Слике страница
PDF
ePub

out of the question. When the offer was made in 1824, it was on the condition that Spain should declare her readiness to negotiate with her late Colonies on the basis of independence. Such guarantee would have been a measure of strict neutrality, because if Great Britain had required of the colonies abstinence from an attack on Cuba, she required from Spain not to withhold the grant of independence, and not to persevere in hostilities whereby alone the attack would have been justified.

It was plain, therefore, that unless Spain accepted the condition (which she declined doing),

( a guarantee of Cuba in the then position of affairs would have been the act, not of a mediator but an ally defending one party against the legitimate hostility of the other.

Such was the view taken by Mr. Canning of these three subjects, — Smuggling — Refugees – and Cuba ; but the Court of Madrid seemed resolutely determined not to change their own. Nevertheless the Spanish Ministers were not indisposed to revise the laws which regulated the commercial intercourse with Great Britain ; but then they hoped to purchase from her political advantages for Spain, at the expense of the new States, in return for commercial privileges conceded to British Subjects. But this was a course utterly out of the power of Great Britain to follow. Since her recognition of the new States she could only look upon their rights as established, as far as she was concerned, on an equal footing with those of any other independent Power.

* Aug. 27. 1825.

In respect to the Spanish refugees at Gibraltar, the request to be furnished with specifick proofs only excited irritation; which was however somewhat allayed by the proclamation of the Governor of that fortress, by which it was proved that the British Government meant neither to allow of persecution on the one hand, nor of conspiracy against the Spanish Government on the other.

On the subject of Cuba the prospect of any such tripartite agreement as Mr. Canning had suggested could not but be agreeable to Spain; but as to purchasing the safety of Cuba by consenting to an armistice with the New States, that was a proceeding to which the Spanish Government never would consent; such a measure being, it was asserted, calculated to deaden the activity of the numerous friends of the Mother Country, who still existed in the Colonies, and who, at any moment, might raise the standard of Spain, and rally round it, a party strong enough to restore her supremacy.

The proposition, however, to negotiate an armistice was taken as a proof of friendly feelings on the part of Great Britain, but no answer was returned to it before the overthrow of M. Zea's

[ocr errors]

administration, the history of which event must next be detailed.

On Mr. Lamb's first arrival at Madrid * he found that during the preceding six months the condition of Spain had very considerably improved. M. Zea de Bermudez had every disposition to do all the good in his power ; but without any funds in the Treasury, with the Clergy in opposition, with the flatterers who surrounded the King always whispering in the royal ear insinuations calculated to excite prejudice against him, and with his time more than half occupied in endeavouring to maintain his office, what good could a Minister so situated effect for a Country which was afflicted with the accumulation of every imaginable evil ?

He relied for support on the personal favour of the King, and the countenance which the Foreign Ministers (especially the Russian) were enabled to afford to him. This for a time served him, and he was enabled to effect the dismissal and exile of Ugarte, the favourite, to whom M. Zea owed his own elevation, but with whom he afterwards quarrelled.

The extreme ultra party, at the head of which was Don Carlos, the King's next Brother, and presumptive heir to the Throne, were composed chiefly of the Clergy and municipality.

This party bore the most vehement hatred to M. Zea, and were ready to abandon the King

June 12, 1825,

a

because he supported that Minister. Their grand object was to re-establish the Inquisition; and they did not hesitate to declare that the King was unfit to reign, because he did not fall into their views. In the beginning of August this party broke out into open revolt. Bessières, who had figured in the war between France and the Constitutionalists by taking part with the former, instigated by the Priests, induced the Army to rebel, under the pretence of getting rid of the obnoxious Minister. M. Zea, however, was more than a match for this attempt. The insurrection was speedily put down, Bessières himself arrested, and shortly after executed.

M. Zea de. Bermudez did not retain his office quite two months after this event. Ever since his appointment the minions who surrounded the King had been plotting his ruin ; and to attempt to unravel the intrigues or to speak with certainty as to the manner in which his dismissal was at last brought about, would be impossible. The Duke del Infantado succeeded M. Zea. The change was undoubtedly agreeable to the Royal Family of Spain, to the Clergy and to the Ultras, as well as to the new French Am. bassador, the Marquis des Moustiers, and the · Austrian Minister, Count Brunetti. The Russian Minister, M. d'Oubril, who had been M. Zea's chief support, was naturally discontented. M.Zea was in two respects more fortunate than his predecessor, Count Ofalia; first, he was not banished; next, he was still continued in employ, being sent as Minister to the Court of Dresden.

The first professions of the new Premier were that he intended to pursue moderate measures; but one of the first of the acts of his Government was the re-establishment of the Inquisition.

From interfering in all these changes the British Minister kept aloof, contenting himself with carrying on, with whomsoever might be in power, the business of his mission. That business occasionally consisted in offering advice on matters of external policy affecting the wel. fare of Spain, especially with regard to Cuba. That advice, however, Her Government neglected, or refused to follow. So far, therefore, as She was concerned She had no claim to the good offices of Great Britain. But since it was one of the first principles of Mr. Canning's policy by friendly counsel, not only to endeavour to restore peace but to avert those contingencies whence new wars might arise, he was not to be deterred by the conduct of Spain, from trying to secure to Her the continued possession of Cuba. For this end he proceeded, as he had previously promised to the Spanish Government, to make known both to France and to the United States

« ПретходнаНастави »