PP/GC/CA/144 Letter from Sir S.Canning to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, on the successions to the thrones of Portugal and Spain, internal politics in those countries, and the Spanish Prime Minister's firm position, 3 June 1833
Letter from Sir Stratford Canning, [British minister on an extraordinary mission to Spain], Paris, to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: [Transcript] "Your messenger met me about twelve posts on this side of Bayonne. Thither I sent him on with what he had brought for Addington, and I should now send him back to you, if I did not think better to make better use of the ordinary courier whom, on my arrival this evening, I find within a few hours of his departure for Calais. [f.1v] I am much mistaken if you do not find, on referring to my dispatches, that I staid at Madrid very much longer than you had reason to expect. In fact I staid there till every ground and every pretext for staying was fairly exhausted. After all, something is due to national credit and to the King's dignity. On a balance of chances and probabilities (there is nothing else to go upon) I am decidedly of the opinion that Zea is safe, so far as anything dependent [f.2r] on the King of Spain can be termed safe, till after the meeting of the Cortes. I am also of the opinion that the Spanish government would not be led to change its present policy respecting Portugal by a mere forward movement on the part of Don Pedro and his army. Any argument founded on the danger of intrigues connected with Don Carlos's residence in Portugal disappears with the departure of that orthodox pretender for Rome. Without trusting implicitly to Zea's assurances of his own [f.2v] success, there is no doubt that the immediate apprehension of Carlist movements had greatly subsided when we left Madrid. On my road to the frontier I neither saw nor heard anything calculated to cause alarm, and at Bayonne I found the Prefect of the Department so little aware of any plots in his neighbourhood that he questioned me as to the reported concentration of a Spanish force in Aragon or Navarre, and seemed more than half inclined to ascribe it to some [f.3r] hostile combination of the Holy Alliance. At the same time, I have no better opinion than I had before either of Zea or of his policy. The man has no friends, and his system is in the air. The Queen too continues to hate him with true female fervency. But there is the King, and in Spain the King's name is really a `tower of strength'. His Majesty is also in that state of improved health, which, as we are told, is not favourable to conversion or repentance. An evil, which [f.3v] requires some extraordinary event, or the working together of various circumstances to terminate it, may last longer than one could wish. Of the secret communications, related to you by Colonel Sorell and Lord William Russell, I had heard nothing at Madrid. Supposing them to have been made de bonne foi, they are doubtless important, but whatever effect they may eventually be expected to have applies [f.4r] rather to Portugal than to Spain. It is my conviction that so long as Zea remains in office, and his master in tolerable health, Spain will never join with you in putting Donna Maria on the throne of Portugal. I have reason to believe that Ofalia, though generally more reasonable than Zea, agrees conscientiously with him in this respect. Allow me to say that if you wish to neutralise Spanish influence, in order to obtain fair play for the course of events at Lisbon and Oporto, it is not [f.4v] to be done by a renewal of negotiations at Madrid, but solely by a distinct announcement of your intentions with a corresponding intimation of means and will to carry them through. If, on the contrary, you see reason to deviate from the principle hitherto laid down and to take Dom Miguel's royalty as your first point of departure, even Zea himself will eagerly snatch up an oar, and help to row you into port. But in that case, would you want his [f.5r] assistance, or, after what has happened, would you condescend to apply for it ? I do not judge of Zea by his Portuguese policy alone; nor, making due allowance for human weakness, is there any personality in my judgement of him. We parted on terms of perfect courtesy and with the usual demonstrations of goodwill. But the frequent proofs of narrowness of mind and of artifice which he exhibited in the late negotiation, [f.5v] and his unfair and cruel treatment of the refugees and others of the liberal party, afford in my mind the true measure of his character and system of administration. Such being my opinions, I cannot easily imagine your concluding de sang froid for my return to Madrid on any grounds of public advantage. Of the personal annoyance I am unwilling to say anything. It speaks for itself. Under any circumstances it would be more inconvenient to me than I can express to be again hurried off [f.6r] to a distance without previously going to England. The receipt of my last dispatches from Madrid, which I understand were forwarded to you from here on Friday [31 May], will probably have led you to expect, and perhaps even to desire, my immediate appearance in London. I confess it is my own impression that I should best serve you by going on at once. But as you have expressed a wish to \ be able to / communicate with me at Paris, I have made up my mind, though [f.6v] somewhat reluctantly, to stay here till next Monday, unless I should receive some fresh advice of a contrary tendency from you in the interval. I reckon upon your receiving this letter in time to write to me by Friday's courier; and, if I do not hear from you by that occasion, I shall conclude that there is no longer any reason to interrupt my journey to England. Even this delay is an act of pure deference to your wishes, as I am [f.7r] persuaded that the idea of my returning to Madrid will appear in the end to you and your colleagues as fruitless and impracticable as it does to myself. If upon reflection you wish me to go on to Downing Street, and afford you without loss of time an opportunity of answering such injures as you may have to put to me, I beg you will have the goodness to write me a line without waiting for Fridays's post. I should not omit to tell [f.7v] you even now that I saw Zea about an hour before I left Madrid, and was informed by him that his only object in addressing his last short note to me was to conciliate government as much as possible, and that he had no idea of proposing any mode of arrangement respecting Portugal different from that which he had intimated before he left England. I propose seeing the Duke de Broglie tomorrow, and the King will perhaps [f.8r] see me before I leave Paris. I suppose it will be right for me to wait on the Duchess of Braganza, which from motives of delicacy I did not do on my former passage through Paris; but if there were time, I should be better pleased to have your sanction for the step. I arrived so late this evening, and have been so much hurried on the road, that my present communications must be confined to the present letter. [f.8v] I cannot, however, refrain from wishing you joy of the termination, for such I trust that it will essentially prove to be, of the Belgian question. 3 Jun 1833 The letter is marked: "Private"
5 papers, tied together with blue ribbon.
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Sir Stratford Canning, later first Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, British minister on an extraordinary mission to Spain
Francisco Zea Bermudez, Spanish Prime Minister
Henry Unwin Addington, British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Madrid
Ferdinand VII, King of Spain
Dom Pedro, formerly Pedro IV, King of Portugal and Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil
Don Carlos, claimant to the Spanish throne
Carlists: supporters of Don Carlos and his descendants and his claim to the Spanish throne
Maria Cristina, Queen of Spain
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Thomas Stephen Sorell, British consul at Oporto
Major General Lord George William Russell, British minister on a special mission to Portugal
Dona Maria da Gloria, later Maria II da Gloria, Queen of Portugal
Narcisco de Heredia, Conde de Ofalia
Dom Miguel, declared Miguel I, King of Portugal
Achille Leon Victor Charles de Broglie, Duc de Broglie, French Minister for Foreign Affairs
Louis Phillippe I, King of the French
Bayonne, France
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