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THE dominions of Great Britain are so vast in extent, so divided in situation, and so various in their relations, that their general and respective interests must often distract, and sometimes perhaps escape, the attention even of the ablest and most vigilant government. The internal œconomy of a highly civilized and redundant population, and the foreign policy of war or peace in Europe, whose political questions are generally more important, and always more inviting, than those of distant and less cultivated Countries, so entirely engross the public mind, that it is not surprising, if the concerns of some remote and obscurer Provinces of the empire should sometimes meet with less consideration,
than is due, perhaps, either to the claims of that part, or the ultimate results upon the whole.
Examples of this kind are no where so frequently to be found, as in the history of our relations with America. The mistakes committed in the former management of that country, the disasters received in making war, the still greater disasters in making peace with it, may all be imputed to a false estimate, of its character and importance, its resources and increase. For a different degree of political foresight seems necessary for the old and new hemisphere, and anticipations, which would here be thought presumptuous or remote, have there proved comparatively certain and immediate, till it is now generally acknowledged, that the future destinies of our own country must, for good and evil, be principally connected with, or materially influenced by, those of America.
It is indeed an easy thing to console ourselves by turning to the unexampled successes, that have placed the Empire in the proud situation it now holds; but if we wish to consult the real power and permanence of that Empire, and not merely to flatter the nation's vanity on past achievements, it would be well perhaps to look more narrowly to that quarter, which offers least occasion for congratulation; where, however, we
may yet profit by experience, and if we cannot remedy the consequence of former errors, at least prevent their repetition. For Great Britain still possesses the most valuable portion of the American Continent, and does not know it: and questions are now pending between her and the United States, by which, not only may that value be greatly impaired, but the very possession eventually lost.
There was once a time, and within the memory of the present age, when almost the whole of North America belonged to the Crown of England in 1783, the King renounced his rights of propriety and government to a certain portion, which has since formed the United States; but the exact limits of that portion have never yet been ascertained. By the extraordinary increase, as well of the ceded Provinces as of those retained, what was considered of little moment in 1783, has now become of vital importance. Of the differences which have arisen between the two Governments, respecting their common Boundaries, some have been arranged by discussion before Commissioners, others are ready, on our part at least, for reference to a friendly Power; and some (the object of the present inquiry) having been referred, are directed by the umpire to be settled by negotia
tion. The pretensions of the two Governments are widely at variance, and, on the part of the American at least, most tenaciously maintained. In the present state of the question, it can be of little use to consider the arguments, on either side, in support of those pretensions: (negotiation, particularly with America, too commonly involves the idea of compromise :) but it may tend to the right understanding of the difference, to give a short statement of its origin, before entering upon the consequences.
The Provisional Treaty of 1783, by which the independence of the thirteen revolted Colonies was acknowledged, was negotiated on their part, by the profoundest statesman that country has ever produced; a man who, to a thorough acquaintance with the character and interests of America, united the deepest political sagacity, an impenetrable cunning, and most plausible address. It was not without reason perhaps, that he styled the statesmen of that period, as 'too ignorant to judge, and too proud to learn ;' for he was able to obtain of our Ministry terms, which exceeded the expectation of his own Countrymen, and astonished their Allies. In compliance with his suggestion, or agreeably to his wishes, the Commissioner first sent to meet him, whose knowledge and penetration might