« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
which was accordingly, as we have said, the object of the proposed convention. Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer was at that time the British Minister at Washington, with Mr. Crampton attached to the Legation; and Mr. Clayton was the Secretary of State of the United States. Numerous communications took place, both between these parties and between Mr. Abbott Lawrence, the American Minister in London, and Lord Palmerston, then Minister for Foreign Affairs. The points under discussion principally related to a claim by the British of a protectorate over the territory of the king--or, as he is sometimes termed, Chief of the Mosquito Indians, and to the occupation by the English, under a title derived from that nation, or tribe, of the town of San Juan del Norte, by them called Greytown, which commanded the eastern mouth of the proposed canal. A glance at a good map (such as that prefixed to the 1st volume of Squiers' "Nicaragua") will shew that the maintenance of either the one or the other claim by England might possibly have been fairly considered by America as giving her undue power over one of the outlets of the contemplated canal; for even the Mosquito protectorate would, according to her most recent pretensions, have embraced the north shore of the San Juan for a considerable part of its course. These points were assumed to be all that were likely to be in dispute at least they were all that concerned the subject-matter of the treaty; and as there was no intention or intimation of including in it any matter not immediately bearing upon its avowed object, nothing else brought under discussion. Incidentally, indeed, Mr. Lawrence informed Lord Palmerston that his government considered "that no great maritime nation ought to desire or be permitted to have an exclusive foothold on the Isthmus;" but this remark produced no comment, and led to no further discussion; and it may fairly be assumed that the intention of all parties was understood to be to deal in the proposed convention with the canal question, and with the canal question only. That this was the meaning of both the negociators before the treaty was ratified, is shewn by the words Sir Henry Bulwer uses
inwriting to Lord Palmerston on the 18th of February, 1850:-" Both of us (Mr. Clayton and myself) deemed that at the present time the treaty in question did all that was necessary by settling a basis on which the canal could be constructed and protected."
England having at last intimated her willingness to satisfy America on the points she had raised, namely, as to the Mosquito protectorate and the occupancy of Greytown, the project of a convention was drawn up. This, after much discussion and some modification, was finally embodied in formal Articles, which were signed by Sir Henry Bulwer on the part of England, and by Mr. Clayton on that of America, on the 19th day of April, 1850, both parties being fully empowered by their respective governments for the purpose.
Of this convention it will be necessary to quote one sentence, forming part of Article I. It runs thus:--
The Governments of Great Britain and the United States hereby declare that neither the one nor the other will ever obtain or maintain for itself any exclusive control over the said Ship-Canal; agreeing that neither will ever erect or maintain any fortifications commanding the same, or in the vicinity thereof, or occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume or exercise any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central America.
It seems to have struck Lord Palmerston at the last moment, just as he was sending out the ratification of the Treaty, that some ambiguity might possibly lurk under the words. They might be wrested so as to include the British Honduras, and be interpreted retrospectively, so as to involve a relinquishment by England of that settlement and its dependencies. Accordingly, on the 8th of June, he directed Sir Henry Bulwer to make a formal declaration, on the exchange of ratifications, to the effect that her Majesty's government did not understand the engagements of the convention as applying to her Majesty's settlement at Honduras, or to its dependencies. Sir Henry Bulwer did so; which drew from Mr. Clayton, on the 4th of July, the following letter:
instructed by your Government to make to me respecting Honduras and its dependencies, a copy of which is herewith subjoined.
The language of Article I. of the Convention concluded on the 19th day of April last, between the United States and Great Britain, describing the country not to be occupied, &c., by either of the parties, was, as you know, twice approved by your Government, and it was neither understood by them, nor by either of us (the negotiators), to include the British Settlement in Honduras, commonly called British Honduras, as distinct from the State of Honduras, nor the small islands in the neighbourhood of that Settlement, which may be known as its dependen cies. To this Settlement and these islands the Treaty we have negotiated was not intended by either of us to apply. The title to them it is now, and has been my intention throughout the whole negotiation, to leave, as the Treaty leaves it, without denying, affirming, or in any way meddling with the same, just as it stood previously.
The Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Hon. William R. King, informs me that "the Senate perfectly understood that the Treaty did not include British Honduras." It was intended to apply to and does include all the Central American States of Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, with their just limits and proper dependencies.
Upon receiving this letter, Sir Henry Bulwer at once exchanged the ratifications; and the Treaty was concluded.
Now it was scarcely possible to anticipate that out of words thus penned, and thus explained, there should be extracted the grounds of a claim upon England for a cession and abandonment of those valuable possessions on the coast of Central America, for which no advantage contemplated by the treaty could compensate her, and which therefore could not possibly have been voluntarily relinquished by her. Yet the treaty had not been three years in existence, when certain individuals in the American Senate, amongst whom was General Cass, began to suggest an interpretation of theirown, regardless of that of the Contracting Parties as signified by the formal statements of their ministers, and grounded on the ambiguous meaning of one term employed therein namely, Central America.
urged in the first place, that the wording was clear--England was "not to occupy," therefore she was to withdraw from her occupation--not to
occupy "any part of Central America," therefore she was to give up the territories in which she was settled. She was not to "colonize," so she was to abandon the islands of Ruatan, Bonacca, and others, which, under the idea that they were dependencies of Honduras, she had recently constiShe tuted into a separate colony. was not to protect the Mosquito coast, for that was to exercise dominion in contravention of the treaty. In other words, for the chance of a canal across the Isthmus, she was to evacuate the whole of what had been hitherto hers in that part of the world. The arguments on the American side professed to be grounded on the wording of the instrument itself, and on the reason of the thing. As to the first, they asserted that "Central America" was a geographical term, including the whole of the tract we have described, between Mexico and New Granada. Let us examine this assertion. In point of fact, the term Central America, which is modern, never having been heard of before 1821, was applied originally as a political designation, and described a republic exclusive of the British possessions in its neighbourhood, to which no claim whatever was set up; and the term was made use of in a geographical sense only by geographers, being found conveniently and appropriately to describe the region we have indicated, lying between those Northern and Southern limits. We challenge the supporters of the American interpretation of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty to adduce a single instance in which the term "Central America" has been employed in any political transaction, with the meaning sought to be attached to it in this: and on the other hand, the instances are numerous in which the designation has been formally recognized as applying to the old republic of that name, and subsequently to the cluster of states formed out of its fragments, and of which the boundaries, unsettled though they be, do not assume to include the British settlements. But the American interpretation, however forced, would have been inoperative, had not a further violence been done to the language of the Treaty. It was necessary, according to the views of General Cass and his friends, not only to
spread the words, "Central America," over the British possessions in that quarter, but to make the language of the Treaty retrospective. "Not to occupy," was to evacuate-"not to colonize," was to abandon colonies. In vain was it urged in the Senate by Mr. Seward, that senators, who now professed to be in ignorance of any other interpretation than that put upon the Treaty by factious and placehunting individuals, "could not have been, or at least ought not to have been, under any misapprehension as to its meaning, even supposing (a thing difficult to suppose) that they were not aware of the declaration on the part of Great Britain which accompanied its ratification it being notorious that a British settlement, by whatever title it might be held, did exist at Belize, and that it could not have been reasonably supposed by any one that the British government had entered into an engagement to abandon this settlement by a Treaty in which it was not even alluded to."
To meet this, but one argument was used. Could it be supposed that America would deliberately have bound herself never for all time to occupy a foot of ground in Central America, and yet leave England in possession of territory in that region? Here, it was said, was no reciprocity. Is not the answer plain-where would be the reciprocity, were the Treaty interpreted in the American sense? England would have lost everything, and America would have lost nothing. Lord Clarendon, in his despatch of the 28th of September, 1855, enunciates this with much force and clear
Neither can her Majesty's government subscribe to the position, that, if the convention did not bear the meaning attached to it by the United States, it would have imposed upon the government of the United States a self-denying obligation which was not equally contracted by Great Britain, and that such a state of things could not have been in the intention of the contracting parties; because if the convention did bear the meaning attached to it by the United States, it would then have imposed upon Great Britain the obligation to renounce possessions and rights without any equivalent renunciation on the part of the United States. If the government of the United States can complain in the one case of the convention, as
presenting an unilateral character unfavourable
to the United States, with much greater reason might the government of Great Britain, in the other case, if the assumption of the government of the United States were to be acted upon in the construction of the convention, complain of it as prejudicial to Eng. land.
The truth is, the reciprocity is complete; but it is prospective. The status quo is started from; and the mutual engagements grounded upon it are strictly equitable. To assert that the Treaty reads differently --that we have signed away our rights, and must relinquish them, is pretty nearly as reasonable as to tell a man who has hired horses for a post-chaise along with you, to travel to the next stage, and who has his portmanteau in it, that he must leave his luggage behind, or you will remove it by force, as you had not agreed to bring it along with you.
Such would seem to be the common-sense of the case as regards Ar ticle 1 of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. The construction suggested irresistably to the mind, we might expect, would be the interpretation originally placed upon it by the statesmen of the American republic, in spite of the contemptible quibbles of Mr. Cass and his party. Considering the cir
cumstances under which the Convention was entered into the characters of the men who were concerned in its preparation--the objects for which it was framed--the magnitude of the interests involved, and the power and dignity of the nations between whom it was negociated, it was to be expected that the most comprehensive construction would be given to its provisions, and that no attempt would be made by either party to special-plead, or force meanings out of it opposed to its own character and tenor, to say nothing of the general impression of the governments of the respective countries at the time of its* completion. Yet the facts, as our readers well know, prove how groundless such expectations would have, been. Mr. Crampton, who succeeded to the honorable and arduous post of her Majesty's representative at Washington, immediately after the ratification of the ClaytonBulwer Treaty, which he had had so. large a hand in assisting to bring. to a conclusion, was soon made aware of the difficulties and disappointments
that were before him. In place of that liberal, enlightened, conciliatory, and straightforward character which had marked the policy of the ministers in 1850, he had to encounter all the vexations which a petty and captious spirit of opposition was calculated to engender and it may truly be said that for the last three years he has been engaged in little else than the thankless task of vainly reiterating his endeavours to bring the government to which he is accredited, back to those views and sentiments which presided at the negociations of 1849. We are not without our suspicions that his identification with the policy of that period may have proved one of the objections to him with a government pledged to turn its back upon it. But this will be better understood as we go on.
Let us, before we go any farther, once for all distinguish between the American government, and the American nation. In what is here said-and we speak out-it is by no means our intention to confound the two. Disapproving altogether as we do of President Pierce's government, we believe we are justified in assuming that the great mass of intelligence in the States is of our mind, and that the result of the new elections will prove that worthier principles and a more enlightened policy may in the end command popular support. That England and America should be thrown into a war, because General Cass is obstinate and nettlesome, and President Pierce an unscrupulous electioneerer, is what our Yankee brother will not stand. In the mean time, we must claim the privilege of verbally identifying the nation and its rulers in our present remarks, on account of the manifest inconvenience of keeping them separate.
The most prominent advocates of the American side of the question have been Mr. Marcy, the Secretary of State, and, as instructed by him, Mr. Buchanan, the late American Minister in London. The English view of the case has been supported by Lord Clarendon : not, we think, with that vigour and ability which it called for. The fault which runs through the whole of the correspondence on the British side is discursiveness,—
and it is to be observed that this it was the object of America to provoke. The strong point against her was contained in the plain question--what did the parties mean at the time? To this our Minister should have stuck-nothing should have led him to the right hand or to the left:-nevertheless, he was soon entangled inextricably in the Mosquito question -in the affair of the cession or exchange of Greytown-in the original title to our possessions at Belize-in everything, in short, except the single essential one-does the Treaty disturb our status quo? Mr. Crampton, it may be presumed, was in this no master of his own course. He could only follow, reiterate, and enforce the arguments of the Minister at home. This he appears to have done with discretion and firmness-even at a time when, from other causes, difficulties were thrown in his way. He has been blamed for an oversight the only one we have been able to detect in the protracted negotiations of the last six years-in omitting to communicate at once to Mr. Marcy an offer from the British Government in November last, to submit the Central American question to arbitration. Unfortunately this omission-purely accidental as it was-gave rise to some misunderstanding for a time; but it was what might have happened to any one similarly circumstanced; and, if our view of the question be correct, can have exercised no real influence upon the dispute. To our judgment, his less ambitious and more business-like style contrasts favorably both with the courtly discussiveness of Lord Clarendon's, and the diplomatic pedantry of the American Minister's. It is, however, in the discussion of the question to which we would next call the reader's attention, that he exhibits still more prominently the qualities for which we give him credit.
It will be necessary, in order fully to understand the circumstances we have to detail, to refer back to the state of things which existed at the close of the year 1854. The reader will remember that the triumphs anticipated on the plains of the Ĉrimea were not realized to the extent of the public expectation. On the contrary, the monotony of an arduous and bloody siege was sickening the
hearts of the most sanguine. Confidence began to yield to mistrust and despondency; and when, in the month of November, after the battle of Inkermann, it was discovered that but twelve thousand of our troops could be mustered on the field of battle, we began to look with something approaching to dismay at the decimation of our ranks, and to experience a depressing uncertainty as to how they were to be filled up. We all remember this; and with what alacrity we turned to the prospect of a fresh supply held out by the proposal of recruiting in friendly countries for the British army. The Foreign Enlistment Act was passed; and we naturally turned our eyes to America, where so many thousand native British subjects resided. We saw at once what use they might be turned to-but here we were met at once by the Neutrality Laws, which were comprehensive and stringent, and which we were bound to respect. At the same time, we had no reason to believe, judging from the moral code of America in this respect, that provided a breach of those laws was avoided, there could be any objection on the part of its goverment to our working out our own purposes as we could; and accordingly, acting on this idea, and having been informed by the consuls of the principal cities of the United States that there were men eager to avail themselves of the opportunity to enlist, Government determined to establish recruiting stations outside the limits of the States (which would satisfy the requirements of the law) and invite residents within their limits to repair to them. In furthering this project, Mr. Crampton, to whom the first suggestions were made by the British consuls at New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, exerted himself to the utmost, and spared no labour or pains on the one hand to prevent any formal violation of the laws, and on the other to send forward as many effective men to the frontier for enlistment as he could. In this he was encouraged by instructions from home, and aided by numbers of experienced military men of different nations, who volunteered their services-some, we fear, with objects very different from the ostensible ones. Now, had there been no other point at issue between the
countries, and had it not been the policy of others to foment discord between them, there can be little doubt, judging from the past and present conduct of the United States in similar circumstances, that their government, if it had not connived at their proceedings, would at least have winked at them; and suffered the most favourable construction to be put upon the movement which was openly set on foot within the States. Had it been their policy, even up to the last, to deal equitably with the case, they would not have dreamt of cherishing a feeling of hostility, or reiterating a demand of satisfaction, when the whole affair had passed over, and the Powers whose quarrel had led to the difficulty, had shaken hands with each other.
Up to the month of March, 1855, the home government urged Mr. Crampton by every possible means to induce foreigners or British subjects in the United States to enlist in her Majesty's service. "The subject," says Lord Clarendon, in a despatch of the 16th of February, "is one which engages the earnest attention of her Majesty's government, and you will use your best endeavours to give effect to their wishes." The above injunction was coupled, at the same time, with a caution against affording any cause of complaint to the United States government on account of a violation of their laws.
Mr. Crampton's reply bears date the 12th of March. It contains the following passages :-
In order that no misconception or mistake is justly regarded by Her Majesty's Governshould arise in regard to this matter, which ment as one of primary importance, and which is indeed an indispensable condition to success in the objects they desire to effect, I have caused the legal opinion in regard to the bearing of the Neutrality Laws of the United States in this matter, of which I have the honour to inclose a copy, to be drawn up by an eminent American lawyer, in the soundness of whose views both professional and political-I place the firmest reliance. have sent copies of the same to such of Her Majesty's Consuls as may be required to act
in the matter we have in hand.
Your Lordship will no doubt percieve that the provisions of the Neutrality Act will restrict our operations within very narrow limits, but I feel convinced that your Lordship will approve of my having strictly enjoined upon Her Majesty's Consuls to keep