« PreviousContinue »
pool thought that it was desirable, for political reasons, to engage the Allies, if practicable, to share it with us in some degree. I certainly feel the weight of the reasons you have assigned against such a proposition, but I do not see any reason why France should not be called upon for a part, if not to the extent of the sum which she had engaged to pay under the Treaty of Fontainebleau, at least to that of the £40,000 a-year, which the East India Company are bound to pay to France as a compensation for some commercial privileges enjoyed by her factories in India, and which sum might, in such a case, be appropriated to the St. Helena establishment, in aid of the expenses of Government. As to the contribution to be charged upon France, it is certainly a circumstance equally singular and pleasing that an account should exist. At the same time, it is one with respect to which it is peculiarly important that no question should be left unsettled, and there are several which naturally occur in reading your despatch. In the first place, it is intended that this contribution (say 600,000,000 livres) is to include the expense of the maintenance of the Allied forces to be stationed for a certain term of years in France. If it does, which seems probable, as the requisitions already raised are understood to be included, I apprehend it will not be sufficient for that immediate object, much less leave any surplus for fortifications or other purposes; for an army of 100,000 men will not cost less than 100,000,000 livres a-year, exclusive of the extraordinary expense of British troops. The whole would, therefore, be exhausted in six years, instead of seven or ten, which were in contemplation. On the other hand, if this charge is to be in addition to the contribution, it will be difficult for France, unless her credit improves, to raise the amount; and unless the total charge is fixed at some ascertained sum, it will be a certain source of dispute and irritation. I am not clear upon what grounds you consider the Hanoverians as having a claim upon this fund distinct from other foreign troops forming part of the British contingent, as I understand the Dutch, Belgians, and Brunswickers, to be ; but whatever arrangement may be made with them, it is very essential that it should be clear and distinct, for, from all I hear, there are no people more exacting or difficult to deal with. The other claim upon this contribution, which you seem to apprehend, is that of the British creditors on the French Government; but in this I cannot see any great difficulty. The great majority of them are stockholders in the French Funds, and all they can claim is to be replaced on the great Bork, in common with other creditors. The amount of their dividends cannot exceed £100,000 to £150,000 a-year, which cannot form any very important addition to the French National Debt. With regard to the few other creditors, they ought also to be very well satisfied with a fair compensation in French 5 per Cents. In neither case do I think that this Government could, with any propriety, take the charge upon itself, either directly or by appropriating the French contribution. All that the creditors can ask of us is to stipulate for the award of the Article of the Treaty of Vienna in their favour. The constant hurry in which you have lived since you left England may have prevented you from attending to circumstances of that kind, but you must otherwise be struck with the low price of our Funds, and some other indications of pecuniary embarrassment. Something of this kind you must have observed before you left England, and it has certainly increased since. From the diminution of our expenses, and the large provision made for the service of the year, Government has not been, and I hope will not be, under any difficulty, (though if we had had to provide for payments equal to those of last year, I scarcely know how it could have been effected) but the embarrassment and distress of individuals are great. The primary cause seems to be the low price of agricultural
produce, which has materially affected the landed interest and most branches of the internal trade. It has also checked the circulation of the country banks, amongst which there have been several failures and a general distrust, which have aggravated the difficulties of all the other parties concerned.
The diminution of the circulation of the country banks, in consequence of their own alarms and the distrust of the people, and which is loosely, but not improbably, calculated at onethird, has rendered a large supply from the Bank of England necessary to support the ordinary course of business, and an opinion prevails that the Bank has contributed to the present mischief by refusing the necessary accommodation. I think the Bank directors have been frightened by the motions in the House of Commons, and are disposed to act on too cautious a system ; but I have reason to believe that the charge of their withholding accommodation from the public at present is unfounded. They are more disposed to press inconveniently on the Government for the repayment of their advances on Exchequer Bills. We have been able to satisfy their applications to a very considerable extent ; and if these repayments are employed by the Bank in giving additional assistance to trade, it is perhaps the only safe and unexceptionable way in which Government can interfere to give relief in cases of this kind. There can be no doubt that the evil has been greatly increased, though not originally produced, by the heavy demands our loans have made on the money market, and it is very material we should be able to avoid a similar pressure for some time to come ; for the mischief is in its nature likely to be of some duration, and to admit only of a gradual cure by the general settling down of the prices of other articles in proportion to those of the produce of the soil. The first step inust be the reduction of the price of labour, which is already taking place to a considerable extent.
Amidst the difficulties which affect our internal trade, considerable relief has been afforded to our manufacturers by the flourishing state of foreign commerce. The exports to Europe have, indeed, as far as the accounts are made up, fallen short of those of last year, but I believe they have been fully made up by the opening of the American market. When I can get any accounts on this subject worth your notice, I will send them to you. Our revenue continues productive, even in those branches which most depend upon internal consumption. There are, however, symptoms of delay and difficulty of payment, though not of actual diminution, in the Assexed Taxes and Property Tax, and the failure of the country banks has rendered it necessary to issue an unusual number of extents against collectors and receivers of revenue. The harvest, though affected by a partial blight, is, upon the whole, believed to be a good one, and shipments of grain are making in the Thames for export to the Mediterranean.
Believe me ever, &c., N. VANSITTART.
Lord Bathurst to Mr. Baker.
Foreign Office, September 6, 1815. Sir—Mr. Bagot's departure for the United States having been delayed by circumstances which have been satisfactorily explained to the American Minister in this country, I have received the Prince Regent's commands to transmit to you his Royal Highness's ratification, in the name and on the behalf of his Majesty, of a Convention concluded at London on the 3rd of July, for regulating the commercial relations between the two countries; and I have to desire that you will exchange the same against a similar copy ratified by the President of the United States. You will also receive herewith the form of a certificate to be signed jointly by you and the American Secretary of State, on the exchange of the ratifications, which you will return to this Office, bearing date the day on which the exchange took place.
I am, &c., BATHURST.
Lord Bathurst to Mr. Baker.
Foreign Office, September 6, 1815. Sir- The person of General Napoleon Bonaparte having been placed at the disposal of his Majesty's Government, it has been determined, in conjunction with the Allied Sovereigns, to assign the island of St. Helena for his future residence, and to adopt such measures as may be necessary for his security in that island. I have therefore to signify to you his Royal Highness the Prince Regent's commands that, in representing these circumstances to the Government of the United States, you will point out to them the necessity which exists for a restrictive system being established with respect to the intercourse of all ships and vessels, British as well as foreign, with the exception of the ships belonging to the East India Company, with the island of St. Helena ; and that, on your notifying to the American Secretary of State, in a note, that you are ready to exchange the ratifications of the Treaty of Commerce lately concluded between the two countries, you will transmit to him a declaration in the form of the enclosed Draft, explanatory of the intentions of his Majesty's Government, in as far as regards the intercourse of ships belonging to the Cnited States with the island of St. Helena.
I am, &c., BATHIRST.
Lord Bathurst to Mr. Baker.
Foreign Office, September 6, 1816. Sir I have the honour to enclose a copy of a Circular Note, dated the 26th ultimo, by which the foreign Ministers resident here were informed of the resolution taken with respect to the confinement of Bonaparte at St. Helena, and the exclusion, in consequence of that measure, of all vessels from communication with that island. The obstruction which this would bring to the execution of one of the Articles of the late Commercial Treaty signed with America, induced the Earl of Liverpool to