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that it could be made, prospectively, the basis of an alliance. The British government regarded its exercise as an exception to general principles of the greatest value and importance, and as one that only properly grows out of the special circumstances of the case; but it at the same time considered, that exceptions of this description never can, without the utmost danger, be so far reduced to rule, as to be incorporated into the ordinary diplomacy of States, or into the institutes of the Law of Nations.1
§ 6. Congress of Verona.
The British government also declined being a party to the proceedings of the Congress held at Verona, in 1822, which ultimately led to an armed interference by France, under the sanction of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, in the internal affairs of Spain, and the overthrow of the Spanish Constitution of the Cortes. The British government disclaimed for itself, and denied to other powers, the right of requiring any changes in the internal institutions of independent States, with the menace of hostile attack in case of refusal. It did not consider the Spanish Revolution as affording a case of that direct and imminent danger to the safety and interests of other States, which might justify a forcible interference. The original alliance between Great Britain and the other principal European powers, was specifically designed for the reconquest and liberation of the European continent from the military dominion of France; and, having subverted that dominion, it took the state of possession, as established by the peace, under the joint protection of the alliance. It never was, however, intended as an union for the government of the world, or for the superintendence of the internal affairs of other States. No proof had been produced to the British government of any design, on the part of Spain, to invade the territory of France; of any attempt to introduce disaffection among her soldiery; or of any project to undermine her political institutions; and, so long as the struggles and disturbances of Spain should be confined within the circle of her own territory, they could not be admitted by the British govern
1 Lord Castlereagh's Circular Dispatch, Jan. 19, 1821. Annual Register, vol. lxii. Part II. p. 737.
ment to afford any plea for foreign interference. If the end of the last and the beginning of the present century saw all Europe combined against France, it was not on account of the internal changes which France thought necessary for her own political and civil reformation; but because she attempted to propagate, first, her principles, and afterwards her dominion, by the sword.1
§ 7. War between Spain and
Both Great Britain and the United States, on the same occasion, protested against the right of the Allied Powers to interfere, by forcible means, in the contest her Ameribetween Spain and her revolted American Colonies, nics. The British government declared its determination to remain strictly neutral, should the war be unhappily prolonged; but that the junction of any foreign power, in an enterprise of Spain against the colonies, would be viewed by it as constituting an entirely new question, and one upon which it must take such decision as the interests of Great Britain might require. That it could not enter into any stipulation, binding itself either to refuse or delay its recognition of the independence of the colonies, nor wait indefinitely for an accommodation between Spain and the colonies; and that it would consider any foreign interference, by force or by menace, in the dispute between them, as a motive for recognizing the latter without delay.2
The United States government declared that it should consider any attempt, on the part of the allied European powers, to extend their peculiar political system to the American continent, as dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power they had not interfered, and should not interfere; but with respect to the governments, whose independence they had recognized, they could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner
1 Confidential Minute of Lord Castlereagh on the Affairs of Spain, communicated to the Allied Courts in May, 1823. Annual Register, vol. lxv.; Public Documents, p. 93. Mr. Secretary Canning's Letter to Sir C. Stuart, 28th Jan. 1823, p. 114. Same to the Same, 31st March, 1823, p. 141.
2 Memorandum of Conference between Mr. Secretary Canning and Prince Polignac, 9th October, 1823. Annual Register, vol. lxvi. p. 99. Public Documents.
their destiny, in any other light than as a manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States. They had declared their neutrality in the war between Spain and those new governments, at the time of their recognition; and to this neutrality they should continue to adhere, provided no change should occur, which, in their judgment, should make a correspondent change, on the part of the United States, indispensable to their own security. The late events in Spain and Portugal showed that Europe was still unsettled. Of this important fact no stronger proof could be adduced than that the Allied Powers should have thought it proper, on any principle satisfactory to themselves, to have interposed by force in the internal concerns of Spain. To what extent such interpositions might be carried, on the same principle, was a question on which all independent powers, whose governments differed from theirs, were interested, even those most remote, and none more so than the United States.
The policy of the American government, in regard to Europe, adopted at an early stage of the war which had so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remained the same. This policy was, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of the European powers; to consider the government, de facto, as the legitimate government for them; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy; meeting, in all instances, the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none. But, with regard to the American continents, circumstances were widely different. It was impossible that the Allied Powers should extend their political system to any portion of these continents, without endangering the peace and happiness of the United States. It was therefore impossible that the latter should behold such interposition in any form with indifference.1
§ 8. British interference
Great Britain had limited herself to protesting against in the affairs the interference of the French government in the internal affairs of Spain, and had refrained from interposing
1 President Monroe's Message to Congress, 2d December, 1823. Annual Register, vol. lxv. Public Documents, p. 193.
by force, to prevent the invasion of the peninsula by France. The constitution of the Cortes was overturned, and Ferdinand VII. restored to absolute power. These events were followed by the death of John VI., King of Portugal, in 1825. The constitution of Brazil had provided that its crown should never be united on the same head with that of Portugal; and Dom Pedro resigned the latter to his infant daughter, Dona Maria, appointing a regency to govern the kingdom during her minority, and, at the same time, granting a constitutional charter to the European dominions of the House of Braganza. The Spanish government, restored to the plenitude of its absolute authority, and dreading the example of the peaceable establishment of a constitutional government in a neighboring kingdom, countenanced the pretensions of Dom Miguel to the Portuguese crown, and supported the efforts of his partisans to overthrow the regency and the charter. Hostile inroads into the territory of Portugal were concerted in Spain, and executed with the connivance of the Spanish authorities, by Portuguese troops, belonging to the party of the Pretender, who had deserted into Spain, and were received and succoured by the Spanish authorities on the frontiers. Under these circumstances, the British government received an application from the regency of Portugal, claiming, in virtue of the ancient treaties of alliance and friendship subsisting between the two crowns, the military aid of Great Britain against the hostile aggression of Spain. In acceding to that application, and sending a corps of British troops for the defence of Portugal, it was stated by the British minister that the Portuguese Constitution was admitted to have proceeded from a legitimate source, and it was recommended to Englishmen by the ready acceptance which it had met with from all orders of the Portuguese people. But it would not be for the British nation to force it on the people of Portugal, if they were unwilling to receive it; or if any schism should exist among the Portuguese themselves, as to its fitness and congeniality to the wants and wishes of the nation. They went to Portugal in the discharge of a sacred obligation, contracted under ancient and modern treaties. When there, nothing would be done by them to enforce the establishment of the constitution; but they must take care that nothing was done by others to prevent it from being fairly carried into effect. The hostile
aggression of Spain, in countenancing and aiding the party opposed to the Portuguese Constitution, was in direct violation of repeated solemn assurances of the Spanish cabinet to the British government, engaging to abstain from such interference. The sole object of Great Britain was to obtain the faithful execution of those engagements. The former case of the invasion of Spain by France, having for its object to overturn the Spanish Constitution, was essentially different in its circumstances. France had given to Great Britain cause of war, by that aggression upon the independence of Spain. The British government might lawfully have interfered, on grounds of political expediency; but they were not bound to interfere, as they were now bound to interfere on behalf of Portugal, by the obligations of treaty. War might have been their free choice, if they had deemed it politic, in the case of Spain; interference on behalf of Portugal was their duty, unless they were prepared to abandon the principles of national faith and national honor.1
in favor of
The interference of the Christian powers of Europe, § 9. Interference of in favor of the Greeks, who, after enduring ages of ian powers cruel oppression, had shaken off the Ottoman yoke, of Europe, affords a further illustration of the principles of interthe Greeks. national law authorizing such an interference, not only where the interests and safety of other powers are immediately affected by the internal transactions of a particular State, but where the general interests of humanity are infringed by the excesses of a barbarous and despotic government. These principles are fully recognized in the treaty for the pacification of Greece, concluded at London, on the 6th of July, 1827, between France, Great Britain, and Russia. The preamble of this treaty sets forth, that the three contracting parties were "penetrated with the necessity of putting an end to the sanguinary contest, which, by delivering up the Greek provinces and the isles of the Archipelago to all the disorders of anarchy, produces daily fresh impediments to the commerce of the European States, and gives occasion to piracies, which not only expose the subjects of the
1 Mr. Canning's Speech in the House of Commons, 11th December, 1826. Annual Register, vol. lxviii. p. 192.