Imágenes de páginas


as the reduction in the price of Tobacco, which had been determin. ed upon by the Central Junta for the benefit of agriculture, the allevi. ation of the public burthens, and the personal comfort of Individuals. About the same period the Prisoners of War, who, during so many encounters, had fallen into the Enemy's hands, returned in such prodigious numbers from the different French Depots, that the funds at that time destined for tbem, were wholly insufficient for their subsistence. In addition to this, the Enemy of the human race had escaped from the small Island in the Mediterranean wbich had been assigned to him, and threatened again to disturb the peace of the Continent of Europe, and it consequently became necessary that my Armies should once more assume a warlike attitude, a measure which could not be accomplished without incurring fresh expenses and great pecuniary sacrifices, the effects of which were severely felt by the Treasury, in the Year 1815. The National Debt had, moreover, increased during the War to an enormous amount; and, being thoroughly convinced of the necessity of giving to it a bona fide value, in some mode or other, I bad repeatedly declared my Royal intention to secure the public credit by every means that could be made available.

To all these difficulties was superadded that of preparing, equipping, and dispatching several Military Expeditions to my Ainerican Dominions, upon a larger and more expensive scale than any that had been fitted out since the discovery of the New World. These Expeditions were doubly painful to my feelings, because they were destined to act against Spaniards, sons of the same Country, members of the same family, and consequently my children ; who had been deluded by the visionary ideas of an emancipation, which could be advantageous only to its promoters, whose sole object was to benefit themselves at the cost of the innocent blood of my Subjects. Nor could I but lend a gracious ear to the prayers of all, whether private individuals, or public bodies, who petitioned for the reduction or abolition of the Taxes, for the rewards merited by distinguished services, or for any kind of favour that might with propriety be solicited; for all classes of the community had lent their aid, with a generosity which knew no limits, at a time when to overstep them was but doing justice to those who had prescribed to themselves no bounds in their performance of the most meritorious deeds, in every part of my Dominions.

To meet so many and such serious claims, my whole dependence was upon the proceeds of the reimposed Taxes; but even the collection of these was slow, it being only with difficulty and by degrees that the stock of the different articles of Monopoly, and which had been exhausted, could be replaced, while that of having recourse again to the direct Tax, which had been abolished on account of its oppressive character, could not for a moment be entertained. It is not unlikely that this period, which was certainly one of the most important of my Reign, if carefully enquired into, has passed away without attracting the notice of Foreign Nations, or even that of many of my own Subjects. But when 3 years had elapsed after my return into iny Kingdom, never were the expences of the State less consistent with its revenues; never had it before bad such an immense Army, and so disproportioned to the resources and population of the Monarchy, to maintain; and never before had it been necessary to undertake the difficult task of reimposing the Taxes which had been abolished: and yet, notwithstanding all this, industry prospered, the losses of the interior began to be repaired, the blessings of peace were experienced in every direction, and I was gratified in having succeeded in my endeavour to avoid being compelled, by mere temporary difficul. ties, to continue the imposition of oppressive Taxes, which, from the inability of my Subjects to pay them, it was useless to attempt to perpetuate. It is true that the Debt has necessarily become larger; that the original Debt, and that of the preceding Reign, with the Debt lately contracted, form together an enormous sum; that my Troops, whose conduct entitles them to the Nation's and my own gratitude, are suffering great privations; that they do not possess the articles which are necessary for their convenience; that their barracks are dismantled; that Towns and Individuals are still subjected to the oppressive burthen of billeting and transporting the Army; that in some places even the most oppressive exactions are enforced, and in the most unequal manner; that the Royal Navy is in want of everything; that the Coasts and Colonies are infested with Pirates; that the Insurrection in America deprives the Metropolis of its most valuable productions; that the Magis. trates, and almost all the Persons employed in the public service, see days and months pass away without their receiving any portion of their moderate salaries,-all classes being required to exercise that patience which so much distinguishes them, in order to avert a total loss, and to resist the attacks of poverty, which threatens to involve themselves and families in ruin; and lastly, that it is necessary to exert all the energies of the Country, in order that Spain may recover that power and station which has been granted to her by Providence amongst the Nations of the Earth.

All will, however, be remedied, with the Divine assistance; and, by means of the improvements which I have already introduced, and are in progress, in the Royal Revenues, I have succeeded, and shall further succeed, in strengthening their most important branches, and in increasing the National wealth, generally, by the reduction of imposts, and by the granting of such alleviations of the public burthens as are enjoyed by no other Nation in Europe. My Subjects will not fail to value my foresight, and to appreciate the negative with which I have always inet every proposition to impose fresh Taxes upon my People; and to applaud my reserving for a proper opportunity, such as I

when the same are exported to any other Foreign Country whatever : be it therefore enacted by the King's Most Excellency Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from and after the 3rd day of July, 1815, the same. Duties shall be paid or payable on the exportation of all goods, wares, and merchandize of the growth, produce, or manufacture of Great Britain, exported direct from thience to any Port or Place within the 'Territories of the United States of America in British-built Ships, owned, registered, and navigated according to Law, or in Ships built in the United States of America, or condemned as Prize there, and being owned by Subjects of the said States, and whereof the Master and 3-4ths of the Mariners are also Subjects of the said States, as are or shall be payable on the like exportation to any other Foreign Country whatever.

II. And be it further enacted, that it shall and may be lawful for the Commissioners of His Majesty's 'Treasury of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or any 3 or more of them, and they are hereby authorized and directed, in all cases where a greater duty bas been charged and paid on the exportation of any goods, wares, or merchandize of the growth, produce, or manufacture of Great Britain, to The United States in manner aforesaid, than has been paid on the exportation to any other Foreign Country, to cause the same to be repaid.

III. And be it further enacted, that this Act shall continue ir force so long as the Convention between His Majesty and the United States of America shall continue in force.

CORRESPONDENCE bet n'een Great Britain anıl Sicily,

relative to the Changes to be effected in the Constitution of the Island of Sicily.-1816.


1816. Page 1. Viscount Castlereagh to William A'Court, Esq........

Foreign Office, 6th September. 553 2. William A'Court, Esq. to Viscount Castlereagh

Naples...... 5th November. 554 3. William A'Court, Esq. to Viscount Castlereagh

Naples, .... 9th December. 558 Enclosure.- The Marquis Circello to Wil. liam A'Court, Esq.

Naples, ...... 6th December. 558 Sub-Enclosure (A)--Fundamental Law of

the King, relative to the Administration

of the Governinent of the 2 Sicilies ....Caserta ...... 8th December. 560 Sub-Enclosure (B)--Decree of the King,

establishing the Office of Chancellor of
the Kingdom of the 2 Sicilies

Caserta, ... 8th December. 562

Sub-Enclosure (C)--Law of the King of

1816. Page the 2 Sicilies, confirming the Privileges of the Island of Sicily

Caserta,...... 12th December. 562

No. 1.- Viscount Castlereazh to William A' Court, Esq. (Extract.)

Foreign Office, 6th September, 1816. The necessity which is felt by the King of Naples, and which has been equally recognized by the Parliament of Sicily, of effectuating certain changes in the Constitution of that Country,* has been submitted to The Prince Regent.

The Prince Regent's sincere regard for his Ally, ihe King of the 2 Sicilies, as well as the cordial interest which His Royal Highness can never cease to feel for the Sicilian Nation, render's him, on such an occasion, deeply solicitous that the approaching change may be wisely and auspiciously conducted, with a view to the permanent interests and happiness of all concerned: but you will acquaint the Marquis de Circello that, as far as regards the Prince Regent's own conduct, His Royal Highness must decline any interference in the internal affairs of a Foreign and Independent State, which his own honour, and the good faith of his Government, shall not strictly impose on hiin.

You may apprize the Neapolitan Minister, that The Prince Regent would consider such interference iinposed on him as a duty, if, (which he persuades himself, after the assurances received from His Sicilian Majesty, can never happen,) those Individuals who acted with the British Authorities during the late difficult times in Sicily, should be exposed either to unkindness or persecution on account of such conduct.

His Royal Highness would feel himself equally compelled, however reluctantly, to interfere, if he had the mortification to observe any attempt made to reduce the Privileges of the Sicilian Nation, in such a degree as might expose the British Government to the reproach of having contributed to a change of system in Sicily, which had, in the end, impaired the freedom and happiness of its Inhabitants, as coinpared with what they formerly enjoyed.

With the above reserve, His Royal Highness must wholly exonerate himself from the responsibility of any interference whatever. He seels that he has neither the means nor the right to judge of the necessity of the change, the extent to which it should be carried, nor of the mode in which it should be effectuated.

You will not fail, in all your representations, to do justice to the principles upon which the British Government were alone induced, when charged with the defence and security of that part of His Sicilian Majesty's Dominions, to interfere in its internal concerns: the necessity

* See the Constitution of 1813 in a subsequent part of this Volume.

constituted the right, and with the discontinuance of that necessity, every pretension as well as disposition on the part of Great Britain to interpose, has also ceased; except so far as the considerations of good faith and honour, to which I have above alluded, and which arise out of our former position in Sicily, might again impose it on us as a duty.

The Prince Regent has had the happiness of seeing, after a long struggle, his Ally restored to his Dominions; and the calumnies of their common Enemies, which imputed sinister views to the Councils of Great Britain, whilst the British Army occupied Sicily, have been fully and practically refuted.

His Royal Highness has only one wish now to form, which is, that His Sicilian Majesty may so conduct bis Governvient for the happiness of his Subjects, that he (The Prince Regent) may never have to regret the task, wbich circumstances imposed upon him, of employing the British arms in that Island, and that His Royal Highness may hereafter have nothing to express to His Sicilian Majesty on this subject, but his satisfaction. William A'Court, Esq.


No. 2.-William A' Court, Esq. to Viscount Castlereagh. (Extract.)

Naples, 5th November, 1816. It was not until the 30th ultimo, that I communicated to the Neapolitan Government the nature of the Instructions which I had received from your Lordship.

On that day, in a Conference, at which were present the whole of His Sicilian Majesty's Cabinet Ministers, I made a formal declaration of the views and feelings of the British Government with respect to Sicily, according to the Instructions contained in your Lordship’s Despatch of the 6th September. I pointed out The Prince Regent's desire to avoid all interference in the Government of an Independent State, unless such interference was rendered vecessary by a consideration of his own honour, or the good faith of his Government. The 2 cases where this interference would be imposed as a duty upon His Royal Highness were, a spirit of persecution or unkindness exbibited towards tbose who had acted in concert with the British Authorities during the late very difficult times, or an attempt to reduce the privileges of the Sicilian Nation, in such a degree as to expose Great Britain to the reproach of having contributed 10 a change of system in Sicily, which had impaired the freedom and happiness of its Inhabitants, as compared with what they formerly enjoyed.

With this reserve, I observed, His Royal Highness must wholly exonerate himself from the responsibility of any intersererce whatever He feels that he has neither the means nor the right to judge of the

« AnteriorContinuar »