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resident in that Kingdom, from the year 1814 to 1823; and so far from any disposition having been shewn to redress those grievances, there rather appeared to have grown up since the lastmentioned year, a more obstinate determination, at once to violate the letter of treaties, and to outrage the feelings of British subjects, who were entitled to appeal to those treaties for protection. The very attempt at justification of these
proceedings, which the Spanish Government put forward turned wholly on what it alleged to be the unreasonable inequality of the subsisting treaties in favour of Great Britain ; and on a claim to the negotiation of new stipulations conceived in a spirit of equality and fairness.
But to this the British Government answered, that it was at all times ready to revise the existing system, and to substitute for itone more analogous to the advanced knowledge of the true principles of commerce, which had of late years prevailed. Until, however, such new system should be established, Great Britain had a right to claim the benefit of the one which was then in existence; and it was not because her Government were willing to negotiate anew, that therefore it was prepared, when not a single step had been taken towards such negotiation, to consider all that was established as abrogated and null. If the Spanish Ministers would point out the modifications which they wished to introduce in the existing commercial relations between the two Countries, the British Minister would be instantly authorized to enter upon a revision of them with a view to a more enlarged and liberal system; but while the treaties were in force, Great Britain would insist upon the execution of them, and was not to be drawn from that claim by generalities, which might be barren of any particular results.
Such were the sentiments of the British Government before 1823; and these were sentiments which could not be otherwise than confirmed by what had taken place since the establishment of French Garrisons in Spain. For it appeared in more instances than one that the French had repelled by violence the impositions of Spanish authorities, which had been enforced by those authorities against British subjects.
With regard to the convention, the Spanish Commissioners, who had been appointed under the pretence of settling the claims of British subjects, had apparently been directed to obstruct rather than to forward the business of the Commission. Mr. Canning therefore earnestly exhorted the Spanish Government to weigh well what was the state of things in which that Convention originated, “ to recollect that it rather
" “ suspended than annulled the instructions given “ to His Majesty's Naval Commanders in the “ West Indies, and to implore the Spanish Go“ vernment to consider well of all the conse
quences to which such a palpable breach of “ faith in so recent a transaction might lead.”
It may be well here to mention, that Mr. Simon Cock about this period was engaged in a negotiation with the Spanish Government for a compromise of the claims of British Subjects under the convention; the conditions of which were the payment of a sum of money en bloc in liquidation of those claims.
To such an arrangement of this protracted transaction the British Government had no objection; provided, 1st, That all the claimants concurred in expressing their wish for the compromise; 2dly, That in point of fact it would accelerate, and secure payment. But the British Government would not make the proposal; and although if made, either by the Spanish Government, or the claimants, and accepted by the party to whom the proposal was made, the British Government would not oppose any difficulty in the way of it; yet that abstinence from opposition would only be on condition of care being taken, in the event of the compromise being agreed to, and executed, that the claimants should not reproach their Government with having curtailed the payments to which they were severally entitled ; or in the more probable case of the compromise, although agreed to, not being executed, that the right of the British Government to insist upon the literal execution of the convention should not be impaired.
At the time when Mr. Canning was directing the Spanish Government to be pressed to claim redress for infraction of ancient Treaties, he was not unaware of the complaints which the Spanish Government preferred in return on account of the violation of the Spanish Revenue Laws, and of the contraband trade carried on by British subjects. On this topick, therefore, he ad. dressed a circular note to our Consuls in Spain, warning them to be cautious not to encourage persons in violating the fiscal laws of Spain; and he directed this circular to be communicated to the Spanish Minister, as a proof of the friendly disposition of the British Government.
When Mr. Lamb arrived at Madrid, he found M. Zea de Bermudez apparently well disposed to redress the grievances of British subjects on commercial matters. But the negotiations with Mr. Cock suspended, for a time, the discussions between the two Governments on the subject of the convention. While M. Zea expressed the readiness of his Government to give satisfaction for the various grievances of which this Country had to complain, he manifested a great distrust of its friendly feelings towards Spain
asserting that London was the focus of an extensive conspiracy, and that practices un
friendly to Spain were suffered to prevail at Gibraltar. The practices of which M. Zea complained may be divided into two classes :
1st, Those which related to Smuggling ; 2dly, Those which related to the harbouring of Refugee Spaniards.
Now with regard to the first, although it was undoubtedly true that Smuggling was carried on to a great extent on the coast of Spain, and it was idle to pretend that British capital did not enter for something into that contraband trade, or that the harbour of Gibraltar contributed nothing to its facility; yet it was equally idle to assume that British capital created the contraband trade, or that it had arisen for the first time out of the then existing circumstances of Gibraltar, or out of the then existing political condition of Spain.
Such a trade had always existed in a greater or less degree on all the coasts of Spain, on the coasts of the Mediterranean, and in the immediate neighbourhood of Gibraltar more perhaps than in other parts, because the opportunities of harbours and the facilities of navigation were greater than in the bay of Biscay. But even there, and in other parts of Spain far without the reach of the influence of Gibraltar, the like irregularities prevailed; and the frontier between Spain and Portugal was a scene of similar fraud on the Spanish revenue.