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K. GEORG E II.
OTWITHSTANDING the Treaty of Seville,
the Spaniards had never desisted from the commise fion of those insults and depredations, for the prevention of which it was chiefly and professedly made. They were even emboldened by the phlegmatic indifference, or pufillanimity, of the English Minister, to proceed to still farther extremities. They now therefore disputed the right of the English traders to cut logwood in the Bay of Campeachy, and to gather falt in the island of Tortuga, though of antient and established prac. tise, and never before called in question. On pretence of the illicit commerce carried on by the VOL. II. B.
British West India Islands with the Spanish Mainand which, however contrary to the absurd policy of Spain, was doubtless equally necessary and beneficial to both countries--armed vessels, known by the name of Guarda-Costas, were stationed in the usual track of commercial intercourse, which on the plea of searching for contraband goods, seized, plundered, and infolently detained, a great number of British merchant-fhips at their discretion; and, without regarding the faith of nations, imprisoning the crews, and confiscating the cargoes. The repeated memorials presented by the British Ambassador at the Court of Madrid produced no fort of effect. Evasive answers, vague promises of inquiry, and cedulas of instructions fent to the Spanish Governors in America, intended merely to amuse, were all the advances which were made towards reparation and redress. The nation seemed at length fired with a general and just resentment at these outrages.
Petitions were presented to Parliament in the session of 1738, from the mercantile towns and cities, stating the violences to which they had been exposed, and imploring relief and protection. The House, in a grand committee, proceeded to hear counsel for the merchants, and to examine evidence; in the course of which it appeared, that the most horrid and wanton acts of cruelty had in various instances been perpetrated by the Spaniards on the subjects of Great 5
Britain. One Jenkins, who appeared on this occasion at the bar of the House, gave a simple and affecting narrative of the favage treatment he had met with from the captain of a Spanish guardacosta, who, after exhausting his invention in various modes of torture, tore off one of his ears, and bade him carry it to his King, adding withal many contumelious and opprobrious expressions. Despairing to escape alive from the hands of this barbarian, he recommended, he said, his soul to God, and the revenge of his wrongs to his country. The House, scarcely less inflamed than the populace with this recital, voted an unanimous address to the King, “ beseeching his Majesty to use his endeavors to obtain effectual relief for his injured subjects, to convince the Court of Spain that his Majesty could no longer suffer such constant and repeated insults and injuries to be carried on to the dishonor of his Crown, and to the ruin of his subjects and in case his applications proved fruitless, assuring him, that the House would effectually support his Majesty in taking such measures as honor and justice should make it necefsary for him to pursue.” To this address, the King returned a gracious and favorable answer, and on the 20th of May 1738, the Parliament was prorogued.
Various motives concurred, nevertheless, to excite in the breast of the Minister an extreme reluc
tance firmly to resolve on a declaration of war. During the long course of his administration, it had been the constant and favorite object of his policy, to preserve the kingdom from that dire calamity. He perhaps doubted his talents for conducting a war with vigor and ability; and he might reasonably apprehend, that
disastrous event in the course of it might endanger his authority and safety. He was persuaded that the commercial interests affected by these depredations were in themselves too trivial, and of a nature too equivocal in point of right, to warrant the nation in having recourse to a remedy fo violent. He well knew that the union of the two Crowns of France and Spain was so strongly cemented, that a war with one must inevitably involve us in a war. with the other. And it was his invariable and avowed opinion, though contradicted happily by later experience, that England alone was not equal to cope with the combined force of the House of Bourbon. Possessed with these sentiments, he concluded, during the recess of Parliament, a CONVENTION with Spain, signed at the Pardo in Madrid; by which the King of Spain obliged himself to make reparation to the British fubjects for their losses within a certain period; and commissioners were appointed “ for regulating all those grievances and abuses which had interrupted the commerce of Great Britain in the American seas; and for fet.