British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

l'Angleterre voudrait le permettre ou le tolérer. Cette Puissance, déjà si formidable en Asie, ne dolt pas faire partager à l'Europe l'inquiétude que son pouvoir cause déjà dans cette première région. Je vous ai mandé, Monsieur, que j'avais dit à Monsieur Fitzherbert, que j'étais porteur des pleins-pouvoirs des Puissances de l'Europe pour réclamer contre la rétention de Trinquémalé. Ce n'était qu'une plaisanterie; mais la chose ayant transpiré depuis, j'ai eu des recommandations et des sollicitations de ne pas négliger cet objet si principal. . . .1


6
ALLEYNE FITZHERBERT TO LORD GRANTHAM 5 January 17832

Paris.

. . . In all my late conferences with Monsieur de Vergennes we have never failed to have much discourse upon the whole of this Dutch business, from which I have reason to believe that he has not altogether approved of the stiffness of the Plenipotentiaries in insisting upon the immediate adoption on the part of England of the principles of the Neutral League, and that he is as little disposed to support them at all risks in their pretensions to a compensation for losses. But in regard to Trincomalé he continues to hold the same language as before with regard to their being indispensably obliged to insist upon the restitution of that possession, and to the no less powerful obligations which France lies under to support them in their claim.

I mentioned to your Lordship in a former letter that this last mentioned Power, as well as several other of the Powers of Europe which trade to the East, affected to dread our retaining possession of that port under the notion that we should by means of it have their trade to China, as well as to the Continent of India, entirely at our mercy. But the reluctance of the Dutch to give it up is founded upon another motive, viz., the apprehension that the footing it would give us in Ceylon, and the connections which we might form in consequence thereof with the King of Candy, might prove in the end fatal to their establishments and commerce in that Island. . . .

[At their last interview Vergennes had suggested as a possible means of settlement that Britain might retain some other territory captured from the Dutch, 'meaning I suppose Negapatnam,', instead of Trincomali.]

As a farther inducement to this, he hinted likewise that the Dutch might perhaps, upon that consideration, be induced to settle the remainder of their treaty conformably to the ideas of England. But I did not think myself authorized to seem to listen to this overture,

____________________
1
Vergennes was under strong pressure from Castries, the French Minister of Marine, to prevent the British from securing a naval station in Ceylon.
2
F.O. 27/5, ft. 311-6.

-9-

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