British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

4
LORD GRANTHAM TO ALLEYNE FITZHERBERT 18 December 17821

St. James's.

[ Grantham sets out the terms, which the Cabinet has approved, to be offered to the Dutch plenipotentiaries.]

. . . Our situation in India certainly renders the Port of Trincomalé not only desirable, but almost necessary to us. . . . The Dutch have hitherto kept themselves masters of the navigation of the Eastern Seas. With what consistency can they in one instance claim a free trade, and in another pretend to keep an exclusive one? It will therefore be necessary that the liberty of navigating those Seas should be asked for, and granted, more especially if they are allowed any privileges in carrying on their neutral trade, and in this I conceive we should be supported by France.

We are uninformed of the intentions of France respecting the Cape, and I am sure it would be highly impolitic, under that uncertainty, to part with Trincomalé, which we have in our hands. . . .


5
THE COMTE DE VERGENNES TO GERARD DE RAYNEVAL, 3 January 17832

[Everything, writes Vergennes, leads him to hope that a peace settlement is approaching; but since the pacification should comprise all the belligerents, he is afraid that the Anglo-Dutch negotiation may hold up the French treaty. The Dutch are being obdurate, and Fitzherbert responds by being severe. After commenting on the Dutch attitude respecting the vexed question of neutral rights, Vergennes goes on to discuss the British claim to Trincomali.]

. . . Les Hollandais, qui ne vont qu'au solide, et ne calculent leurs intérêts qu'en raison du produit pécuniaire, ne verraient les Anglais A Trinquémalé que comme des voisins qui bientôt partageraient et finiraient par s'emparer du commerce de la cannelle [cinnamon]. Ce n'est pas sous ce point de vue que nous considérons cette possession, car il nous serait assez indifférent de quelle main nous achéterions la cannelle; mais ce qui ne l'est pas est que les Anglais, déjà maitres de la Base du Grand Triangle par l'Isle de Bombay et par les Bouches du Gange, se rendent maitres, de Trinquémalé, qui en est la tête. II n'y aurait plus de navigation libre sur les deux côtes, qu'autant que

____________________
1
F.O. 27/2, ft. 973-4. Lord Grantham had been ambassador at Madrid from 1771, to 1779 and first Commissioner of Trade and Plantations from 1780 to 1782. He was now Secretary of State for the Foreign Department in Lord Shelburne's administration. Alleyne Fitzherbert had been minister at Brussels since 1777 and in August 1782 was sent by Shelburne as special plenipotentiary to Paris for the negotiation of peace with France, Spain, and the Netherlands.
2
Arch. des Aft. Etr., Corresp. Polit., Angleterre, vol. 540, L. 51.

-8-

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