HL Deb 03 June 1853 vol 127 cc1072-4

said, that, seeing his noble Friend the Secretary; for Foreign Affairs in his place, he wished to ask him the question of which he gave notice the other day. Their Lordships would recollect that about thirteen months ago, when the late Government was in office, the rule of Rosas in the South American provinces was brought to an end after a sudden and violent revolution. Her Majesty's Government thought that would be a favourable moment for attempting to carry out an object of the greatest importance to the commerce of the world, and especially to that of England, namely, to open the great rivers of the Southern Continent of America. Accordingly Her Majesty's late Government deputed Sir Charles Hotham, an officer who had acquired considerable experience in that part of the world, who spoke the language well, and who was in every way adapted to carry out the object which the Government wished to bring to a completion, to proceed to South America, with the view of conducting negotiations there. When Sir Charles Hotham reached Buenos Ayres, he found the country in possession of and ruled over by General Urquiza; and the Government of the time immediately proclaimed to all the nations of the world the opening of the river Parana. Subsequent revolutions took place in that country, which he need not detail to their Lordships; but, at all events, the great object in view was so far attained, that the lower part of the vast river Parana was opened to the sea. But their Lordships were aware that above Buenos Ayres there was another republic—with which he had previously had no communication whatever, commercially speaking, though it extended over a large tract of country—called Paraguay. It was one of the instructions which the late Government gave to Sir; Charles Hotham, that he should open communication with General Lopez, the President of that district, for the purpose of obtaining from him, if possible, a commercial treaty, so as to open the Parana still further up, towards Bolivia. Up to the time at which the late Government left office, Sir Charles met with such difficulties in the course of the negotiation, that notwithstanding the greatest perseverance and diligence on his part he was unable to overcome them; but it was understood that since that period he had been able, having repaired to Paraguay, to sign a treaty with General Lopez in accordance with the instructions he had received from the late Government. He wished to ask his noble Friend whether such was the case; and, if so, whether he had any objection to state to the House the nature of the treaty, and how far he considered the instructions given to Sir Charles Hotham by the late Government had been fulfilled?


was understood to say, that when the Plenipotentiary appointed by the late Government reached Montevideo, having found that the Government there were actually engaged in carrying out the purpose which Her Majesty's late Government had in view, Sir Charles Hotham very prudently abstained from interfering; and the river had since been opened by that Government. At Buenos Ayres he found likewise, as his noble Friend had stated, a disposition, which was subsequently carried into effect by General Urquiza, and confirmed by the Government which had displaced him, to open the river Parana. In consequence of the disturbed state of the country, Sir Charles Hotham was unable to reach Paraguay for a considerable time, though he ultimately did so; and about two months ago he succeeded in concluding a treaty with that country, by which the river was opened as far as the town of AssumÇion. It could not he opened further, it appeared, on account of certain boundary difficulties between Paraguay and Brazil; but Sir Charles Hotham had received an assurance from the President that as soon as those difficulties should have terminated, he would open the river to the utmost extent. The treaty which had been agreed upon provided for the security of the lives and property of British subjects, for the free exercise of their religion and of their mercantile pursuits; and, in most respects, he might say, it was in conformity with the draught which Sir Charles Hotham was instructed to frame. There were, however, two or three articles which differed from that draught, and to an extent which was rather to be regretted; but Sir Charles Hotham had, in his opinion, stated sound reasons for having agreed to the treaty. Since the arrival of the treaty in this country, he (the Earl of Clarendon) had conferred with the Board of Trade on the subject, and had found that in their opinion there was no substantial objection to its adoption; and Her Majesty's Government had accordingly directed the treaty to be ratified. Sir Charles Hotham, as his noble Friend was aware, was directed—very prudently, as he (the Earl of Clarendon) thought—to proceed pari passu with the negotiator sent from the French Government on the same service. From that gentleman (M. St. Georges) he had received the most cordial co-operation; and M. St. Georges, as well as the representatives of the United States and Sardinia, had adopted the same form of treaty as that which had been agreed to by Sir Charles Hotham. He thought that the treaty was to last six years; and the President's son was himself coming over to exchange his ratification. He believed that under this treaty there was a fair prospect of that important country and its great watercourses being opened to the commerce of the world. He thought that Sir Charles Hotham deserved the greatest credit for the skill and dexterity which he had evinced during the progress of these delicate and difficult negotiations.


said, that Paraguay occupied only one side of the river Parana. He wished to know whether a similar treaty had been concluded with Bolivia, which occupied the other bank?


said, he believed that Bolivia had voluntarily consented to the opening of the river so far as it was concerned.

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