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Should the South American patriots succeed at last in compelling the Spanish invaders to cease their attempts to suffer them to remain in quietness, what will be the probable result? Their enemies will of course say, that they will fall into dissensions and civil wars, and finally destroy each other. The same friendly anticipation was continually repeated respecting the United States; and as it has turned out to be false in this instance, why may it not be false also with respect to South America ? It was said, amongst other silly things, that the difference of habits in the northern and southern sections of this country would produce hostility. “What !” exclaimed an American writer, do you suppose that because the people of New England sell cod-fish, and the Virginians tobacco, that they must therefore fight?” What causes of difference can exist, for instance, between Mexico and New Granada, or between them and the provinces south of the Amazons, or between the colonies, east and west of the Cordilleras ? The long narrow. Isthmus of Darien will always keep the two first at a distance from each other; the vast tracts of country from the Oroonoco to the Plata, and the extensive dominions of Portugal, as large as all Europe, which intervene, will form, if possible, a more complete separation. The Andes, not to be traversed at some seasons, and always a barrier more difficult to pass than the Pyrenees, if the inhabitants of either side do not choose to open the way, will enable the republic of the Pacific, at any time, to shut out the armies of the Atlantic side.
In fact the confused ideas which we have of the interior of South America, lead us into the strangest errors of opinion. The colonies of Spain now, struggling for independence, are separated by nature into five distinct compartments, with much greater difficulties of intercourse than the United States with Mexico. This has been one great cause of their want of success. They are unable to cooperate or pursue a common plan. The provinces beyond the Isthmus, could have no communications with Mexico, and they were separated by impassable deserts of several thousand miles from Buenos Ayres, and still more from Chili. The character of the population of these distant compartments is also very different ; the great number of civilised Indians or mixed races in Mexico, is an important feature; the provinces on the other side of the Isthmus, and along the main, have a greater proportion of people of color ; while the inhabitants of the colonies on the side of the Brazils are composed like ourselves, of the descendants of Europeans chiefly; and on the Pacific, the population is of a kind still more homogeneous. We were continually in the habit of forming our opinions of American affairs, from the news we received from the contest in Granada or Venezuela, which had nothing more to do
with the contest on the Plata and west of the Andes, than the war of India with that of Spain. "It is in Granada and Venezuela, 'that the war, carried on by the royalists and the patriots, has assumed that shocking and exterminating cast of which so many instances are recited. It was here that Spain directed her greatest efforts ; it is here we are told the people are split and divided into factions among themselves--that they are fighting without concert or plan, under no common chief, and that they have yet established no regular government. It ought however to be considered, that this country had once been entirely in the possession of the patriots who had succeeded in establishing governments, which for two years went on with regularity ; but when Spain was free to throw in her whole disposable force, their cities were taken and their lead. ing men basely assassinated. Would not our own country have exhibited a similiar picture, if our patriots had been compelled to fly beyond the Alleganies, and all the leaders of our revolution treacherously seized and put to death? This was never the state of La Plata ; Chili for a time was overrun, but she has again risen, and in close alliance with La Plata, may safely bid defiance to Spain.
It will be said, however, that it will not be between these distant empires of Mexico, Granada, or La Plata, that dissensions are to be feared, but that in each particular province, factions, rivalries, contests for precedence, conflicting parties will have place. Such consequences, I admit, would probably be dangerous any where but in America. In Europe, if the nobility were permitted to indulge their ambition without restraint, the rivalries of different houses would naturally terminate in civil wars, and if nobles and kings were put down, mobs would rule ; but in America there are neither nobility nor mobs like those of Europe ; every man in a thinly inhabited country, counts something; there are no lazzaroni, there are no miserable creatures « who beg for leave to toil,” there are no materials for mercenary troops and standing armies, and the inhabitants scattered over a vast surface of country, are not carried away by gusts of popular phrensy, wrought up by the designing and ambitious. Ninety-nine out of a hundred of the European wars, have arisen from the intrigues and private feuds of families, and for causes in which the nations had no concerrà, and nearly all the mobs, or popular commotions, have been occasioned by the want of bread. There is nothing in which the wise politicians of Europe are so apt to err, as in their application of experience derived entirely from their own countries to a state of things altogether different. It is not to be expected, however, that the emancipated colonies are to settle down into sober order, and to form regular
governments, without considerable fermentation. To establish
be placed, their condition must be rapidly ameliorated. But should they happily imitate the wise policy of the United States, in opening a free trade with all nations, receiving and tolerating all foreigners, they must rapidly increase in population, and all their. resources will be quickly brought into action. They will attract the ingenious and enterprising from every part of the world ; a
spring will be given to their industry ; plains, now uninhabited will be peopled ; cities will rise, and improvements will be speedily effected throughout all the ramifications of society. The discovery of America will then indeed be complete. The United States, as being in the vicinity, will certainly be more permanently benefited; but Europe in general, and more particularly England, will derive incalculable advantages. The time will come when Europe will visit America for the double purpose of enjoying her vast commerce and of finding a passage to the East; America will then be the centre of commercial attraction to the whole world. We shall then verify the poetic prediction of Bishop BERKELEY:
« Westward the course of empire takes its way,
The four first aets already past;
“ Time's noblest offspring is the last.”
The following is extracted from the Edinburgh Review of Molina's account of Chili. It proves that the idea of a passage to the South Sea is not visionary, and at the same time shows how inconsistent is the policy of Spain with the great and permanent interests of the colonies and of the world:
" In the year 1805, a spherical chart of the sea of the Antilles, and of the coast of Terra Firma, froin the Island of Trinidad to the Gulf of Honduras, was constructed in the hydrographical department, by order of the Spanish governnment, from scientific surveys. By this chart an important discovery was made. The bay of Mandinga, an immense inlet of the sea, commencing about ten leagues to the eastward of Porto Bello, penetrates into the Isthmus to within five leagues of the Pacific Ocean. This prodigious bason, which is almost closed by a chain of islands, running close to one another at the mouth, has never been navigated by any European except Spaniards, and was never supposeil to run back to any considerable extent into the country, as all the old charts in which it is marked abundantly testify. A river, from the name of which the bay is, denominated, falls into the bottom of the Gulf. This river is navigable, and we know conies very near a branch of the Chepo, a large river which falls into the Gulf of Panama.-We are not yet furnished with any satisfactory details on the navigable state of these rivers; but from what Alcedo tells us from the circumstances of their navigation being prohibited by the Spanish government under pain of death, on the express ground that it might discover the facility of the passage to the South Sea; and from the fact of the buccaneers having actually penetrated from sea to sea in
rotten monarchy in the shocking work of putting back the colonies two centuries, by a system of extermination. These ideas may be thought visionary to some, but they will become history sooner than many imagine.
What would be the advantages to the United States from the independence of the Spanish colonies? I defy any one to point out a disadvantage. Have we not already found much benefit since the commencement of our revolution, from the vicinity of the Spanish provinces, notwithstanding the narrow, jealous, and restricted intercourse with them? And whence has this proceeded ? From our commerce with them ; from the market we found there for much of our surplus agricultural produce, and from the opportunity of taking their produce and selling it to other nations. Should we not then be gainers by the extension of this market ? Let it be remembered that in the short period of twenty years, our population will, in all probability, amount to twenty
millions ; that manufactures will be much increased in the Eastern section of the Union ; that our shipping will want employment; and that the increase in the demands of Europe, in all probability, will not keep pace with the increase in our surplus, but that we shall always find a ready and profitable market in free South America. Our country is peculiarly well situated to maritime enterprise ; our two thousand miles of Atlantic coast are wonderfully penetrated with fine bays and inlets, and traversed by large rivers. We have already made the most surprising progress in maritime affairs ; but since the peace in Europe, we are not able to enter into a competition with Europeans in commerce across the Atlantic ; the West Indies and South America are the proper fields for our commerce, and the more those fields are enlarged the better it will be. New Spain, unquestionably the finest part of the new world, and destined by nature to be the richest part of America, and even now this direction, we are entitled to conclude that extraordinary facilities for the great enterprise are here presented. The bay has ten fathoms of water at the entrance, which increases to eleven in the middle, and it has six fa. thoms to the very bottom." The reviewers, after proceeding to adduce some statements of Herrera, the famed historian of South America, draw the fullowing conclusion :-"By this indubitable authority, it appears, that a canal of nine leagues, through a country mostly fat, is all that is wanting to complete the navigation across the Isthmus of Panama,
“ In the event of a complete and permanent independence of South America (an event bighly probable) it is not unreasonable to expect, that within fifty years the North and South Seas will be connected. And what a stupendous revolution it would produce in navigation and commerce ! The distances to India and China would be shortened more than 10,000 miles."
[For an answer to these and other visionary speculations concerning the Isthmus of Panama, and for observations on the land route between the two oceans, from Buenos Ayres to Santiago, see Colonial Journal, vol. iii. p. 86, and vol. v. p. 28.]