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would abstain from any attempt to possess them- . selves of Cuba, the attempt might yet be made to thwart, or to forestall, the supposed ambitious views of Great Britain. The Spanish Ministers were therefore anxious to obtain from Great Britain a guarantee, which would afford the best proof to the United States that such ambitious views were not, in the remotest degree, within the contemplation of her Government.
It is singular enough that while the Spanish Government were thus dreading the loss of Cuba, from the unprovoked aggression of two Powers with whom Spain remained on terms of amity and peace, that it should have overlooked entirely the only really imminent danger arising from the attack of the only Powers with which it was at war, viz. the New States of Spanish America.
But on that subject the impatience of the King of Spain was so vehement, that it was absolutely necessary for his Ministers, in order to obtain a hearing from him upon any other matter connected with the well-being of his dominions, to keep that one out of sight. “ This necessity in effect excluded the discus“ sion which he solicited with respect to Cuba “ since the principal element of the difficulties “ with which that island was beset, arose from “ its situation relatively to the New States of
Spanish America, and the only chance of find“ing a solution for those difficulties was by con
“sidering the question in connexion with those « States.
“ The fact of Cuba being the depôt, of whatever military means Spain might have the ca
pacity to collect for carrying on the war “ against her former Colonies, and being the “ most formidable position from which an attack “ against those Colonies could be directed, en
dangered its safety full as much as the possible “ want of power in the Government at the “ Havannah, either to ensure internal tranquil
lity or to make itself respected on the coasts, " and in the seas which surround the island “ and from the plea, or pretext, which might “ thereby be afforded to other Nations either “ for a partial occupation of the ports or shores “ of Cuba, or for a direct interference in case “ of any disturbance or struggle within the “ island."
To these latter causes of danger the Court of Madrid seemed sufficiently alive. But to the danger of attack from the New States of Spanish America His Catholick Majesty's Ministers were either wholly insensible, or else they felt themselves bound to abstain from bringing the means of averting it under the view of their Sovereign.
It was impossible, however, for the British Government, in estimating the evils which menaced Cuba, to forget that that island belonged to a Power at war; and in canvassing the “ dangers arising out of a state of war, it " was but reasonable to consider of the re“ medies by which they might be obviated,” especially when the continued existence of this particular danger, enhanced the others against which the Court of Madrid professed its desire to provide — first, by multiplying the chances of such internal commotion in Cuba, as might afford to foreign Powers the pretence for interfering in the local concerns of the Colony; and, secondly, by holding out a plausible occasion for them to make an offer of friendly military occupation as a defence against hostile attack.
As for Great Britain, " she disclaimed in the “ most solemn manner any the remotest design, “ or desire, to occupy Cuba, and to appropriate " that or any other of the Spanish Possessions “ to herself. But she could not see with in
. “ difference any attempts by other Powers who “ were like herself in amity with Spain, to assume
(under whatever colour) that occupation of “ Cuba, which for herself she disclaimed any « desire to obtain.
« The earnest wish of the British Govern“ment was that Cuba and its dependencies “ should remain in allegiance to the Mother “ Country.”
The Government of the United States, as well as that of France, had both disclaimed any de
sign or desire to take Cuba to themselves; and Mr. Canning had it in contemplation to propose to those two Powers to bind themselves interchangeably with England not to take advantage of the difficulties of Spain, to effect an occupation of Cuba for any purpose, or under any pretext whatever.
Such an obligation contracted by the three greatest maritime Powers of the World would have formed the strongest guarantee of Cuba to Spain against any proceedings of those three Powers.
Against the other species of danger, the ef forts of the Continental States of Spanish America, — security was only to be obtained by an armistice, if the obstinacy of the Spanish counsels and character made peace impossible.
The history of Spain herself furnished an example, in which similar obstinacy was soothed, and the miseries of war alleviated by a long cessation of hostilities. An armistice was agreed upon between Spain and the Netherlands in the year 1609, but the final recognition of the United Provinces was not conceded by Spain till 1648. And although the truce was not unbroken, during the whole of that interval, yet a vast expenditure of blood and treasure was saved even by that temporary cessation.
In this case, therefore, Spain hearkened to the voice of wisdom, and humanity, and consented to suspend the assertion of her authority by arms, even before absolute necessity prescribed her final abdication of it.
What Spain did for herself in 1609, she advised England to do in 1779, when she proffered her good offices between the then revolted Colonies of Great Britain and the Mother Country; and proposed a truce without any abandonment of their mutual pretensions, until both parties should be willing to negotiate a peace.
Why therefore should His Catholick Majesty repudiate the example of His Royal Predecessor in 1609 ? Why should he refuse to act himself upon counsel given by His Royal Father to England in a case so nearly similar ? True, England did not act upon that counsel; but she did not, by rejecting it, recover her Colonies.
The British Government was willing to undertake to make a proposition for a truce to the New States of America, either for an indefinite or for an expirable period, but liable to be renewed, and would do its utmost to procure its acceptance.
The evil to Spain of discontinuing hostilities was not very obvious, she was the assailed, and not the assailing, party; and her coasts were in. fested by the privateers of the new States, which swept the small remnant of her commerce from the face of the seas. For England to have undertaken to guarantee Cuba to Spain was then