Gambar halaman

But this, after all, is a minor consideration. The truth is that under no circumstances could Marat's book have produced a ferment in respect to Parliamentary reform or have had any influence upon the passing of a place bill, for the simple reason that Parliamentary reform is never once suggested in The Chains of Slavery. This is astonishing in the light of Marat's declaration to the contrary. It is all the more astonishing, because a careful reader will at once observe that in one part of the book such remedies ought to be suggested. This is at the end of a long discussion on Parliamentary abuses. In turning to the French version, the wonder grows, for here we find this long fragment of the English version set apart as a separate article, entitled “Discours aux Anglois le 15 avril 1774, sur les vices de leur Constitution, et les moyens d'y remédier”, and we find at the close of this “Discours " what we should expect in the English version, a statement of remedies for the reform of the abuses. 16

It is now evident why Marat said that he had suggested these remedies in the English version of The Chains of Slavery. They were before his eyes in the French “Discours” as he wrote his introductory note for the French version. There still remains a point, however, which needs explanation. Must he not have had a copy of the English version in his possession, and would not a

[ocr errors]

16 Herman Merivale, in his Historical Studies, published in 1865, has an essay called “ A Few Words on Junius and on Marat", in which he deals with Marat's account of The Chains of Slavery, which he sees no particular reason to doubt. He had only the French version before him, and yet he feels justified in saying that Marat's “Discours aux Anglois le 15 avril 1774, sur les vices de leur Constitution, et les moyens d'y remédier ", is in all probability not by Marat, but merely a translation from an English original. “ It is all but impossible to read it ”, he declares, “and not suppose that it was originally written in English by an Englishman” (p. 199, and see also p. 203). A reading of the English version of the “ Discours”, buried as it is in the text of The Chains of Slavery, corroborates Merivale's suspicion. In the first place, it is a criticism of Parliament rather than of princes, and The Chains was written to expose the tyranny of princes, not parliaments. There is therefore no apparent justification for its incorporation in the book, and so Marat sets it apart in the French version. Again, it is a lucid criticism of the concrete faults of the English constitution in so far as Parliament is concerned, whereas the rest of the book is given over to abstract reflections upon the tyranny of princes. Then too this long fragment of thirty pages fits in ill with the plan of the book, which is in all other parts divided into short chapters, after the fashion of Montesquieu's Esprit des Lois. Then the style is very different. The English, a little pompous and Johnsonian, is excellent, forcible, and lucid. Gallicisms are absent. The author's knowledge of his subject is fairly complete. Again the fragment has no apparent connection with the paragraphs which immediately precede and immediately follow it. Merivale is certainly right. It is the work of an glishman. I believe the same is true of the Address to the Electors of Great Britain ”, though this is by no means certain.

AM. HIST. REV., VOL. XVI. ---3.


glance at this have shown him that he failed to make the suggestions for legislation in its pages? It is natural to suppose that this would be the case, but it was not. Marat had sold his copy of the English book to a Paris bookseller, and that without learning the name of the buyer." In preparing the French edition, which he apparently did from the French text in which he had first written the book, he wished to consult this vanished copy of the English version. Why?

Why? In all probability because he had a lingering doubt in respect to his assertion that he had suggested legislation for Parliamentary reform in the English version. He probably never recovered the English copy, and so made the mistake of affirming what was absolutely false.

Marat may be excused for an error made when he had to guess at what he had printed nineteen years before, but his inability to state facts accurately, even when he had them before his eyes, is altogether inexcusable. A comparison of the “ Lettre de l'auteur au Président des États-Généraux", of August 23, 178), with the " Discours addressé aux Anglois ", will show clearly that he was not capable of copying his own assertions accurately. In both these documents, he summarizes the four pieces of remedial legi-lation which he falsely declares he suggested to the English in 1774.18 They are: (1) the abolition of rotten boroughs; (2) the transfer to Parliament of the royal power to create peers; (3) a place bill; (4) the verification of the treasury accounts upon the demand, with reasons given, of a few members of the lower house. Now the contents of these four bills, in the two cases, are not absolutely the same. The suggestion for the abolition of rotten boroughs in the “ Lettre" is to the effect that this be done by incorporating these boroughs with the surrounding counties in the exercise of the franchise; whereas in the “ Discours " the demand is that the rotten boroughs shall be incorporated with the neighboring cities. The second demand in the “ Lettre" is that the power of the king to create peers shall be transferred to Parliament, but in the “ Discours it is added that this power shall not be exercised except to elevate plebeians who have rendered signal services to the country. The third suggestion in the “ Lettre " is that a bill shall be passed excluding from Parliament all persons holding any place at the disposition of the crown. In the " Discours”, however, Marat includes

17 .

“ Le citoyen auquel j'ai cédé l'exemplaire des Chaines de l’Esclavage, The Chains of Slavery, est prié de vouloir bien envoyer incessamment son addresse à l'auteur, No. 30 rue des Cordeliers, qui lui demande la permission de consulter cet ouvrage pour quelques observations essentielles." Journal de la République Française, no. 111, February 1, 1793, p. 8. In no. 115 of the Journal, p. 8. he adds to the above notice, the following: “Comme c'est un libraire, dont le nom m'est inconnu, auquel il a été remis, je prie tous les citoyens de cette profession qui prendront lecture de cet avertissement, de vouloir bien le communiquer à leurs confrères." This notice is repeated on page 8 of the numbers for February 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 20.

18 Les Chaines de l'Esclatage, pp. 327, 356.


“ pensioners as well as placemen. The fourth suggestion in the “Lettre " is to the effect that the treasury accounts shall be verified on the demand, with reasons given, of three members of the lower house, while in the “Discours” the number of members is set at two. Finally, and most serious of all, in the “ Lettre " Marat tells us that the place bill was passed in full, whereas in a note to the “Discours” he informs us that the bills for the abolition of rotten boroughs and for the exclusion of placemen were proposed in Parliament, but did not pass.

Marat is guilty then of telling us a story about the publication of his book in England which is false in almost every particular where we can control his assertions, and finally he shows himself unable to tell the exact truth in a matter where there was no motive for falsehood and no difficulty in stating the facts as they were. Consequently, it is impossible to credit his statements in cases where there is no corroborative evidence for them. And as a corollary to this conclusion, all present lives of Marat are well-nigh valueless. The biography of Marat remains to be written.



It hardly need be said that from 1836 to 1845, even amid all the inconsistencies that surrounded it, Mexican feeling in regard to Texas and the Texan question was consistently bitter. In opening Congress on the first day of January, 1838, President Bustamante said: "With respect to the Texas campaign, I will only observe that its prosecution is the first duty of the Government and of all Mexicans”; and this was the refrain perpetually. The province had rebelled; by the fortune of war a Mexican army had been vanquished; a Mexican president had been taken prisoner; the national honor must therefore be vindicated, and the national interests must be protected. The smallest crumb of victory against the “rebels" was hailed with unbounded exultation. Even as far from the capital as Tabasco, La Aurora, on hearing of a successful raid, exclaimed: “What Mexican does not feel in his breast an insuppressible joy on seeing the arms of his nation triumphant ever against a horde of infamous bandits?” “C'rgent necessity of the Texas war", became a stock phrase with journalists and pamphleteers, and the trumpet was sounded in every key?

In addition to this fundamental sentiment, there were certain related ideas that increased its power. Foreign nations are watch

. ing our conduct in this matter, argued the writers, hoping to make us the plaything of their whims and designs. The American Union in particular was represented as covetous of its neighbor's territory and even as plotting to extinguish her independence. The l'nited States, “in their delirious ambition, aspire to plant their unclean flag, the emblem of treason, ingratitude, and injustice, in beautiful and opulent Mexico", cried a pamphleteer in 1842; and this idea became almost as familiar and almost as unquestioned as the doctrine of the Trinity. Moreover the influence of the Texan affair was artificially increased by certain politicians who found it useful, and particularly by Santa Anna, that prince of schemers. He, on opening Congress in 1842, spoke thus with reference to the war:

1 The words State Dept." refer to the archives of the l'nited States State Department; "F. O.” to the archives of the British Foreign Office preserved at the Public Record Office, London; and “ Sria. Relac." to the archives of the Secretaria de Relaciones, Mexico. 2 Bustamante, F. O., Mexico, CXIII. ; La Aurora, October 27, 1842.



“If we wish to preserve an honorable name among civilized nations, it is necessary that we should employ all our energies and resources in combating without ceasing, and at any sacrifice and all hazards, until our arms and our pretensions shall finally triumph"; and in time this matter became an integral part of Mexican life and consciousness, overpowering the imagination and sapping the strength of the nation like a cancer.3

Intelligent men saw, however, that Texas could not be recovered, and a few dared speak of peace. Cañedo, for instance, did so when Minister of Foreign Relations in 1839, and early in 1844 that statesman expressed a similar view in the Revista Económica y Comercial de la República Mexicana. Since 1836, he there argued, the Texans have gained strength in all ways, and “the permanence of their nationality can no longer be regarded as problematical.” No doubt Mexico has a right to put down rebellion; but all rebels, if they succeed, are recognized as sovereign states. The Texans are brave, hardy, skilful. “Displaying an enthusiasm that borders on madness, they fight with untiring constancy and unflinching resolution in the cause of their independence”, and no reverses can discourage them.

Our troops, on the other hand, would struggle against them under every disadvantage. Really the only chance of success would be in a naval attack, and for that we lack not only ports and navy yards but a merchant marine in which to train our seamen. We should have to obtain vessels and officers from abroad; and the foreigners would not only feel no patriotic interest in the cause, but would despise the Mexicans under their command. Hence bickerings would arise and not a few of the men would be likely to desert. Besides, war with one country would be war with two. The American government “cannot prevent their people from taking part in preparations for the defense of Texas "—the inducements are too strong. And for what purpose would all our efforts be made? To subjugate a horde of aliens and recover a province less valuable to us than the least productive of those we still have, only to find it necessary in the end either to exterminate the inhabitants or to settle the matter by negotiation. Many say it is better to continue the war, because if peace be made the Texans will encroach upon us.

But in that case all the advantages would lie upon our side. It would be for them to make the long marches, to operate in a foreign country, to contend against an alien race. Nor should it be objected that further secessions would occur as the consequence

* Urgente Necesidad de la Guerra de Tejas (México, 1842); Santa Anna, National Intelligencer, July 22, 1842.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »