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I



THE



POLITICAL LIFE

OF
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

GEORGE CANNING,

FROM

HIS ACCEPTANCE OF THE SEALS OF THE FOREIGN

DEPARTMENT, IN SEPTEMBER, 1822,

TO

THE PERIOD OF HIS DEATH, IN AUGUST, 1827.

TOGETHER WITH

A SHORT REVIEW OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SUBSEQUENTLY TO THAT EVENT.

BY
HIS PRIVATE SECRETARY,

AUGUSTUS GRANVILLE STAPLETON, Esq.



SECOND EDITION,
INCLUDING THE PART OMITTED IN THE FIRST.



IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. III.



LONDON:

PRINTED FOR

LONGMAN, REES, ORME, BROWN, AND GREEN,

PATERNOSTBR-ROW.
1831.



'-■■>.



y><^



SANTA BAItUAIiA

V.3



CONTENTS



OF



THE THIRD VOLUME.



ERRATA IN VOL. III.

Page 403. Une 2. from bottom, for "argument," read "arguments."
410. delete the asterisk in line 5., and insert it after the word
" end," in the line immediately before the Note.



respondence between Mr. Canning and Mr. Gallatin.

Page I

CHAP. XIV.

Slave Trade. — Slavery. — North-West Coast of America.

84

CHAP. XV.

Western Europe. — State of Spain. — Diplomatick Trans-
actions with the Court of Madrid. — Cuba. — Change of
Ministry. — Sir Charles Stuart's Proceedings at Rio de
Janeiro. — Death of the King of Portugal. — Grant of a
Constitutional Charter by Don Pedro. — Its Reception in
Portugal, and in Europe. — Invasion of Portugal from
Spain British Troops sent to Portugal. — Mr. Can-
ning's Speech on that Occasion, and its Effects. — Con-
dition of Portugal at Mr. Canning's Death. - 127

VOL. III. A 4-



^i^



SAM A liAlJliAitA

V.3



CONTENTS



OF



THE THIRD VOLUME.



CHAP. XIII.



Domestick Affairs Relaxation of Commercial Restrictions.

— The Panick, and its Causes. — Measures of the Go-
vernment at the Meeting of Parliament. — Proposed Issue

of Exchequer Bills Mr. Ellice's Motion on the Silk

Trade. — Corn Bill Commercial Intercourse between

the British West Indies and the United States. — Cor-
respondence between Mr. Canning and Mr. Gallatin.



Page I



CHAP. XIV.



Slave Trade. — Slavery. — North-West Coast of America.

84-

CHAP. XV.

Western Europe. — State of Spain. — Diplomatick Trans-
actions with the Court of Madrid. — Cuba. — Change of

Ministry Sir Charles Stuart's Proceedings at Rio de

Janeiro. — Death of the King of Portugal. — Grant of a
Constitutional Charter by Don Pedro. — Its Reception in
Portugal, and in Europe. — Invasion of Portugal from
Spain. — British Troops sent to Portugal. — Mr. Can-
ning's Speech on that Occasion, and its Effects. — Con-
dition of Portugal at Mr. Canning's Death. - 127

VOX- III. A 4



VI CONTENTS.



CHAP. XVI.

Greek Affairs. — Measures respecting the Greek Protocol.

— Correspondence with Prince Lieven. — Instructions to
Mr. Stratford Canning. — Communications with France,
Austria, and Prussia. — Rejection by the Porte of
Mr. Stratford Canning's Overture. — Success of the
Turks in Greece. — Greek Treaty and Secret Article. —
Instructions to the Ambassadors at Constantinople, and
to. the Commanders of the Allied Squadrons in the Le-
vant. — Mr. Canning's " System " of Policy. Page 252

CHAP. XVII.

Death of the Duke of York. — Illness of Lord Liverpool.

— Advice to the King on that Event Corn Laws and

Catholick Question. — State of Parties after the Debates
on these Questions. — Mr. Canning's Interview with the
King. — Message to the Cabinet. — Mr. Canning em-
powered by the King to reconstruct the Administration.

299

CHAP. XVIII.

Negotiations respecting the new Administration. — Resigna-
tions of the Duke of Wellington, the Lord Chancellor,
Lord Bathurst, Lord Melville, Lord Bexley, and Mr.
Peel. — Duke of Clarence nominated Lord High Admiral.

— Negotiations with the Whigs. — Arrangement of the
new Cabinet. — Irish Government. - - 324<

CHAP. XIX.

Debates in Parliament respecting the Formation of the new

Administration Explanations of Mr. Canning and Mr.

Peel in the House of Commons. — Explanation of Lord
Eldon. — Speech of the Duke of Wellington. — Mr. Can-
ning's Letter in Answer to that Speech, and the Reply.

— Explanations of the other Ex-Ministers. - - 346



CONTENTS. VU

CHAP. XX.

Debates on tlie new Administration in the House of Com-
mons. — Debates on the same Subject in the House of
Lords. — Speech of the Earl Grey. — The Budget. —

Corn Bill Amendment of the Duke of Wellington. —

— Abandonment of the Bill. — Debates respecting it in
the House of Commons. — Mr. Canning's Illness, Death,
and Funeral. _ - . - Page 388

CHAP. XXI.

Comparison of the Domestick Policy of the Duke of Wel-
lington's Government with that of Mr. Canning. — Test

Act. — Catholick Question Corn Laws. — Finance

Comparison of the Foreign Policy of the Duke of Wel-
lington's Government with that of Mr. Canning. — Turkey
and Greece. — Portugal, and General System. — Col-
lision between the two extreme Parties in Europe - 453



MR. CANNING'S
POLITICAL LIFE, FROM, &c.



CHAPTER XIIL

DOMESTICK AFFAIRS. RELAXATION OF COMMERCIAL

RESTRICTIONS. THE PANICK, AND ITS CAUSES.

MEASURES OF THE GOVERNMENT AT THE MEETING

OF PARLIAMENT. PROPOSED ISSUE OF EXCHEOUER .

BILLS. MR. ELLICE's MOTION ON THE SILK TRADE.

CORN BILL. COMMERCIAL INTERCOURSE BETWEEN

THE BRITISH WEST INDIES AND THE UNITED STATES.

CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MR. CANNING AND

MR. GALLATIN,

In a preceding chapter it has been stated that,
although at tlie close of the summer of 1825,
the contentment and good humour with the Ad-
ministration, which every where prevailed, made
the juncture extremely favourable for the elec-
tion of a new Parliament, yet Mr. Canning
opposed a dissolution for reasons exclusively
connected with the Catholick Question. At the
time when he did tliis, he was well aware, that
the state of things which produced this content-
VOL. in. B



2

ment was not likely to continue, for he, in
common with some other observant members of
the Cabinet, foresaw that ere many months had
elapsed there would, in all probability, occur a
financial and commercial crisis, which, by pro-
ducing for a time general distress, would in the
ordinary course of things excite a clamour
against the Government. Such a clamour, too,
he well knew would be directed chiefly against the
liberal part of the Administration, by whom the
relaxations of the restrictions of our commercial
system had been introduced, and by whose firm-
ness they had been carried, in spite of the oppo-
sition of a powerful party, who looked upon such
innovations with distrust and apprehension.

These considerations, however, to a minister
who looked not to temporary advantage, but to
the attainment of lasting good, were not suf-
ficient to outweigh the injury which the vitally
important question of Catholick Emancipation
might have sustained from an immediate dis-
solution ; and the appeal to the Country was
accordingly postponed for another session. In
the course of the November following the
crisis, which had been expected, arrived : and a
panick, such as never had been witnessed since
the fatal South Sea Bubble, shook all commer-
cial credit to its foundations. But before enter-
ing upon the history of this calamitous event,
the attention of the reader must be drawn to the



3

alterations which, with Mr. Canning's sanction
and support, had been introduced into our com-
mercial system.

To the merit of originating these alterations,
or of adapting them to practice, Mr. Canning
laid no claim. They were unconnected for the
most part with the business of the department
over which he presided, and they related to a
branch of politicks, the study of which was of
all perhaps the least suited to his taste. Never-
theless they were far too important in their
nature and consequences for Mr. Canning to
have left tliem wholly to the management of
others ; and high as was his opinion of Mr.
Huskisson's judgment and knowledge in com-
mercial and financial matters, yet he gave not
his approbation to the system of that minister,
until, by a careful examination of the principles
on which it was founded, he had satisfied himself
of their truth ; nor did he give his support to the
measures themselves until he had ascertained,
not only that they were in conformity with the
general principles which he had approved, but
were likewise so qualified, as to be well fitted
to the peculiar nature of the case to which they
might be intended to apply.

Thus Mr. Canning was perfectly convinced of
the truth of the abstract principle, that com-
merce is sure to flourish most, when wholly mi-
fettered bv restrictions ; but since such had not

B Q



been the opinions, either of our ancestors or of
surrounding nations, and since, in consequence,
restraints had been imposed upon all commer-
cial transactions, a state of things had grown
up, to which the unguarded application of the
abstract principle, however true it was in theory,
might have been somewhat mischievous in prac-
tice. The opposite course, however, of en-
tirely disregarding this principle in commercial
legislation, would certainly not have been less
mischievous in its ultimate results ; and Mr.
Canning felt that it was the part of sound policy
never, indeed, to lose sight of the principle, but,
at the same time, never to forget, that, from
the circumstance of its having been previously
lost sight of, there existed an absolute necessity
for applying it with discretion, and care.

Such were Mr. Canning's views of the best
mode of treating commercial affairs. With
respect to them, as well as with respect to
political concerns in general, his first desire was
in every case to assure himself of philosophical
truth, and to ascertain the springs of action
inherent in nature. These, he knew, must
always be pressing with a strong force 'in one
direction, and would thereby tend to counter-
act the efforts of those, who, unconscious of the
existence of such an opposing power, urge on
their schemes in a different, and unnatural
direction.



It is not here proposed to enter into a minute
examination of the various changes whicli were
made in our commercial laws during the time
that Mr. Canning was in office ; but since he de-
clared in Parliament, that he considered himself
accountable for them, it would be leaving incom-
plete the history of this part of his life, if no
outline were given of the measures, for the
recommendation of which he did not hesitate
to proclaim that he was ready to take his full
share of the responsibility.

It has been already stated, that the principle
upon which all our laws relating to Commerce
were founded, was that of interference, either
by restriction on the one hand, or encourage-
ment on the otlier. Trade was not left to itself
to find its own channels, but it was to be forced
by a vain meddling legislation into those chan-
nels, into which it would not of its own
accord have flowed : all laws on this subject
were made with reference to parts alone, the
Government never legislating for the country, as
a whole. Thus the importation of some goods
were prohibited lest they should interfere with
the internal consumption of some favoured manu-
factures, and bounties were given to induce the
production, and exportation of others. Ships of
foreign nations were not allowed to carry certain
specified articles, and every enactment was un-
blushingly made under tlie assumption tliat we

B 3



()



could not benefit ourselves, except at the ex-
pense of our neighbours.

Up to the commencement of the late war,
and through that war, with only such modifi-
cations as a state of hostilities occasionally re-
quired, this system was persevered in ; and its
full revival, and strict continuance seemed to be
contemplated as the natural consequence of the
return of peace. It had till then no doubt been
productive of great advantage to our Naviga-
tion, especially in its earlier stages ; for strange
as it may appear, it is nevertheless true,
that the principles of commercial intercourse
were then so little understood, that surrounding
nations viewed our Navigation laws, if not
without jealousy, at least without having re-
course to retaliation. After the close of the
American War, the altered position of the
Countries which we had founded — then uniting
and for the first time assuming the character of
an independent nation — made some alterations
in our Navigation Laws indispensable to the
existence of any commercial intercourse be-
tween Great Britain, and the United States :
these alterations were made ; but, notwithstand-
ing, laws were then passed by that infant Nation
highly injurious to our commerce. Still these
laws were not framed with the wise object of
compelling Great Britain to abandon, as far as
regarded the United States, her system of com-



merce and navigation, but originated rather in
those feelings of deeply rooted hatred towards
this Country, which the remembrance of past op-
pression, and recent strife, had then engendered
in the bosoms of our trans- Atlantick brethren.

To counteract these proceedings on the part
of the United States it appears that various
plans were suggested, and considered by the
Governments of the day ; but they one and all
were abandoned, and the Revolutionary War
broke out in 1798 without any material change
having been made in our commercial system.
The peculiar features which characterized that
war, of near a quarter of a century's duration,
enabled us during that long period to maintain
that system. The anti-commercial edicts of
Napoleon, and the insecurity with which all
trading ships traversed the Seas, unless under
the safeguard of the British Navy, or American
flag, caused the disappearance from the Ocean
of all mercantile ships, with the exception of
those of Great Britain, and the United States.
So that from the force of circumstances, wholly
unconnected with our laws, We, and our
former Colony, monopolized the navigation of
the World.

When peace was restored in 1815, the pre-
servation of this monopoly for any length of
time became impossible. Sounder principles of
commerce very generally prevailed ; and other

B 4



8

nations being no longer content to witness with
tame indifference our exclusive system, began
to counteract this selfishness on our parts by
retaliation on theirs.

The example was first set by the United States,
which after the peace again laid restraints on
British commerce ; not, however, as before, with
the hope of injuring our prosperity, but on
the fair and wise ground of not granting facili-
ties to us, which we refused to them. When
this plan was adopted by the United States there
were only three courses open to the Govern-
ment : 1. The adoption of a system of reciprocity ;

2. Maintaining the old system of restraint ;

3. The imposition of additional restrictions.
With respect to the last, it certainly would have
been most unwise to have entered into a con-
test, which, if mutually persevered in, must have
ended in the annihilation of the trade of both
parties. And with respect to the last but one,
it is obvious that that one of the two countries
would have suffered the most, which had the
largest commercial marine ; and, that as ours was
the largest, we should have been the greatest
suflerers.

Our Government, therefore, judiciously re-
solved to adopt the only remaining alternative,
and accordingly considerable alterations were
made in our Navigation Laws in favour of the
United States in their direct trade with this



9

country. In the course of a few years the other
Powers of Europe began to follow the example
which had thus been set them. The effect of
their so doing we had evidently began to feel
before the year 1821 ; for in that year, we find
Mr. Wallace *, who was then Vice-President
of the Board of Trade, introducing into the
House of Commons a new Navigation Act, and
marking his strong sense of our altered position
by the following very just observations : — " We
" are now,'* he said, '* in a situation extremely
** different from that in which we were placed
** some years ago. We have not now the undi-
" vided empire of the sea, we cannot now com-
" mand the navigation of the ocean, we must
" therefore be content to proceed on a fair sys-
«* tern of competition, and to carry on our deal-
" ings under strict commercial rules."

In conformity with these sentiments, Mr.
Wallace not only introduced this new Navigation
Act, but likewise that same session brought for-
ward another, called the Warehousing Act, which,
however, did not pass the legislature tfll the fol-
lowing Session. Mr. Robinson (who was Pre-
sident of the same Board) also brought in two
acts changing the regulations of our colonial in-
tercourse ; which acts were by no means inferior
in importance to the two first mentioned.

* Vide his Speech, June 25. 1821.



10

The old Navigation Law, although made solely
for the benefit of British shipping, as a whole,
subjected individual ships to many inconvenient
restrictions. The great objects of it were, first,
to forbid the importation of the production of
the three distant continents, except from the
particular one of which they were the produc-
tion : — secondly, to prevent any one European
State from becoming the general carrier of Euro-
pean goods. These two objects were not lost
sierht of in the new law, the chief alterations
effected by which consisted ; first, in permitting
the goods of Asia, Africa, or America, which
before could only come from that particular
quarter of the world where they were produced,
to be imported indifferently from either of the
three quarters ; and next, in permitting certain
European goods, commonly denominated *' the
" enumerated articles,** which before could only
be imported in British ships, or in ships of the
country of their production, (and some of which
were altogether prohibited, if exported from Ger-
many or the Netherlands,) to be imported from
any place either in a British ship, or in a ship of
the country of their production, or in a ship of
the country from whence the exportation was
made.

Thus the new law left to the ordinary course
of things to effect the two chief purposes which
the old sought to accomplish by positive enact-



11

ment. For the expense of double voyages will
prevent the goods of Asia, Africa, or America
being carried from one to the other in any consi-
derable quantities, prior to their being brought to
this country ; and the like expense will prevent
the formation of intermediate depots of the bulky
goods of Europe upon an extensive scale. Still,
however, when, among the various transactions
of the commercial world, such previous removal
of goods have incidentally occurred, the power
to bring tliem on will be more serviceable to the
shipping interest tlian would be the restraint.
The new Act, indeed, while it is more simple,
and less restrictive to all shipping than the old,
is, at the same time, more calculated to encou-
rage British ships, than to open new channels of
trade to foreign ones.

The new Act, it should be remembered, did not
interfere with the Revenue, for it left all the dis-
criminating duties on goods in foreign ships in
full force.

The most material change in point of prin-
ciple made by the Warehousing Act was that it
permitted manufactured, as well as unmanufac-
turedgoods, tobe deposited in this country, waiting
a market here and abroad : it also permitted even
prohibited goods of all sorts to be warehoused
for exportation. This proposition to extend the
system met with considerable opposition from
the manufacturing interests, who were apprehen-



sive that wc should lose our command of foreign
markets for our own goods, if the exporting
merchants were enabled to make shipments of
foreign manufactures from this country. The
delay occasioned by this opposition prevented
the Act from passing in the Session of 1822, but
it was passed in the next Session, under the
auspices of its author, Mr. Wallace. Provisions,
shackling the transit trade, in some cases removed
a part of the objections; and the rest were dis-
sipated by the opinion, which has since acquired
still greater force, that the opportunity of selection
from a copious assortment of goods for foreign
adventure would tend to introduce into the
general markets of the world more of our own
goods than would be excluded by the occasional
rivalry of particular articles.

The Act is framed with great consideration
for the trade and a perfect knowledge of its
wants, at the same time that it secures the safety
of the revenue by confining the higher advan-
tages of the system to well situated warehouses
of superior structure and arrangement.

Of Mr. Robinson's two Acts, the first related
to the trade of our American possessions with
other places in America : the second related to
their trade with other parts of the world. Both
these Acts permitted the importation from foreign
countries of certain goods, which before had
only been allowed to be imported from this



13

country, and consequently only in British ships ;
and furtlier, the productions of America were
allowed to be imported into the colonies direct
from that continent not only in British but in
foreign ships. The goods thus favoured were
either articles of first necessity, or else were not
such as are the productions of the United King-
dom. They were made subject to a moderate
duty.

Notwithstanding the very extensive character
of these two Acts, the only material operation of
them was to open afresh the intercourse between
our West Indian plantations, and the United
States of America. Upon the return of peace
the British Government had so far recurred to
the old-established colonial system, as to require
that all importation should be made in British
ships. The Americans insisted upon the admis-
sion of their ships ; and accordingly till that point
should be conceded,they would not permit British
ships to take on board in their ports cargoes for
our West Indian Colonies. The United States
were the chief source from whence these Colonies
derived their lumber and provisions — articles
which are of first necessity to sugar plantations,
and which are at the same time the staple exports
of the North American States. This regulation
therefore was not carried into effect by the United
States without considerable injury accruing to
themselves j but the West Indies in their turn



14

were reduced to a state of great privation : the
controversy tiierefore turned upon the question,
whether we should first be starved into com-
pHance, or they first be tired of the loss of a pro-
fitable trade. The victory was theirs, we yielded,
and the Act of 1822 admitted their ships with
their lumber and provisions upon the same terms
with our own, both as to the ships, and as to
the goods in the ships. Thus when the British
Government yielded the point, it was done
handsomely, in the full expectation that these
advances towards cordiality would be fairly met
by their antagonists, and that the supply of the
West Indies with American lumber and pro-
visions would be uninterruptedly effected in
future by the joint efforts of Biitish and American
ships. In the ports of importation the ships of
either party were admitted with their cargoes on
the same terms. Nothing was wanting but that
in the ports of exportation they should both be
allowed likewise to depart on the same terms.
The American Government, however, decreed
differently, and would not allow the departure
from their ports of British ships upon equal terms
with their own ; and even in some cases the per-
mission to export goods for the British colonies
was refused to British ships. For, in the first
place, they laid a duty of a dollar a ton upon all
British ships clearing with cargoes for these
Colonies; and, in the next place, no British ships



15

were allowed to load such cargoes at all, unless
they had come last from the Colonies. It was
supposed that the West India ship sailing from
hence in ballast might sometimes take an Ameri-
can port in her way, and carry a cargo of I.umber
to her place of destination. The object of the
prohibition was to prevent the possibility of such
an incidental advantage. Other pretensions were
also set up by that Government, with a view so
to embarrass the trade whenever it was attempted
to be carried on in British ships as might be ex-
pected to insure the monopoly of it to its own.



Online LibraryAugustus Granville StapletonTHe political life of the Right Honourable George Canning, from ... 1822 to the period of his death, in August, 1827 (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 29)