Chateaubriand's memoirs, XXVII, 4

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Mémoires d'Outre-tombe


Book XXVII, chapter 4
More despatches



After my official presentation to George IV, I saw him several times. The recognition of the Spanish colonies by England was shortly resolved; at least it seemed that the ships of those independent States were to be welcomed in the harbours of the British Empire under their own flag. My despatch of the 7th of May gave an account of a conversation I had with Lord Londonderry, and of that Minister’s thoughts. This despatch, important then in the order of things, would be almost without interest to today’s reader. Two things were to be distinguished as regards the Spanish colonies relative to England and France: commercial interests and political interests. I entered into the details of those interests. ‘The more I see of the Marquis of Londonderry,’ I said to Monsieur de Montmorency ‘the more subtle I find him. He is a man full of resource, who only ever says what he wishes to; one would sometimes be tempted to think him good-natured. He has the laughter in his voice, the look, something, of Monsieur Pozzo di Borgo. He does not exactly inspire trust.’

The despatch ends thus: ‘If Europe is forced to recognise the de facto governments of America, all her politics should tend towards the generation of monarchies in the New World, instead of revolutionary republics which export their principles to us with the products of their soil.

Reading this despatch, Monsieur le Vicomte, you will doubtless experience, as I do, a feeling of satisfaction. A significant political step has already been achieved in having obliged England to desire our involvement in matters regarding which she would not have deigned to consult us six months ago. I congratulate myself as a good Frenchman on all which tends to re-establish our country in the high position which it ought to occupy among other nations.’

This letter was the foundation for all my ideas and negotiations regarding colonial affairs with which I occupied myself during the War in Spain, almost a year before that war was actually declared.