§ Mr. Huskisson rose
to present a Petition, of which he had given notice on a former occasion. It was upon a subject of great interest, and was connected with the well-being and interests of an important class of the community. He trusted that this would afford some apology for him if he ventured to detain the House longer than was usual, or generally speaking, acceptable, upon the presentation of petitions. The Petition was that of the merchants resident in the town of Liverpool who had dealings and commercial intercourse with the state of Mexico; and he believed that the sentiments expressed in it were entertained by those individuals of Glasgow, Manchester, and London, whose manufacturing or commercial pursuits gave them an equal interest in the condition of the new States of America. The Petition stated, that since Mexico became an independent state, its trade with this country had increased, and it was susceptible, under favourable circumstances, of a still greater increase. However, that trade had unfortunately been exposed to various interruptions, losses, and uncertainties, in consequence of occasional military enterprises undertaken against Mexico from Cuba. They had been the cause of interruption to commerce, of considerable disorders in Mexico, and of expense and loss, which fell mainly upon neutral commerce,—indeed, upon the commerce of his Majesty's subjects, who had embarked their capital on the faith of solemn treaties. The Petition also stated, that last summer an expedition was despatched from Cuba, which entailed great losses upon British subjects, and the petitioners had reason to believe that other expeditions of a similar nature were fitting out. Of the importance of the subject there could not be two opinions, when we looked at the actual population 876 of those states—a population amounting to nearly 7,000,000 and capable of being greatly increased—and recollected that this was a population, not our rivals in shipping or manufacturing interests, but able and willing to supply us with the precious metals, the produce of their country, in return for our manufactures, and to the great encouragement of our trading and shipping interests. Under such circumstances, it would appear that we were all deeply interested in the tranquillity, welfare, and prosperity of Mexico. The petitioners accordingly prayed the House to adopt measures to protect their interests, and induce Spain to desist from such expeditions, or else to prevent those expeditions, which could only terminate in disgrace and loss to herself, and injury to other parties connected with Mexico. There were two questions which naturally arose from considering this prayer: 1st. Had we the right, or rather, had we not incurred the obligation, to prevent the disorders complained of, and to put an end to the attacks of Spain upon the new States, at least to attacks proceeding from Cuba? 2ndly. If we had not incurred that obligation, had we not, nevertheless, a right, in common with all maritime neutral states, or, he might say, with all civilised nations, to insist upon a suspension of hostilities affecting our own interests between Spain and Mexico?—and, without entering into a needless interference, had we not a right to prevent Cuba from becoming the rendezvous for the equipment and departure of expeditions against the new States? With respect to our right to prevent attacks from Cuba he would state what he knew bearing on that question. Late in the year 1824, or he believed in the beginning of 1825, when this country had recently recognized Colombia and Mexico as independent powers, those States thought proper, with a view to prevent attacks upon their own territories, and being belligerents against Spain, to concert an attack on the island of Cuba. On the part of Mexico, a very considerable body of forces assembled at Campeachy, under the command of General Santa Anna, the same general to whom General Barradas surrendered last autumn; Colombia had collected a naval force at Carthagena, and had brought down to that point some of her best troops for the purpose of aiding in a descent on Cuba, At that time the island thus 877 menaced was weakly garrisoned, and such a feeling prevailed amongst the inhabitants as rendered it probable that it might separate itself from the mother country, if opportunity and encouragement were afforded. When he recollected that at the period in question both Mexico and Colombia possessed great financial and other resources, and that their credit was good, it was only reasonable to conclude that the attempt upon. Cuba, if made, would have been successful. But the matter did not rest upon his authority: he should quote the authority of an individual, whose official station in the government of the United States gave him the best means of information—means of which, doubtless, he had made the best use, as his country was deeply interested in the question. The authority to which he alluded was a letter addressed by Mr. Clay (then Secretary of State to the United States of America) to one of the ministers of those States in Europe, and dated the 10th of May, 1825. That letter said—The success of the enterprise is by no means improbable. Their (Colombia and Mexico) proximity to the Islands (Cuba and Porto Rico), and their armies being perfectly acclimated, will give to the united efforts of the republics great advantages. And if with these be taken into the estimate, the important and well-known fact, that a large proportion of the inhabitants of the island is predisposed to a separation from Spain, and would therefore form a powerful auxiliary to the republican arms, their success becomes almost certain.In a subsequent letter Mr. Clay said—The fall of the castle of Saint Juan de Ulloa, which capitulated on the 18th day of last month, cannot fail to have a powerful effect within that kingdom (Spain). We are informed that when information of it reached the Havannah, it produced great and general sensation, and that the local government immediately despatched a fast-sailing vessel to Cadiz to communicate the event, and, in its name, to implore the King immediately to terminate the war, and acknowledge the new republics, as the only means of preserving Cuba to the monarchy.Cuba, he believed, would not have been preserved to Spain, but for the interposition of the United States and of his Majesty's Government, which both directed their efforts, though acting without concert, and upon views of their own separate interests, to prevent the separation of Cuba from the Crown of Spain. The meditated attack naturally excited uneasi- 878 ness in this country and in the United States. The position of Cuba induced America to interpose, for the purpose of inducing the new States to abandon the expedition; and Mr. Canning, on the part of the British Government, had, he doubted not (although no official record of the fact was preserved), an interview with the Mexican and Colombian ministers on the subject. Mr. Canning was understood to have explained to those individuals the feelings of pain and regret with which England viewed the progress of the expedition: and he added, that we should not be indifferent to any event that might tend to disturb the tranquillity of Cuba. He felt bound to say, that those who advised his Majesty at that period would have been guilty of a great over sight and neglect of duty, if they had not endeavoured to prevent an attempt, which, by disturbing the tranquillity of Cuba, might, by mingling the block population in the war, have endangered the safety of the most valuable colony of Great Britain, and hazarded in its results, the peace happily existing in all parts of the world. It might be fairly supposed that Mr. Canning then called upon Mexico and Colombia to consider whether, by forbearance at our request, they would not place this country in a better situation to mediate between them and Spain, and induce the latter to listen to propositions of amity and conciliation between her and her late colonies. Be that as it might, these states were clearly inclined at the time (as their conduct showed) to receive with the greatest deference, not to say respectful reverence, the expression of the wishes of this country. He might here observe, that he was sorry to perceive that an impression had got abroad, and prevailed in some quarters, that we were now ashamed of our new connexion with the South American States; however, he was convinced that the opinion had no foundation whatever in truth. He was convinced that it was impossible for this country, after all which had occurred, not to entertain the greatest anxiety for the welfare, prosperity, and general tranquillity of the new governments. It was under the influence of such a feeling that his Majesty had been advised to recognize those States, and he was sure that the same favourable feeling still existed. But to return from this digression: in consequence of the interposition of 879 England and America, the republics desisted from their enterprise against Cuba, which they totally abandoned, notwithstanding the expense that had been incurred in preparations, and sent their troops into the interior. Four or five years had elapsed since this interposition on our part, and during that time the ministers of the new States more than once inquired whether the same principle of interposition continued, in the event of an attack upon Cuba being meditated. They were told that our objections to an attack still continued in full force. During these four or five years what had Spain been doing? She was employed in recruiting her forces, and adding to her resources; availing herself of the advantage of having her towns garrisoned, and her police managed by the troops of a foreign power, she was enabled to unite her forces at Cuba, for the purpose of attacking and endeavouring to recover her ancient colonies. Land forces and ships having been collected, an expedition proceeded, in the month of August last, from Cuba against Mexico. He would ask, was the British Government apprised of this expedition? And he should like to know whether we made any remonstrance against it? Did Ministers say to Spain—" As we protected Cuba from the republics, we feel bound not to allow Cuba to be made the rendezvous of expeditions intended to attack those States?" If Ministers had not so acted they had not fulfilled the obligations of a strict and impartial neutrality: and if such remonstrances were made, he was sorry to say that they had not been attended to by Spain, which, in this respect, acted differently from the new States of South America. The expedition, which seemed to have been projected under the mistaken impression that the inhabitants of the republics would declare in favour of Spain upon the arrival of a Spanish armament on their coasts, sailed from Cuba, and landed without opposition on the continent, where the troops remained some time before a force could be collected to attack them. During all this time they were not joined by a single Mexican; the inhabitants would not even supply them with provisions; and eventually they were obliged to lay down their arms. He had no difficulty in saying that it must be the wish of every maritime power in Europe (and of England above all others, being the greatest maritime power, and the most 880 interested for commercial reasons) that Cuba should remain tranquilly and peaceably in the possession of Spain, as he hoped it would. It must be the wish of this country that none of those occurrences out of which maritime contests might arise should take place; and upon this ground he was justified in saying, that Cuba ought not to be allowed to become the point from which expeditions should proceed to attack Mexico or Colombia. When this subject was brought before the House early in the Session by his gallant friend opposite (Sir R. Wilson) his right hon. friend the Secretary for the Home Department, said, that England would observe between the belligerents the most careful and strict impartiality. Now if his right hon. friend meant by impartiality that, as we had not been able to prevent the attacks of Spain upon her ancient colonies from Cuba, we would allow the States of Mexico and Colombia to attack Cuba in their turn, it was no better than a mockery. To be impartial we must place the parties as they stood in 1825, or, if we could not do that—and there was no question that we could not—our only mode of proceeding was, to put Cuba under the same interdict, as regarded warlike expeditions against the new States, as that which we had imposed upon them with respect to armaments directed from their shores against Cuba. Although at the present moment it was impossible for the new States to attack Cuba, yet, in the course of the war, if it were continued, the tables might be turned, and they might find themselves in a situation to do so; in all probability, our impartiality would then be again at fault, and we should feel it necessary to protect Cuba, as we had done before. Taking the matter in another light,—Spain was a belligerent; as long as she continued so, her possessions—Cuba, or any other colony—were exposed to all the hazards of war; there was no preventing it upon any fair principle. Recollecting, too, what occurred at Cadiz in 1820, did they think that there was no danger in having a large body of Spanish troops collected in the island of Cuba, any more than in the port of Cadiz? In the first place, was there no danger of feelings of dissatisfaction being created among those who had to support the troops? In the next place, was there no danger from exposing these troops to the hazard of that happen- 881 ing in Cuba, which occurred at Cadiz in 1820? Should they act in opposition to the government, it might afford a pretext to a neighbouring power to interfere with Cuba, as France had interfered with Spain? Under such circumstances the best interests of all parties should induce us to put an end to the warfare altogether, or at least to consent that the island of Cuba be excepted from its operations; that if it be held sacred from attack, it may be interdicted from becoming a depot for warlike preparations, and the means of aggression. It was consistent with every principle that ought to govern maritime neutrals, to require of Spain that hostilities, which had now continued twenty-one years, should cease. Seven years had elapsed since Spain held one foot of soil in the new States: seven years ago it was stated, in the minute of an official conference between Mr. Canning and Prince Polignac, that the contest was utterly hopeless, and that the course of events had finally decided the relations of Spain and her former colonies. It was consistent with the general interests of humanity, it was in accordance with the lights of nations, for neutrals to interpose when a contest became hopeless, and require that it should be terminated, because war was in the abstract, and of itself, too great an evil to admit of its being continued indefinitely to gratify the spite or animosity of individuals. What did we do with respect to Greece? Did we not interpose, by the treaty of the 6th July, 1827, when the war between Turkey and Greece had been carried on only four or five years? Even after so short a period of hostilities, however, feeling the ill effects of piracy, and other interruptions to commerce, the great powers of Europe considered that they had abundant reason to interpose. Did we surfer no inconvenience from piracy? was no injury inflicted on British commerce in consequence of the protracted struggle between Spain and her late colonies? Undoubtedly the evil was felt, and in 1822 we were even on the point of issuing letters of reprisal for the injuries done to British commerce. However, a treaty was signed, guaranteeing remuneration for our losses; and after a lapse of nine or ten years, he believed we had at length obtained about thirty or forty per cent, on the amount of them. Was any Gentleman prepared to say that a war involving and compromis- 882 ing such interests was to be permitted to continue till the States of Mexico and Colombia should cease to assert their independence, or Spain be disposed to acknowledge it? If such a principle were propounded, the war might be interminable. He knew that, in the state paper to which he had alluded, Mr. Canning had said, that we should observe a strict neutrality in the contest. By this, however, Mr. Canning must have meant that we should remain neutral during a reasonable time only. It could never have been meant that any contest should be interminable which was injurious to neutral states. Besides these, he thought the House would agree with him in saying, that there were other considerations which ought to make us wish for the tranquillity and independence of the new States. For his own part, he would say boldly, that if the United States of America had declared that they could not allow any other maritime State to hold Cuba, we ought at the same time to declare, that we could not allow the United States of America to possess themselves of any greater extent of coast than they now occupied in the Gulf of Mexico. If with that extent of coast, and the number of islands already in their possession, the United States of America should make themselves masters of New California, and of the ports of Mexico in the Pacific, then the independence of Mexico would be nothing but a name, and Mexico would be as much at the mercy of the United States as were any of the Indian tribes which bordered on the American dominions. No one could rejoice more sincerely than he did in the amity and confidence which existed between Great Britain and the United States; and he could hardly, he thought, be accused of any discourtesy towards America, if, as an individual Member of that House, he looked forward from present to future times, and spoke of the consequences—with reference to the general interests of the world—which must result from America attempting to obtain, and succeeding in obtaining, that which persons, whose views and opinions had greatly influenced the policy of that republic, were known to have ardently desired. From the past policy of the United States,—from the recorded and published opinions of one who had exercised the greatest influence over their councils,—the permanent political views of that re- 883 public might, without unfairness, be deduced. They were not precluded from such a course with reference to the States of the old world, and he knew of nothing in the character of a republic of the new world which called upon them, or would justify them in departing from that course, when they came to the consideration of the political views of the United States of America. Allow him to call the attention of the House to the correspondence of a man who had been mixed up in all the political transactions of the United States; for in that correspondence—he alluded to the correspondence of Mr. Jefferson—they would discover the fixed and permanent policy of that republic. In 1790, when it was expected that hostilities would have broken out between this country and Spain, America, taking advantage of this circumstance, claimed, as a right, the free navigation of the Mississippi. But did the Americans stop there? No; for Mr. Jefferson, who was then Foreign Secretary, wrote a letter of instruction to Mr. Carmichael, the resident of the United States at the Court of Spain, in which letter Mr. Jefferson, taking it for granted that the claim to the navigation of the Mississippi would be allowed, used the following language:—"You know that the navigation cannot be practised without a port, where the sea and river vessels may meet and exchange loads, and where those employed about them may be safe and unmolested?" Then came this doctrine,—which struck him as being so new and original, that he begged the attention of hon. Members to it,—"The right to use a thing comprehends a right to the means necessary to its use, and without which it would be useless. The fixing on a proper port, and the degree of freedom it is to enjoy in its operations, will require negotiations, and be governed by events." In the same correspondence there was a letter to Mr. Short, the resident of the United States at Paris. This was a confidential letter, in which the port Mr. Jefferson had his eye upon was named, and Mr. Short was directed to communicate with Count Montmorin, and ask his influence with the Court of Madrid for the attainment of the desired object. The island and town of New Orleans was the acquisition the United States hoped to obtain from Spain, and Mr. Jefferson says—"The idea of ceding this could not be hazarded to Spain, in 884 the first step: it would be too disagreeable at first view; because this island, with its town, constitutes at present their principal settlement in that part of their diminions, containing about 10,000 white inhabitants of every age and sex. Reason and events, however, may, by little and little, familiarize them to it. I suppose this idea too much even for the Count de Montmorin at first, and that, therefore, you will find it prudent to urge and get him to recommend to the Spanish Court, only in general terms, a port near the mouth of the river, with a circumjacent territory sufficient for its support, well defined, and extra-territorial to Spain, leaving the idea to future growth. "This matter, however, ended in nothing; for Spain and Great Britain did not go to war. Shortly afterwards, the war of the Revolution broke out, and Spain, taking part against France, was forced to cede to the latter, not only New Orleans, but the whole of Louisiana, which America obtained from France by a payment of a sum of hard money in 1803. In the year 1806, Mr. Jefferson, who was then President of the United States, wrote a letter to Colonel Monroe, Ambassador from the United States to this country, in which the following passage occurred;—"We begin to broach the idea that we consider the whole Gulf stream as of our waters, in which hostilities and cruising are to be frowned on for the present, and prohibited so soon as either consent or force will permit us." Now, he quoted these passages only for the purpose of showing what views had been entertained by the United States. In 1819, the United States obtained the Floridas from Spain; and in 1823, when the question of Cuba was under discussion, and the Americans expressed their anxiety that it should not fall into the hands of the Mexicans, what sort of language was then held by Mr. Jefferson? It was this:—"I candidly confess that I have ever looked on Cuba as the most interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States. The control which, with Florida Point, this island would give us over the Gulf of Mexico, and the countries and isthmus bordering on it, as well as all those whose waters flow into it, would fill up the measure of our political well- being." Thus he had shown what had been the past policy, and what were likely to be the future views, of the United 885 States. That a war might one day arise out of these views and pretensions, was too probable, and so much progress had already been made by the United States, in the attainment of her objects, that the probability of her realizing all which had been stated by Mr. Jefferson, was a contingency which no prudent statesman would hastily dismiss from his mind: with- out thinking it right for one nation to interfere to prevent the prosperity of another, he must say, that if there was any course of policy more likely than another to retard the fulfilment of those ambitious views, which were common he was afraid, to the American people, as well as to their statesmen, it would be that course which would heal the wounds and preserve the integrity of Mexico, which would enable her government to establish itself on a solid basis, encouraging the industry of her people, cherishing their commerce, and protecting her territory against every encroachment, whether openly or insidiously made, and resisting every attempt to trench upon her power and independence. She ought, therefore, to be relieved from the necessity of maintaining a large military force, disproportioned to her resources, by the constant dread of an attack from Cuba. The government ought not to be endangered by the presence of an army, licentious, because ill paid, which was wasting the productive capital of the country, and demoralizing her people. Should Mexico be at ease, and prosperous, she would be for us a most firm ally, having her interests identified with ours. Let her, however, remain much longer in her present harassing and exhausting condition, let either her weakness or her dissensions make her an easy, or perhaps a willing prey to the United States, and such changes would ensue as would involve our country in war, unless we were prepared to abandon our colonies, our maritime ascendancy, and our extensive commerce. He thought, therefore, that now, when America showed a desire to preserve the blessings of peace, a good opportunity presented itself for putting Cuba in such a situation as would render it unlikely ever to fall into her hands. In like manner, care should be taken that the possessions of Mexico, bordering upon the territory of the United States, should not come into the occupation of the latter. He was sensible that he had too long trespassed upon the attention of the 886 House, especially as the subject was one upon which the House could take no measures; but he was certain that the opinions expressed in that House, and in the country, on such a subject, would go forth beneficially, and that they would not be without their weight in assisting negotiations which might have for their object the cessation of hostilities between Spain and her late colonies; the rest they must leave to Providence. He thought, however, that Spain might, not only without dishonour, but with great wisdom, follow her own example in the more powerful and brighter days of her monarchy. In 1609, Spain consented to a truce for twelve years with the United Netherlands; and though it was not until after a lapse of forty years, yet she did at last acknowledge the independence of these her former provinces. Spain had no better chance now of recovering possession of the South American States, than she formerly had of bringing the United Netherlands beneath her yoke. It was from Mexico the great supply of the precious metals was derived, and the whole of Europe was now suffering from the obstruction of that supply. The only speedy, certain, and efficacious relief for that suffering was to be found in the greater productiveness of the mines of that country. In the name of suffering Europe, therefore, he urged the necessity of putting an end to hostilities between Spain and her former colonies. Our Ministers had a right, in the name of this country, as one of the common sufferers, to demand from Spain the discontinuance of this desultory and, to her, useless warfare. On these considerations, therefore, he implored the Government to use all its influence, in concert with the allies of England, for the accomplishment of this end. The powers of Europe had a right to say—"We insist upon it that these hostilities shall terminate." Further than this they could not go; but to this extent he contended they might proceed. He begged again to apologize to the House for having detained it so long; and he had now only to move that the Petition be brought up.*
§ Sir R. Peel
said, he felt that he should not only be excused but that he should*[I cannot pass this Sheet, in the usual routine of business, 'for Press without remarking the interesting, but melancholy, coincidence of circumstances, that on the very day I was reading this Speech of Mr. Huskisson on the final proof, the fatal news was made known in town of the dreadful accident, near, Liverpool, which has now deprived the country of this able and distinguished Statesman H, Sept. 17, 1830]887 stand justified, if he abstained from entering into the discussion of any of those important points upon which his right hon. friend had touched. He did not quarrel with the introduction of those points by his right hon. friend, in the speech he had just delivered. His objection to enter upon the discussion of them was founded on higher grounds. He stood there in a position different from that of his right hon. friend. His right hon. friend had very justly observed, that he spoke there as an individual Member of that House. The Government, consequently, were not responsible for the opinions expressed, or the doctrines laid down, by his right hon. friend. This, however, was not the place in which he (Sir R. Peel), as a Minister, ought to enter into a discussion of the future policy of the country. Neither should he be justified in going into those questions of national rights upon which his right hon. friend had touched; for though these were apparently of an abstract nature, yet his right hon. friend had given them a practical application. He felt, therefore, that duty imposed silence upon him with regard to these topics. Upon one point only of his right hon. friend's speech did he feel himself at liberty to say anything. His right hon. friend had insisted on two things; first, he had said that England had imposed upon itself an obligation to protect Mexico and Colombia from any attack on the part of Spain from the Island of Cuba; and that England had contracted this obligation in consequence of past transactions, but especially in consequence of an interdict which she had laid upon these provinces, forbidding them, it was said, from making an attack on Cuba. Secondly, his right hon. friend had laid down, that England, in conjunction with the other Powers, had a right to prevent Spain from continuing hostilities against Mexico and Colombia. On the latter point he felt it his duty to abstain from discussion, because it would lead him into the future policy of this country. With respect to the first point, he must preface what he had to say by the expression of the regret he felt that any misunderstanding should have gone abroad on a subject of so much importance. The question was simply this—whether any such interdict had been laid by this country on Mexico and Colombia as ought to call upon us to prevent an expedition against those provinces, on the part of 888 Spain, from Cuba. It was with surprise that he heard his right hon. friend say, that there had been such an interdict; for the language of Mr. Canning, both in that House, in the Cabinet, and in his despatches, was, that England would maintain a strict neutrality in the contest between Spain and her colonies. Mr. Canning had indeed said, that this country deplored the continuance of those hostilities; but he had, at the same time, invariably said England would preserve a strict neutrality in the contest. Now, he was bound to admit that if this country had interdicted Mexico and Colombia from attacking Cuba, or that if it had prevented such an attack by remonstrances, which amounted to an interdict, then in such a case, we should have departed from that strict and impartial neutrality which was invariably professed by Mr. Canning. With this view, the propriety of which he presumed no one would be found to question, he could not help feeling that the character of that distinguished statesman was deeply involved in the solution of the question: and the House therefore, he was sure, would think him justified in going into some details, for the purpose of removing the misconception which had unhappily gone abroad respecting this affair. In the first place, then, he was prepared to deny the existence of any such interdict, or of remonstrances which would amount to an interdict. There was no written record, as his right hon. friend admitted, of any thing of the kind; and this, if such interdict or remonstrances had been made, was at once against the established usage of the office, and at total variance with the custom of Mr. Canning, who was no less remarkable for punctuality in the business of his office than he was for brilliancy of eloquence and cogency of reasoning in the discharge of his duties in that House. The absence then of any written record was the first ground on which he denied that there had been any such interdict or remonstrance. In the next place, if there had been such an interdict, it was certain that it was never issued at the instance of Spain. Spain certainly was never aware of the obligation she would have owed to us for such an interference on our part. If such an interference had taken place, it was not probable that Mr. Canning would have sufferred Spain to remain in ignorance of it; but there was nothing in the communi- 889 cations with that country to warrant the belief that Spain was ever informed that any thing of the kind took place. He was not discussing the point as to what course ought to have been taken, or what we did take, but whether, even if we had taken that course, so far as to advise the governments of Mexico and Columbia, it would have entailed upon us the moral obligation to make a defensive alliance with those powers now, to prevent any attack by Spain from Cuba upon them. It was true that in 1820 the government of the United States did advise the governments of Colombia and Mexico to abstain from any attack on Cuba, on the ground that Russia was disposed to offer her mediation with Spain. On the 20th of December 1820, Mr. Clay wrote to Mr. Salassa, the minister of Colombia at Washington, informing him of the proposed mediation of Russia between Spain and her colonies; and, alluding to an expedition which he understood to be then in preparation at Carthagena, destined against Cuba or Porto Rico, he mentioned that the abstaining from sending such an expedition would have a salutary influence in that mediation; he hoped, therefore, that the government of Colombia would see the importance of abstaining from the intended attack. Now surely it would not be contended, that if Colombia had acted upon that advice, the United States would have thereby contracted an obligation to make a defensive alliance with it against any attack from Cuba. The answer of Mr. Salassa to that communication was important: he said, that as to the wish of the United States for suspending any attack about to be made by Colombia on Cuba, he would lose no time in communicating it to his government; but at the same time, he felt it necessary to state, that neither by official communication, or otherwise, had he any information that such an attack was intended. He believed the report to be rather the result of conjecture, founded, probably, upon the fitness of the time and opportunity for making such an attack. He added, that this government wanted not the opportunity, for that such an attack, would, no doubt, be very desirable to many of the inhabitants of Cuba itself. But in the whole of this communication he never once mentioned England, or that any wish had been expressed on her part that such an attack should not take place. There must, then, he conceived 890 be some mistake on the part of his hon. and gallant friend (Sir Robert Wilson) on the point as to the advice of Mr. Canning. [" No, no," from Sir R. Wilson.] It was certain, however, that he could find no trace of any such advice having been given, and he was in the Ministry at the time. The second point to which he wished to call the attention of the House was, that Spain had no notice of the interference, nor was in any way aware of the obligation she was under to this country on that account—an obligation which, as he had observed, Mr. Canning would not have lost the opportunity of letting Spain know that she owed us. This fact was of itself a strong one against the probability that any advice had been given or request made on the part of the Government of this country; but he held in his hand a document which he thought afforded conclusive proof of the accuracy of his view of the case. He knew it was not the practice to introduce official documents of this kind in discussions in the House, but the nature of the present case, referring in a great degree to the character of Mr. Canning, would justify this departure from the ordinary practice. The document which he held in his hand was a copy of a despatch from Mr. Canning to Mr. Dawkins, our minister, who was proceeding to the Congress at Panama. In this despatch, dated March 1826, Mr. Canning pointed out how earnestly it was desired by the United States, by France, and by this country, that Cuba should remain a colony of Spain; but it was added, that the British Government was so far from denying the right of the Mexican state to attack Cuba, as the colony of a country with which she was at war, that we had not even joined the United States of North America in the intimation given to Mexico and Colombia, that the abstaining from such an attack would be desirable, or made any communication which would show that an attack on that Island would annoy us. This fact, coupled with the absence of any document of Mr. Canning's in the Foreign-office showing that any formal communication was made to the Mexican government on this subject, was, he thought, conclusive that no such communication was ever made. It was very probable, that in the course of conversation with the Mexican minister, Mr. Canning might have pointed out the danger which would have attended a plan with 891 respect to Cuba, which had for one of its objects the creating an insurrection among the slaves of that Island. Mr. Clay himself, it was certain, did point out the impolicy of putting arms into the hands of one part of the population for the destruction of the other, and it was probable that, in conversation with the Mexican minister, Mr. Canning might have expressed his concurrence in that view, and also have pointed out the danger that would arise to Jamaica and others of our West-India Colonies, from the example of arming the slaves of Cuba. Such conversation he had no doubt did take place, but there existed no record of any communication of the kind having been made to the Mexican or Colombian government. On the contrary, he appealed to the document which he had just read, to shew that, whatever Mr. Canning might have thought on the subject, he had never pledged the authority of this country to any endeavour to prevent war from being carried on against Cuba, though it was probable that he might, in, conversation, have expressed an opinion that such an attempt would be by no means desirable. What he had now offered was, he hoped, sufficient to vindicate this country from any moral obligation to defend Mexico from any attack by Spain, through Cuba. At the same time he would admit, that this country was by no means indifferent to the condition of the new States of South America, or had any wish but that they should consolidate their power. We had shown, and France and the United States had shown, that they, that the whole world had an interest in the tranquillity of those States. He did not know where his right hon. friend had got the information of the intended attempt again to reduce them under the dominion of Spain, but he owned he should regret to hear of any attempt of that kind. He spoke of this, not viewing it as a question of abstract right, but rather as one in which this country would offer her advice, in a tone of friendship, to Spain, and he believed that never was there a time when she was more disposed to listen to that advice than at present; and knowing this, we should not. discharge our duty towards her as a friendly state, if we did not strenuously recommend that she should not waste the resources she still possessed in a fruitless attempt to reduce those States which were formerly her colonies; and that, if she did not recognize their independence she should at least cease to carry 892 on a war against them. He would not enter into the question of the right we might have to demand this, for that would be entering into the question of our future policy, upon which he did not think it would be prudent for him to touch in a discussion of this kind; but undoubtedly, in common with every other maritime power, we had an interest in the restoration of tranquillity between the new States of South America and Spain, inasmuch as the continuance of hostilities would keep up those piratical attacks, which were so frequent upon the commerce of all nations in the seas adjoining those States. Spain had, indeed, a strong interest in preventing the loss of her possessions of Cuba and Porto Rico; but beyond these she ought not to look; for there was no doubt that she would never be able to regain those she had lost; and the greatest curse which could fall upon her would be to gain temporary possession of two or three fortified places in those States. The whole of her influence in Europe would he paralyzed by her attempts to keep up even a few small places against the will of the people. For the sake of the interest of Spain herself, then, he should regret any attempt of the kind; and he earnestly hoped she would attend to the advice she received this day from England, of whose good-will she must now be convinced. Nothing would be more injurious to Spain than such a course. There were examples in her own history, to which his right hon. friend had alluded, which it would be well for her to imitate. In the year 1609 she listened to the friendly advice of other powers, to agree to a truce with the states of the Netherlands, which, though it did not bring about a recognition of their independence immediately, yet eventually led to that, and had the effect, with some slight interruptions, of putting an end to the sanguinary contests which she had carried on against them. This, however, was not the only instance in her history in which she had recognized the principle of friendly mediation; and there was one in which it would have been well for this country if it had taken such mediation and advice in the prudent and friendly spirit in which it was offered. In the contest in which we were engaged with our North American colonies, Spain, in the year 1779, seeing the fruitlessness of the attempts we were making to retain dominion over those colonies against the wishes 893 of their inhabitants, did, as a friendly state, offer her advice, that if we did not choose to recognize the independence of those States, we should at least, as we had suffered considerably in the contest, cease from hostilities,—that a truce should be agreed upon for a time, which, without any compromise of the right of either party at the moment, might lead eventually to an amicable termination of the contest. This advice we rejected, and what did we gain by it? After continuing the contest for a few years, we were obliged to do that which it would have been much better to have done sooner—we recognized the independence of the United States. Spain was now in a situation nearly similar to the situation of England then, and if she rejected the friendly advice which England and other States gave her, she would find that none but baneful consequences would follow. He did hope, however, that she would be induced to listen to the friendly counsel she received, and not waste herself in a fruitless contest, that could never restore her the dominion over her colonies, and would forfeit for her the good-will of those Powers which were now anxious to promote her interests, and effect an accommodation between her and her former colonies. In these few remarks he hoped the House would find a proof that the Ministers of this country had not looked with an eye of indifference on the prosperity and political relations of the new States of America. Another, and a very delicate point to which his right hon. friend had called the attention of the House, was the views of the United States towards part of the Mexican territory. He hoped that those States, possessing as they did the freest institutions, which had claimed credit to themselves for being the advocates of freedom every where, would be too generous to take advantage of the weakness of Mexico, and trench upon her independence as a State by the appropriation of any part of her terrritory. If in the moment of her strength they had by their advice prevented her from attacking Cuba, and now took advantage of her being attacked from that quarter, to prey on her weakness and her distractions, they would be acting inconsistently with their declarations, and doing that which would redound but little to their honour or their character as a free State; but he owned he entertained no suspicions of the kind. He relied with confidence on the statements 894 of the American minister to this country, than whom a more honourable man did not exist, that America had no wish to take advantage of either Mexico or Spain, or to possess herself of any of those portions of territory to which his right hon. friend had alluded. Undoubtedly it would not be consistent with the interests of England that America should make any such addition to her territories, or occupy any part of the Mexican States by settlers or otherwise; but he repeated, he had no suspicion of her disposition to do so. He trusted he had stated sufficient to maintain his chief point—that we were not bound to enter into a defensive alliance with Mexico, to prevent any attack from Spain through Cuba. He would not enter upon the abstract right or policy of this country with respect to any such interference, for the reason he had already assigned, but he must contend, that his right hon. friend had not made out a case to show that we were at all bound to act defensively for Mexico.
[Towards the close of the right hon. Gentleman's speech he was at intervals but very imperfectly heard, owing to the low tone in which some of his sentences were delivered, which, from the thin attendance of Members, were no doubt sufficiently audible in the body of the House, but were not loud enough to be equally distinct in the gallery.]
§ Sir R. Wilson
said, that the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech had afforded him much satisfaction; but with respect to the course pursued by England in 1825 he could not entirely concur. It was certainly very generally understood, that the expedition proposed by Mexico and Colombia was abandoned in consequence of what Mr. Canning had said. Indeed, he had the best authority for knowing that Bolivar had determined on attacking Porto Rico, and that the British minister in Colombia (Mr. Cockburn) communicated to him the objections that there were to the expedition, founded on the former communication of Mr. Canning. He was able to state this positively, because he had received a communication from Bolivar himself to that effect. And so strongly did this impression prevail, that for the last two years the Colombian minister had been required to do all in his power to remove the interdict which it was presumed still existed. At length Mexico, however, determined to make the attempt, 895 but was prevented; discussions ensued with this country, followed by a declaration, which he had no doubt was impartially given, as the discussions, he believed, were most impartially conducted. That declaration was not written, but it was a verbal expression, which stated, in clear terms, the opinion which the Government of this country entertained concerning that expedition. The consequence of it was, to disperse one expedition, and prevent another from sailing, and finally to make the Mexican and Colombian governments give up those enterprises they had for some time contemplated against the Spanish colonies. The right hon. Gentleman said, that Spain was no party to any engagements with us, which gave us a right to call on her to forbear—that we had nothing to do with preventing the Mexican and Colombian governments from making an attack on Cuba, when they were resolved to attack it. He hoped it would not be supposed that a nation, great and powerful like this, had interfered to prevent these States, when they were disposed to do so, from sending their expedition to Cuba, and had given them that permission when they were no longer able to make an attack. Two months back the Earl of Aberdeen did inform the minister of Mexico, that that State might make an attack, if it pleased, on Porto Rico or Cuba. This was after discussions had taken place upon it in that House, and after the right hon. Gentleman had pledged himself to our rigid impartiality. We had then given them the liberty to do what they were unable to perform, and when they were able we had prevented them. We restrained them when they were rich and powerful, we set them at liberty when they were unable to move from weakness. He was glad to hear his right hon. friend say, that his Majesty's Government was attentive to the interest of England, but he should, at the same time, have liked to hear him say, that the Government had used vigorous means to promote it. From the remarks of his right hon. friend it appeared, in the first place, a doubtful point whether it was intended to demand a cessation of these expeditions on the part of Spain in the interest of England; but in the second place, it was not at all doubtful that the British Government was deeply impressed with the great importance of the subject. What was the inference? Why, that it relied on the negociations it 896 was carrying on to attain the object. When the House recollected, however, how slow, how ambiguous were negociations, what a length of time it took before they could check any measure in agitation—when the House recollected that these negociations, if protracted, would produce apprehension—he thought a demand or a request on the part of his Majesty's Government would better accomplish the object. If that government were resolved to put an end to a war of destruction, if the interests of Great Britain demanded it, the British Government ought now to say, as Lord Bolingbroke said to the French minister on a former occasion, respecting the government of Spain. The French minister said, that it was for the interest of France that Spain and France should be under the government of one family; but it is not, said Bolingbroke, the interest of Britain to allow that to continue. In 1672, also, when the treaty of Madrid took place—when Venice was carrying on war against the Netherlands, and objected to making peace—the King of France declared, that the interest of Europe required that peace should be procured for the Netherlands; and he said, those States must make peace, or that he would make war against those who refused. This was the sort of language and conduct that ought now to be held by the Government of Great Britain towards Spain, if it were disposed to act towards it in the most friendly manner. It would not call on that power to make any sacrifice, but to do that which would be very beneficial to herself, and of great utility to the rest of mankind. It was said that Spain was not at present engaged in any hostile expedition, and that she entertained no view of undertaking a new enterprize against the States of South America. But he knew that a proposition had been sent from Cuba to Spain, for the latter to raise 25,000 men; which, being sent to Cuba, the government there undertook and pledged itself to reconquer the province of Mexico for Spain. If the declaration of the government of Cuba was worth anything, it deserved some attention. Spain, however, had decided to carry the proposition into effect, and the preliminary steps for preparing an expedition had been taken. In every regiment a register had been opened, to insert the names of those soldiers who would 897 volunteer their services. The chambers, also, of the different local governments in Spain were providing funds for the purpose. Spain was negociating; but in the mean time she was taking measures, if the negociations did not succeed, to act in her own manner. Whether she actually sent the expedition to Cuba or not, the effect on Mexico and Colombia would be the same. Those States would be kept in agitation—the tocsin would be sounded, hostile parties would be called into the field, preparations would be made, and new burthens would be imposed on the people. These would be the consequences of the demonstration—they would be almost as bad as the consequences of actual invasion, unless the demonstration could be checked and put aside. Those States could not be disposed to sacrifice their own frontiers, and in the expectation of an attack, they must take measures to defend themselves. Mexico and Colombia would be exposed to the same circumstances as they were exposed to during the last year. At the time when the expedition was formerly preparing by general Valdez, he had, in conjunction with some merchants, waited on the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. What then passed was no secret, and he might therefore state it. The Earl of Aberdeen then said to the deputation, that there was no intention whatever on the part of Spain to send any expedition—and fifteen days afterwards General Barradas sailed. He did not accuse the Earl of Aberdeen of wishing to deceive the deputation—far from it: nor could he accuse the Spanish minister of deceit. He had known Mr. Zea formerly, and knew him to be an honest man, and he had no doubt that he had made no declarations but what his duty required. For several years America had been harassed by these expeditions, and by these threats of expeditions; and it was time to put an end to that state of things—England was much interested in doing so. A Newspaper from America, or the packet, brought over intelligence that an expedition was forming by Spain, and immediately all the trading community of England was alarmed—goods that were ordered to be shipped were stopped—those that were ordered to be made were countermanded—enterprise rested—speculation stood still—doubts came over every merchant, and trade was suspended. England suffered, therefore, 898 from the continued hostility as well as Mexico. The Mexican government was harassed by new difficulties. It had not only to provide means to repel the attacks of Spain—it was exposed to another danger, which these threatened attacks augmented. He was far from saying that the Government of the United States encouraged any seditious proceedings; he believed that it desired no change; it had no wish to throw impediments in the way of the Mexican government, but it was not, perhaps, quite able to control its own subjects. It had not encouraged any attacks on the province of Texas; but there were 5,600 of its subjects who had become squatters in that province, and who resisted the Mexican government They had taken possession of it without any right, and they held it without any justice. The government of Mexico could not allow 250 leagues of sea-coast to be taken away, and one of the finest provinces of the whole continent of America to be separated from it and united with the northern republic. These squatters resisted the government of Mexico, and resisted it in a point which should recommend that government to the philanthropists of England. The Mexican government had issued a decree to abolish slavery throughout its dominions; but the American squatters, who carried slaves along with them, had declared that they would not obey the Mexican law—they regarded themselves as independent, in fact, and declared that if the Mexican government sought to enforce it they would call on the government of the United States to protect them. This added to the difficulties of Mexico. She was obliged to keep a large force, amounting to 4,000 men, in this province, to protect it and protect her own subjects. Nor was it, perhaps, possible to keep this province from becoming part of the United States; the squatters, whether encouraged or not, were spreading themselves over it, and would join them together This state of things could not be allowed to continue with any advantage to this country. It gave encouragement to the United States to interfere with these new States of America. It encouraged disorder in Texas, and destroyed that balance of power among the American States, which was as necessary in America as in Europe. It was of great consequence to this country to observe, that the United 899 States were slowly acquiring the coasts on both sides of the Gulf of Mexico, and by and by our ships would be unable to enter that gulf without passing under the guns of the United States. The balance of power there would be destroyed, and after extending themselves on one side, the United States would extend themselves on the other, and go beyond the river Saint Lawrence. All these things could be foreseen, and it was time for this country to take steps to put an end to a state of hostility leading to the subversion of our best interests. We ought now to disperse that cloud, which might ultimately burst in a storm to our injury or ruin. When the House considered with attention the state of this country, the ascendancy it had once enjoyed, and still ought to maintain; when it considered the vast commercial interests involved, which the Government was bound to defend; when it considered the rights individuals acquired in that country, and justly acquired, which it was the duty of the Government not to suffer to be impaired; and when it considered the consequences of the contest to ourselves, he thought the House would call on his Majesty's Government to take up the matter, so as to bring it to a speedy conclusion.
said, he was very glad to find the important subject of the new States of South America brought under discussion, though he should rather have seen it come before the House in a substantive form, than be brought on from presenting a petition. He believed that there was no question more important than this to the whole commerce of Great Britain. The country was alive in every part, and busy in petitioning against the West-India Monopoly, the East-India Company's Charter, and various other things; but the subject then before the House exceeded in importance all these questions in reference to the commerce of the country. It was impossible to overstate the consequences of this subject to the best interests of this country. It had been stated by his right hon. friend, and in that he concurred, that the interests of this country were involved in maintaining the independence of the new States of America. The probability, as had been stated, that Great Britain might not have free access to the Gulf of Mexico, unless a balance of power were preserved in that 900 part of the world, was sufficient to rouse the attention of the Government, and he was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman, that the subject had occupied the serious attention of his Majesty's Ministers. It was impossible, even in the widest speculations, to foresee all the vast importance of America to Europe. In particular, it was necessary to advert to the two great families—the Anglo-American and the Spaniards, the two governments, the United States, and those of the New American States, which seemed destined to divide the Continent between them. It was not possible that the Mexicans could increase in prosperity as they ought, or obtain that security which was so desirable, as long as they were threatened by an invasion from the mother country. The right hon. Gentleman was bound by his situation to speak in terms of courtesy towards great Powers: it was consequently natural that he should express confidence in the honourable assurances received from the United States; but when he (Mr. Baring) reflected on the American character for creeping on to power by the specious means of settlements in all the wilderness which surrounded them, he feared that it might not be in the power of Presidents or Acts of Congress to check the irruption of the Americans into the new States, without some better security than assurances. He heard with great pleasure, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman's declaration, that there never was a period when we might anticipate with greater probability a satisfactory settlement of these important questions.
§ Sir R. Peel
interposed to explain, that the hon. Member had misunderstood him. What he said was, that there never was a time when Spain and this country were on more friendly terms than at present. From this circumstance he inferred the greater probability of a satisfactory settlement.
§ Mr. A. Baring
proceeded to say, that he should not have risen to trouble the House, except for the purpose of enforcing the great importance of this subject, with which the mass of the country gentlemen were but little acquainted. It, however, they would cast their eyes over the exports of this country, they would see at once that the new States of America consumed our manufactures to the amount of 9,000,000l. official value, or 901 three times as much, nearly, as Russia, Prussia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France and Portugal together, which only took from us about 3,220,000l. per annum. The United States of North America, which we had long looked to as the chief source of our extensive trade, the tariffs of which we dreaded as taking the bread from our people—the United States of North America only took from us 6,000,000l., while exports to the amount of 9,000,000l. went to the new States. It was manifestly our interest, under these circumstances, to encourage their prosperity, and increase their power of consumption. There was no chance that they would ever prove our rivals in naval power, and in manufacturing industry they certainly could not be able to rival us for a century. Our own colonies, as soon as they attained to any degree of prosperity, immediately began to manufacture for themselves, and it was therefore the more desirable that we should preserve and extend our trade where it had already proved so advantageous. The Brazils, which were in a state of quiet, as well as in the enjoyment of a good constitution, took 6,000,000l. of our productions; Chili, which was also in a state of quiet, took 1,100,000l. while Mexico, with resources equal to the Brazils took only 400,000l..; and Colombia only 540,000l. Mexico was one of the richest, and Chili one of the poorest of the new States. The truth was, that Mexico and Colombia were pressed and squeezed to death in order to maintain an unnatural military force. British merchants were plundered of their property, and the people were forced to continue in that lawless state which precluded the growth of rational institutions, and marred the civil interests of society. Gentlemen, moreover, were not aware of the general fertility of the mines of the precious metals in Mexico, although the information was both interesting and important. This might be best illustrated by the fact, that a single mine, worked by British labour, and in the hands of British subjects, produced in one year more silver than was raised in all Europe within the same period. According to the estimate of Baron Humboldt, the produce of all Europe amounted to 233,000 marks; while that of one Mexican mine came to 235,000 marks. It was truly a hardship to the people of this country who had 902 embarked their capital, industry, and enterprise, in mining and commercial pursuits in Mexico, should be left without protection. Their property was increasing every year in value and importance. The question then remained, whether Government should interfere to prevent the expeditions of Spain. Certainly there was no duty more imperative on a government than to protect the property of its subjects, and our Government should at least, therefore, call on Spain, to lay aside its threats of invasion. He thought the case should forthwith be met by a frank declaration to Spain, that interests had grown up which would render it imperative on Great Britain to prevent the future commission of hostilities on the part of the Spanish government. In 1779, had not Spain remonstrated with us on the subject of our North American colonies, and stated, that we had no chance of recovering them, declaring that she had interests at stake which rendered her continuing to observe a neutrality impossible? Did her interference rest there? Was it not followed up by immediate war? And yet how could the interests of Spain then be compared with those which we had now at stake in Mexico. England had ten times as much reason now to remonstrate with Spain, as Spain had then to remonstrate with England, and follow up her remonstrances by war. There was another part of the subject to which he would briefly advert. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that no compulsion or threats had been used towards the Mexicans and Colombians; that we had not even directly interfered to prevent them from sending their expedition against Cuba. He would not discuss the meaning of a diplomatic phrase, but there were many forms of diplomatic language such as "we shall see with dissatisfaction." "His Majesty will see with displeasure"—which signified something like a threat, and he had no doubt that some of them had been used. There might be no document of this kind at the Foreign Office: but when all the envoys of these countries, General Michelena, and others, understood that such a prohibition was meant by the Government, there could be no doubt that some of the forms of diplomatic language he had alluded to had been used; it was likely that the minister of Colombia, when he was asked by the President of the 903 United States, if Colombia was going to send an expedition to Cuba, and when he pressed him on it, it was likely that he should say he knew nothing about it. But that expedition was a matter of great notoriety. It was intended to liberate the slaves of Cuba, and was planned with that view. It was commanded by a black General, and some of the regiments consisted of black troops. When the United States had so many blacks in its own dominions, it was not surprising that it should look at that expedition with alarm, and take measures to prevent it. Nor should he have thought if our Government, looking to the island of Jamaica, had taken a similar step, or if Mr. Canning had expressed his dissatisfaction in the strongest form of diplomatic language, that we had acted improperly. The hon. Member concluded by apologising to the House for troubling it with so many observations, after the clear and able statement of his right hon. friend, which he should not have done had he not been aware that the subject was of great importance to the industry, the commerce, and political greatness of this country. It was not to Greece, or the Banks of the Danube—not to the shores of the Bosphorus, or the frontiers of Russia, that the people of this country ought to look, but to America. Learned men and travellers might turn delighted to Athens or Sparta, but the industrious and manufacturing classes of this country would look for their prosperity to the new States of America. If they were protected in their independence, they would be to us a source of wealth; but if they were not protected, or better protected than they had been, it was certain that they could not make that progress which would develope their resources and our own.
Lord J. Russell
admitted, that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) had clearly established the fact that this country was not under an obligation to interfere, as far as the declarations of Mr. Canning were concerned. There could be no question that an armament fitted out by Colombia, composed of blacks, officered by blacks, and bearing a proclamation which called on the slave-population of Cuba to rise against their masters, was one which the Government of this country could not view with indifference, and that Mr. Canning consulted the interests of England, when 904 he declared that we could not view its departure from the ports of Colombia without displeasure. There was, however, no express prohibition, and therefore, as far as the honour of this country is concerned in preventing the invasion of Cuba by the South Americans, or of South America by the Spaniards of Cuba, the case falls to the ground. The hon. member for Callington (Mr. A. Baring), who had formerly been such an enemy to all interference, seemed to have suddenly changed his opinions, and to think that we could not interfere too soon. That hon. Member grounded his argument for interference on the strength of the very great importance of the trade of these countries to England; but he apprehended that it would be no good reason for our going to war with Spain, to tell her that we must do so because this country sent a great quantity of its manufactures to Mexico. In his opinion we had no ground for that interference, but there was just ground for strong remonstrance; and as Spain had now a government the most reasonable which that country had seen for years, there was a great probability of those remonstrances proving successful.
Mr. Alderman Thompson
said, that if the merchants of London had not pressed the case on the attention of the Government by petition, like their brethren of Liverpool, it was not because they did not feel less sensibly the evils of the present situation of affairs, and the strong and urgent necessity of some immediate interference on the part of this country. They had not, however, been wholly silent—they had repeatedly pressed the case on the attention of his Majesty's Ministers, and they received repeated assurances that Spain had been urged to come to an arrangement on the subject. That they were not inattentive to the state of those provinces of South America might be gathered from the circumstance, that there were at least twenty-six millions of the capital of British merchants embarked at this moment in the trade of those countries, and dependent on their welfare. It was well known, indeed, that the merchants of this country had no better market for their goods, and that there was no better remunerating trade than that carried on with Mexico. He rejoiced, therefore, in the prospect of something being done to put an end to the interference of Mexico with Cuba, or of Cuba with Mexico, for nothing could be more pernicious to British interests 905 than the degree of doubt and hesitation which every now and then hung over the prospects of the independence of the new States of America. It was no uncommon thing for ships to be stopped for months, when freighted for those countries, because the owners of the cargoes knew not what might be the result of some threatened expedition. It was therefore an object of great interest for merchants that this state of things should be put an end to, and he, as well as all those engaged in trade, were under great obligations to the right hon. Gentleman for the able and conclusive manner in which he had brought the question under the consideration of the House and the Government.
§ Mr. Bright
also complimented the right hon. Gentleman on the statesmanlike manner in which he had explained the course of policy this country was bound to follow with reference to the South American States, and expressed his conviction, that if remonstrance failed, we were bound to go to war to prevent the continuance of that system which Spain and America were pursuing. He was convinced, indeed, that if the States of North America were not stopped in their course of aggrandizement, that they would soon absorb the whole of South America. Mexico, it should be recollected, was of the greatest importance to this country. It was the great fountain of mineral wealth; and when it was remembered how materially the supply of the precious metals affected the prices of all commodities, he thought the advantage of preserving that country could not be too highly estimated.
§ The Petition read.
§ Mr. Huskisson
, in moving that it be printed, took occasion to express the pleasure with which he listened to the language of his right hon. friend (Sir R. Peel), with respect to these States; and declared his cordial concurrence in all that he had uttered. Referring to the letter which Mr. Canning had written to Mr. Dawkins, when he set out to attend the Congress of Panama, he was quite ready to admit according to its language that he had laid no express interdict on the invasion of Cuba, by Mexico and Colombia; but yet it was impossible for any one who knew anything of diplomatic expressions to be ignorant of the meaning which must be attached to the declaration, that the Government viewed with pain and regret the nature of the meditated invasion, and that it could 906 not view with indifference the consequences of that attack. All this was well understood by those who heard it; and that it was well understood by the governments of Mexico and Colombia there could not be the slightest doubt. They knew well, that if they persisted in the invasion of Cuba, they would run the risk of losing the friendship of England, whose interests, they were told, would be deeply affected. They felt, moreover, the importance of that friendship, and the necessity of securing the countenance of Mr. Canning, who had been one of the first to take them by the hand, when they succeeded in their struggle with the mother country; and he would say again, that but for the interposition of England, Cuba would have been conquered at that time by an expedition from Colombia and Mexico. He could not, indeed, avoid praising the forbearance those States had displayed on that occasion, in abandoning one of the proudest conquests which any country could have made, and one of the richest prizes which any people could desire to seize. The Government of this country did not actually come under an obligation, that it would not permit Spain to invade Mexico from Cuba; but it became, in some degree, its duty to take care that Mexico did not suffer for its assent to the wishes of this country. The hon. member for Callington had referred to the exports from England to those countries, as far exceeding those to all the New World besides. The hon. Member had, however, taken an erroneous view of the difference between the value of the exports to the North American States, and of those to South America. It was true, that the exports to North America amounted to six millions and a half, but, it ought to be recollected, that of this six millions, nearly one-half were afterwards re-exported by the United States to South America; so that, in fact, the goods were sent there merely as a place of transit to Mexico and Colombia. It was not one of the least of the disadvantages of the numerous changes which were daily taking place, that the Americans had it in their power to watch the times when trade could be carried on with gain, while the merchants of this country, from the greater distance of their situation, were unable to avail themselves of those opportunities which occasionally presented themselves. Under the circumstances in which they were placed, he thought the Government ought to exer- 907 cise its paramount influence to put an end to aggressions on both sides. His right hon. friend had adverted to the course pursued by Spain in 1779, when she recommended us to make peace with our colonies, and went to war with us because we refused. He would not advise this country to go to war with Spain for the same reason, but he would advise the Government to say to Spain, "We recommend to you to take the course which we regret we did not adopt in 1779, and there is a better reason in your case than there was in ours, because we had fortresses in our hands, and the power to carry on the war at the time we made peace, while you have been now seven years without possessing a single strong hold on the Continent of America." He was satisfied that this was the only course left to Spain, and that it was only by abandoning her claims on the colonies she could hope to maintain a situation among European Powers, and to keep possession of Cuba, one of the richest islands appertaining to any country. He thought it was time, too, that a termination of these acts of aggression should take place, for the better understanding of the relative position of those countries with North America; for in spite of all the disavowals in Congress and elsewhere, he was satisfied that the acquisition of the province of Texas was meditated by the United States. He knew this from more quarters than one. It had been declared in that country, that they would allow their people to advance gradually into the Texas, and when they had so advanced, that they would throw over them the panoply of their Constitution. Now, he was one of those who wished the borders of the United States to extend no further. He wished to see the government of North America confining itself to promote the happiness of those people who arc spread over the immense territory it already possesses, without seeking to aggrandize itself by new acquisitions; and he deprecated the weakness or the indifference which would, by avoiding to do justice to other countries, allow it to extend the panoply of its Constitution over the whole Continent of America.
§ Petition to be printed.