cease, to regard the slave-trade as a traffic which has too Chap.

long desolated Africa, disgraced Europe, and afflicted 1_

humanity ; and that they are ready, by all means in their 1822power, to concur in all measures which may insure and accelerate the entire and final abolition of that commerce."

Another subject was brought under the notice of the Congress by Great Britain, upon which the views of its Not* of Cabinet and of that of the Tuileries were still more at JegwStog variance, and which presaged great and lasting changes fj"^^ in both hemispheres. This was the all-important one of PendenceSouth American Independence. The Duke of Wellington presented a note to the Congress, in which it was stated, " The connection subsisting between the subjects of his Britannic Majesty and the other parts of the globe has for long rendered it necessary for him to recognise the existence de facto of governments formed in different places, so far as was necessary to conclude treaties with them; the relaxation of the authority of Spain in her colonies in South America has given rise to a host of pirates and adventurers—an insupportable evil, which it is impossible for England to extirpate without the aid of the local authorities which occupy the adjacent coasts and harbours; and the necessity of this co-operation cannot but lead to the recognition de facto of a number of governments of their own creation." Veiled under a desire to suppress the undoubted evil of piracy, this was an attempt indirectly to obtain from the Congress some act or declaration amounting to a recognition of the independence of South America. The other powers, accordingly, saw the object, and immediately took the alarm. Austria answered, "that England was perfectly entitled to defend her commercial interests from piracy; but as to the independence of the Spanish colonies, Austria would never recognise it, so long as his Christian Majesty had not formally renounced the rights of sovereignty heretofore exercised over these provinces." Prussia and Russia answered the note in the same terms; and in a long and

Chap. able note, drawn by M. de Chateaubriand, on the part of XIL France —" In so grave a question, France feels that 1822. Spain should, in the first instance, be consulted as sovereign de jure of these colonies. France concurs with England in holding that, when intestine troubles have long prevailed, and the law of nations has thereby been practically abrogated, on account of the weakness of one of the belligerent powers, natural right resumes its empire. She admits that there are inevitable prescriptions of some rights, and that, after a government has long resisted, it is sometimes obliged to yield to overbearing necessity, in order to terminate many evils, and prevent one state from alone reaping advantages in which other states are entitled to participate. But to prevent the jealousies and rivalries of commerce, which might involve governments against their will in hostilities, some general measure should be adopted; and perhaps it would be possible to reconcile the interests of Spain, of its colonies, and of the European states, by a measure which, founded on the broad basis of equality and reciprocity, might bring into harmony also the rights of legitimacy and the necessities of policy." The proposed measure, as a matter of course, came to nothing; but the circumstance of totaSdCon-'its being broached at all proved what adverse interests gresdJ ve- were arising in the world, and the seeds of what divisions

rone, l. 89,

94. were germinating beneath the treacherous surface of the European alliance.1

But all these subjects of division, important and preginstractions nant with future changes as they were, yielded to the viiic'ieto Spanish question, for the solution of which the Conmoren^/re-gress had been assembled, and which required iminespa'L? diate decision. The instructions of M. de Villele on this subject were very cautiously worded, and intended, above all, to avoid the appearance of France requesting from the other powers instructions how to act in the affairs of the Peninsula. They bore, " We have not determined to make war on Spain; the Cortes would carry Ferdinand back to Cadiz rather than suffer him to Chap. be conducted to Verona. The situation of France is not !_

such as to oblige us to ask for permission for a war of 1822* invasion, as Austria was at Lajbach; for we are under no necessity of declaring war at all, nor of asking for succour to carry it on if we do; and we could not admit of it, if it should lead to the passage of foreign troops through our territory. The opinion of our plenipotentiaries upon the question of what the Congress should determine on in regard to Spain is, that France is the sole power which should act with its troops, and that it must be the sole judge of when it is necessary to do so. The French plenipotentiaries must never consent that the Congress should prescribe the conduct which France should pursue in regard to Spain. They should accept of no pecuniary succour nor aid from the passage of troops through our territory. They should be firm in considering the Spanish question in its general aspect, and endeavour to obtain from the Congress a contingent treaty, honourable and advantageous to France, either [jj^JJ^xS^. for the case of a war between herself and Spain, or for the case of the powers recognising the independence of 104/' South America."1

On tbe other hand, the instructions of England to her plenipotentiary were equally decided, and such as Mr canapparently to render almost unavoidable a rupture be- structions tween the two powers. Lord Londonderry, before his weu^g-°f death, had drawn up a note for our plenipotentiaries, ge^t 27, which repudiated, in the strongest manner, any inter- ,B2i ference in the domestic concerns of Spain.* Mr Canning had only been forty-eight hours in office when he was

* "With respect to Spain, there seems nothing to add to, or vary, in the course of policy hitherto pursued. Solicitude for the royal family, observanco of our engagements with Portugal, and a rigid abstinence from any interference in the internal affairs of that country, must be considered as forming the limits of his Majesty's policy."—Marquis Londonderry's Instruction/, transferred to the Duke of Wellington, Sept. U, 1822. Annual Register, 1822, p. 98. (Public Documents.)

Chap. called on to give his instructions to the Duke of Wellingxu- ton, who was appointed successor to that lamented nobleim man as the plenipotentiary of England; but he had no difficulty in at once drawing them up. His private inclination, not less than his public duty, led him to adhere to the line marked out by Lord Londonderry. His instructions to Wellington, accordingly, on this point were, "If there be a determined project to interfere, by force or by menace, in the present struggle in Spain, so conLing's i£ vinced are his Majesty's Ministers of the uselessness and toWeUing- danger of any such interference, so objectionable does it 27°'i82i£ appear to them in prii^ciple, as well as utterly iinpractiAtm. Reg. cable in execution, that, when the necessity arises—or, I Public D'o- would rather say, when an opportunity presents itself—I and Ann. am to instruct your Grace at once frankly and decidedly m!"T* to declare, that to any such interference his Majesty will not be a party."1

When instructions so directly at variance were given Measures to the English and French plenipotentiaries upon a great themajority public question, on which an instant decision required to g^*on'the ^e taken by the powers immediately concerned, it need subject. not be said that the peace of Europe was seriously threatened. In effect, the divergence of opinion upon this point, as well as the ulterior one of recognising the independence of the revolted colonies in South America, was so great, that it probably would have been broken, and a calamitous war ensued, if the other powers had been less unanimous and decided than they were in supporting the French view of the necessity of an armed intervention. The Emperor Alexander, from the first, both officially through his plenipotentiaries, and privately in society, expressed his opinion in the strongest manner on this subject, and declared his readiness to support any measures which France might deem essential for its safety. Prussia adopted the same views: the obligations contracted in 1813 rendered no other course practicable to the Cabinet of Berlin. Austria was more doubtful: Chap.



Metternicb had a mortal dread of the northern Colossus, and in secret urged M. de Villele to adopt no measures which should give the Emperor of Russia a pretext for again moving his troops across Germany. But as he was fully impressed with the danger to Europe from the revolutionary principles acted upon in Spain, and he had himself coerced them in the most vigorous manner in Italy, he could not ostensibly deviate from the other Continental powers on a subject so vital to their common welfare. Accordingly, after several conferences, in the course of which the Duke of Wellington strongly insisted on the necessity of limiting their interference with Spain to resistance to its external aggressions or attempts at v^baiToct. propagandism, but not attempting any armed interference '^Ts^' with its domestic concerns, the matter came to this, that An6ng3H^85. the Duke of Wellington refused to sign the prods ver- c^~ubaux of the conference, when the opinions of the other congres de powers were expressed in favour of an intervention, in 104,120." certain events, in the Peninsula.1

The mode of deliberating on this subject was very peculiar, but well calculated to cut short the usual eva- options sions and subterfuges of diplomatic intercourse. France, France*^ through its minister, proposed three questions to the ce0TMtiCongress, which were as follows: "1. In case Francenental ,

0' m powers and

should find herself under the necessity of recalling her ambassador from Madrid, and interrupting all diplomatic relations with Spain, are the great powers disposed to adopt similar steps, and to break off their intercourse with that country also? 2. If war should break out between France and Spain, in what way, and by what acts, would the great powers give France their moral support, in such a manner as to inspire a salutary terror into the revolutionists of all countries \ 3. What, in fine, are the intentions of the great powers in regard to the extent of the material succour

« ForrigeFortsett »