HC Deb 21 June 1824 vol 11 cc1475-8
Sir James Mackintosh

said, he rose to present a petition from the President, Vice-President, and members of the Chamber of Commerce of Manchester, praying that House immediately to acknowledge the Independence of the states of South America. Although he had taken up so much of the time of the House, on a former evening, when he presented a similar petition, yet he felt it necessary to make a few observations on the present occasion. The Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures of the town of Manchester was, as its name imported, strictly a commercial association; and was, by one of its by-laws, precluded from political discussion. The petition to which that intelligent body had agreed, was voted at a very numerous and respectable meeting. It would have been most numerously signed, if the petitioners had not expected a speedy termination of the ses- sion; and, indeed, he was convinced, that petitions from the various manufacturing towns of Great Britain would have crowded their table, if it had not been for the same feeling. This petition stated, that an early and formal acknowledgment, by his majesty, of the freedom and independence of South America, appeared to the petitioners to be demanded by the true interests of Great Britain, and to be due to the character of those states. It was impolitic and unwise longer to withhold from, them those dignities and distinctions which were allowed to civilized states; and it was a strange anomaly to witness, in our courts of law, the solemn denial of the political existence of those states, at the very moment when we were seeking, or rather opening and cultivating, their friendship, and making unremitting endeavours to strengthen and consolidate the commercial connexion which subsisted between us. Such conduct appeared to the petitioners unworthy of the dignity of a great and powerful state, and manifestly injurious to the national industry. On that subject he would say but a few words; but he could not help calling the attention of the House to the condition in which the petitioners approached them. They found, in the dispatch of the 31st of January last, that the government of this country stated to all Europe, that the recognition of the South American states could not be long delayed. It was five months since that solemn declaration was made to Spain and to all Europe; and from what had afterwards taken place, it appeared that the independence of South America was not to be effected in any, even the slightest degree, by the wishes, views, or feelings of any European power. This was the state in which he considered the matter to stand at present. The government were pledged, that the recognition should not long be delayed, and that the conduct of no European power should affect the independence of those states. Under these circumstances, he had thought it his duty to show to the House on a former occasion, how very little remained to be done—how little that had to do with the duties of neutrality, or with the principles of international law—and how much they were bound, both with reference to the tranquillity of South America and the prosperity of the commerce of England—how decidedly they were called on by every principle of justice and of policy, to concede this recognition of in- dependence. Having already showed this, he would fain call the attention of his majesty's government to the great agitation and anxiety which now prevailed in the commercial world, and which could only he removed by taking this decisive step. Until the independence of those states was acknowledged, the mercantile and manufacturing interests could not know whether the great market of Spanish America was to be opened to them, or whether the keys of it were to be placed in the hands of the Holy Alliance? Whether that immense market was to be thrown open to the whole civilized world, or in an especial degree to be thrown open to this country, an event which must produce the most beneficial results for the commerce of Great Britain? The people of this country expected, and justly expected, that, when great commercial advantages were offered to them, every assistance should be given by the appointment of diplomatic agents. The commerce of South America had been protected by natives of Great Britain. He knew that he was here touching on a topic of great delicacy; but he must say, that that commerce had been gallantly protected by that extraordinary man, who was once a British officer—who once filled a distinguished post in the British navy, at the brightest period of its annals. He mentioned this circumstance with struggling and mingled emotions—emotions of pride, that the individual he spoke of was a Briton—emotions of regret, that he was no longer a British officer [hear]. Could any person imagine a more gallant action than the cutting out of the Esmeralda from Callao? Never was there a greater display of judgment, calmness, and enterprising British valour, than was shown on that memorable occasion [hear]. No man ever felt a more ardent—a more inextinguishable love of country—a more anxious desire to promote its interests and extend its prosperity, than the gallant individual to whom he alluded. He spoke for himself: no person was responsible for the opinions which he now uttered: but, he would ask, what native of this country could help wishing that such a man were again amongst us? [hear.] He hoped he should be excused for saying thus much; but he could not avoid fervently wishing that such advice might be given to the Crown, by his majesty's constitutional advisers, as would induce his majesty graciously to restore lord Cochrane to that country which he so warmly loved, and to that noble service, to the glory of which, he was convinced, he willingly would sacrifice every earthly consideration [loud cheers from both sides of the House].

Mr. W. Smith

said, that great advantages might be derived from an early recognition of South American independence, which perhaps might not be realized if the boon were tardily granted. So long as Spain refused to recognize the independence of those extensive provinces, so long was it important that they should be speedily apprized of those who did recognize their independence. If Spain, thought fit to recognize the South American states, there would be no favour in England pursuing the same course: but, if Great Britain led the way, such a friendly act might produce the most beneficial effects upon our commerce.

Ordered to lie on the table.