PP/GC/CA/124 Letter from Sir S.Canning to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, about his mission to Spain with relation to Portugal, and suggested policy on Turkey, 8 February 1833
Letter from Sir Stratford Canning, [British minister on an extraordinary mission to Spain], Madrid, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "I must begin by petitioning for the earliest possible instructions on the several points submitted to you in my dispatches. It is but too probable that nothing will finally avail; but in case of a favourable turn, I cannot have your answer too soon. Besides the points I have mentioned, pray, help me on any others that may occur to you. I venture to reckon on hearing from you in 15 or 16 days from the present time. My Lisbon messenger has not yet [f.1v] returned. Perhaps he has been robbed on his way back, as he was robbed on his way thither. We have rumours, meanwhile, of a victory gained by Don Pedro, and of fresh discontent manifested towards Don Miguel. All we know for certain is that the French complaints have been handed back to the French government with an appeal to their sense of justice, and that failing, to the arbitration of any third power. We are living in dread of a quarantine along the Portuguese frontier. I have written to Oporto for exact information on the subject, and have ascertained in the meantime that at least on the Badajoz road no regulations have been adopted, nor had the suspicions of the existence of cholera at Oporto been confirmed up to the 4th [February]. [f.2r] You may depend upon it that Zea is by no means firm in his seat. But he still has the King's ear, notwithstanding some differences of opinion, and the question is whether he can keep it. He is at present engaged in struggling with his adversaries in the cabinet. The Queen has taken her line against him, in spite of the gift of her portrait to Madame de Zea. He is trying to secure favour by vigorous preparations for assembling the Cortes in Donna Isabella's interest. The meeting will probably take place early in the spring. The mode of election is undergoing some alteration. The Cortes are not to be called upon to make any declaration to the right of succession, but only to swear allegiance to the Infanta [Isabella] as Princess of Asturias. The best thing to be said in favour of the measure is, perhaps, [f.2v] that the ground will be seized by the Carlists, if not previously occupied by the Queen's party. Of the members of the cabinet, the Minister of Finance appears to be the one most opposed to Zea, and most in the Queen's favour. He has lately got into hot water with the diplomatic body by a hasty regulation directed in reality against smuggling, but threatening the merchants with a large increase of trouble in making out their manifests. The regulation is suspended and Zea and his friends have not been able to make much of it. I was glad to find that Addington contented himself with ascertaining that it was suspended. It is not our interest to make Zea lord paramount in the cabinet. I endeavoured, however, to assist [f.3r] Addington in bringing the ministerial culprit to a sense of his error. I am assured that he leans to the policy of reducing duties. Ofalia, I am told, is holding a better language about Portugal, lamenting the acknowledgement of Don Miguel, and acknowledging that errors have been committed. If anything were to happen to Zea, I question whether he would leave the ministry. I suspect that there are \ approaching / difficulties in the treasury. At least, I hear complaints of the large sums wanted by the court, and of the little disposition shown by Zea and his colleagues in the war department to diminish their respective expenses. The [f.3v] royalist volunteers are as expensive as they are dangerous to the Queen's interests, but no immediate intention of reducing them appears to be entertained. The payments are throughout regular. In general, the safest line of conduct for Spanish minister is to do nothing. I inculcate, as occasions offer, the necessity of pursuing a system of gradual but constant improvement, not only for the welfare of the country at large, but particularly for the purpose of strengthening the Queen's party, in the event of the King's death. The Queen, I know, is alive to all this, but she is restrained by the fear of agitating the [f.4r] King. No later than yesterday he was overset by some unpleasant occurrence, but there is no doubt that his health has gained considerably during the last few weeks. I wish, by the way, that you would send me a copy of Don Pedro's letter about the terms on which he authorised Palmella to negotiate. I am afraid he is playing the rogue with Solignac. Monsieur de Rayneval tells me that a new French agent is gone to Oporto. I have not yet called upon him to take any positive steps in support of my proposal, having reason to think that the Spaniards would prefer dealing with us alone. He threw in a few words, however, [f.4v] some days ago, at my request, when conversing with Monsieur de Zea in the subject of the discussions with Don Miguel. What he said was calculated to carry an impression that France is favourable to the success of my negotiations, and this, perhaps, is all the good that the French ambassador can do me just at this moment. Monsieur de Lima and his attache from Oporto are both still here. I have taken secretly a step to serve the former and relieve myself from any suspicion of having brought him up to Madrid. It seems to have succeeded; but his presence here is of no use to me, and so I have told him. I must not omit to mention that in consequence of letters from Oporto stating [f.5r] that fresh instructions have been solicited by the Spanish authorities there with respect to Sartorius and his flag, in case of their reappearance off the Bayonne Islands, I ventured to treat confidentially with Zea upon that very delicate topic. The result of my efforts was a peremptory and \ somewhat / angry declaration that Don Pedro's flag should not be received, except under manifest stress of weather, in any of the Spanish waters, and a recapitulation of the thousand and one subjects of complaint which its occasional communication with Spain and her ports and her vessels has already produced. This letter has reached such [f.5v] an unnatural length on Spanish and Portuguese questions that I scarcely know how to add the few words which I have it at heart to say on my old subject of Turkey. Allow me, however, to ask, if it be not too late, whether the extreme danger to which the Sultan appears to be reduced by the loss of his army and vizier at Konieh may not afford an occasion of detaching Austria from the northern confederacy. Metternich's policy has been long founded on the twofold fear of Russia and of revolutions. But there is now so imminent a danger of Russian aggrandisement, that he may pack up [f.6r] courage enough, in good company, to run some little hazard in order to avert it. The fear of Jacobinism may also lose somewhat of its intensity in the presence of another fear more palpable and urgent. Thus mitigated, it may possibly admit a sort of hope that Austria, by taking a hint from the annals of the Congress of Vienna, and placing herself on the same treaty ground with France and England, might regulate in some degree the eccentric movements of those comets, at the same time that she provided, as well as she could, against a dismemberment of the Turkish empire to the sole profit of Russia. I have turned these fancies [f.6v] in my head till I am half persuaded that if they were to have a turn or two in your crucible, they might produce some wonderful improvement in the present political system. At all events I hope most devoutly that you may yet be in time to help the Sultan before he accepts assistance from Russia. Would it not be better economy in the long run to squeeze an additional squadron out of Parliament, and settle some of these quarrels at once ? There are too many chimneys on fire for a wet blanket of ordinary dimensions. But your patience must be more than exhausted." 8 Feb 1833 This letter is marked: "Private" and arrived in London on 16 February 1833.
Four papers, tied together with blue ribbon
All images are copyright. Please contact Archives@soton.ac.uk if you wish to reproduce this material
Sir Stratford Canning, later first Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, British minister on an extraordinary mission to Spain
Portugal, Spain: politics, trade
Francisco Zea Bermudez, Spanish Prime Minister
Madame Zea Bermudez
Dom Pedro, formerly Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil; formerly Pedro IV, King of Portugal: promoting interests of his daughter, Dona Maria, later Maria II da Gloria, Queen of Portugal
Dom Miguel, declared Miguel I, King of Portugal
Disease; epidemic; cholera: France
Ferdinand VII, King of Spain
Maria Cristina, Queen of Spain
Donna Isabella, Infanta Isabella: Maria Isabella Louisa, later Isabella II, Queen of Spain
Asturias, later Oviedo, province of northern Spain
Carlists, supporter of Don Carlos and his descendants and his claim to the Spanish throne
Insima y Piedra, Spanish Minister of Finance
Henry Unwin Addington, British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Madrid
Narcisco de Heredia, Conde de Ofalia
Pedro de Sousa Holstein, Marques de Palmella, later Duque de Palmella
Francois Maximilien Gerard, later Comte de Rayneval, French ambassador at Madrid
Captain George Rose Sartorius, later Sir George Rose Sartorius, of the Royal Navy, British officer commanding the fleet in support of Dom Pedro
General Jean Baptiste Solignac
Turkey; Ottoman empire; Sublime Porte
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Reschid Muhammad Pasha, alias Reshid Mehmed, Grand Vizier
Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Prince Metternich Winneburg, Chancellor of Austria
Battle of Konieh: defeat of Turkish forces by Egyptian forces under Ibrahim Pasha; later advance by Ibrahim to Kutaya, Turkey
Ottoman Egyptian war
Ibrahim Pasha
Congress of Vienna
Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg RSS