British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

telling Monsieur de Vergennes that we did not desire to retain the said port either as a consideration for the expenses of the war, or as a trophy of the advantages which we had gained in the course of it over the Dutch Republic, but that we wished to keep it from a much more solid motive, namely, the advantage of its situation, which rendered it not only useful, but in some sort necessary to the security of our possessions in India. . . .


7
LORD HELBURNE TO ALLEYNE FITZHERBERT 9 January 17831

. . . Advantage however has been taken of the summer campaign. Gibraltar has resisted the attack of the combined Forces, and our Fleet has returned home entire and certainly not dishonoured. Not only this, but we have signed with North America Articles which must end, if the war continues, with their neutrality at the least. Our pretensions however remain the same as they stood in September, without an allusion to any further demand except in the case of Dominica, which ought to have been balanced by the candour we shewed in the Articles I have mentioned, but [which] must be considered as bought at a most usurious rate by the double price we have been made to pay for it. I did all this with a view to obtaining Trincomalé, which stands, as you know, uncontradicted in the Note Confidentielle,2 and which from the very first conversation I have ever had with Monsieur de Rayneval to this very last, I have always insisted upon as a point which we had most at heart. As he never negatived it, but always stated the French connection with Holland as slight compared to that

____________________
1
B.M. Add. MSS. 42390, ft. 270-2. This letter is marked 'Most secret'. William Petty, Lord Shelburne, had been President of the Board of Trade under Grenville in 1763, had opposed both the Stamp Act and the Declaratory Act, and had been appointed Secretary of State for the Southern Department under Pitt in 1766-8 with control of the Board of Trade and all colonial affairs. He had striven to conciliate the American colonists and to remove grievances; but his policy was not supported by many of his colleagues. In 1768, when the Earl of Hillsborough was appointed a third Secretary of State, Shelburne was relieved of his charge of the colonies and two years later he resigned with Chatham. Throughout the next decade he had been in opposition, urging conciliation and intervening with authority in debates on colonial and East Indian affairs, and calling attention to the grievances of Ireland. In 1782 he became Secretary of State for the Home Department under Rockingham and after his death formed his own administration, replacing Fox's envoy in Paris, Thomas Grenville, by Fitzherbert and Oswald. He firmly resisted the surrender of Gibraltar in spite of the King's desire to get rid of it. Shelburne, however, resigned in face of the Fox-North coalition and his own belief that the King was playing a double game.

The greater part of the collection of Shelburne MSS. is now in the W. L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, U.S.A. This and other papers from the collection are printed in the present volume from verbatim tran- scripts (Stevens MSS.) covering the years 1763-83 in Add. MSS. 42257 to 42496 in the British Museum.

2
This had been presented by Rayneval.

-10-

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