thirdly, of the consummate skill with which he made use of that knowledge. He got to Washington at a time when the most leading men of America—that is, those who most possess the confidence of the people—were assembled there. His rank, his great fortune, his reputation, even his cook, had some share in his success ; but all these would have been of no avail, save as acces- sories to the simplicity of manner, the never-failing courtesy, and the entire but unaffected frankness by which he won a general con- fidence. He had no secrets, no reservations, none of the wish, so common among vulgar negotiators, to get the best of the argument. By a frank and earnest pursuit of one object—peace without dis- honour—be got the leading Americans to agree with him in opinion and feeling. This was mainly done by first-rate Mining. The im- pression had no sooner been made on the chiefs at Washington than it spread over the Union : Maine, subdued by general opinion, became reasonable ; and the Senate determined to let a great measure of government take place. The ASHBUETON..WEBSTER treaty is the only measure of importance passed under Mr. TYLER'S Presidency : it was brought about by the use of a combination of qualities almost peculiar to Lord ASHBURTON.
With respect to Canada, the credit due to Sir CHARLES BAGOT is less easily explained, because the British public is here utterly in the dark. Let it be supposed, however, that the two Canadas united form a country too important to be ruled according to the view of the minority under a representative constitution ; and that peace cannot be preserved there, along with representa- tion, except by means of the practice which has produced constant harmony between the Crown and the Representative body in this country ever since our "glorious Revolution" in 1688—namely, the practice of giving power to the men in whom a majority of the Representative body confides, and denying it to those whom that majority distrusts. Well, Sir CHARLES BAGOT found a set of men in power who did not possess the confidence of a majority in the Assembly. Unless he changed the Administration, a vote of " want of confidence" was inevitable; and then would have followed as troubled a state of things in Canada, as must have taken place here if the Queen, the other day, had refused to put Sir BASSET PEEL in Lord MELBOURNE'S place when the House of Commons desired that change. In that case, the Provincial con- stitution must have been suspended. Perhaps an attempt would have been made to give United Canada a constitution like that recently provided for the fishermen of Newfoundland. At any rate, military rule must have taken the place of civil authority ; and probably "more troops" would have been required. It would have been what Lord DURHAM called " a constituted anarchy." This state of things, which would have been a matter of deep re- proach to the PEEL Government at first, and afterwards, when the whole matter had come to be understood, to the memory of Lord SYDENHAM, was averted by Sir CHARLES SABOT'S management of the case. He adopted the simple plan of changing his Administra- tion so as to get it into harmony with the Assembly. Instead of a vote of " want of confidence," his Government was supported on the first testing-vote by 55 to 5, three-fourths of the House of Assembly being present. The result is general satisfaction and peace. The outcry of the disappointed minority is of course very loud, but has no influence in the colony. The great balk of the colonists, including the French Canadians, are now attached to the
union of the Provinces and to the Imperial connexion. Sir CHARLES BIGOT found Canada verging on the state of anarchy and civil war : he has established peace under the strongest Government ever known in that country. This may be unknown tongue to many of our readers; but we pledge our credit for the accuracy of the statement. If Sir CHARLES BIGOT should be properly supported by the Home Government, and allowed to consolidate his work, more than half the British troops now in Canada may be safely withdrawn ; and the costly Volunteer force, which the Duke of WELLINGTON so emphatically condemned in the House of Lords as a provocative of civil war, may be replaced by a truly loyal and costless Militia. Harmony, order, contentment, peace—these are the fruits of Sir CHARLES BACOT'S policy. It seems worth while to remark, that his principal difficulty, after finding courage to deal boldly with the necessities of the case, was that of persuading the French Canadians to go for a share of power in the government of their country, instead of retaining the position of dogged opposition to everything in which they were left by Lord SYDENHAM : and there can be no doubt that in this part of his ticklish task the "Tory" Governor-General was much assisted by Lord AsnnuaTON'e success at Washington- Here ASHBURTON assisted BIGOT. On the other hand, the state of Canada, when the latter shall have carried out his policy, will be extremely unfavourable to troubles on the American frontier. It T f 11
-0.-OWS that Sir ROBERT PEEL'S two agents in America have cooperated in the business of peace- making.