« PreviousContinue »
this to be the fact, nor are you ignorant that I do know it. Reflect whether you have not exposed yourselves to great risk, seeing, as you now do, that the Government is determined to act and to maintain order and tranquillity to the last extremity. Should proceedings be instituted for the conviction of crimes, the Government could not protect you from the vengeance of the Laws. It is far from the wish of the Government to b.- the destruction of those who, in other respects, bave rendered their Country distinguished services: too much have my feel. ings already experienced from my inability to prevent the punishment of those who deserved it, and 100 painful has been the reflection that their innocent families have necessarily participated in their sufferings, Summary modes of procedure, are, however, in these times, ill-calculated for the discovery of crimes of this description. During a Revolution, one half of the population are congregated together by mo. tives either of ambition, or resentment, and most of them by fear. It is by no means easy to ascertain and classify the causes which bave induced them to become accomplices; and the only result of making public the successive steps by which they have, day by day, been led on to revolutionary projects, would be to leave Society without Friends, and to deprive the Government of zealous Citizens, ready to warn it, at all times, of the approach of danger. That hopes were entertained of the immediate outbreak of a Revolution, and that the same means as those which bad caused the success of former ones were employed, on this occasion, was notorious; the Citizens lately banished boasted of their enterprize at the moment of arrest, and they even afterwards gave vent to all their malignity, involuntarily vomiting forth the venom wbich they had nourished.
Citizens, one Revolution more would plunge the State into barbarism. I am resolved either to prevent it, or not to witness the horrors that it must inevitably produce. I am willing to throw a veil over all the past, is the misguided, however criminal they may be, will return to the path of duty; but if their present impunity should embolden them to fresh atrocities, painful as is the declaration to me, my Oath will compel me to be no longer indulgent.
Serious dangers threaten us, and a vast field is open for the display of our valour and resolution. The Portuguese are not desirous of War: their wish is that the United Provinces should remain indifferent during the aggression made upon one part of our Territory; but War will become inevitable, if they do not quickly sa. tisfy this Government as to their intentions, and if the incursion of Foreign Troops, (and these are more dangerous than any other, inasmuch as they belong to a neighbouring Power,) be not proved to be compatible with our entire liberty and our absolute Independence.
Fellow-Citizens, no Definitive Treaty shall be entered into with the Portuguese, to which your attention has not been previously called
and your assent given. No Army, either of Portugal or of any other Nation, shall set foot apou this Territory, without meeting with the most vigorous resistance. War shall even be declared against the Banda Oriental itself, and the Foreigners shall speedily be driven a way froin the Districts and Towns which they occupy, unless we are fully convinced that their remaining there is consistent with our interests and our honour. Be assured that the Government has made no Compact whatever, with any Power on the face of the Globe, and that, so far as the Portuguese are concerned, Affairs are, upon the whole, promising: but owing to the machinations of the Demagogues, it has been unable to obtain all the necessary information with respect to their intentions. Such is the embarrassing and painful uncertainty in which the Sovereign Congress, its most excellent Committee, and myself are at present placed, in consequence of suspicions, want of confidence, and calumpies, having compelled the Government to relinquishı several steps which were most essential to its purposes, that it might not find itself forced to adopt the measure which has already cost so much to its feelings. Be yourselves the judges, whether it is for this that you have confided to me the Supreme Authority, and whether amidst such obstacles I or any other Man can accomplish aught for your advantage and bappiness. Let your own interest render you more prudent, and let ine not have fresh cause for afflicting my heart by resorting to severe punishments. Those who talk of Revolutions, do not so talk because they are persuaded of the perfidy of the Government; believe me, they know full well that there exists not an Individual in the Province who is capable of conducting a plan of this nature without its being discovered, and without your full and just vengeance falling on the head of the Delinquent who could so infamously abuse your confidence: they are fully aware that a single Individual, however capable of such dark designs, could never realize them without the co-operation of a certain number of Accomplices, that secrecy is impossible, and the project consequently impracticable. What kind of wickedness is it which employs pretexts such as these in order to produce a Revolution? If it were produced by such pretexts, what innocent blood would not be shed, what families ruined, what deserving Citizens assassinated or proscribed ? I shudder Citizens, even to think of it; and for this reason alone am I resolved sooner to cease to exist than permit the ambitious and the lawless to triumph.
Such are the sentiments of the Government, such the motives of my public conduct, and such the reasons which have decided me to decree the punishment which the guilty have drawn upon their own heads, and which was undoubtedly mild in comparison with the treatment they had reserved for their victims. Citizens, order is re-established, do all in your power to preserve it from being again disturbed. A second time, I offer to throw a veil over all the past without any
other condition, than that no new excesses may require to be punished. Let us preserve our Country, threatened as it is with dangers the most imminent. Be assured that I shall henceforth more freely devote myself to this oliject, in which are alike involved our preservation, our power, and our glory. Buenos Ayres, 14th February, 1817.
JUAN MARTIN DE PUEYRREDON.
DECREE of the Commander-in-Chief of the Portuguese
Forces, for the Punishment of Disturbers of the Peace in the Province of Monte l'ideo.— Monte Video, 15th February, 1817.
(Translation.) Charles FREDERICK Lecor, Lieutenant General of the Royal Armies of His Most Faithful Majesty, Kuight Commander of the Orders of San Bento de Avis, and of the Tower and Sword, Commander-in. Chief of the Sea and Land Forces, on the Eastern Bank of the River Plate, &c., &c., &c.
Being desirous to put a stop to the disorders, robberies, and outrages, of every description, which are committed by roving Parties of the Eneiny, upon the peaceable Inhabitants of small Towns unprovided with a Portuguese Garrison ; and considering, moreover, that all the well disposed Inhabitants, who are oppressed by their own unnatural Countrymen, have a lawful claim to the proffered protection of the Army, which His Most Faithful Majesty has been pleased to place under my orders for the pacification of this Province; I have thought fit to determine as follows:
Art. I. The lodividuals belonging to any Band or Party of the Enemy, which shall rob or ill use any peaceable or defenceless Inhabitant or Inhabitants, in his or their house or houses, or in the neighbourhood thereof, shall be treated, not as Prisoners of War, but as liighway Robbers and Disturbers of the public order and tranquillity.
II. When the Bands or Parties aforesaid, after having been guilty of any outrage against the peaceable or defenceless Inhabitants of the Towns, which are under the protection of the Portuguese Arms, cannot be apprehended, the severest reprisals shall be made upon the families and property of the Leaders and Followers of such dispersed Parties; for which purpose strong Detachments from the Portuguese Army shall proceed to burn their dwellings, and conduct their families on board the Portuguese Squadron.
III. A sufficient number of trustworthy Persons shall be employed to watch over the security and tranquillity of the Inhabitants, each of which Persons shall transmit a Separate Report to the nearest Of. ficer in Command, (who in his turn shall forward the same to slead
Quarters,) of every excess committed by detached Parties of the Enemy against the peaceable Lubabitants, and of the Persons who compose them, in order that the necessary measures may be forthwith taken with respect to them.
IV. The present Decree shall be transmitted to, and published in, all the Towns which are under the protection of the Portugese Arms. Given at the Head Quarters of Monte Video, 15th February, 1817.
CARLOS FEDERICO LECOR.
CORRESPONDENCE between the Government of Buenos
Ayres and the Portuguese Commander-in-Chief, relative to the Occupation of the Province of Monte Video by the Portuguese Forces.—1816, 1817.
(1.)-Don Martin de Pueyrredon to General Lecor.
Buenos Ayres, 31st October, 1816. Most ILLUSTRIOUS AND Most EXCELLENT SIR,
As, by the sovereign will of the United Provinces of South America, I find myself charged with the Direction of the State, I cannot be an indifferent Spectator of the smallest danger that threatens the immunity of the rights belonging to it. For a long time past, Advices to be depended upon, from the Court of Rio de Janeiro and from different parts of Europe, have informed me of preparations for a Military Expedition of Portuguese Troops, appointed to take possession of the Eastern Territory of the River of La Plata : its Cantonment in the Island of St. Catherine, and its advance to Rio Grande in order of Campaign, lest no room for doubt respecting the accuracy of the information; and Reports, indicating the mysterious object of such movements, coupled with the fact of the relations between Spain and Portugal having been drawn still closer, cast vehement suspicion of duplicity upon the affected preventive employment of the Troops under Your Excellency's command.
Nevertheless, the good understanding which has hitherto been preserved between this Government and that of His Most Faithful Majesty, the loyalty of his respectable Administration, and the obligations of the Armistice, concluded on the 26th May, 1812, between the Supreme Government of the United Provinces of the River of La Plata, and the Envoy of His Most Faithful Majesty, Lieutenant Colonel Don John Rademaker, inspired a rational confidence in the solidity of that Compact; and, being bound on my part to avoid every act inconsistent with the subsisting relations of friendship between the 2 States, I have waited until the progressive movements of your Excellency should tear the veil that appeared to disguise the intentions of your Court.
The attack of Fort Santa Theresa by one Portuguese Division, the incursion of another into the Cerro Largo, and the arrival of a Squadron of the same Nation at the Port of Maldonado, show with irresistible evidence that the Plan of hostilities, which begins to unfold itself, is to force the Frontiers of the Eastern side, notwithstanding the preservation of the respective Limits of the Territory guaranteed by the Armistice, especially in the 3rd Article thereof, unless preceded by the fulfilment of what was agreed to in the 2nd Article; and, whilst the Government of these Provinces bas scrupulously observed the Stipula. tions of that Armistice in every respect,—whilst the accidental difference supposed to exist between the one and other Bank does not weaken the common connexion of both People for the defence of their liberty,--and whilst their reciprocal agreement respecting the pretensions of America identify the principles and objects of the endeavours of the 2 Territories,-there can scarcely exist the means either of misunderstanding the aggression, or of calming the general alarm that it has caused in the United Provinces.
Considering the serious compromise which has been produced by the military operations of Your Excellency beyond the Limits of the Portuguese Frontier, and considering that you must be furnished with sufficient Iostructions from your Court, to explain the motive and object of the infraction of the Armistice, under which the security of the Eastern Territory was established; I hope that Your Excellency will be pleased to make known to me, definitively, your intentions, that I may regulate my Decrees accordingly, and satisfy the anxiety of the People, who, determined to support the Independence which they have proclaimed, conceive themselves to be unjustly provoked to War, by a Nation whose friendship they have cultivated, and which will therefore be responsible for the evils of a Rupture. In order to avert that misfortune, I call upon your Excellency, immediately to take measures to suspend the march of the Portuguese Army, and to retire within your frontier, as the means are preparing, in an active manner, by the Inhabitants, for a vigorous cooperation in the heroical desence of the Eastern Bank.
It is with this intention that I address this Communication to your Excellency, by the Colonel of Cavalry, Don Nicholas de Vedia, who is charged to return with your Answer; and who, I promise myself, will meet from your Excellency the same favourable reception as that which, in similar cases, Portuguese Officers have experienced from this State.
God preserve Your Excellency.
DON MARTIN DE PUEYRREDON. The Most Ilustrious and Most Excellent