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Chapter 1

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Chapter 1
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PREFACE.

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whose ' romantic'* feats, instead of being
allowed to shine forth, bedizened out as—' Sir

MILITARY OCCURRENCES,

Tristian,' Don Belianis,' the Peers of
Charlemagne,' * or any other tale of
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fiction' or mock-heroic, are presented to
the world under the specious garb of

6

FAITH..

CHAPTER I.

FUL HISTORY.'

Analectic Magazine and Nay. Citron. Vol. VII. p. 296>

London, May 16th, 1818.

Origin of the late war with the .United States--Pte-,
sident's message—American declaration of war
Pacific views of the British—Determined hostility of the Americans—Prince regent's manifesto in answer to the president's 'message—
Impressed Americans—Native and naturalized
citizens—Case of Elijah Clarke—A resident in
the Canadas shot as a deserter by an American
officer—Acquittal of the officer—An opposite
principle afterwards broached by the American
government--Cause of Indian hatred, to the
Americans. • 1
):

THE defensive measures adopted by the British
government, in contravention of the Berlin and
Milan decrees, no longer permitting the subjects
of the United States, under the disguise of tient trals, to be the carriers of France, the ablest poli1 ticians in the republic were engaged to prepare a
VOL. I.

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specious manifesto, representing the United
States as the aggrieved, and Great Britain as
the aggressing party. A moment of continental
pressure upon the latter was deemed the fittest for
promulgating this angry state-paper. Accordingly, on the 1st of June, 1812, Mr. Madison,
the American president, sent the following message to the two Ilk uses of congress :
" Without going back beyond the renewal, in
1803; of the war in which Great Britain is engaged,
and omitting unrepaired wrongs of inferior magnitude, the conduct of her government presents
a series of acts hostile to the United States, as
an independent and neutral nation.
" British cruisers have been in the continued
practice of violating the American flag on the
great highway of nations, and of seizing and carrying off persons sailing under it ; not in the
exercise of a belligerent right, founded on the
law of nations, against an enemy, but of a municipal prerogative over British subjects. British jurisdiction is thus extended to neutral vessels, in a situation where no laws can operate
but the law of nations, and the laws of the
country to which the vessels belong ; and a selfredress is assumed, which, if British subjects
were wrongfully detained ;'nd alone concerned,
is that substitution of force for a resort to the
responsible sovereign, which falls within the de-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.;

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finition of. war. Could the seizure of British
subjects, in such cases, be regarded as within the
exercise of a belligerent right, the acknowledged
laws of wars, which forbid an article of captured property to be adjudged, without a regular investigation before a competent tribunal,
would imperiously demand the fairest Arial,
where the sacred rights of persons were at issue.
In place of such trial, these rights are subjected
to the will of every petty commander.
• " The practice, hence, is so far from affecting
British subjects alone, that under the pretext of
searching for these, thousands of American citizens, under the safeguard of public laws, and of
their national flag, have been torn from their
country, and from every thing dear to them ;
have been dragged on board ships of war. of a
foreign nation, and exposed under the severities
of their discipline, to. be exiled to the most .distaut and deadly climes, to risk their lives in the
battles of their oppressors, and to be the melancholy instruments of taking away those of their
own brethren.
" Against this crying enormity, which. Great
Britain Would be so prompt to avenge, if committecbagainst herself, the United States have in
vain exhausted remonstrances and expostulations.: And that no proof might be wanting
their conciliatory disposition,
and no prete
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GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

left for a continuance of the practice, the British
government was formally assured of the readiness of the United States to enter into arrangements; such as could not be rejected, if the recovery of British subjects were the real and
the sole object. The communication passed
without effect.
" British cruisers have also been in the practice of violating the rights and the peace of our H
coasts. They hover over and harass our entering and departing commerce. To the most insulting pretensions they have added the most lawless proceedings in our very harbours, and have
wantonly spilt American blood within the sanctuary of our territorial jurisdiction. The principles
and rules enforced by that nation, when a neutral nation, against armed vessels of belligerents
hovering near her coasts, and disturbing her
commerce, are well known. When called on, neNertheless, by the United States, to punish the
greater offences committed by her own vessels,
her government has bestowed on their commanders additional marks of honour and confidence.
" Under pretended blockades, without the
presence of an adequate force, and sometimes
without the practicability of applying one, our
commerce has been plundered in every sea ; the
great staples of our country have been cut off

from their legitimate markets ; and a destrucfive blow aimed at our agricultural and maritime interests. In aggravation of these predatory measures, they have been considered as in
force from the dates of their notification ; a retrospective effect being thus added, as has been
done in other important cases, to the unlawfulness of the course pursued. And to render the
outrage the more signal, these mock blockades
have been reiterated and enforced in the face of
official communications from the British government, declaring, as the true definition of a legal
blockade, that particular ports must be actually invested, and previous warning given to vessels bound to them, not to enter.'
" Not content with these occasional expe.
clients for laying waste our neutral trade, the
cabinet of Great Britain resorted, at length, to
the sweeping system of blockades, under the
name of orders in council, which has been
moulded and managed as might best suit its political views, its commercial jealousies, or the
avidity of British cruisers.
To our remonstrances against the complicated and transcendent injustice of this innovation, the first reply was, that the orders were
reluctantly adopted by Great Britain, as a necessary retaliation on the decrees of her enemy,
proclaiming a general blockade of the British
isles, at a time when the naval force of that ene-

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my dared not to issue from his own ports. She
was reminded, without effect, that her own prior
blockades, unsupported by an adequate naval
force, actually applied and • continued, were a
bar to this plea ; that executed edicts against
millions of our property could not be retaliation
on edicts confessedly impossible to be executed;
and that retaliation, to be just, should fall on the
party setting the guilty example, not on an innocent party, which was not even chargeable
with an acquiescence in it..
" When deprived of this flimsy veil for a pro
hibition of our trade with her enemy, by the
repeal of his prohibition of our trade with Great
Britain, her cabinet, instead of a corresponding
repeal, or a practical discontinuance of its orders,
formally avowed a determination to persist in
them against the United States, until the markets
of her enemy should be laid open to British products; thus asserting an obligation on a neutral
power, to require one belligerent to encourage,
by its internal regulations, the trade of another
belligerent, contradicting her own practice towards all nations, in peace as well as in war;
and betraying the insincerity of those professions which inculcated a belief, that, having
resorted to her orders with regret, she was
anxious to find an occasion fur putting an end
to them.
" Abandoning • still more all respect for the
,

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neutral rights of the United States, and for its
own consistency, the British government now
demands, as pre-requisites to a repeal of its
orders, as they relate to the United States, that
a formality should be observed in the repeal of
the French decrees, nowise necessary to their termination, nor exemplified by British usage ;
and that the French repeal, besides including
that portion of the decrees which operates within
a territorial jurisdiction, as well as that which
operates on the high seas, against the commerce
of the United States, should not be a single special repeal, in relation to the United States, but
should be extended to whatever other neutral
nations, unconnected with them, may be affected
by those decrees.
" And, as an additional insult, they are called
on for a formal disavowal of conditions and pretensions advanced by the French government,
for which the United States are so far from
having made themselves responsible, that, in official explanations, which have been published to
the world, and in a correspondence of the American minister at London with the British minister for foreign affairs, such a responsibility was
explicitly and emphatically disclaimed.
" It has become, indeed, sufficiently certain,
that the commerce of the United States is to be
sacrificed, not as interfering with the belligerent
rights of Great Britain, not as supplying the

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wants of their enemies, which she herself supplies, but as interfering with the monopoly
which she covets for her own commerce and
navigation. She carries on a war against the law- ful commerce of a friend, that she may the better carry on a commerce with an enemy ; a commerce polluted by the forgeries and petjuries
which are, for the most part, the only passports
Ai
by which it can succeed.
" Anxious to make every experiment, short of
the last resort of injured nations, the United
States have withheld from Great Britain, under
successive modifications, the benefits of a free
intercourse with their market, the loss of which
could not but outweigh the profits accruing
from her restrictions of our commerce wit It other
nations. And to entitle these experiments to
The more favourable consideration, they were so
framed as to enable her to place her adversary
under the exclusive operation of them. To
these appeals her government has been equally
inflexible, as if willing to make sacrifices Of
every sort, rather than yield to the. claims of
justice, or renounce the errors of a false pride.
Nay, so far were the attempts carried to over-.
come the attachment of the British cabinet to its
unjust edicts, that .4. received every encouragement within the competency of the executive
branch of our government, to expect that a
repeal of them would be followed by a war

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

9

between the United States and France, unless
the French edicts should also be repealed. Even
this communication, although silencing for ever
the plea of a disposition in the United States to
acquiesce in those edicts, originally the sole plea
ibr them, received no attention.
" If no other proof existed of a predetermination of the British government against a repeal
of its orders, it might be found in the correspondence of the minister plenipotentiary of the
United States at London, and the British secretary for foreign affairs, in 1810, on the question,
whether the blockade of May 1806 was considered as in force or as not in force. It had been
ascertained that the French government, which
urged this blockade as the ground of its Berlin
decree, was willing, in the event of its removal, to
repeal that decree ; which, being followed by alternate repeals of the other offensive edicts, might
abolish the whole system on both sides. This
inviting opportunity for accomplishing an object
so important to the United States, and professed
so often to be the desire of both the belligerents,
was made known to the British government.
As that government admits that an actual application of an adequate force is necessary to the
existence of a legal blockade ; and it was notorious, that if such a force had ever been applied,
its long discontinuance had annulled the blockade in question, there could be no sufficient

10 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

objection on the part of Great Britain to a formal
revocation of it ; and no imaginable objection to
a declaration of the fact that the blockade did
not exist. The declaration would have been
consistent with her avowed principles of blockade, and would have enabled the United- States
to demand from France the pledged repeal of
her decrees ; either with success, in which case
the way would have been opened for a general
repeal of the belligerent edicts ; or without success, in which case the United States would have
been justified in turning their measures exclusively against France. The British government
would, however, neither rescind the blockade,
nor declare its non-existence, nor permit its nonexistence to be inferred and affirmed by the
American plenipotentiary. On the contrary,
by representing the blockade to be comprehended in the orders in council, the United
States were compelled so to regard it in their
subsequent proceedings.
" There was a period when a favourable
change in the policy of the British cabinet was
justly considered as established. The minister
plenipotentiary of his Britannic majesty here
proposed an adjustment of the differences more
i mmediately endangering the harmony of the
two countries. The proposition was accepted
with a promptitude and cordiality correspondinc with the invariable professions of this go-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

11

vernment. A foundation appeard to be laid for
a sincere and lasting reconciliation. The pros,
pect, however, quickly vanished. The whole
proceeding was disavowed by the British government, without any explanation which could at
that time repress the belief that the disavowal
proceeded from a spirit of hostility to the commercial rights and prosperity of the United
States. And it has since come into proof that,
at the very moment when the public minister
was holding the language of friendship, and
inspired confidence in the sincerity of the negotiation with which he w charged, a secret
agent of his government was employed in intrigues, having for their object a subversion of
our government, and a dismemberment of our
happy union.
In reviewing the conduct of Great Britain
towards the United States, our attention is necessarily drawn to the warfare just renewed by
the savages on one of our extensive frontiers ;
warfare which is known to spare neither age nor
sex, and to be distinguished by features peculiarly shocking to humanity. It is difficult to
account for the activity and combinations which
have for some time been developing themselves
among- the tribes in constant intercourse with
the British traders and garrisons, without connecting their hostility with that influence, and
without recollecting the authenticated exanvles

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of such interpositions heretofore furnished by
the officers and agents of that government.
" Such is the spectacle of injuries and indignities which have been heaped on our country ;
and such the crisis which its unexampled forbearance and conciliatory efforts have not been
able to avert. It might, at least, have been expected, that an enlightened nation, if less urged
by moral obligations, or invited by friendly dispositions on the part of the United States, would
have found in its true interest alone, a sufficient
motive to respect their rights and their tranquillity on the high seas ; that an enlarged policy
would have favoured that free and general circulation of commerce, in which the British
nation is at all times interested; and which, in
times of war, is the best alleviation of its calamities to herself, as well as the Other belligerents ;
and more especially, that the British cabinet
would not, for the sake of a precarious and surreptitious intercourse with hostile markets, have
persevered in a course of measures which necessarily put at hazard the invaluable market of a
great and growing country, disposed to cultivate
the mutual advantages of an active commerce.
" Other councils have prevailed. Our moderation and conciliation have. had no other
effect than to encourage perseverance, and to
enlarge pretensions. We behold our seafaring
citizens still the daily victims of lawless violence,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

13

committed on the great and common highway
of nations, even within sight of the country
which owes them protection. We behold our
vessels freighted with the products of our soil
and industry, or returning with the honest proceeds of them, wrested from their lawful destinations, confiscated by prize-courts, no longer
the organs of public law, but the instruments
of arbitrary edicts; and their unfortunate crews
dispersed and lost, or forced, or inveigled, in
British ports, into British fleets; whilst arguments are employed in support of these aggressions, which have no foundation but in a principle supporting equally a claim to regulate our
external commerce in all cases whatsoever.
" We behold, in fine, on the side of Great
Britain, a state of war against the United States;
and on the side of the United States, a state
of peace towards Great Britaith
" Whether the United States shall continue
passive under these progressive usurpations, and
these accumulating wrongs ; or, opposing force
to force, in defence of their natural rights, shall
commit a just cause into the hands of the
Almighty Disposer of events; avoiding all connections which might entangle it in the contests
or views of other powers, and preserving a constant readiness to concur in an honourable reestablishment of peace and friendship, is a
solemn question, which the constitution wisely



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confides to the legislative department of the
government. In recommending it to their early
deliberations, I am happy in the assurance that
the decision will be worthy the enlightened and
patriotic councils of a virtuous, a free, and a
powerful nation.
" Having presented this view of the relations
of the United States with Great Britain, and of
the solemn alternative growing out of them, I
proceed to remark, that the communications last
made to congress, on the subject of our relations with France, will have shown that since
the revocation of her decrees as they violated
the neutral rights of the United States, her
government has authorised illegal captures by
its privateers and public ships, and that other
outrages have been practised on our vessels and
our citizens. It will have been seen also, that
no indemnity had been provided, or satisfactorily pledged, for the extensive spoliations committed under the violent and retrospective order
of the French government against the property
of our citizens seized within the jurisdiction of
France.
``'11 abstain at this time from recommending
to the consideration of congress, definitive
measures with respect to that nation, in the
expectation that the result of unclosed discussions between our minister plenipotentiary at
Paris and the French government, will speedily

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

15

enable congress to decide with greater advantage on the course due to the rights, the interests,
and the honour of our country."
/In seventeen days after the date of this declamatory speech, the two houses of congress
formally declared war against Great Britain,
and empowered the president to issue letters of
marque and general reprisal ; and, on the very
day on which this declaration arrived at New
York, appeared in the London Gazette the
prince regent's declaration, absolutely and unequivocally revoking the orders in council, so
far as they related to American vessels. Nothing
could better demonstrate to the world the different feelings which actuated the two governments.
The American declaration of war reached
the British government on the 30th of July ;
but, in the firm reliance that the revocation of
the orders in council would produce a pacific
effect, no further steps were taken by the latter,
than to direct that American ships and goods
should be brought in and detained. It was
not till the 13th of October, when the American government had disregarded the notified
repeal of the orders in council, and refused to
ratify the armistice agreed upon between Sir
George Prevost and General Dearborn on the
Canadian frontier, that the British government
published an order for granting general reprisals

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GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

against the ships, goodg, and citizens of the
United States; and even this order concluded
with a declaration, that nothing therein was to
annul the authority which had been given to his
majesty's commanders upon the American station,
to sign a convention for recalling all hostile orders
issued by the respective governments, with a view
of restoring the accustomed relations of amity
and commerce between the two countries. That
pacific attempt failing, also, the prince regent,
on the 9th of January, 1813, issued the following manifesto in reply to. Mr. Madison's :
" The earnest endeavours of the prince
regent to preserve the relations of peace and
amity with the United States of America having
unfortunately failed, his royal highness, acting
in the name and on the behalf of his majesty,
deems it proper publicly to declare the causes
and origin of the war, in which the government
of the United States has compelled him to
engage.
" No desire of conquest, or other ordinary
motive of aggression, has been, or can be with
any colour of reason, in this case, imputed to
Great Britain. That her commercial interests
were on the side of peace, if war could have
been avoided without the sacrifice of her maritime rights, or without an injurious submission
to France, is a truth which the American government will not deny.
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" His royal highness does not, however, mean
to rest on the favorable presumption to which
he is entitled. lie is prepared, by an exposition
of the circumstances which have led to the
present war, to show that Great Britain has
throughout acted towards the United States of
America with a spirit of amity, forbearance, and
conciliation; and to demonstrate the inadmissible nature of those pretensions which have at
length unhappily involved the two countries
in war.
/" It is well known to the world, that it has
been the invariable object of the ruler of France
to destroy the power and independence of the
British empire, as the chief obstacle to the accomplishment of his ambitious designs. /
" He first contemplated the possibility of
assembling such a naval force in the channel
as, combined with a numerous flotilla, should
enable him to disembark in England an army
sufficient, in his conception, to subjugate this
country ; and through the conquest of Great
Britain he hoped to realize his project of universal empire.
" By the adoption of an enlarged and provident system of internal defence, and by the
valour of his majesty's fleets and armies, this
design was entirely frustrated ; and the naval
force of France, after the most signal defeats,
was compelled to retire from the ocean.
VOL. I.

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GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

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Au attempt was then made to effectuate the
same purpose by other means—a system was
brought forward, by which the ruler of France
hoped: to _annihilate the commerce of Great
Britain, to shake her public credit, and to des
troy her revenue ; to render useless her maritime
superiority, and so to avail himself of his con,
tinental ascendancy, as to constitute himself, in
a great measure, the arbiter of the ocean, notwithstanding the destruction of his fleets.
" With this view, by the decree of Berlin,
followed by that of Milan, he declared the
British territories to be in a state of blockade;
and that all commerce or even correspondence
with Great Britain was prohibited. lie decreed
that every vessel and cargo, which had entered,
or was found proceeding to a British port, or
which, under any circumstances, had been visited
by a British ship of war, should be lawful prize: he
declared all British goods and produce, wherever
found, and however acquired, whether coming
from the mother-country or from her colonies,
subject to confiscation ; he further declared to
be denationalized, the flag of all neutral ships
that should be found offending against these his
decrees: and he gave to this project of universal
tyranny, the name of the continental system::
For these attempts to ruin the commerce of
Great Britain, by means subversive of the clearest rights of neutral nations, France endear.
,

19

mired in vain to rest her justification upon the
previous conduct of his ► fiaj est v 's government.
id Under circumstances of unparalleled provocation, his majesty had abstained from any
measure which the ordinary rules of the law of
nations did not fully warrant. Never was the
maritime superiority of a belligerent over his
enemy more complete and decided. Never was
the opposite belligerent so formidably dangerous in his power, and in his policy, to the liberties of all other nations. . France had already
trampled so openly and systematically on the
most sacred rights of neutral powers, as might
well have justified the placing her out of the
pale of civilized nations. Yet in this extreme
case, Great Britain had so used her naval ascendancy, that her enemy could find no just cause
of complaint: and, in order to give to these
lawless decrees the appearance of retaliation,
the ruler of France was obliged to advance
principles of maritime law unsanctioned by any
other authority than his own arbitrary will. 4
"The pretext for these decrees were, first,
that Great Britain had exercised the rights of
war against private persons, their ships and
goods; as if the only object of legitimate hostility on the ocean were the public property of
a state, or as if the edicts and the courts of
France itself had not at all times enforced this
right with yeculiar rigour; secondly, that the
c2

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British orders of blockade, instead of being confined to fortified towns, had, as France asserted,
been unlawfully extended to commercial towns
and ports, and to the mouths of rivers; and,
thirdly, that they had been applied to places,
and to coasts which neither were, nor could be,
actually blockaded. The last of these charges
is not founded on fact; whilst the others, even
by the admission of the American government,
are utterly groundless in point of law.
Against these decrees, his majesty protested
and appealed—he called upon the United States
to assert their own rights, and to vindicate their
independence, thus menaced and attacked; and
as France had declared, that she would confistate every vessel which should touch in Great
Britain, or be visited by British ships of war,
his majesty, having previously issued the order
of January 1807, as an act of mitigated retaliation, was at length compelled by the persevering
violence of the enemy, and the continued acquiescence of neutral powers, to - revisit upon
.France in a more effectual manner, the measure
of her own injustice, by declaring, in an order
in council, bearing date the 11th of November,
1807, that no neutral vessel should proceed to
France or to any of the countries from which,
in obedience to the dictates of France, British
commerce was excluded, without first touching
at a port in Great Britain, or her depencencies.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. ,

21

At the same time, his majesty intimated his
readiness to repeal the orders in council, whenever France should rescind her decrees, and
return to the accustomed principles of maritime
warfare; and at a subsequent period, as a proof
of his majesty's sincere desire to accommodate,
as far as possible, his defensive measures to the
convenience of neutral powers, the operation
of the orders in council was, by an order issued
in April, 1809, limited to a blockade of France,
and of the countries subjected to her immediate
dominion.
" Systems of violence, oppression, and tyranny, can never be suppressed, or even checked,
if the power against which such injustice is
exercised be debarred from the right of full and
adequate retaliation : or, if the measures of the
retaliating power are to be considered as matters
of just offence to neutral nations, whilst the
measure of original aggression and violence are
to be tolerated with indifference, submission, or
complacency.
"The government of the United States did
not fail to remonstrate against the orders in
council of Great Britain. Although they knew
that these orders would be revoked, if the
decrees of France, which had occasioned them,
were repealed ; they resolved at the same moment
to resist the conduct of both belligerents, instead
of requiring France, in the first instance, to

,91P

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GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

rescind her decrees. Applying most unjustly
the same measure of resentment to the aggressor
and to the party aggrieved, they adopted mean
sures of commercial resistance against both-8
system of resistance which, however varied in
the successive acts of embargo, non-intercourse
or non-importation, was evidently unequal in,
its operation, and principally levelled against
the superior commerce, and maratime power 01
Great Britain.
• " The same partiality towards France was
observable in their negociations as in their.meto
sures of alleged resistance,
" Application was made to both belligerents
for a revocation of their respective edicts ; but
the terms in which they were made were widely,
different.
" Of France was required a revocation only
of the Berlin and Milan decrees, although many
other edicts, grossly violating the neutral corn
merce of the United States, had been promtd,
gated by that power. No security was de•
manded, that the Berlin and Milan decrees,
even if revoked, should not t i nder some other
form be re-established: and a direct engagement
was 'offered, that upon such revocation the
American government would take part in the
war against Great Britain, if Great Britain did
not immediately rescind her orders. Whereas
no corresponding engagement was offered to
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Great Britain, of whom it was required, not
only that the orders in council should be repealed, but that no others of a similar nature
should be issued, and that the blockade of
May, 1806, should be also abandoned. This
blockade, established and enforced according to
accustomed practice, had not been objected to
by the United States at the time it was issued.
Its provisions were on the contrary represented
by the American minister, resident in London at
the time, to have been so framed as to afford, in
his judgment, a proof of the friendly disposition
of the British cabinet towards the United
States.
" Great Britain was thus called upon to abandon one of her most important maritime rights;
by acknowledging the order of blockade in
question to be one of the edicts which violated
the commerce of the United States, although it
had never been so considered in the previous
negociations—and although the president of the
United States had recently consented to abrogate
the non-intercourse act, on the sole condition of
the orders in council being revoked; thereby
distinctly admitting these orders to be the only
edicts which fell within the contemplation of
the law under which he acted.
"A proposition so hostile toGreatBritain,could
not but be proportionably encouraging to the
pretensions of the enemy. As, by their alleging



MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN
that the blockade of May, 1806, was illegal, the
American government virtually justified, so far
as depended on them, the French decrees.
"After this proposition had been made, the
French minister for foreign affairs, if not in
concert with that government, at least in conformity with its views, in a dispatch, dated the
5th of August, 1810, and addressed to the American minister resident at Paris, stated, that the
Berlin and IV1ilan decrees were revoked, and
that their operation would cease from the 1st
day of November following, provided his majesty would revoke his orders in council, and
renounce the new principles of blockade ; or
that the United States would cause their rights
to be respected ; meaning thereby, that they
would resist the retaliatory measures of Great
Britain.
" Although the repeal of the French decrees
thus announced was evidently contingent, either
on concessions to be made by Great Britain,
(concessions to which it was obvious Great Britain could not submit), or on measures to be
adopted by the United States of America ; the
American president at once considered, the repeal as absolute. Under that pretence the noni mportation act was strictly entbrced against
Great Britain, whilst the ships of war, and
merchant-ships of the enemy, were received into
the harbours of America.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

-

25

" The American government; assuming the
repeal of the French decrees to be absolute and
effectual, most unjustly required Great Britain,
in conformity to her declarations, to revoke her
orders in council. The British government denied that the repeal, which was announced in
the letter of the French minister for foreign
afrairs, was such as ought to satisfy Great Britain; and in order to ascertain the true character of the measure adopted by France, the
government of the United States was called upon
to produce the instrument, by which the alleged
appeal of the French decrees had been effected.
If these decrees were really revoked, such an
instrument must exist, and no satisfactory reason could be given for withholding it.
" At length, on the 21st of May, 1812, and
not before, the American minister in London
did produce a copy, or at least what purported
to be a copy, of such an instrument.
" It professed to bear date the 28th of April,
1811, long subsequent to the dispatch of the
French minister of foreign affairs of the 5th of
August, 1810, or even the day named therein;
viz. the 1st of November following, when the
operation of the French decrees was to cease.
This instrument expressly declared that these
French decrees were repealed in consequence of
the American legislature having, by their act of
the 1st of March, 1811, provided that British

26

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

ships and merchandize should be excluded
froin the ports and harbours of -the United
States.
" By this instrument, the only dodument produced by America as a repeal of the French
decrees, it appears, beyond a possibility of doubt
or cavil, that the alleged repeal of the French
decrees was conditional, as Great Britain had
asserted, and not absolute or final, as had been
maintained by America : that they were not
repealed at the time they were stated to be repealed by the American government ; that
they were not repealed in conf6rmity with a
propositition simultaneously made to both belligerents ; but that in consequence of a previous
act on the part of the American government,
they were repealed in favour of one belligerent,
to the prejudice of the other ; that the American
government having adopted measures restrictive
upon the commerce of both belligerents, in consequence of edicts issued by both, -rescinded
these measures; as they affected that power
which was the aggressor, whilst they put them.
in full operation against the party aggrieved,
although the edicts of both powers continued
in force ; and, lastly, that they excluded the
ships of war belonging to one belligerent, whilst
they admitted into their ports and harbours the
ships of war belonging to the other, in violation

of one of the plainestiatid most essential duties
of a neutral nation.
" Although the instrument thus produced was
by no means that general and unqualitied,?-evocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees which
Great Britain had continually demanded, and
had a full right to claim ; and although this instrument, under all the circumstances of its appearance at that moment, for the first time, was
open to the strongest suspicions of its authenticity ; yet, as the minister of the United States
produced it, as purporting to be a copy of the
instrument of revocation, the government of
Great Britain, desirous of reverting, if possible,
to the ancient and accustomed principles of maritime war, determined upon revoking, conditionally, the orders in council. Accordingly,
in the month of June last his royal highness
the prince regent was pleased to declare in
council, in the name and VA the behalf of his
Majesty, that the orders in council should be revoked, as far as respected the ships and property
of the United States, from the 1st of August
following: This revocation was to continue in
force, provided the government of the United
States should, within a time to be limited, repeal.
their restrictive laws against British commerce.
His majesty's minister in America was expressly
ordered to declare to the 'government of the
.

-

If

27

28

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

United States, that this measure had been
adopted by the prince regent in the earnest
wish and hope, either that the government of
France by further relaxations of its system,
might render perseverance on the part of Great
Britain, in retaliatory measures, unnecessary;
or, if this hope should prove delusive, that his
majesty's government might be enabled, in the
absence of all irritating and restrictive regulations on either side, to enter, with the government of the United States, into amicable explanations, 1br the purpose of ascertaining whether,
if the necessity of retaliatory measures should unfortunately continue to operate, the particular
measures to be acted upon by Great Britain could
be rendered more acceptable to the American
government than those hitherto pursued.'
" In order to provide for the contingency of a
declaration of war on the part of the United
States, previous to the arrival in America of the
said order of revocation, instructions were sent
to his majesty's minister plenipotentiary, accredited to the United States, (the execution of
which instructions, in consequence of the discontinuance. of Mr. Foster's functions, were, at
a subsequent period, entrusted to admiral Sir
John Borlase Warren,) directing him to propose
a cessation of hostilities, should they have commenced ; and, further, to offer a simultaneous

:

29

repeal of the orders in council, on the one side,
and of the restrictive laws on British ships and
commerce, on the other.
They were also respectively,„empowered to
acquaint the American government, in reply to
any inquiries with respect to the blockade of
May, 1806, whilst the British government must
continue to maintain its legality, that, in point
of fact, this particular blockade had been discontinued for a length of time, having been
merged in the general retaliatory blockade of
the enemy's ports, under the orders in council ;
and that his majesty's government had no intention of recurring to this, or to any other of the
blockades of the enemy's ports, founded upon the
ordinary and accustomed principles of maritime
law, which were in force previous to the orders
in council, without a new notice to neutral
powers, in the usual form.'
"The American government, before they received intimation of the course adopted by the
British government, had, in fact, proceeded to
the extreme measure of declaring war, and issuing letters of marque,' notwithstanding they
were previously in possession of the report of
the French minister for foreign affairs, of the
12th of March, 1812, promulgating anew the
Berlin and Milan decrees as fundamental laws
of the French empire, under the false and extravagant pretext, that the monstrous principles

30

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

therein contained were to be found in the treaty
of Utrecht, and were therefore binding upon
all states. From the penalties of this code no
nation was to be exempt which did not accept
it, not only as the rule of its own conduct but
as a law, the observance of which it was also
required to enforce upon Great Britain.
" In a manifesto, accompanying their decla.
ration of hostilities, in addition to the former
complaints against the orders in council, a long
list of grievances was brought forward ; some
trivial in themselves, others which bad been
mutually adjusted, but none of them such as
were ever before alleged by the American
government to be grounds for war.
" As if to throw additional obstacles in the
way of peace, the American congress at the
same time passed a law prohibiting all intercourse with Great Britain, of such a tenor aF
deprived the executive government, according
to the president's own construction of that act,
of all power of restoring the relations of friendly
intercourse between the two states, so far, at
least, as concerned their commercial intercourse,
until congress should re-assemble.
The president of the United States has, it
is true, since proposed to Great Britain an
armistice ; not, however, on the admission that
the cause of war, hitherto relied on, was removed, but on condition that Great Britain, as

GREAT BRITAIN AND" AMERICA.

31

a preliminary step, should do away a cause of
war, now brought forward as such, for the first
time; namely, that she should abandon the exercise of her undoubted right of search, to take
from American merchant-vessels British seamen,
the natural-born subjects of his majesty ; and this
concession was required upon a mere assurance,
that laws would be enacted by the legislature
of the United States, to prevent such seamen
from entering into their service; but, independent of the objection to an exclusive reliance on
a foreign state, for the conservation of so vital
an interest, no explanation Was, or could be,
afforded by the agent who was charged with
this overture, either as to the main principles
upon IA hich such laws were to be founded, or
as to the provisions which it was proposed they
should contain.
" This proposition having been objected to, a
second proposal was made, again offering an
armistice, provided the British government
would secretly stipulate to renounce the exercise
of this right in a treaty of peace. An immediate
and formal abandonment of its exercise, as a
preliminary to a cessation of hostilities, was not
demanded; but his royal highness the princeregent was required, in the name and on the
behalf of his majesty, secretly to abandon what
the former overture had proposed to him publicly to concede.

MILITARY OCCIIRRENVIESZ;REJAI:D*,;:.

" This most offensive proposition was also
rejected, being accompanied, as the former had
been, by other demands of the most exceptionable nature, and especially of indemnity for all
American vessels detained and condemned under the orders in council, or under what were
termed illegal blockades ; a compliance with
which demands, exclusive of all other objections,
would have amounted to an absolute surrender
cf the rights on which those orders and blockades were founded.
" Had the American government been sincere in representing the orders in council as the
only subject of difference between Great Britain
and the United States, calculated to lead to
hostilities, it might have been expected, so soon
as the revocation of those orders had been officially made known to them, that they would
have spontaneously recalled their letters of
marque,' and manifested a disposition immediately to restore the relations of peace and
amity between the two powers.
" But the conduct of the government of the
United States by no means corresponded with
such reasonable expectations.
" The orders in council of the 23d of June
being officially communicated in America, the
government of the United States saw nothing in
the repeal of the orders in council which should
of itself restore peace, unless Great Britain were

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

33

prepared, in the first instance, substantially to
relinquish the right of impressing her own seamen, when found on board American merchant
ships.
" The proposal of an armistice, and of a
simultaneous repeal of the restrictive measures
on both sides subsequently made by the commanding officer of his majesty's naval forces on
the American coast, were received in the same
hostile spirit by the government of the United
States: The suspension of the practice of impressment was insisted upon, in the correspondence which passed on that occasion, as a necessary preliminary to a cessation of hostilities:
negotiation, it was stated, might take place
without any suspension of the exercise of this
right, and also without any armistice being con-eluded ; but Great Britain was required previously to agree, without any knowledge of the
adequacy of the system which could be substituted, to negotiate upon the basis of accepting
the legislative regulations of a foreign state as
the sole equivalent for the exercise of a right
which she has felt to be essential to the support
of her maritime power.
" If America, by demanding this preliminary
concession, intends to deny the validity of that
right, in that denial Great Britain cannot acquiesce; nor will she give countenance to such a
pretension, by acceding to its suspension, much
VOL. 1.

34

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

less to its abandonment, as a basis on which to
treat. If the American government has devised,
or conceives it can devise, regulations which may
safely be accepted by Great Britain, as a substitute for the exercise of the right in question,
it is for them to bring forward such a plan for
consideration. The British government has never
attempted to exclude this question from amongst
those on which the two states might have to negotiate: it has, on the contrary, uniformly professed
its readiness to receive and discuss any proposition on this subject, coming from the American
government : it has never asserted any exclusive
right, as to the impressment of British seamen
from American vessels, which it was not prep•
red to acknowledge, as appertaining equally to
' the government of the United States, with res.
pect to American seamen when found on board
British merchant ships. But it cannot by acceding to such a basis in the first instance, either
assume, or admit that to be practicable, which,
when attempted on former occasions, has always
been found to be attended with great clinical!
ties ; such difficulties as the British commissioners, in 1806, expressly declared, after an at•
tentive consideration of the suggestions brought
forward by the commissioners on the part of
America, they were unable to surmount.
" Whilst this proposition, transmitted through
the British admiral, was pending in America,
,

REAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

35

another communication, on the subject of an
armistice, was unofficially made to the British
government in this country: The agent from
whom this proposition was received, acknowledged that he did not consider that he had any
authority himself to sign an agreement on the
part of his government. It was obvious that
any stipulations entered into, in consequenceof
this overture, would have been binding on the
British government, whilst the government of
the United States would have been free to refuse
or accept them, according to the circumstances
of the moment. This proposition was, therefore, necessarily declined.
"After this exposition of the circumstances
which preceded, and which have followed the
declaration of war by the United States, his
royal highness the prince regent, acting in the
mime and on the behalf of his majesty, feels
himself called upon to declare the leading principles by which the conduct of Great Britain has
been regulated in the transactions connected
with these discussions.
" His royal highness can never acknowledge
any blockade whatsoever to be illegal, which
has been duly notified, and is supported by an
adequate force, merely upon the ground of its
extent, or because the port or coasts blockaded
are not at the same time invested by land.
His royal highness can never .admit,, that
D 2
,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

36

37

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

neutral trade with Great Britain can be consti•
tuted a public crime, the commission of which
can expose the ships of any power whatever to
be denationalized.
" His royal highness can never admit, that
Great Britain can be debarred of its right of
just and necessary retaliation, through the fear
of eventually affecting the interest of a neutral.
His royal highness can never admit, that in
the exercise of the undoubted, and hitherto
undisputed, right of searching neutral merchant.
vessels in time of war, the impressment of British
seamen, when found therein, can be deemed any
violation of a neutral flag. Neither can he
admit, that the taking such seamen from on
board such vessels, can be considered by any
neutral state as a hostile measure, or a justifiable
cause of war.
" There is no right more clearly established,
than the right which a sovereign has to the alle•
giance of his subjects, more especially in time
of war. Their allegiance is no optional duty,
which they can decline and resume at pleasure.
It is a call which they are bound to obey ; it
began with their birth, and can only terminate
with their existence.
" If a similarity of language and manners
may make the exercise of this right more liable
to partial mistakes, and occasional abuse, when
practised towards vessels of the United States,

the same circumstances make it also a right with
the exercise of which, in regard to such vessels,
it is more difficult to dispense.
`` But if to the practice of the United States
to harbour British seamen, be added their
assumed right to transfer the allegiance of British
subjects, and thus to cancel the jurisdiction of
their legitimate sovereign, by acts of naturalization and certificates of citizenship, which they
pretend to be as valid out of their own territory
as within it, it is obvious, that to abandon this
ancient right of Great Britain, and to admit
these novel pretensions of the United States,
would be to expose to danger the very foundation of our maritime strength.
•a " Without entering minutely into the other
topics which have been brought forward by the
government of the United States, it may be proper to remark, that whatever the declaration of
the United States may have asserted, Great.
Britain never did demand that they should
force British manufactures into France : and she
formerly declared her willingness entirely to
forego, or modify, in concert with the United
States, the system by which a commercial. intercourse with the enemy had been allowed under
the protection of licenses ; provided the United
States would act towards her, and towards
France, with real impartiality.
" The government of America, if the differ-

38

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

ence between states are not interminable, Ii
as little right to notice the affair of the Ches
peake. The aggression, in this instance, on th
part of u 'British officer, was acknowledged;
his condtiet was disapproved ; and a reparation
was-regularly tendered by Mr. Foster on the
part of his majesty, and accepted by the govern.
went of the United States.
" It is not less unwarranted in its allusion to
the mission of Mr. Henry ; a mission undertaken
without the authority, or even knowledge, of
his majesty's government, and which Mr. Foster
was authorized formally and officially to disavow.
" The charge of exciting the Indians to offen.
sive measures against the United States is equally
void of foundation. Before the war began, a
policy the most opposite had been uniformly
pursued, and proof of this was tendered by Mr,
Foster to the American government.
" Such are the causes of war which have been
put forward by the government of the United
'States.' ►''But the real origin of the present contest will be found in that spirit which has long
unhappily actuated the councils of the United
States : their marked partiality in palliating
and assisting the aggressive tyranny of France;
their systematic endeavours. to enflame the people against the defensive measures of Great
Britain ; their ungenerous conduct towards

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

39

Spain, the intimate ally of Great Britain ; and
their unworthy desertion of the cause of other
neutral nations. It is through the prevalence of
such councils that America has been associated
in policy with France, and committed in war
against Great Britain.
" And under what conduct, on the part of
France, has the government of the United States
thus lent itself to the enemy ? The contemptuous violation of the commercial treaty of the
year 1800 between France and the United
States ; the treacherous seizure of all American
vessels and cargoes in every harbour subject to
the controul of the French arms : the tyrannical
principles of the Berlin and Milan decrees, and
the confiscations under them; the subsequent
confiscations under the Rambouillet decree,
antedated or concealed to render it the more
effectual ; the French commercial regulations,
which render the traffic of the United States
with France almost illusory ; the burning of
their merchant-ships at sea, long after the alleged
repeal of the French decrees—all these acts of
violence, on the part of France, produce from
the government of the United States, only such
complaints as end in acquiescence and submission, or are accompanied by suggestions for
enabling France to give the semblance of a legal
form to her usurpations, by converting them
into municipal regulations.

40

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

This disposition of the government of thti
- United States—this complete subserviency to
•the ruler of France—this hostile temper towards
Great Britain—are evident in almost every page
of the 'official correspondence of the American
with the French government.
"Against this course of conduct, the real
cause of the present war, the prince-regent
solemnly 'protests. Whilst contending against
France, in defence not only of the liberties of

Great Britain but of the world, his royal high.
mess was entitled to look for a far different
result. From their common origin, from their
common interest, from their professed princi.
ides of freedom sand independence;i.' the United
States were the last power in which Great Britain could have expected to find a willing instrument and abettor of French tyranny.
"Disappointed in this, his just expectation,
the prince regent will still pursue the policy
which the British government has so long and
invariably maintained, in repelling injustice,
"andin.supporting the general rights of nations;
and, under the favor of Providence, relying on
the justice of his cause, and the tried loyalty
and firmness. of the British nation, his royal
highness confidently looks forward to a successful:issue to the contest in which he has thus
been compelled most reluctantly to engage."
The temperate language, dignified style, and

41

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

fair and manly arguments, which distinguish this
important document, afford a happy contrast to
the petulant complaints and laboured sophisms
to be found in Mr. Madison's message. One
part of the latter, however, can be more satisfactorily answered now, than it could have been
at the date of the regent's declaration. The president protests vehemently against the " crying
enormity" of impressing "thousands of American
citizens;" and the government-editors in the
United States have long been in the practice of
assuring their readers, that the real number of
their fellow citizens impressed by the British was
6'257. The following extract, taken from a Boston work entitled—" The Massachusetts' Manual,
or Political and Historical Register; by William
Burdick," — will exhibit this matter in its true
light:
,.;

During the debate on the Lott Bill in the United States'
house of representatives in March, 1814, Mr. Pickering, of
Massachusetts remarked—" I wish, Mr. Chairman, to present
one more view of this subject of impressments ; the result of an
examination of the public documents, about a year ago, by one
of my colleagues. By those documents, the grand total is the
6257
well known number,
"

From which he deducted for the same name, and
apparently the same person, twice, thrice, or 548
more times repeated,
For an excess arising from some errors between}
the returns of 1805 and 1808,
Leming,

757-1305

4952

I
42

GREAT BRITAIN :AND AMERICA.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN
• ,!.

Brought over —
,From which he deducted acknowledged British 1
subjects,

9952
51 6

those who had no protecting documents, 568
those with insufficient documents,
664
those who had entered voluntarily,
281
those with fraudulent protections,
105
deserters, •
95
those
married
in
Great
Britain,
42
ctti
ithoi neutral aliens and natives of the West Ind. 50
prisoriers of war,
21-2432
9111 m
Leaving,
From this number he deducted one-third, which )
appeared to him, from the documents, rather
less than the full proportion of seamen im- •t_
pressed from British merchant vessels, in which,
if not British subjects, the American flag could
afford no pretence for protection,

2520

Leaving,
Ftom the last number he deducted those who had
been discharged, or had been ordered to be discharged,

1680

el 9 .

-

r

840

1524

only, that the United States' government adopts
this novel principle; for, when one Elijah Clarke;
who had emigrated from the United States to
the Canadas, and there taken the oath of allegiance to the British government, returned to
his native country, and 'was, on the 20th of October, 1813, tried, and sentenced to be hung, as
a British spy, -the secretary of war, by direc-:
of the United States, ordered
tion of the
him to be discharged, on the principle—" that
said Clarke, being considered a citizen of the
United States, was not liable to be tried by a
court-martial."*
The denial of a nation's right to take deserters
is made equally subservient to the narrow policy
of the moment ; as appears from the following
fact, published in most of the American newspapers of the day:
On the 1st June, 1809, an American vessel,
bound from Ogdensburg, New York, to Oswego,
anchored in a bay on the British side of the St.
Lawrence, having onboard capt. W. P. Bennet, of
the 6th United States' Infantry, and some of his
men. While lying there, capt. Bennet, hearing
that a deserter by the name of Underhill was in
that settlement teaching school, despatched a
serjeant and two men to apprehend him. This
they effected, tied his hands behind him, and at
the point of the bayonet drove him some dis-

;

Leaving, unaccounted for,

156"

In all questions of impressment, the American
government has appeared to consider, equally
as its subjects, the native, and the naturalized
citizen ; analt is too notorious for what a paltry
§urn a British soldier or sailor can purchase every
privilege of the latter, in pretended abrogation
of the allegiance he owes to the country of his
birth. It is, however, as a matter of conyenience
31

'

43

* Burdick's Pol. and Hist. Reg. p. 194.

44

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

tance, till the prisoner making an attempt to escape, the party fired at, and killed him: they then
fled to their boat, and proceeded to the American
side. Capt. Bennet was tried by a court-martial
for this offence, and acquitted.*
This forcible seizure of a deserter from out of
the British territory by an American officer,
happened just two years subsequent to the affair
of the Leopard and Chesapeake; in which all that
the British officer required was, to have certain
deserters delivered up to him.t How are we to
reconcile the acquittal of captain W. P. Bennet
with the conduct of the American government,
both at the period of the asserted outrage in
the Chesapeake's case, and five years afterwards, when it was revived as one of the pre.
texts for declaring war against Great Britain ?—
Who can help admiring Mr. Madison's profitable versatility, when, in March, 1813, he could
pronounce against us the following specific
charge They have refused to consider as prisoners of war, and threatened to punish as traitors and deserters, persons emigrating without
restraint to the United States ; incorporated by
naturalization into our political family, and
fighting under the authority of their adopted
country, in :..open and honorable war, for the
maintenance of its rights andSafety"?
.„_
The charge of exciting the
to offensive


* I3urdick's Rehr. p. 16£3. +-James's Naval Occurr. p. 67.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

45

measures against the United States, would not
have needed a disavowal, had the system of spoliation, so long practised towards those wretched
people, been as well known in Europe as it is in
the British parts of America. The Indians
cannot exist without their hunting grounds :
these are continually cut down, and encroached
upon, by the white borderers. It is true, purchases are sometimes made; but it is not less
true that, where one acre is held by right, ten
acres have been extorted by force. An Indian,—
no matter upon what provocation,—kills an American citizen ; a thousand -presses* lend their aid
to spread the exaggerated tale, and the whole
republic up in arms against the savage and
his tribe! An American citizen,— out of mere
wantonness, and with as little remorse as if it
were a wild turkey,—shoots a poor Indian : the
yells of the widowed squaw and her children rend
the air in vain ; no publicity is given to the
murder, unless the civilized barbarian may choose
to disclose to his friends that ..which, he well
knows, they will either treat as a jest, or view
with indifference;
* Scarcely a village in the U. States is without one.

Item sets