Слике страница
PDF
ePub

t

The fundamental fault lay in the fiscal regulations of Spain. Those even of this country, strengthened as they had been by recent improvements, with the coasts watched by ships and guarded by patrols, were not able to exclude a contraband trade in articles on which the duty was so high, as to compensate for the risk.

If such a trade were suppressed, the consequence would probably be that a wholesome and more gainful trade would supply its place, in which British Capital would find better and safer employment.

Great Britain therefore had no interest in the violation of the fiscal laws of Spain; but smuggling was not a crime which she could repress generally by legal punishment, nor could she keep up a maritime police on the coast of Spain.

As for the countenance, or aid supposed to be given to exiled Spaniards in their machinations against their Country, the charge brought by Spain was general, and therefore could only be opposed by general denial.

Mr. Canning denied “ peremptorily and posi

tively that any such aid or countenance had “ been given.” And further he opposed to the vague charge specifick instances in which the British Government had thwarted the projects of the exiles. And still further, when Mr. Canning called for specifications of particular cases

in which the like machinations had been overlooked, or encouraged, they had been either refused by the Spanish Government, or, if given, had been found to be altogether erroneous. “But “ nevertheless,” said Mr. Canning, “ I again in“ vite specifications of any particular cause of “ complaint, and I engage on the part of the “ Government of which I am a member, that if

any specifick charge can be preferred, the most “ scrupulous investigation shall be instituted.”

The refusal of the British Consul at Tangiers to surrender some Spaniards who took refuge, not only without his invitation but against his will, was cited by M. Zea as an instance of unfriendly conduct towards Spain.

“I am sorry,” observed Mr. Canning in answer to this complaint, " that this conduct o should be so considered, because we can hold “out no expectation of any other conduct, in any

future similar case.

The surrender of Political Offenders to “punishment (even though that punishment

should be short of death) was no part of the “ duty of Governments towards each other, ex

cept when expressly stipulated by treaty; no “such stipulation existed between Great Britain “ and Spain, nor would the British Government “ contract such an obligation with Spain, or any 66 other Power: nor could a British Consul in “ Morocco assume to himself a power which the

« British Government could not have exercised « in Great Britain.

“ It ought to be some consolation to the

Spanish Ministers to reflect, that when the “party now predominant in Spain were humbled “ into exile by their political opponents, an “ asylum was afforded them at Gibraltar, and “ in other parts of His Majesty's dominions, in

spite of remonstrances quite as loud as those, “ with which those then in power were pursued by their successful rivals.

“ In the fierceness of civil contest, the thirst “ of vengeance, and the rigour of proscription,

rage on one side, and on the other, with a “ violence unknown in the struggles of open

66 war.

“ It is the business of neutral and friendly « Powers to soften rather than to inflame those “ angry passions ; at least it is not their business “ to minister to their gratification by giving up “ the refugees.

“ Was the Spanish Government,” asked Mr. Canning, “ when it complained of our conduct “ to the exiled and proscribed Spaniards, aware “ of the excessive inconvenience to which those “ Exiles and proscriptions exposed the British " Government ? Did it know that these outcasts

thronged our streets and besieged the doors “ of the Goverment Offices not for arms, but “ for bread? Did it know that they were literally “ starving before our eyes? That private liber

ality had been exhausted in their behalf, and “ that there were no more funds at the disposal of " the Government to relieve them ?

“ And did it really expect that Great Britain “ would at once find support for all the wretch“edness, which the policy of the Spanish Go“ vernment might cast upon her shores, and at “ the same time be responsible that this wretched“ ness did not ferment into acts of desperation ? 66 Great Britain could undertake no such responsibility.”

In this case indeed, as well as in that of smuggling, it was fitting that Spain should do something for herself.

“ A real amnesty might “ recall these unfortunate men, with their still “ more unfortunate wives and children, or at “ least would render their continued expatriation " their own fault.”

For the rest, if the Spanish Ministers required that the British Government should disavow any desire to foment civil war in Spain, the only difficulty, to making that disavowal

, in the most formal and solemn manner, arose from the feeling “that the design was one which “ought not to be lightly imputed, and the dis“ avowal one which ought not to be exacted “ from a Government, which had for so long “proved itself the friend of Spain.”

Besides these discussions between the two

Governments there was yet another subject of still more importance, respecting which the Government of Spain manifested very considerable anxiety.

It will be remembered that at one period of the negotiations on the subject of Spanish America between the Courts of London and Madrid, the former offered to guarantee to the Mother Country the important colony of Cuba, against any external aggression, on the condition of Spain consenting to negotiate with her Colonies, as she had done before, on the basis of independence.

This offer was not accepted, the advice of Russia being preferred, and the obstinacy of the King of Spain being invincible.

But although the Spanish Government would not purchase the secure possession of Cuba at the price of an acknowledgement of the irrecoverable loss which Spain had sustained in Her trans-Atlantick continental Colonies, Her Ministers were not without their alarms for the safety of this insular dependency. Of France they had, however, no fear; nor had they any of the designs of the United States of North America to get possession of Cuba for their own sakes.

The positive assurances of the American Government forbad any such suspicion. Still, however, Spain felt that although for their own aggrandizement the United States

« ПретходнаНастави »