§ No. 1.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office Dec. 3, 1822.
§ In order that you may be fully informed of the manner in which the question of interference in the affairs of Spain has been treated at the conferences at Verona, I have directed copies of the principal communications received from the duke of 'Wellington on that question, to be prepared for you; and I herewith transmit them to you for your information.
§ No. 2.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Dec. 9, 1822.
§ On the day after I had despatched my last messenger to you, M. de Colomb, the Spanish chargé d'affaires, requested a conference; at which he first read, and then delivered to me, the extract of a despatch from his court, of which I inclose a copy.*
§ No. 3 —Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Dec. 9, 1822.
§ I have received this morning, the duke of Wellington's final despatches from Verona. No argument will be left unemployed on the part of his majesty, which may tend to allay a warlike disposition in his most Christian majesty's councils. His majesty's mediation between France and Spain, if solicited by Spain and accepted by France, would be gladly given and earnestly exerted, to settle the disputes between those powers, and to preserve the peace of the world.
§ If Spain be disposed to solicit that mediation, she will entitle herself to it, first, by redressing our grievances—and secondly, by a confidential and spontaneous assurance, that his Catholic majesty and his family are altogether safe from violence.
Upon this latter point, it is not intended that you should make any direct demand to the Spanish government. It could not pro-
* See the inclosure in No. 7, of Verona and Paris papers.
perly find its place in a diplomatic communication to the minister of his Catholic majesty. But M. San Miguel may be easily led to understand, how important an aid would be afforded to any interposition of ours in behalf of Spain, if we could accompany it with the declaration of our entire conviction, that on this point Europe has nothing to fear.
§ No. 4.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Dec. 17, 1822.
§ I transmit to you an extract* of a despatch which has been received from the duke of Wellington at Paris. You may confidently assure the Spanish minister, that no effort has been, or will be left untried, on the part of his majesty, to prevent a war against Spain.
§ No. 5.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Dec. 28, 1822.
§ I re-despatch your messenger with the inclosed copy of an official note† presented to the French government by the duke of Wellington the day before his departure from Paris. You will communicate it to M. de San Miguel; and if desired, will furnish him with a copy of it.
§ No. G.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Dec. 29, 1822.
§ Sir Charles Stuart has transmitted the answer of the French government to the official note presented by the duke of Wellington, at Paris. In that answer (of which I inclose a copy‡), the French government, while it declines accepting the proffered mediation of his majesty, on the ground that there is no specific point of difference, to the removal or explanation of which mediation can be distinctly applied, expresses nevertheless the pleasure with which it views the "conciliatory dispositions" of the British government, and the hope which it derives from those dispositions, of the continuance of peace in Europe.
§ Sir C. Stuart at the same time, reports to me, the instructions which have been transmitted by the French government to their ministers at Madrid.§ M. de Marcellus has been with me this morning for the purpose of making, by order of his government, a similar communication.
As the object at Verona was to induce us to make common cause with all; so the object of France, since she has to a certain degree reconsidered for herself the measures framed at Verona, appears to be to induce us to concur in her separate and mitigated measure.
* See No. 8, Verona and Paris papers.
† See inclosure No. 10, Verona and Paris papers.
‡ See No. 12, in Verona and Paris papers.
§ Despatch from M. de Villèle to M. Lagarde, dated Paris, December 25, 1822.
§ The truth is, as you are aware, that our objection to joining in the measures settled at Verona was an objection of principle not of degree; an objection not capable therefore of being overcome by a were modification of the execution of them.
§ It would have been idle to offer our mediation to France, if we had been prepared to unite with her in the conditional menace contained in the despatch which she has now addressed to her minister at Madrid—a menace softened perhaps in it's terms, and less precise as to the conditions on which it depends than those of the other continental powers, but still vicious in principle, as at once demanding of Spain something to be done in the arrangement of her internal concerns, and denouncing (in however comparatively distant and obscure a manner) war as the consequence of refusal.
§ In speaking to M. de San Miguel upon the subject of those instructions, you will disclaim or your government any participation in this proceeding of the French government. But you will avow the deep interest which the king, our master, feels in the agitations now prevailing in Spain; his majesty's anxious hope that the Spanish government and nation may avoid any access, either in action or in language; and his majesty's unabated desire, to employ his good offices, in whatever way may be most useful to Spain, for averting the dangers with which she is threatened, and for reconciling her to France and to all Europe.
§ No. 7—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Dec. 29, 1822.
§ It may be of so much use to you, in the present critical state of things, to have with you some person, in the duke of Wellington's entire confidence, and capable of communicating in his grace's name with individuals whom he has personally known, and who are now in the Spanish government or councils, that lord Fitzroy Somerset has agreed to undertake a journey to Madrid, for the purpose of affording, you such assistance. He will set off in the course of next week, and will remain at Madrid as long as you think he can be useful to you.
§ No. 8.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received January 2, 1823.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, Dec. 24, 1822.
§ Mr. Jackson is arrived, and has delivered to me your despatches of the 9th ultimo. I am now really inclined to believe that we shall come to an amicable and satisfactory termination of our discussions with the Spanish government.
§ My conversation with M. San Miguel this morning began by his pulling from his pocket a large roll of papers, with which, he said, he was going down immediately to the Cortes, with the view of requesting authority from that body, to settle every question at issue between England and Spain.928
§ "We are sure of England," he said, "and satisfied with her position; and, we hope that the Cortes will enable us to make her satisfied with Spain. We cannot expect her to range herself on our side, nor to send troops or fleets to assist us; but we are persuaded that she will never assist our enemies, nor furnish them with the means of invading us. It is moreover so much her interest to prevent war breaking out between us and France, that it is quite unnecessary to ask for her mediation—There is certainly nothing to induce us to ask for such a mediation at present; but we are at sea, surrounded by dangers, and menaced by storms, and it is impossible to say that we may not yet require a friendly hand. But we see nothing yet to make it necessary for us to ask any mediation, nor have we at present any intention to solicit one."
§ I have thought it adviseable, sir, to repeat to you this conversation, that you may be able to draw from it your own conclusion as to the probability of our mediation being solicited. I am myself of opinion that such a step will never be resorted to, till every other hope has failed: and certainly there is nothing in the despatches from Paris, nor in the conversations or conduct of general Lagarde, to make this government despair of avoiding a war without our mediation.
§ No. 9.— Mr. Secretary Canning to Lord Fitzroy Somerset.
§ Foreign Office, January 6, 1823
§ My Lord;—in returning to your lordship the memorandum which the duke of Wellington has put into your hands, of the points upon which it may he advantageous to the king's service, that your lordship should communicate verbally his grace's sentiments to such of the persons now taking a leading part in the affairs of Spain, as may be likely to be influenced by a communication of this confidential nature, I have very little to add to the contents of the memorandum; and that little relates rather to the mode of your acting upon it, than to the substance of the paper itself.
§ Important as the aid which your lordship will bring to sir William A'Court must be, you will, I am sure, be aware of the absolute necessity of not appearing to be invested with any separate mission, which might detract in the eyes of the Spanish ministers from that gentleman's official or personal authority.
§ Your lordship will be so good as to consult sir William A'Court's wishes and opinions as to the occasions on which, and as to the persons with whom, you should enter upon the topics entrusted to your discretion; and you will report to him your several conversation not disguising from the individuals with whom those conversations are held, that you are to do so.
§ At the same bane, however, that you will be thus careful to mark your relation to his majesty's established minister, it will be essential to avoid creating the impression, that the sug- 929 gestions which your lordship has to offer on the part of the duke of Wellington, as the friend and well-wisher of Spain, are only in another shape demands on the part of your government. A voluntary adoption of the suggestions of the duke of Wellington would enable us to mediate for Spain with France, with an effect infinitely more powerful. But we do not, like France, demand any thing of this sort, as the price of our forbearance to break with Spain.
§ What is necessary to enable us to mediate for Spain with honour, is the redress of the grievances which we have against her. But that matter is in sir William A'Court's hands; and is, I hope in a train of settlement.
§ With regard to the length of your stay at Madrid, I have only to refer you to your own and sir William A'Court's joint discretion.
§ I shall hope to hear from your lordship soon after your arrival, and as often as there is a safe opportunity of writing. I have the honour to be, &c.
§ (Signed) GEORGE CANNING.
§ (Inclosure in No. 9.)—Memorandum by the Duke of Wellington for Lord Fitzroy Somerset.
§ London, January 6, 1823.
§ It is important to make the Spaniards feel, that a king being necessary for the government of their country, and a part of their system, as established by themselves—it follows, as a matter of equal necessity, that the powers and prerogatives assigned to the king in the system, should be such as to enable him to perform his duties, and such as, in reason, a king ought to be satisfied with.
§ If the situation of the king is not what it ought to be—if he has not the power to protect himself, and those employed under him, in the performance of their duty in the service of the public: and if the king has not reason to be satisfied, that the power allotted to him by the law is sufficient—the country will never be in a state of tranquillity, be the system of government what it may.
§ There will be perpetual, successive, royalist insurrections in one part of the country or the other; and the king and his government will be objects of never-ceasing jealousy and distrust.
§ The family connection between his Catholic majesty and the king of France—and the interest which the latter naturally feels for the welfare of the former—will occasion a perpetual irritation between the two countries, so long as the situation of the king in Spain is not what it ought to be: which it may be expected will, sooner or later, occasion war, and the invasion of the weaker country.
§ Thus then, those Spaniards who really desire the peace and welfare of their country, must look to an alteration of their constitution, which shall have for its object, to give the king the power of executing his office. I confess that I do not see any objection to this alteration, 930 either in the antecedent conduct of the king, or in the apprehension that his Catholic majesty will abuse the power thus confided to him. The king will feel the advantages of the position in which he shall find himself, and will have no motive for wishing to overthrow the system established, particularly if the alteration is made in concert with him: and, moreover, the spirit of the people, and the exertions of those individuals who have prevented the existing system from being overthrown, will preserve that to be established, even though the king should be desirous of overthrowing it, by the abuse of the power entrusted to him.
§ This will be the case particularly, if the proposed alterations of the system are concerted with the king. Indeed, no other Mode of making those alterations can have the desired effect as, if they are not made in concert with the king, his Catholic majesty will not cordially carry into execution the system proposed; and, both king and people being dissatisfied, there will still be the same causes for internal disturbance and for external war as exist at present. The concert with the king on the alterations must be a real one and the king must be satisfied, that the consitution, as altered, will secure the foundations of his power over the executive government, and will give him the means of protecting himself, his family, and his servants.
§ Neither do I see any reason for deferring to make these alterations in the recent transactions of foreign powers. Those transactions are all professedly defensive. France professes, by her Army of Observation, to be defensive; and declares that she will not pass the frontier, excepting on the occurrence of certain cases. The alterations of the constitution, on the principles proposed, would render those cases so improbable, as that the continuance of the Army of Observation would be an useless expense; and there is no doubt that it would be immediately withdrawn.
§ Then, another advantage which would result from this alteration in aid of internal tranquillity is, that France would most probably immediately adopt some efficient measure to prevent the assembly of the royalists within the French frontier. All Spaniards who pass the frontier, might be ordered to reside at such a distance from the frontier, as to render their intrigues or their operations within the Spanish frontier nearly impossible; and thus the asylum given in France to persons of this description, would not be inconsistent with the peace and tranquillity of Spain.
§ But this is not all. The Spaniards must see that all the sources of the prosperity of their country are nearly destroyed; and that the very foundations of social order and government are in a state of risk. There is no trade, no private or public revenue: the national property cannot be sold: the interest of the national debt cannot be paid; nor can the army, or any of the public servants or establishments; and no money can be borrowed.931
§ I happen to know that the principal monied people in Europe, will not lend their money to Spain, till they shall see a system prevail in that country, which shall afford some hope of the re-establishment and permanence of peace and good order.
§ If all this be true—if it be true, besides, that the best chance that Spain has of coming to some arrangement with her colonies, is to be found in some settlement of her internal dissensions and distractions, it is impossible that any reasonable Spaniard can doubt that the time is come, to effect those alterations, which the common sense of mankind points out to be necessary.
§ No. 10.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir W. A'Court.
§ Foreign Office, January 6,1823.
§ Sir;—This dispatch will be delivered to you by lord Fitzroy Somerset, who has the goodness to undertake a journey to Madrid (without any official character), in the hope of being useful to you in the very difficult and complicated state of your present negotiations, through his acquaintance with some of the prominent characters, among military and other public men, in Spain; and through the knowledge which he possesses, and is known to possess, of the views and opinions of the duke of Wellington.
§ There may be those among the leaders of the Cortes, or in offices of the executive government, who would listen to friendly counsels, coming from a man to whom Spain is so deeply indebted as the duke of Wellington, and to whom her welfare is naturally so Wellington, from the very services which he has had the glory of rendering to her, though they might turn a deaf ear to any other suggestions.
§ The object of England is, to preserve the peace, of which her exertions have prevented the immediate interruption. But it is much to be feared that peace cannot be preserved, if things remain in their present state, both at Madrid and on the frontier of Spain.
§ France can hardly be expected to withdraw her Army of Observation, without some assurances from Spain, which she may plead as satisfactory. We ask no such assurances for ourselves, and we annex no penalty to the refusing or withholding them: but it would enable us to do much, that such assurances should voluntarily be given to us; and perhaps they may be given less reluctantly through the confidential friend of the duke of Wellington, than directly to yourself, even if you were authorized officially to receive them. The interval is precious, and it is hoped that it may not be thrown away.
§ I inclose to you a copy of a letter* which I address to lord Fitzroy Somerset, and of a memorandum with which he is furnished by the duke of Wellington.
You will see that he is to consult your judg-
* No. 8, and Inclosure therein.
ment as to the occasions on which; and the individuals with whom, it may be expedient that he should enter into communication; that he will repeat to you whatever passes in such conferences; and that the length of his stay and the time of his departure are to be determined with your advice. I am, &c.
§ (Signed) GEORGE CANNING.
§ No. 11.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Jan. 9, 1823.
§ Inclosed is a copy of an official note* which I have received the king's commands to address to the French chargé d' affaires in London, in reply to the duke de Montmorency's answer to the note of the duke of Wellington of the 17th ult. which tendered to the French government the mediation of his majesty for the adjustment of its differences with Spain—You will communicate my note to the Spanish minister.
§ Our position between France and Spain is strictly mediatorial, even though neither of the two states should (for different reasons) think fit to avail itself of our formal mediation: and though we are not invested with the office, we must endeavour practically to perform the duties of it.
§ I have received the king's commands to signify to you his majesty's gracious approbation of the ability, zeal, and perseverance with which you have executed the instructions heretofore confided to you, with respect to the commercial and maritime claims of his majesty's subjects—the settlement of which after so long a course of complaint and remonstrance, will be mainly to be attributed to your exertions.
§ The difficulty of the task imposed upon you by the tenor of those instructions, contrasted as they are with the more acceptable communications which you have subsequently had to make to the Spanish government, is fully acknowledged; and your success in reconciling two apparently opposite courses of conduct, and producing (as it is hoped you may do) a favourable result in both, will be proportionably appreciated by your government.
§ If any thing of personal indisposition towards yourself, shall appear to have been excited in the mind of those with whom you have had to negociate, from the pertinacity with which you have been directed to press the unpleasant topics of your late conferences, you will not scruple to set yourself right, by throwing the whole responsibility upon your instructions.
It would have been very desirable if indeed, if it had been proper, to qualify the unpleasantness of those instructions, by accompanying them with some distinct intimation of the part which the plenipotentiary of his majesty was taking in Spanish affairs at Verona: but such an intimation of our separate opinion could not be given, in fairness to the allies, while
* See No. 13, in Verona and Paris Papers.
their deliberations yet continued, and while the result of those deliberations was undetermined or unknown.
§ Now that the whole of our conduct is before the Spanish government, you will assuredly find no difficulty in convincing them of the correctness of both parts of it; in showing them that a determination to vindicate our rights against Spain was not incompatible with a respect for her national independence; and in availing yourself of the removal of that dissatisfaction, which must always have tinged our intercourse with the Spanish government, while our just grievances remained unredressed, to impress upon M. de San Miguel our desire to prove, by our good offices in Europe, how little any feeling of hostility entered into the measures to which we were compelled to resort for the defence of our honour and our interests in America.
§ (Extract.) No. 12.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received Jan. 9, 1823.
§ Madrid, December 26, 1822.
§ I saw M. de San Miguel again this morning, who continued to speak in the same friendly tone as during our last conference, and repeated his assurances that every thing respecting our claims should be arranged to our entire satisfaction, provided the Cortes granted him the faculties he demanded.—This I trust will be done.
§ In the course of this conference M. de San Miguel said, that he fully understood our position, and our friendly intentions towards Spain; which arose indeed from a conviction of our own interests. It never could tally with English policy that France should be in military occupation of Spain.
§ He then added, that, from every report which had lately reached him, he did not believe that any war was likely to take place. The Congress was over, and the great continental sovereigns had retired to their respective states, leaving every thing to France: and he had reason to believe that France was by no means in those decidedly hostile intentions, which there had once been reason to apprehend.
§ With respect to the possibility of any future solicitation of British mediation, he gave me to understand that it was a question of so delicate a nature, and necessarily so dependent upon contingencies, that he wished, at present, to say nothing upon the subject. If ever such a solicitation took place, it would bed one in the most open, frank, and unreserved manner, by an official written document, which should leave no doubt upon the mind of one party, as to the intentions of the other.
§ I shall draw no inferences from this conversation, nor argue upon the probability or non-probability of our mediation being solicited; as you, sir, will be much better able to judge correctly of this matter, from the communications you receive of what is passing in the 934 cabinet of the Tuilleries. This despatch will be forwarded by a Spanish messenger, who leaves Madrid for London, either this evening-or to-morrow morning.
§ No. 13.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Jan. 11, 1823.
§ I was about to send this messenger to you the day before yesterday, with my despatch of that date, when yours by the Spanish messenger arrived.
§ Its contents, though not conclusive, are highly interesting; and if the hopes which you hold out, with respect to the settlement of our claims, are realised, you will have rendered a great service to your country.
§ You have judged quite correctly in not pressing the mediation of his majesty. The refusal of the French government puts any formal exercise of it now out of the question. But, substantially, our, good offices may do all that the most regularly accepted mediation could have done.
§ The position in which the Spanish and French governments stand towards each other cannot last. Every day brings with it the hazard of an accidental infraction of peace on the frontiers; and the smallest such infraction might confound all our hopes and endeavours. Till France shall withdraw her Army of Observation, there is no security against such hazards. France cannot withdraw her army (it is fair to admit) without some cause to assign for doing so. The only cause to be assigned must be some satisfactory assurances received from Spain. Spain may be reluctant to give such assurances to France, under the apparent influence of a menace. But she may confide them to us, who neither require them, nor threaten any consequence of withholding them. If Spain has griefs against France, she may, in like manner, confide to us the statement of them, as an inducement to France to be satisfied with less concession.
§ Such is the summary of the present state of things, on which depends the fearful alternative of peace or war. We earnestly desire the former; not only for our own interest, as M. San Miguel suggests, but for the larger interests of Europe (those of Spain herself included), in which ultimately, if not immediately, our own no doubt may be involved.
§ We wish for peace, therefore, in Europe: but peace for ourselves we are determined, at all events, to preserve; and should our efforts to maintain it between France and Spain prove abortive, we shall have the consolation to have discharged the duty towards both, of a faithful and disinterested ally; and shall retire thenceforth within the limits of a strict neutrality.
§ This last topic you cannot state too clearly, nor press too strongly upon M. San Miguel; as there are not wanting those who may wish to inspire him with the notion that the anxiety which we manifest to rescue Spain from the war, is an earnest of a determination to join 935 her in the war, if it should come upon her. I have discouraged in the most decisive manner some obscure indications of a wish and hope of this kind, in the Spanish mission in this country.
§ No. 14—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received Jan. 20
§ Madrid, Jan. 7, 1823.
§ Sir;—Long before this despatch can reach you, the final determination of the cabinets of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, as well as that of the cabinet of the Tuilleries, will have left little doubt on your mind as to the probable issue of the negotiations (if negotiations they may be called) undertaken with the government here.
§ It is therefore unnecessary for me to do more than give a succinct statement of events in this capital, from the period of their arrival to the moment of writing this despatch.
§ The French minister, as might have been foreseen, had the start of his colleagues, having received his letters two or three days earlier than they received theirs. He made use of this time to give that favourable impression of the intentions of his government, to which his attention appears to have been directed by his instructions; and he had already prepared the Spanish government thoroughly to understand the position in which France had placed herself, long before any intimation could be given, by the representatives of the other continental powers, of the intentions of their respective courts.
§ The Spanish government, thus set comparatively at ease with respect to France, and sure of the neutrality of England, could not be expected to pay any very great attention to the vague suggestions of three distant powers, couched in language very far from conciliatory. Instead then of any intimidation being exhibited, or any point being yielded, the tone adopted by the Spanish government has been that of conscious security. No written answer to the several communications has indeed been given; but it has been promised: and there is every reason to suppose that, when it arrives, it will be found to be in the sense which this feeling would naturally dictate; and that the departure of the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian representatives must necessarily follow. The French minister will remain.
§ I must do the Spanish government the justice to say, that, so far as I can perceive, it has not assumed any improper manner, or exhibited any extraordinary presumption upon the present occasion. M. de San Miguel, indeed, in his conversations with me, since the arrival of the despatches above-mentioned, has spoken in a tone of much greater moderation, and has held out much greater hopes for the future, than he ever ventured to express before:—he more than insinuated, that modifications might be effected, whenever the country should be relieved from the danger of foreign interference.936
§ The contents of the communications made have not yet been sufficiently digested by the public, to allow me to speak with any certainty of the general feeling. Upon the whole, how, ever, I do not observe any very great effervescence; nor do I, as yet, see any reason to fear that any personal insults will be offered to the representatives of the allied sovereigns. The town remains perfectly tranquil I have done, and shall continue to do, every thing in my power to allay the irritation which may exist, and to prevent the adoption of violent measures. The friendly and cordial footing upon which M. San Miguel and I now stand, makes me hope that my endeavours will not be entirely useless. I have the honour to be, &c.
§ (Signed) WILLIAM A'COURT.
§ No. 15.—Sir A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning—Receoved Jan. 20.
§ Madrid, Jan. 10, 1823.
§ Sir;—The despatches received and communicated to this government, by the representatives of the three continental powers, were yesterday presented and read to the Cortes, by M. de San Miguel, in a public sitting. He at the same time read the answer addressed to the Spanish minister at Paris, but previously communicated to M. Lagarde; and the despatches addressed to the Spanish representatives at the courts of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, in answer to the communications made by the respective chargés d'affaires of those powers residing here.
§ The answer to the French despatch contains nothing that can be deemed offensive. The answers to the others will probably be considered in that light. I inclose a gazette containing all those documents, which the immediate departure of the courier will prevent me from getting translated.
§ The Cortes exhibited a great degree of temper and moderation. M. M. Arguelles and Galiano immediately moved that no discussion should be entered into for the moment, but the whole he referred to the foreign committee; alleging, that a certain time should be given for passion to subside—it being highly desirable that the members should come to the discussion of so grave a subject, with the temper and decorum becoming the Spanish character and nation. The papers were consequently referred to the committee for foreign affairs, to report upon the same; and the committee was also instructed to prepare an address, to be presented by the Cortes to the king, pledging the nation to reject all compromise with foreign powers, unbecoming the dignity of their country; and expressing their determination to die, if necessary, in defence of the constitutional throne. The committee was ordered to report in forty-eight hours.
§ As it was not very generally known that these documents were to be publicly read, the House was by no means full. The galleries were disposed to be a little riotous, venting their constitutional ardor in repeated cheers, and a 937 few ill-supported cries of "Death to all Tyrants, &c. &c" Upon the whole, however, the sitting may be said to have passed over with order and tranquility.
§ I cannot help, thinking, that some of the moderation exhibited may be due to the language which I have uniformly held, as Well to M. de San Miguel, as to others who have considerable influence. I certainly prevailed in preventing passports from being sent, unasked, to the three chargès d'affaires, as was at first intended. This is perhaps not gaining much, as they will be immediately applied for by them; but still it prevents what might hereafter be construed into, a fresh ground of offence, on the part of this government.
§ Not to leave any measures untried for the preservation of peace, I have also opened myself in the most unreserved manner to the French minister, offering to co-operate with him by every means in my power for that first of objects. Till within these few days, he appeared to be as anxious as myself to prevent things from coming to extremities; but since the arrival of the last courier from Paris, I have observed a difference in his tone, which I cannot but attribute to fresh instructions. He informed me yesterday that it would be impossible for him after the departure of his three colleagues, to allow the slightest offence or insolence to pass without immediately demanding his passports. The persuasion upon his mind now seems to be that a war is inevitable.
§ If the French government be determined on war, it will certainly be impossible for us to prevent it from taking place: yet I have very strong reason to believe, that I shall receive from the Spanish government, within forty-eight hours, an application for our good offices (though I fear not for our mediation); and I cannot but hope, that if this be the case, it will give a fresh aspect to affairs. If such an application reach me, I shall request Mr. Jackson to set off with it immediately for London: but I cannot assure you positively that it will be made, till I hold the application in my hands. I have the honour to be, &c.
§ (Signed) WILLIAM A'COURT.
§ 16.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received Jan. 21.
§ Madrid, Jan. 12, 1823.
§ Sir;—In my despatch of the 10th instant, I stated to you that I had reason to believe that a note would shortly be addressed to me, requesting the good offices of England, with the view to prevent the breaking out of a war between this country and France.
§ This note has reached me, and I have the honour to inclose a copy of it herewith. I have requested Mr. Jackson to proceed with it directly to England; and have selected him the rather, from the persuasion that no one is better qualified to give you verbally those further explanations, which, under the present circumstances; I can hardly venture to write.938
§ If France be pacifically inclined, something may yet grow out of this overture to prevent that recurrence to arms, the consequences of which it is impossible to foresee. France may state what she wants to Great Britain; who may thus become the medium of her communications with this government, in the event of the departure of her minister. This appears to me, at all events, to be the last hope that remains for the preservation of peace; and therefore, faint as it is, it should not be rejected. I have the honour to be, &c.
§ (Signed) WILLIAM A'COURT.
§ (Translation of Inclosure in No. 16.)—Mr. de San Miguel to Sir William A'Court.
§ Madrid, January 12, 1823.
§ Sir;—Under date of the 9th inst. an official copy of the late communications which the representatives of France, Austria, Prussia and Russia at this court, have made to the Spanish government, by order of their respective courts, together with the answers given to them, was forwarded to Mr. Jabat, his majesty's minister plenipotentiary in London. At the same time orders were given to the aforesaid minister, to read the whole of this correspondence to his Britannic majesty's secretary of state for foreign affairs, and to declare to him, that the principles and resolutions of the Spanish government would never differ from those consigned in these documents.
§ His Catholic majesty's government will, consequently, have but little to add in the note which I have now the honour to address to you, by royal order, together with the inclosed gazette; which contains an official and authentic copy of the communications in question, which are not forwarded to you for want of time.
§ You, sir, who have been an eye-witness of the events which have occurred in this capital during the last three months, and of the scene which it has presented during the last three days, can inform your government better than any one else, of the firm determination of all Spain to defend her national independence at all hazards, and never to acknowledge a right of intervention on the part of any foreign power. The justice of the cause of the nation is so obvious, and its right to be independent so sacred and imprescriptible, that his, majesty's government would think it an affront to your judgment, sir, to dwell any longer upon this point.
§ Any defect which the present constitution of Spain may have, ought to be discovered and remedied, freely and spontaneously, by the nation itself. The contrary would ten to establish a right of the most terrible, and insupportable oppression. The Spaniards are, at present, identified with the constitution promulgated in 1812.—They,all behold in their present monarch Don Fernando the 7th, the sacred and inviolable person of their constitutional king; and it cannot be concealed from you, sir, that this respect professed to king, 939 is extended to all the members of his royal family.
§ Spain, unvarying in her principles, awaits calmly, the result of the answers which have been given to the communications of the four great continental powers; but she flatters herself, however, that blood will not be shed in Europe, for questions so evident in themselves; and that France will lay aside her system of precaution, as she calls it (su llamado sistema de precaucion), which, without being of the slightest utility to her, is the source of so many evils to Spain.
§ To England, who has taken in the conferences at Verona so moderate and pacific a line, it now belongs to crown the work; and to prevent an effusion of blood, which can be productive of no possible advantage to the interest of any nation. To England too belongs the task of making the French government perceive the error which it is committing, in taking measures and precautions, which only produce contrary results to those, which it states itself to have in view.
§ The existence of its Army of Observation on the Pyrennees, and the protection afforded to the insurgents, are entirely incompatible with that tranquillity, which the French government says it wishes Spain to enjoy.
§ His Catholic majesty's government hopes that this fatal contradiction will at length disappear:—and, in attaining this object, it feels that it can no where look for more effectual assistance, than from the cabinet of Great Britain, the exercise of whose influence to this effect, will not, it trusts, be denied.
§ I beg, sir, that you will be pleased to lay before your government, the communication which I have now the honour of making to you, and I embrace this opportunity of renewing to you the assurances, &c. &c.
§ (Signed) EVARISTO SAN MIGUEL.
§ No. 17.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir Charles Stuart.
§ Foreign Office, January 24, 1823.
§ Sir;—I enclose to your excellency a copy of a note* which M. de San Miguel, the Spanish secretary of state, addressed to sir William A'Court on the 12th instant, and requested him to transmit to his government.
§ The object of this note is, as your excellency sees, to obtain the good offices of his majesty's government with France, for the purpose of averting hostilities.
It is needless to repeat to your excellency, how anxiously the king our master deprecates a war between two powers, whose collision must so deeply affect the general tranquillity of Europe; or how confidently his majesty infers from the desire for peace, so repeatedly expressed by his most Christian majesty's government, a disposition on their part to avail themselves of every opening for adjustment and explanation with Spain.
* See Inclosure in No. 15.
§ I have therefore received his majesty's commands to direct you to request an audience of M. de Chateaubriand, so soon as this despatch shall reach you; to read to him M. de San Miguel's note; and to inform him, that Mr. Jackson (who was the bearer of sir William A'Court's last despatches, and by whom this despatch will be delivered to you), will wait at Paris, for the result of the deliberations of his most Christian majesty's cabinet upon M. de San Miguel's note, in order to convey to sir William A'Court your excellency's report of that result.
§ In your conversation with M. de Chateaubriand, your excellency is not to over-rate the value of the concessions, implied, rather than distinctly expressed, in the note of M. de San Miguel; nor to represent it as completely satisfactory, and as leaving nothing to be desired:—but it is just and reasonable, at the same time, to consider the circumstances under which it was written.
§ Assuredly the more enlightened part of the government, or of the Cortes, of Spain, does not believe the Spanish constitution of 1812 to be, in all its parts, usefully and permanently practicable. But if there exist imperfections in the frame of the government of France, or of England respectively, should we consent to reform those imperfections, on the demand of a foreign power, and under the menace of a foreign war as the penalty of our refusal?
§ Even by the mode in which the demand was made by France, that part of the Spanish government or nation, which might be willing to undertake those ameliorations of the present constitution of Spain without which it is alleged to be unsafe to her neighbours, has been placed in a situation of great difficulty. Is it not plain, that the same proposition completely changes its nature, according to the manner in which it is brought forward?—that one, which, if submitted through the regular channels of diplomacy, might he matter of wholesome advice or amicable remonstrance; when addressed to a nation aloud, and in the presence, as it were, of all the world, becomes a taunt and a defiance? The publication of the despatch to M. Lagarde, while it was yet on its road to Madrid, is, I know, defended by the alleged necessity of tranquillizing the public mind at Paris. But if the public mind at Paris required to be tranquillized, was not the public mind at Madrid liable to be inflamed?
§ Your excellency will not understand these observations to be made with any view of inculpating the proceedings of the French government, with which, abstractedly, we have no concern.
§ I would recall M. de Chateaubriand's attention to the situation in which the French government has placed itself towards Spain, by the manner in which her first alternative for war has been propounded—only for the purpose of impressing upon the French government the necessity of not omitting any 941 fresh opportunity, however little promising they may deem it, for again stating to Spain the grounds of their dissatisfaction and the nature of their demands.
§ The French government desires to assure itself of the safety of the royal family of Spain, and of a disposition in the leading members of the Cortes, as well as of the government, to turn to advantage any occasion that may occur, or that can be created by a prudent and gradual course of measures, for the remedy of the defects in the Spanish constitution:—a channel is now opened to the French government for endeavouring to arrive at those assurances. A precipitate removal of the royal family from Madrid—would be the instant and infallible consequence of the march of a French army across the frontier. If the amendments in the Spanish constitution are absolutely necessary, and it is hopeless to bring about those amendments otherwise than by arms—has the French government chalked out to itself the course by which a successful invasion is to be made to lead to the desired result? The occupancy of Madrid, as repeated experience shows, is not the dominion of Spain. The king, and the Cortes, will be established elsewhere, and what is then to follow but a continuance of civil and foreign war, spreading misery and devastation over the whole kingdom?
§ These considerations your excellency will suggest to M. de Chateaubriand, in a tone of perfect amity and good-will; and with the assurance of the most entire persuasion, on the part of his majesty's government, that the prosperity and tranquillity of France are objects in which Great Britain has, herself, the deepest concern. It is seen and acknowledged here, and acknowledged with no feelings but those of congratulation and satisfaction, that every year's continuance of peace to France, must consolidate more and more her political institutions, and promote those improvements in her interior condition and resources, which assure to her the high rank that she holds among European nations. But in proportion as we feel this sentiment sincerely, we deprecate the fearful experiment of a war, in which there is so little to gain by success; and at a hazard which appears to us as imminent as unnecessary.
§ The immediate object, however, of your interview with M. de Chateaubriand, is to bring before him the overture from M. de San Miguel; to offer his majesty's minister at Madrid as a channel of communication with the Spanish government; and to assure the French government of the anxious desire of his majesty, to promote, in that or in any other way, the attainment of such a settlement with Spain, as France may deem consistent not only with her safety but her honour.
§ This despatch will be delivered to your excellency, I hope, on Sunday; so that you will have an opportunity of communicating to M. de Chateaubriand the Spanish note, the day before the meeting of the Chambers.942
§ I trust the new opening which it affords for discussion and possible accommodation, may be felt as some relief to the French government, under the difficulties of their present position. I am, &c.
§ (Signed) GEORGE CANNING.
§ No. 18.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received January 26.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, January 15th, 1823.
§ Nothing of any material importance has occurred since Mr. Jackson left Madrid. There is a party labouring hard at the present moment to bring about the publication of a general amnesty. I shall do every thing in my power to forward the adoption of this measure, by representing the favourable impression it will not fail to produce throughout Europe.
§ No. 19.—Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received, January 26.
§ (Extract.) Paris, January 23, 1823.
§ I saw M. de Chateaubriand yesterday. He told me that the duke of San Lorenzo had communicated to him the instructions which had been laid before the Cortes—that he must admit the moderation with which M. de San Lorenzo had spoken, respecting the situation of the two governments; but that a conciliatory tone is assumed by the agents of Spain, which does not prevent the adoption of principles the most incompatible with the tranquillity of Europe, by the government and by the legislature of that country—that at the moment they admit all the defects of their constitution, their readiness to concur in measures to produce a change, and their wish for the publication of a general amnesty, their societies are the most active in their endeavours to organize revolt in France:—in short, that the enormity of the evils resulting from war is not to be compared with the consequences which must result from the success of intrigues which the French ministers have no means of preventing during the continuance of peace. Without questioning the sincerity of the efforts of his majesty's government to maintain peace, he is convinced that it is impossible seriously to press the subject on the Spanish government in sufficient time to lead to the result we desire. The language of the French ministers shows that they would be glad to avail themselves of the publication of an amnesty, accompanied by any change, however trifling, if brought about by the authority of the king of Spain, which might enable them to avoid a declaration of war.
§ No. 20.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ Foreign Office January 26, 1823.
§ Sir;—Mr. Jackson arrived here on Tuesday night with your despatches to the 12th of this month, and on Friday that gentleman was re-despatched to Paris with instructions to sir Charles Stuart, founded on M. San Miguel's note of the 12th instant, requesting the good offices of his 943 majesty for the prevention of war with France. A copy of these instructions his excellency is directed to transmit to you by Mr. Jackson, and to apprize you of the result of his execution of them.
§ Since Mr. Jackson's departure for Paris, I have received your despatch of the 15th instant, and therewith despatches from sir Charles Stuart, which appear somewhat more favourable to the preservation of peace, than any of the late reports from Paris.
§ As you will receive by Mr. Jackson, intelligence from Paris of five or six days later date, and so much the more important as the meeting of the French chambers will have taken place in the interval, it is useless for me now to speculate on events, which will be to you, when this despatch reaches you, matter of positive information.
§ I shall therefore at once proceed to state the course which you are to follow in either of the two possible alternatives,—1st, of the government of France having decided for war,—or 2dly. of its having consented to avail itself of the opening presented by M. San Miguel's note; and to make known through you to the Spanish government, the conditions on which it may be prepared to withdraw its Army of Observation.
§ In the former case, you have nothing to do, but to profess anew his majesty's fixed determination, to maintain during the war a strict and impartial neutrality: always ready at the same time to listen to any call for the renewed interposition of his good offices; if balanced success, or a reviving sense of common danger and mutual interests, shall better incline the contending parties to accommodation.
§ In the other case, you will probably receive from sir Charles Stuart a statement of the terms which the French government deem indispensable, either for their honour or for their safety, in breaking up that system of precaution, the continuance of which operates as a bar to pacification: and the time will then be arrived at which you can, without the suspicion of a dictatorial or an un-called for interference, press earnestly upon M. San Miguel a frank and friendly opinion, in support of such of those terms as appear to you to be not unreasonable. The amnesty which, if issued in the king's name, would, as it appears from sir Charles Stuart's despatch of the 23rd, be satisfactory to the French government, it is unnecessary for me to instruct you to urge; since you have informed me of your intention to urge it to the utmost of your power. Neither you nor the French government have over-rated the-effect which such an act would be likely to produce throughout Europe.
§ To liberate the person and family of the Icing not only from danger, but from the appearance of restraint,—to give something like force and free-will to the actions of the executive power—to rescue the deliberations of the Cortes from the overawing influence of the Clubs—are, next after the amnesty (which 944 should perhaps precede them all) the alternations the most desirable, and those which would give the greatest confidence to foreign nations.
§ These and any other objects of the same sort and with the same tendency, we are now, after the clear and practical proofs which we have given of our indisposition to claim any thing as of right, or to enforce any thing by menace, for the amendment of the Spanish constitution, warranted to recommend, with all the earnestness which is prompted by our tried friendship for the Spanish nation; by our experience of the practice of free government; and by our conviction of the sufferings and the perils which must be derived to Spain, and to Europe from war.
§ So long as our voice might have been confounded with those of other powers, who took a different measure of their right of interference—or with that of France, whose exhortation was accompanied with denunciations of hostility, we abstain from advising, rather than incur the imputation of attempting to control. But now, that the possibility of such misrepresentations is at an end, we cannot see the obvious dangers into which the present course of Spanish affairs is leading a brave and gallant people, and be silent; without abandoning the duty which is prescribed, no less by the obligations which international law imposes upon friendly states, than by the peculiar ties which connect Great Britain with Spain.
§ You will keep sir Charles Stuart constantly informed of the course of your discussions with the Spanish ministers. I am, &c.
§ (Signed) GEORGE CANNING.
§ No. 21.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ Foreign Office, January 28, 1823.
§ Sir;—I inclose to you a copy of the official answer* from his most Christian majesty's secretary of state, to my note of the 10th instant, a copy of which I inclosed to you in my despatch of the same date. This note was delivered to me yesterday by M. de Marcellus. I cannot better explain to you the opinions of his majesty's government upon it, than by in-closing to you a copy of a despatch which I this day address to sir Charles Stuart. I am &c.
§ (Signed) GEORGE CANNING.
§ No. 22.—Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received January 30.
§ (Extract.) Paris, January 28, 1823.
I received your despatches of the 24th instant on Sunday evening. I immediately called upon M. de Chateaubriand, for the purpose of communicating to his excellency the note from M. de San Miguel, under date the 12th instant; and on the following morning I went over the reasoning contained in your letter, with a view of pointing out to the French minister, the
* No. 14, and, 15 of the Verona and Paris Papers.
necessity of not closing the door against an overture: which offers the only remaining chance of maintaining the tranquillity of Europe.
§ The French minister told me, that the substance of M. de San Miguel's paper had already been transmitted to him from Madrid; but that it had not been communicated to him sufficiently at length to show that M. de San Miguel merely demands the dissolution of the Army of Observation, without holding out any hope whatever of a concession upon points which menace the vital tranquillity of this country; though he must be well aware that, in the present situation of affairs, no French minister would be bold enough to propose such a measure, unless it should be justified by a corresponding concession on the part of Spain.
§ He added, that, under these circumstances, the king is compelled to assume a decisive tone in his discourse to the legislative bodies; and that in announcing the cessations of the diplomatic relations between the two governments, it is necessary to show that they cannot be re-established until the origin of the mischief, with which the Spanish revolution menaces neighbouring countries, has been removed; by assimilating their institutions to those of other limited monarchies, under an act on the part of the king of Spain declaring the constitution to emanate from the crown.
§ He hoped the anxiety of my government to maintain peace, would induce you to instruct sir William A'Court to convey these sentiments to the knowledge of the Spanish government; and to impress upon the ministers the expediency of not refusing to admit the only measure of which it is possible, in the present situation, to take advantage, with a view to the attainment of that object.
§ No. 23.—Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received January 30th.
§ Paris, January 28, 1823.
§ Sir;—I inclose a printed copy of the Speech which his, majesty the king of France pronounced from the throne upon the assembly of the legislative bodies this morning. I have the honour to be, &c.
§ (Signed) CHARLES STUART.
§ No. 24.—Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received February 2nd.
§ (Extract.) Paris, January, 30, 1823.
§ Having sent off a messenger on Tuesday, at the moment a printed copy of the Speech from the throne was put into my hands, I was unable to make any observations upon that subject in any despatch of the same day.
§ M. de Villèle, whom I accidentally met on Tuesday evening, appeared surprised to find that I did not consider, the language of the speech perfectly in unison with the tenour of his excellency's former assurances. He said that, the violent alternative, to which the king refers, is mentioned in a conditional sense.946
§ I could not avoid expressing my regret; that this public manifestation of demands for such changes in the Spanish, constitution, as the leaders in that country would hardly be persuaded to attempt, should not leave his most Christian majesty the means of receding from the position in which he has been placed.
§ Notwithstanding the strong evidence of Preparations for hostilities, I find both this minister, and his colleague, M. de Chateaubriand, continue to answer the representation of the consequences which must result from a rupture, by assurances that they do not participate in my uneasiness upon the subject, because they yet continue to entertain hopes that war will not take place.
§ No. 25.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir Charles Stuart.
§ Foreign Office, February 3, 1823.
§ Sir;—On the same day on which your excellency's despatches of the 28th, one of them inclosing the speech of the king of France at the opening of the Chambers, arrived here, M. de Marcellus called upon me for the purpose of communicating a copy of that document.
§ In making this communication, M. de Marcellus took occasion to declare the unabated desire of his government for the preservation of peace; to renew in a more precise and formal manner their request of his majesty's good offices for that object; and to express their hopes, that our intervention at Madrid might yet avert an extremity, which (it must be confessed) the language of the French speech, unaccompanied by such a commentary, might have been understood to announce as unavoidable.
§ Such an intimation from the French ministry, at the moment when the decision of the king of France for war is the subject of general regret and alarm, places his majesty's government in a situation of great embarrassment; an embarrassment which is the more sensibly felt by them, on account of the necessity of making some disclosure of opinion in the speech to be delivered from the throne, at the opening of the session of parliament. On the one hand, his majesty's government would not willingly either risk the misfortune, or incur the responsibility, of closing, by any act of theirs, the door which the French government declare to be still open. On the other hand, the sense of the suspensive and conditional particle in the speech of the king of France, on which the possibilities of peace are supposed to bang, is so much obscured by the ambiguous character of the condition with which it is connected, that it is very difficult to estimate its real value.
§ It has become necessary on occasion, to reconsider maturely the position in which his majesty's; government stands towards that of France.
§ The answer which has uniformly been given by the British government to the questions put by France, as to the course which his ma- 947 jesty would pursue in a war between France and Spain, has been, that no opinion could be formed on that point, in the ignorance in which his majesty's government were as to the causes of complaint which France might have against Spain. Nothing has even yet been precisely stated to them on that subject. General danger from the nature of the present political institutions of Spain—danger to the king and royal family of Spain—attempts on the part of the Spanish government to corrupt the minds of the French people, and to seduce the soldiers of the Army of Observation:—these, coupled with the undeniable facts of three or four occasional violations of the French territory, constituted the sum of grievances which have been alleged, at different times, against Spain by the French government, up to the publication of the speech of the king of France.
§ In charges such as these, especially when urged (as some of these were at Verona) only as the grounds of a system of defensive preparation, his majesty's government saw nothing which rendered an accommodation hopeless. Spain on her side has, or professes to have, grievances to plead against France, of similar intermeddling with her people and her army. She alleges that France has encouraged dissension and disaffection at Madrid; and that she even by money and other means, fomented and stimulated the tumult of the 7th of July.
§ Such mutual recriminations appeared to the British government to furnish the elements of a discussion, in which something would be to be explained on either side; and in which reconciliation might at last result from mutual compromise and concession.
§ In this state of things the mediation of Great Britain was offered; and, under these impressions, her good offices have been employed. The question so far turned, principally, if not exclusively, upon facts; there was no declaration of principle absolutely precluding negotiation. But as the nature of the present political institutions of Spain was put forward, as being of itself a source of danger to France, and, at the same time, as susceptible of modifications by the voluntary act of Spain herself, which would remove the apprehension of that danger, and consequently open the way to amicable discussion on other points; the British government endeavoured to learn from France, what were the modifications in the Spanish constitution, which would give to France an assurance of safety and tranquillity; and they have not hesitated to advise, at Madrid, an attempt to bring about some such modifications; or at least the declaration of a disposition to consider of them when the time should be more propitious for a change.
§ There is no conclusive reason to apprehend, that, if the influence of British counsel had been left to its own operation (considering the weight of the authority under which it was offered) it would have been offered in vain. Even after the communication to the Spanish government of the despatches of the continen- 948 tal powers, the Spanish minister expressed distinctly and formally the wish of his government, for the good offices of Great Britain with France; and we were not without hope of a favourable answer to the suggestions proposed through lord Fitzroy Somerset, when we received the speech of the king of France.
§ The principle put forward in that speech, as the basis of the French demands upon Spain, is liable to a double construction. If, as we are desirous of believing, the sentiment intended to be conveyed is no other, than that, in order to give stability to any modification of the present system in Spain, and to afford sufficient assurance to France to justify her in discontinuing her warlike preparations, the king of Spain must be party and freely consenting to any such modifications; and if your excellency shall obtain from the French minister an avowal that such is the intention of the speech; the British government will be most happy to continue at Madrid their amicable and earnest endeavours, to ascertain the means, and to recommend the policy of accommodation.
§ But it would not be right to conceal from the French minister, that a different construction is generally put upon the paragraph to which I refer. It is construed as implying, that the free institutions of the Spanish people can only be legitimately held from the spontaneous gift of the sovereign, first restored to his absolute power, and then divesting himself of such portion of that power as he may think proper to part with.
§ The Spanish nation could not be expected to subscribe to this principle; nor could any British statesman uphold or defend it.
§ We can conscientiously recommend to Spain to modify her constitution of 1812. The law of nations warrants the suggestion from one friendly power to another, of counsels for the melioration of internal institutions, provided that suggestion be made in good faith, and not in a spirit of dictation; and provided it be not attempted to be supported by force. But the British government could not advise any people, in adopting changes however beneficial, to admit the principle on which (according to this latter construction) the speech of the king of France would be understood to prescribe them. It is indeed a principle which strike, at the root of the British constitution.
§ The British government does not presume to hold out its own political institutions, as the only practical system of national happiness and freedom. It does not presume to question the freedom and happiness which France enjoys under institutions emanating from the will of the sovereign, and described as octroyées from the throne. But it could not countenance a pretension on the part of France to make her example a rule for other nations; and still less could it admit a peculiar right in France, to force that example specifically upon Spain, in virtue of the consanguinity of the reigning dynasties of those two king- 949 doms. This latter reason would, on the contrary, suggest recollections and considerations, which must obviously make it impossible for Great Britain to be the advocate of pretensions founded upon it. I am, &c. &c.
§ (Signed) GEORGE CANNING.
§ Memorandum—A copy of this despatch was transmitted to sir William A'Court on the 4th of February.
§ 26.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received Feb. 6th.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, January 21, 1823.
§ Lord Fitzroy Somerset arrived last night. It has given me the greatest pleasure that a person so much versed in affairs, and so intimately acquainted with every thing and every body in this country, should see with his own eyes and report directly to his majesty's government, the real state of things here his arrival has been a very great relief to me.
§ No. 27.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir William A'Court.
§ (Extract.) Foreign Office, Feb. 9, 1823.
§ You will have learnt, by the ordinary modes of intelligence, the opening of parliament, and the reception, in both Houses, of that part of the king's speech which relates to the present position of France and Spain.
§ What impression may be made on the French government by this unequivocal disclosure of public opinion in England, I cannot pretend to foresee; but it can hardly be other than such, as,—if it were met at the same time with any reasonable facility on the part of Spain, which would afford to France a retreat without dishonour—might lead to a reconsideration of their plans, and yet arrest the fatal blow which is to commence hostilities.
§ I trust, however, that the report which the Spanish government may receive of these proceedings, will not lead them into a false security, by inducing them to place their hopes of extrication from their difficulties in a war between this country and France.
§ Neither the determination nor the means will be wanting, to vindicate, in any case, that might arise, either our honour, or our interests. But this consideration does not affect the immediately impending conflict between France and Spain. It is to the prevention of the commencement of the war, that the anxiety of the British government is, at this moment, exclusively directed; and that it is desirous of, directing the deliberations of the Spanish government; and the way to defer the present execution of the project of invasion of Spain is, that Spain should furnish us with some proposition, such as we could submit to the French government, with an earnest appeal to its policy, as well as to its justice.
§ No. 28.—Lord Fitzroy Somerset to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received February 10th.950
§ (Extract.) Madrid 3, January 25, 1823.
§ With the approbation of sir William A'Court I communicated to—on the 22nd instant, the nature of the commission with which I was entrusted; expressing to him my hope that in a matter so materially affecting the welfare of his country, I should have the benefit of his assistance and co-operation.
§ I informed him that his majesty's government continued to adhere to the determination on which they had hitherto acted, of not interfering in the internal concerns of Spain; but that, deeply alive to the difficulties of her present situation, and most anxious to prevent her rupture with France, they had thought proper to try the effect of a confidential communication, which should make known to the leading characters in this country the sentiments of the duke of Wellington, who, as the friend and well-wisher of Spain, had consented to state his opinions, on the necessity of some alteration in the existing constitution.
§ I, at the same time, begged him to bear in mind, and to impress on those with whom I trusted he would communicate, that England demanded nothing of Spain; that she suggested nothing officially, and that her sole object in touching in any way upon so important a question, was the hope that it might lead to the adoption of a system, which should put an end to civil dissensions, and lessen the probability of a war with France.
§ I afterwards read to him the duke of Wellington's memorandum.
§ —was evidently a good deal startled at my communication, for which he professed himself to be quite unprepared; and he at once declared his conviction, that he could not be instrumental in the attainment of the objects to which I had called his attention.
§ He gave the British government full credit for the conduct they had pursued during the congress at Verona. He was deeply sensible of the value of the duke of Wellington's exertions on that occasion, and of his constant solicitude to promote the happiness and secure the independence of Spain; but, in the present situation of the country, he could not disguise from me the difficulty of prevailing upon any party to act upon the suggestions which were thrown out for their consideration in the duke's memorandum.
§ He acknowledged the defects of the constitution, and admitted the propriety of taking into consideration the expediency of modifying it hereafter, when such a proceeding should not be illegal.—He felt equally with myself the imminence of the danger to which the country was exposed, and that war was the inevitable consequence of a refusal to modify the constitution. Such a measure being, however, out of the question, the government had, in his opinion, nothing to do, but to await the evil which they could not avert.
§ Seeing that my reasoning made no impression upon—and that his reluctance to become a party in proposing any alteration 951 in the present order of things was not to be overcome, I refrained from pressing him further on the subject; having first, however, prevailed upon him, as an act of kindness to me, and of duty to his country, to mention to some of the gentlemen of the Cortes, in whom he could confide, the nature of the commission with which' was charged; and the reasons which induced the duke of Wellington to think, that the time was arrived when Spain should make an effort to effect such an alteration in her present system of government, as might tend to put an end to the disturbances of which she is the theatre, and to satisfy her sovereign and his allies.
§ I have found several of my old acquaintances who are neither in the Cortes, nor in any situation of responsibility very ready to enter into conversation with me on the difficulties by which Spain is now surrounded, and on the necessity of some modification of the constitution. Some, indeed, are clamorous for such an amendment, and for the interference of Great Britain; but when asked how the first can be effected, or the latter made available to the exigencies of the moment, they are unable to furnish any satisfactory reply.
§ No. 29.—Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received February 13.
§ (Extract.) Paris, February 10, 1823.
§ After receiving your despatch of the 3rd instant, I called upon M. de Chateaubriand, and held a long conversation with that minister upon the subject to which it refers. Without under-rating the effect of his majesty's good offices to preserve peace, I found M. de Chateaubriand still extremely prepossessed with the notion, that the tone assumed in the speech of the king of France, is well calculated to induce the Spaniards to give way; and resolved, in spite of all I could say, to ground hopes of preventing war upon the result of that speech.
§ When I questioned his excellency respecting the interpretation of which his most Christian majesty's speech to the chambers is susceptible, be admitted that your account of the different constructions which are put upon that discourse, clearly exposes the doubts which have prevailed in the public mind upon that important question. He said, that whatever may be the interpretation which is attached to his majesty's expressions, by those who are determined to consider all the measures recommended by this court, to be proofs of their desire to reestablish an absolute government in Spain—his excellency never can believe that the communications which have taken place with the British cabinet, have been misunderstood to a degree which can authorize such suppositions. He does not hesitate to admit that, "in order to give stability to any modification of the present system in Spain, and to afford sufficient assurance to France to justify her discontinuing her warlike preparations, the king of Spain Must be a party, and consent to such modifi- 952 cation." Upon this principle, a change which shall result from a thorough understanding between his Catholic majesty and the Cortes; will be considered to afford some prospect of the modifications which are indispensable to the security of neighbouring states. The French government will not only be satisfied with the opening which any act (such as the establishment, of a second chamber) may offer, to complete, through the intervention of Great Britain, the system which is necessary for the constitutional government of Spain; but, without waiting for any further proofs of the sincerity of the Spanish government, they will consider any such act as affording reasonable grounds for suspending their armaments, and replacing the relations between the two countries upon the footing usual in time of peace;—though, since he cannot suppose that we consider mere fair assurances to be sufficient; we must not be surprised if preparations for war are, in the mean time, carried on without intermission.
§ M. de Chateaubriand did not enter into any detail respecting the nature of the acts to which he alluded; but I understood him to refer to the project of allowing the king the nomination of councillors of state, and giving them a deliberative power, upon a similar principle with that of the American senate; to which might be added, a regulation fixing the amount of the qualification required, to render a candidate eligible to the second, or representative chamber.
§ With a view to avoid the possibility of any misrepresentation, I have read to M. de Chateaubriand that part of this despatch, which states the expectations entertained by the French government, and have ascertained that his ideas are correctly reported. The communication of the same extract to*—enables me to say, that it contains notions which, in the opinion of that gentleman, will be considered admissible in Spain; and which may afford sufficient grounds for further communications on the part of sir William A'Court to the Spanish government.
§ No. 30.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received February 13.
§ Madrid, 27th January, 1823.
§ Sir;—the French minister received two despatches from M. de Chateaubriand by the last courier; the one to be communicated to M. de San Miguel at the same time that he demanded his passports; the other to be read to him, as well as to the king, previous to his departure.
The first, which has already been communicated, contains little more than expressions of regret, that the answer of the Spanish government should have been so very unsatisfactory, leaving no other alternative to the French government than of recalling its legation.
*A Spanish gentleman at Paris.
§ The second goes more into detail. It states that, after the fruitless efforts made by the representatives of the continental powers, as well as by sir William A'Court and lord Fitzroy Somerset (the last of whom, it must be observed, had not left Paris seven days, and was not even arrived at Madrid when the French despatch was written) to engage the Spanish government to listen to the suggestions of reason, and to adopt a line of greater moderation, no other course remains to the government of his most Christian majesty than that of recalling its minister from Madrid:—that this is the only step left for the maintenance of peace:—that the duke of Angoulême is upon the point of placing, himself at the head of 100,000 men upon the frontier:—and that if the king of Spain, released from his present thraldom, and placed at the head of his army, shall be allowed to advance to the banks of the Bidassoa, in order to treat with him, a firm and durable peace may be established between the two countries—the antient intimate connexion between France and Spain restored; and the fleets, armies and resources of France be placed from that moment entirely at the disposal of his Catholic majesty:—That France does not pretend to dictate to Spain the precise modifications she ought to adopt in her constitution; but in order not to expose herself to the charge of having intentionally left her wishes unexplained, she declares that she will not renew her relations of amity with this country, until a system he established, with the consent of, and in concert with, the king, assuring alike the liberties of the nation and the just privileges of the monarch; and until a general act of amnesty be passed in favour of every individual persecuted for political offences from the promulgation of the constitution in 1812, down to the present period.
§ I write this from recollection; but I am perfectly certain that, though I may not have given in every instance the precise words used, I have in no way varied from the meaning. This paper has already been read by general Lagarde to the king; and he will probably communicate its contents to M. San Miguel in the course of the morning. I have the honour to be, &c.
§ (Signed) WILLIAM A'COURT.
§ No. 31.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received February 17.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, February 4, 1823.
§ Mr. Jackson arrived this morning, bringing me several despatches from sir Charles Stuart, and amongst others, a copy of his despatch to you, sir, of the 28th ultimo, detailing his conversation with M. de Chateaubriand, after the communication of M. de San Miguel's note to me of the 12th January.
§ I immediately proceeded to make known the contents of this despatch to M. de San Miguel; being extremely anxious to prevent the adoption of any violent measures, in consequence 954 of the arrival of the king of France's speech to the chambers, which reached, Madrid last night.
§ After I had read the whole to M. de San Miguel (and some parts of it, by his own desire, a second time), he broke out into exclamations against the general conduct of French government; expressing his conviction that a war was inevitable:—He said, that Spain would never admit that the constitution emanated from the king nor recognize any other sovereignty than that of the people that a manifesto was preparing, in which his majesty would speak his sentiments to Europe, and that these sentiments would be found in unison with the answer which he had lately delivered to the Cortes:—that Spain was prepared to repel force by force; and that France would find, that the war would be a much more serious undertaking than she seemed at present to imagine it would be.
§ He requested me to leave him for an hour the copy of sir Charles Stuart's despatch. I did not hesitate in complying with this request, upon the condition that it was to be considered as a strictly confidential communication.
§ No. 32.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received February 22.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, February 7, 1823.
§ Sir Charles Stuart has forwarded to me your despatch to him, inclosing M. de San Miguel's note, and a copy of his despatch to you of the 30th ultimo.
§ I must await your further instructions, after the receipt of sir Charles Stuart's despatch, announcing the manner in which this overture has been received by France, before I can venture to advance any further. By sir Charles Stuart's account, it appears that France has neither quite accepted, nor quite declined, our interference; and M. de Chateaubriand's statement of the conditions necessary to the establishment of amicable relations between the two countries, is so extremely vague, that I should really be at a loss to inform this government, if called upon to do so, what are the precise concessions which would ensure the maintenance of peace.
§ I shall, however, not lose sight of the amnesty, but press it by every argument in my power. I have some reason to believe that, such a measure will not be opposed by any party. One object is already gained, viz. that, of the shutting up of the Landaburian society. If this be followed up by a general amnesty, I shall not yet despair of arriving at that first of objects, the prevention of a continental war.
§ I had written thus far when I was interrupted by the arrival of M. San Miguel.
§ M. San Miguel observed, that with respect to modifications, there was neither a man nor-a party in Spain (were the ministry to be changed a hundred times) who would venture to propose their adoption, till the time pointed out by the constitution; and that, had any hopes been held out to me of an opposite na- 955 ture, I might depend upon it they never would be realized. M. San Miguel's conversation was nevertheless less war-like than I found it a day or two ago. He would not, he said, consider all hope of negotiation at an end, but still rely for a successful issue from the present difficulties, upon the friendship and good offices of England. He was convinced that she might, and that she would prevent a war.
§ I told him that England had done, and would continue to do, every thing in her power to prevent matters from coming to such extremities; but my Own opinion was, that war was inevitable, if Spain were really determined to admit no modification in her present constitutional system. This would not prevent our endeavouring to avert such a misfortune by every means within our reach, short of involving ourselves in the quarrel; but that I could not flatter him with any hope that our efforts would be successful, unless we were enabled to hold out to France, the prospect of some concession on the part of this country.
§ A long and desultory conversation followed, which it will be unnecessary to repeat; in the course of which, M. San Miguel put very prominently forward, the evident acknowledgement of the intention to establish a permanent French interest in (Spain, contained in certain passages of the king of France's speech to the chambers.
§ No. 33.—Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received February 23.
§ (Extract.) Paris, February 21, 1823.
§ M. de Chateaubriand said, that he had turned over the subject in his own mind, with a view to decide upon what terms it might be possible to meet the proposals they might receive—and though he could not state the result of his reflections to be the expression of the sentiments of the French government,—yet be thought the subject might be taken into consideration, if the Spanish negotiators should engage at a future period, to modify their constitution; and, in the mean while, prove their good faith, by restoring the king to his physical liberty, and allowing him to frequent the sitios, and to go to watering places; by a general amnesty; by the establishment of laws to regulate the press—and by a change of ministry; but that the military preparations of the French government must continue without intermission; and that their armies will be ready to take the field, if a change in the aspect of affairs does not contribute to remove the pressure and irritation which prevails on both sides, before the season for active operations shall arrive.
§ No. 34.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 3.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, February 16, 1823.
§ The debate upon the subject of the removal of the seat of government, passed off without any thing being elicited from either party, which could give an opening for the discussion 956 of the possibility of an arrangement through the good offices of England. The extraordinary Cortes will close on the 19th instant, and the ordinary Cortes will assemble on the first day of March. The question of an amnesty for all those who shall lay down their arms before the entry of a foreign force, was subsequently brought forward, and referred to a committee. An extension of this limited amnesty, I am assured, will be proposed by the committee, and it will be recommended that it should be made general. If this be done, and the proposal be adopted, it, will be a very great point gained. There is, however, but little hope that any of those further concessions will be made, which would ensure an amicable arrangement of the differences that exist between this country and France. Besides which, the putting forward by France of so extravagant a proposition, as that the king, restored to his full and absolute power, shall himself grant a charter to the nation, has singularly increased the difficulties of the question. The principle upon which this proposition is founded, is one to which it is evident the British government can never agree; and consequently if such be the sina quá non of France, our intervention falls to the ground.
§ No. 35.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 3rd.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, Feb. 18, 1823.
§ My hopes have been grievously disappointed with respect to the amnesty; which, I was confidently assured, would embrace every political offender. But neither by the committee, nor in the Cortes, has the slightest allusion been made to so general a measure, notwithstanding the hopes that were held out. The amnesty voted, is nothing more than an act of pardon for any "factious," who may lay down their arms before the 1st of April; without any retrospective operation in favour of those already in prison, or any allusion to those confined merely for political opinions. It is a mere act of policy, and by no means an act of grace; nor can it be expected to produce that favourable effect in France, which might have been insured by a more general measure.—A report was circulated a few days since, that the king, with the concurrence of the council of state, had determined upon a change of ministers:—from the variety of quarters from whence this report reached me, I was inclined to believe that it was not without some foundation, and that his majesty's intention was to have requested the council of state to choose a new ministry for him, selected from their own body. Alarmed by the reports in circulation, the ministers obtained from the Cortes this morning, the repeal of the decree authorizing the employment of councillors of state with the exception of these already employed.—The repeal of this decree, though it may not prevent a change of ministers, effectually puts an end to the administration which it was proposed to form.957
§ No. 36—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 3.
§ (Extract) Madrid, Feb. 19, 1823.
§ Sir Charles Stuart's secretary arrived last night, bringing me your despatch of the 9th instant. He also brought me an extract of sir Charles Stuart's despatch to you of the 10th instant, by which I learn, for first time, the exact concessions which will satisfy France and engage her to put an end to her armaments. What use I shall be able to make of these communications, I cannot yet foresee. The Cortes were closed this morning in the usual form, after which the ministers tendered their resignations.
§ P. S. The resignations are all accepted, except that of the minister of finance. The heads of the several departments are to act as ministers till a new administration be formed.
§ No. 37.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 3.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, Feb. 20, 1823.
§ His Catholic majesty has been pleased to re-appoint the same ministers ad interim. I shall endeavour to see M. de San Miguel tomorrow, in order to communicate to him your despatch of the 9th instant; and the propositions contained in sir Charles Stuart's letter of the 10th of February; but I am perfectly persuaded that all my efforts will be vain.
§ No. 38.—Sir Charles Stuart to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 9.
§ (Extract.) Paris, March 6, 1823.
§ I cannot help thinking that there is in the language of the ministers a more pacific colour, than I had observed within the last three weeks; for both to myself, and to all those with whom they converse, Monsieur de Villèle and Monsieur de Chateaubriand express their hopes of averting a war, with a degree of confidence which induced me to observe to the latter minister, that the insisting upon a direct negotiation between the duke d'Angoulème and a Spanish prince, may be a great obstacle to success. His excellency answered, that although this mode of settling the question had been strongly urged, he could assure me the objects of the negotiation are too important, not to be sought for by the concession, if necessary, of this, or of any other mere point of form; and that if the Spanish government will empower any negotiator to treat, after a change of ministers at Madrid, he shall be able to look forward with confidence to the continuation of peace. I cannot, however, participate in the hopes, which the French cabinet found upon the intelligence they expect to receive from Madrid: I consider late events to be the prelude to war.
§ No. 39.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 13.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, Feb. 23, 1823.
§ M. San Miguel called on me this morning, 958 for the purpose of exchanging the ratifications of the articles respecting the slave trade. Having gone through that ceremony, I informed him that I had communications of some importance to make to him, which the troubled state of the capital for several days past, and my own continued indisposition, had prevented me from submitting to his consideration at an earlier period.
§ Having thus drawn his attention to what I was about to say, I produced your despatch of the 9th February, and an extract from sir Charles Stuart's despatch to you, of the 10th February; and proceeded to read to him those parts of each, which I thought the most calculated to produce a favourable effect, accompanying my reading with such remarks as the nature of the communication required.
§ M. de San Miguel listened with the greatest attention; but as soon as I had concluded, observed, that the British government was labouring under a delusion, in supposing any sort of modification possible. It would be a much easier thing to overturn the whole constitutional system, and to re-establish absolute despotism, than to concede even the most insignificant of the points which had been pointed out as the most likely to conciliate.
§ He was fully aware that England asked no modifications on her own account. He knew that we wished to preserve to Spain her constitutional system; that our only object in trying to engage her to yield upon certain points, was the conviction that if a war did break out, we must be, sooner or later, involved in it ourselves. He knew very well that we should not declare in favour of Spain at first; but nobody could be so blind as not to see, that, if the war was protracted, and other powers took part in it, England alone could not remain a passive spectator of what might be its results.
§ No. 40.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 16.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, March 5, 1823.
§ A Spanish gentleman at Paris has written from Paris to—,that the French government has declared that it will suspend hostilities if a general amnesty be granted, a verbal promise of modifications hereafter be given, a change of ministers take place, and the king be permitted to go to the waters of Sacedon. That the negotiation must be carried on at Paris through the mediation of the British ambassador;—quotes sir Charles Stuart as his authority, and refers his friends to me for further information. Now I have heard nothing from sir Charles Stuart since the 20th ult. when he still referred me to his despatch to you of the 10th of February, as containing the final determination of the French government. That determination is very widely different from the arrangement alluded to by—
§ (Extract.) Madrid, March 9, 1823.
§ I saw M. de San Miguel this morning, and to my great astonishment, he asked me what were the precise conditions required by France, in case any questions should be asked him in Cortes. I repeated to him the conditions stated in sir Charles Stuart's despatch of the 10th February, and those (hardly to be considered official) contained in the same ambassador's despatch of the 21st February;* and, according to his request I sent him, upon my return home, an extract from the despatch of the 10th February. What is in agitation I know not.—He told me he should say nothing upon the subject, unless called upon by the Cortes; and that if any negotiations were entered into, he would not be the person to negotiate. I should only mislead you if I were to attempt to give any explanation of this singular conversation.
§ No. 42.—Sir William A'Court to Mr. Secretary Canning.—Received March 25.
§ (Extract.) Madrid, March 11, 1823.
§ In a few hurried lines, written as the last courier was setting off, I communicated to you a singular conversation which had passed between M. de San Miguel and myself. I forbore to express any opinion upon this conversation; but whatever hopes some of his expressions were calculated to excite, are now entirely at an end.
§ No. 43.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Sir Charles Stuart.
§ Foreign Office, March 31, 1823.
§ Sir;—The hopes of an accommodation between France and Spain, which his majesty has so long been encouraged to cherish, in despite of all unfavourable appearances, being now unhappily extinguished; I am commanded by his majesty to address to your excellency, for the purpose of being communicated to the French minister, the following explanation of the sentiments of your government upon the present posture of affairs between those two kingdoms.
§ The king has exhausted his endeavours to preserve the peace of Europe.
The question of an interference in the internal concerns of Spain, on account of the troubles and distractions which have for some time prevailed in that kingdom, was not one on which his majesty could, for himself, entertain a moment's hesitation. If his majesty's plenipotentiary at Verona did not decline taking part in the deliberations of the allied cabinets upon that question, it was because his majesty owed to his allies, upon that, as upon every other subject, a sincere declaration of his opinions; and because he hoped that a friendly
* See No. 33, a copy of which was received by sir William A'Court, subsequently to his letter of the 5th March.
and unreserved communication might tend to the preservation of general peace.
§ The nature of the apprehensions which had induced the king of France to assemble an army, within his own frontier, upon the borders of Spain, had been indicated, in the first instance, by the designation of the "Cordon Sanitaire." The change of that designation to that of an "Army of Observation" (which took place in the month of September last) did not appear to his majesty to imply more, than that the defensive system originally opposed to the contagion of physical disease, would be continued against the possible inconveniences, moral or political, which might arise to France, from a civil contest raging in a country separated from the French territory only by a conventional line of demarcation. The dangers naturally incident to an unrestrained intercourse between two countries so situated towards each other; the dangers of political intrigue, or of occasional violation of territory, might sufficiently justify preparations of military defence.
§ Such was the state of things between France and Spain at the opening of the congress at Verona. The propositions brought forward by the French plenipotentiary in the conferences of the allied cabinets, were founded on this state of things. Those propositions did not relate to any project of carrying attack into the heart of the Spanish monarchy, but were in the nature of inquiries: 1st, What countenance France might expect to receive from the allies, if she should find herself under the necessity of breaking off diplomatic intercourse with the court of Madrid? and, 2ndly, what assistance, in supposed cases of outrage to be committed, or of violence to be menaced, by Spain? These cases were all contingent and precautionary. The answers of the three continental powers were of a correspondent character.
§ The result of the discussions at Verona, was a determination of his majesty's allies, the emperors of Austria and Russia and the king of Prussia:—1st. To make known to the cabinet of Madrid, through their respective ministers at that court, their sentiments upon the necessity of a change in the present system of the Spanish government; and, in the event of an unsatisfactory answer to that communication, to recall their respective ministers; and to break off all diplomatic intercourse with Spain. 2ndly, To make common cause with France against Spain, in certain specified cases; cases, as has been already observed, altogether contingent and precautionary.
§ His majesty's plenipotentiary declined concurring in these measures; not only because he was unauthorized to pledge the faith of his government to any hypothetical engagement, but because, his government had, from the month of April 1820, uniformly recommended to the powers of the alliance, to abstain from all interference in the internal affairs of Spain; and because, having been from the same period, entirely unacquainted with whatever 961 transactions might have taken place between France and Spain, his government could not judge, on what grounds the cabinet of the Tuilleries meditated a possible discontinuance of diplomatic relations with the court of Madrid; or on what grounds they apprehended an occurrence, apparently so improbable, as a commencement of hostilities against France by Spain.
§ No proof was produced to his majesty's plenipotentiary of the existence of any design on the part of the Spanish government, to invade the territory of France; of any attempt to introduce disaffection among her soldiery; or of any project to undermine her political institutions: and so long as the struggles and disturbances of Spain should be confined within the circle of her own territory, they could not be admitted by the British government to afford any plea for foreign interference. If the end of the last and the beginning, of the present century saw all Europe confined against France, it was not on account of the internal changes which France thought necessary for her own political and civil reformation; but because she attempted to propagate, first her principles, and afterwards her propagate, by the sword.
§ Impossible as it was for his majesty to be party to the measures concerted at Verona with respect to Spain, his majesty's plenipotentiary declared, that the British government could only endeavour through his majesty's minister at the court of the Catholic king, "to allay the ferment which those measures might occasion at Madrid, and to do all the good in his power."
§ Up to this period no communication had taken place between his majesty and the court of Madrid, as to the discussions at Verona. But about the time of the arrival of his majesty's plenipotentiary, on his return from Verona, at Paris, Spain expressed a desire for the "friendly interposition" of his majesty, to avert the calamities of war. Spain distinctly limited this desire to the employment of such "good offices," 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 of intimidation. They represented as matter of no light moment, the first breach, by whatever power, of 962 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 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 front the cabinet of the Tuilleries, the nature and amount of the specific grievances, of which his most Christian majesty complained against Spain; and of such specific 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 majesty's dominions; upon the burthensomeness 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 altogether, was so intolerable to France, that open hostility would be far preferable to it. War would at least have a tendency to some conclusion; 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 throughout 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 and with the formal character of mediator, to make every effort, anal to avail itself of every chance, for the prevention of hostilities. The question was now become question simply and entirely between Spain and France; and the practical point of 963 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 renewed assurances of the pacific 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 attempts 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 Catholic majesty into 964 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 connexion, 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.
§ (Signed) GEORGE CANNING.