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on the part of Great Britain, as would not be inconsistent with “the most strictly conceived system of Neutrality.”-Nor has any period occurred, throughout the whole of the intercourse of the British Government with Spain, at which the Spanish Government has been for one moment led, by that of Great Britain, to believe, that the policy of His Majesty, in a Contest between France and Spain, would be other than neutral.
In pursuance of this request, and of his previous declaration at Verona, His Majesty's Plenipotentiary received Instructions at Paris, to make to the French Government the offer of His Majesty's Mediation. In making this offer the British Government deprecated, from motives of expediency as well as from considerations of justice, the employment towards Spain of a language of reproach or intimidation. They represented as matter of no light moment, the first breach, by whatever Power, of that general pacific Settlement which had been so recently established, and at the cost of so many sufferings and sacrifices to all Nations. Nor did they disguise from the French Government, the anxiety with which they looked forward to all the possible issues of a new War in Europe, if once begun.
In addition to suggestions such as these, the British Government endeavoured to learn from the Cabinet of the Tuileries, the nature and amount of the specifick Grievances, of which His Most Christian Majesty complained, against Spain; and of such specifick Measures of redress or conciliation on the part of Spain, as would arrest the progress of His Most Christian Majesty's warlike preparations.
The French Government declined the formal Mediation of His Majesty; alleging, in substance, that the necessity of its warlike preparations was founded, not so much upon any direct cause of Complaint against Spain, which might be susceptible of accurate specification and of practical adjustment, as upon the general position in which the Two Kingdoms found themselves placed towards each other;-upon the effect which all that was passing and had been for some time passing in Spain produced upon the peace and tranquillity of His Most Christian Ma. jesty's Dominions ;-upon the burdensomeness of that defensive armament which France had thought Herself obliged to establish on Her Frontier towards Spain, and which it was alike inconvenient to Her to maintain; or, without some change of circumstances which would justify such change of counsel, to withdraw;-upon a state of things in short, which it was easier to understand than to define; but which, taken al. together, was so intolerable to France, that open hostility would be far preferable to it.-War would at least have a tendency to some conclysion; whereas the existing state of the relations between France and Spain might continue for an indefinite time: increasing every day the difficulties of Spain, and propagating disquietude and alarm through. out the French Army and Nation.
But although His Most Christian Majesty's Government declined on these grounds, a formal Mediation, they professed an earnest desire for Peace, and accepted His Majesty's “Good Offices” with Spain for that object.
Contemplating all the mischiefs which War might inflict upon France, and through France ultimately perhaps upon all Europe; and which it must inflict, more immediately and inevitably, upon Spain,whose internal animosities and agitations a Foreign War could not but exasperate and prolong,--the British Government was deeply impressed with the necessity of Peace for both Kingdoms; and resolved, therefore, whether invested or not with the formal Character of Mediator, to make every effort, and to avail Itself of every chance, for the prevention of hostilities. The Question was now become a question simply and entirely between Spain and France; and the practical point of inquiry was, not so much how the relations of those two Governments had been brought into their present awkward complication, as how that complication could be solved, without recourse to arms, and an amicable adjustment produced, through mutual explanation and concession.
Nothing could have induced His Majesty to suggest to the Spanish Nation, a revision of its Political Institutions, as the price of His Majesty's friendship. But Spaniards of all parties and descriptions, admitted some Modifications of the Constitution of 1812, to be indispensably necessary: and if, in such a crisis as that in which Spain now found Herself, -distracted at once by the miseries of Civil War, and by the apprehension of Foreign Invasion,--the adoption of Modifications, so admitted to be desirable in themselves, might afford a prospect of composing her internal dissensions, and might at the same time furnish to the French Government a motive for withdrawing from the menacing position which it had assumed towards Spain, the British Government felt that no scruple of delicacy, or fear of misconstruction, ought to restrain them from avowing an earnest wish, that the Spaniards could prevail upon themselves to consider of such Modifications, or, at least, to declare their disposition to consider of them hereafter.
It is useless now to discuss what might have been the result of His Majesty's anxious endeavours to bring about an Accommodation between France and Spain, if nothing had occurred to interrupt their progress. Whatever might be the indisposition of the Spanish Government to take the first step towards such an accommodation, it cannot be disguised, that the Principles avowed and the pretensions put forward by the French Government, in the Speech from the Throne at the Opening of the Chambers at Paris, created new.obstacles to the success of friendly intervention, . The communication of that Speech to the British Government was accompanied indeed with venewed assurances of the pacifick disposition of France; and the French Ministers adopted a construction of the passage most likely to create an unfavourable impression in Spain, which stripped it of a part of its objectionable character. But all the attemps of the British. Government to give effect at Madrid to such assurances and explanations, proved unavailing. The hopes of success became gradually fainter: and have now vanished altogether.
It remains only to describe the Conduct which it is His Majesty's desire and intention to observe, in a Conflict between two Nations, to each of whom His Majesty is bound by the ties of Amity and Alliance.
The repeated disavowal, by His Most Christian Majesty's Government, of all views of ambition and aggrandizement, forbids the suspicion of any design on the part of France, to establish a permanent Military Occupation of Spain; or to force His Catholick Majesty into any Measures, derogatory to the Independence of His Crown, or to His existing Relations with other Powers.
The repeated assurances which His Majesty has received, of the determination of France to respect the Dominions of His Most Faithful Majesty, relieve His Majesty from any apprehension of being called upon to fulfil the obligations of that intimate ·Defensive Connection, which has so long subsisted between the Crowns of Great Britain and Portugal.
With respect to the Provinces in America, which have thrown off their Allegiance to the Crown of Spain, time and the course of events appear to have substantially decided their separation from the Mother Country; although the formal recognition of those Provinces, as Independent States, by His Majesty, may be hastened or retarded by various external circumstances, as well as by the more or less satisfactory progress, in each State, towards a regular and settled Form of Government. Spain has long been apprised of His Majesty's opinions upon this subject. Disclaiming in the most solemn manner any intention of appropriating to Himself the smallest portion of the late Spanish Possessions in America, His Majesty is satisfied that no attempt will be made by France, to bring under Her dominion any of those Possessions, either by Conquest or by Cession, from Spain.
This frank explanation upon the Points on which perhaps alone the possibility of any collision of France with Great Britain can be · apprehended in a war between France and Spain, your Excellency will represent to M. de Chateaubriand, as dictated by an earnest desire to be enabled to preserve, in that War, a strict and undeviating Neutrality: a Neutrality not liable to alteration towards either Party, so long as the Honour and just Interests of Great Britain are equally respected by both.
I am commanded, in conclusion, to direct your Excellency to declare to the French Minister, that His Majesty will be at all times ready to renew the interposition of His Good Offices, for the purpose of terminating those Hostilities, which His Majesty has so anxiously, although ineffectually, endeavoured to avert.
I am, &c.
GEORGE CANNING. H. E. The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Stuart.
Page 1. Confidential Minute of Viscount Castlereagh
on the Affairs of Spain. -Communicated to the Courts of Austria, France, Prussia and Russia.
. May 1820 71 2. Instructions drawn up by The Marquess of
Londonderry; and transferred to The Duke of Wellington,
Sept. 14, 1822 74 3. The Duke of Wellington to Mr. Sec. Canning, Verona, ....Oct. 29, 74 4. Mr. Sec. Canning to The Duke of Wellington, Foreign Office, Nov. 8, 75 5. Memorandum communicated by M. de Jabat 10 Mr. Secretary Canning,
..Feb. 18, 1823 75
FRANCE. 1. Mr. Secretary Cagoing to Sir Charles Stuart, Foreign Office, Mar. 31, 1823 76
Inclosure. Separate Article to the Treaty
between Great Britain and Spain, Madrid,
July 5, 1814 ..... 2. Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning, Paris,......... April 7, 1823 77
PORTUGAL. 1. Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir Charles Stuart, Foreign Office, Dec. 3, 1822 77 2. Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Capning, Paris, Dec. 12, 77 8. The Vicomte de Chateaubriand to the Portoguese Chargé d'Affaires at Paris.
77 4. M. de Chateaubriand to the French Cbargé d'Affaires at Lisbon,
Paris, Jan. 30, 1823 78 8. Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning, Paris,. Apr. 17, 79
No. 1.-Confidential Minute of Viscount Castlereagh on the Affairs
of Spain. (Communicated to the Courts of Austria, France, Prussia and Russia,
in May, 1820.] (Extract.)
The Events which have occurred in Spain have, as might be expected, excited, in proportion as they have developed themselves, the utmost anxiety throughout Europe.
The British Cabinet upon this, as upon all other occasions, is ever ready to deliberate with those of the Allies, and will unreservedly explain itself
this great Question of common interest; but as to the form in which it may be prudent to conduct these Deliberations, they conceive, they cannot too early recommend that course of deliberation which will excite the least attention or alarm, or which can least provoke jealousy in the minds of the Spanish Nation or Government. In this view, it appears to them' advisable, studiously to avoid any reunion of the Sovereigns;-to abstain, at least in the present stage of the Question, from charging any ostensible Conference with commission to deliberate on the affairs of Spain. They conceive it preferable that their intercourse should be limited to those confidential Communications between the Cabinets, which are, in themselves, best adapted to approximate ideas, and to lead, as far as may be, to the adoption of Common Principles, rather than to hazard a discussion in a Ministerial Conference, which, from the necessarily limited powers of the Individuals composing it, must ever be better fitted to execute a purpose already decided upon, than to frame a course of policy under delicate aud difficult circumstances.
There seems the less motive for precipitating any step of this nature in the Case immediately under consideration, as, from all the information which reaches us, there exists in Spain no Order of Things upon which to deliberate; nor as yet any Governing Authority with which Foreign Powers can communicate.
The King's Authority, for the moment at least, seems to be dissolved. His Majesty is represented, in the last Despatches from Madrid, as having wholly abandoned Himself to the tide of events, and as conceding whatever is called for by the Provisional Junta and the Clubs.
The authority of the Provisional Government does not appear to extend beyond the two Castilles and a part of Andalusia :-Distinct Local Authorities prevail in the various Provinces, and the King's Personal Safety is regarded as extremely liable to be hazarded, by any step which might lay Him open to the suspicion of entertaining a design to bring about a Counter-Revolution, whether by internal or external means.