Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

FOR close upon two hundred years commercial restrictions, demonstrably Gibraltar has been an English pos- detrimental to the trade of such session, held in the face of sudden settlement? The simplest manner of assault, protracted siege, and re- answering that inquiry is to say that peated negotiation for diplomatic considerations of trade can have nosurrender. Yet the conditions of thing to do with our occupation of its tenure have still to be exactly' Gibraltar, which is purely a military decided ; the responsibilities, moral stronghold. But though this reply and political, which it imposes on its has been already actually made in the rulers are unsatisfactorily defined; London press, the fact remains that a its general character -— fortress or considerable, and, as will be seen, a colony-is not a point on which there perfectly legitimate trade has sprung is any practical unanimity of opinion. up on and around the Rock, and that Since the English standard first waved these commercial excrescences could over the Rock Gun, these questions, only be removed by something very after having been to all appearance like the confiscation of existing intesettled by the voice of Parliament, rests. As, therefore, the wholesale and the unmistakable declarations of abolition of the Gibraltar trade apthe national will, have again and pears impracticable, it remains to be again been mooted on some plea of seen what can be done in the way of justice, or of policy. The issues of regulation. The subject is one which the dispute have been gradually Parliament will shortly have to settle. narrowed, and the withdrawal of the All that need be attempted here is to British garrison from the rock which mention certain facts relevant to the guards the Mediterranean, instead of point, which will have both novelty being advocated, as it once was, by and interest for an English public, each of the great political parties of as well as to indicate, by reference the state in succession, has become to a few episodes in the chronicles the dream of a few philosophers of of the Rock, the wider interests with humanity. Still, events are at the pre- which the problem is charged, and, it sent moment passing in the history may be, the altered guise in which old of Gibraltar which remind one that differences have now reappeared. the ancient competition between the Gibraltar had no sooner been promilitary value and the commercial claimed the property of the English usefulness of the place is not yet crown, than it became the bone of onded, and that the degree of obliga- party contentions, which may be retion entailed on its present lords garded as foreshadowing most of the continues to have its place in the re- political differences whose cause it gions of controversy.

has subsequently been. Sir George Many important questions are sug- Rooke's victory of July 1704—the gested by the draft ordinance laid year of the battle of Blenheim-Was upon the table of the House of Com- admitted at the time to be a glorious mons last session for establishing a one, and was attended, on its ancode of customs - regulations at Gi- nouncement, with the customary share braltar. Does the exceptional geo- of rejoicings. But the seizure of the graphical relation of an English Rock, and the appropriation of it in settlement to a foreign state demand the name of England, were condemned from the English Government certain by the Whig critics of the period

as in direct contradiction of the laws the fortress was from the land side of political and national morality. impregnable. Shortly after peace beAnxious to identify himself with the tween Spain and England was conacquisition of a stronghold whose cluded, the old negotiations began importance for England he at once again. Then, as now, the Spanish recognised, Rooke gave orders that government complained that the the Imperial banner of Charles III., English occupation of the Rock afin whose cause the capture had been forded immunity to smugglers. Then, effected, should be hauled down, and as now, there were charges of alleged the Royal standard of England hoisted seizures made by Spanish ships, and in its stead. The city was then de- counter-charges preferred by Spanish clared to belong to her most Gracious officials. The elder Pitt himself, who Majesty Queen Anne, and eighteen was at the head of affairs, recoghundred English seamen were landed nised that the possession of even a to occupy the place, the acquisition stronghold so valuable had its disadof which immediately became a party vantages; and in a secret despatch, question. Rooke's Tory friends lauded dated August 23, 1751, to the English the achievement with indiscreet en- ambassador at Madrid, Sir Benjamin thusiasm, and compared the victor of Keene, authorised him to offer the Gibraltar and Malaga to the con cession of Gibraltar to Spain, on conqueror of Blenheim. The Whigs dition that she would enter into an stigmatised the feat as insignificant alliance with England against the in itself, and noticeable only for the French. But the offer came too late, and dishonesty which had accompanied it. England was still to be burdened with The heroes of Blenheim and Gibral- what Pitt and other statesmen of the tar became the rival watchwords of day did not hesitate to call an incubus. the two political parties in the state. The national enthusiasm for Gibraltar and competing addresses reached had greatly diminished ; the expenses the sovereign from all parts of the of the place had risen to a proportioncountry.

ately high figure, and the adminisSubsequently to the Treaty of tration of the local government was Utrecht, by which it was formally notoriously bad. “I grow weary of yielded to Great Britain, negotiations this place," wrote Tyrawley, the goverfor the surrender of Gibraltar to Spain nor of Gibraltar, to Henry Fox, in were continued over a long series of 1757. That Gibraltar is the strongest years. George I. suggested to the town in the word, that one EnglishSpanish government, through the me- man can beat three Frenchmen, and dium of the Regent of France, the pos- that London Bridge is one of the sibility of the restoration of Gibraltar seven wonders in the world, are the upon certain conditions, and for five natural prejudices of an English coffeeor six years the king was perpetually house politician. As for Gibraltar, I sending confidential agents to nego- do not see that we do ourselves much tiate with the Spanish government good, or anybody else any hurt, by our on the understanding that a suitable being in possession of it." Tyrawley's equivalent should be forthcoming. To views no doubt bad much weight with minimise this equivalent was the object Pitt. and the press teemed with atof Spain ; indignant outbursts from tacks by pamphleteers of all political parliament and the country were the denominations against the corruption sole comments on the transaction and abuses of the government of the vouchsafed by England.

Rock. The siege of Gibraltar—the first Even while the famous siege was since it had been in the hands of the actually in progress, negotiations beEnglish, the thirteenth in its history- tween England and Spain for the followed, and established the fact that cession of Gibraltar were renewed,

In 1782 Mr. Bankes brought forward Pit, and had uttered such a Doom's a motion in favour of surrender in the blast. of a No as all men must House of Commons. He had scarcely credit."1 sat down when Fox sprang to his feet, Thus far Gibraltar has been viewed and denounced with impassioned elo as a stronghold, resolutely defended quence the “ pusillanimous proposal.” against military assault and diplo“The fortress of Gibraltar," he said, matic maneuvre. It remains to be “ was to be reckoned amongst the seen whether it possesses any of most valuable possessions of England. those aspects and opportunities of It was that which gave us respect in civilian commerce, which are essenthe eyes of nations; it manifested our tial to a colony. In a society, superiority, and supplied us with the mainly military, and in a place of means of obliging them by protection. which the most stirring associations Give up to Spain the fortress of Gib- are military exclusively, it is inevitraltar, and the Mediterranean became able that the occupation of the trader to them a pool, a pond in which they should be ignored or misrepresented. can navigate at pleasure, and act with The idea of a mercantile society, conout control or check.” Burke followed ducting its operations in a perfectly in the same vein. “No other post” legitimate manner, and on a scale of (and Oran, it may be mentioned, had considerable importance, is altogether been suggested as an equivalent) foreign to the ordinary conception of “ which the Spaniards could give us, Gibraltar. The visitor to the Rock had the same or anything like the sees a flotilla of small craft in the bay, same recommendations—as a post of and a number of respectably clad perwar, a post of power, a post of com- sons in the street, who have obviously merce, and a post which made us nothing to do with the garrison. He is valuable to our friends, and formid- led to conclude, from the remarks of his able to our enemies." A few months military cicerone, that these represent afterwards Lord Shelburne again the smuggling interest. “Scorpions" mooted the subject, and a draft treaty and smugglers are indeed pretty generon the basis of the cession of the Rock ally employed as convertible terms, was actually prepared. The Shel- and as for the commerce of Gibraltar, burne Cabinet at once fell, and North the current notion is that it is composed and Fox came into power on the entirely of the traffic in contraband avowed platform of “ No surrender,” goods. This was the last of the long series of The administration of Gibraltar can abortive negotiations. Fox congratu- only be described as an anomaly. The lated the country on having finally governor is a military man, who is taken its resolve, and Florida Blanca, also commander-in-chief of the garthe Spanish minister, who himself, and rison, but who in his capacity as through his agents, had been busily at governor receives no military pay, his work, was compelled to confess that salary being derived exclusively from there were “national prejudices incivil sources. Yet that there are civil, England which superseded all other in addition to military, duties for the reasonings." The utmost that Spanish governor to discharge has been travalour and diplomacy could do hadditionally ignored. The first ruler of been accomplished. Spanish armies the Rock to recognise the fact that he had been sacrificed, the Spanish ex- had civil as well as military functions chequer was exhausted. Gibraltar was his Excellency Sir George Don, “ defended by the English, had an- who in 1814 established the Gibraltar swered to the gallant summons to police. Sixteen years later the first surrender; plutonically, with mere charter of justice was given to the city torrents of red-hot iron-as if stone i Carlyle's Prench Rerolution, Book Il Calpe had become a throat of the chap. v.

of Gibraltar, a magistracy was estab- of the merchants being limited to fourlished, civil liberty was accorded to its teen individuals, they embraced the population, and the Rock was eman representatives of thirty-two British cipated from the reign of purely mili- firms, having houses in Liverpool, tary law. But the struggle between Manchester, and Glasgow, as well the two elements--the martial and as of fifteen Spanish, Italian, Gercommercial - was not yet at an man, Danish, and American firms. end, and indeed may be said only Her Majesty's Government declined to have come to a head in 1856. to adopt Sir Robert's suggestions, and The then governor of the Rock, Sir Sir Robert Gardiner was himself Robert Gardiner, a man of vigour reprimanded for having exceeded his and ability, but who believed that instructions. trade and commerce of all kinds It is undeniable that Great Britain should be rooted out, did not disguise was compelled from the first to rehis wish to destroy every trace of civil cognise the commercial character of government, and to expel the mer- her Mediterranean possession. The cantile community that had grown up Order in Council proclaiming Gibraltar under it. He excluded the members à free port for ever, was only issued of the Exchange Committee from the by Queen Anne's ministers in 1705 State entertainments at Government under pressure of manifest necessity. House. Without the sanction of the The Emperor of Morocco refused to legislature he issued an ordinance, allow the export of the timber, lime, subsequently revoked, for “ prohibit- bricks, and other materials required ing' unlicensed printing." He pro- for the fortifications of the place extested in a long letter to Lord Pal- cept on the condition that Gibraltar merston that until Gibraltar again be- was made a free port as well for the came a military fortress only-in other Moors as the Jews. Before 1710 it words, until the charter of 1830 was had become a valuable entrepot for withdrawn — troublesome altercations the distribution of British manufacbetween England and Spain would tures to the Barbary states and to the continue. The Exchange Committee different countries bordering on the petitioned the Crown for a Consul Mediterranean. “Progressively intative Council, Sir Robert Gardiner creasing," writes Mr. Montgomery declared that such a body could only Martin, “Gibraltar became at length be “a tribunal of appeal for the pro- the centre of a commerce, which, con pagation of smuggling." Quarantine sidering the number of its inhabitants, he condemned as the handmaid of was perhaps without its equal in the smuggling. He went into an elabo- world. An idea of the extent to rate argument to show that the com- which it was carried may be judged mercial system of Gibraltar involved a from the fact that in one year the violation of the clause in the Treaty of value of British manufactured goods Utrecht, under which England held imported into Gibraltar direct from the Rock. Finally, he dwelt on the England, and exclusive of colonial "insignificance of the persons engaged produce, was nearly 3,000,0001.” The in trade at Gibraltar," consisting in all, facts and statistics of the present are, according to his account, of “ seven however, of more importance than British, three Spanish, and four other those of the past. Nor is it necessary foreign merchants."

here to trace the successive stages by : The Gibraltar traders addressed a which the fortress of Gibraltar attained memorial to her Majesty, in which its existing importance as a commerthey repeated at some length Sir cial station. The number of oceanRobert Gardiner's allegations, par- going steamers frequenting the port of ticularly drawing the attention of the History of the British Colonies, vol. v. Colonial Office to the fact that instead p. 100.

Gibraltar is between two and three thou- is now threatened. The ordinance prosand a year. At present custom-house posed by the Colonial Office, and conregulations and supervision do not sisting of seventy-nine clauses, may be exist, and the only expense imposed briefly described as rendering'impossible on ships anchoring in the harbour is any movement of merchandise of any represented by the port-dues. Vessels description in the port or town of Giof every calibre and of all nations are braltar, whether for export or import, free to come and go without inspection without custom-house supervision or or detention. This freedom, coinciding intervention. It is said that some of as it has done with the development these clauses may be relaxed in favour of steam navigation, has made the port of large steamers belonging to wellone of regular call for craft arriving known lines. That, as no provision from, and bound to, every quarter for it is inserted in the ordinance, will of the globe-the Mediterranean, the be an affair for the discretion of the Black Sea, North and South America. custom-house officers, while it is diffiThe emporium of an extensive com cult to see how such exceptions can merce, Gibraltar naturally affords be made without the effect of invaliemployment for a large number of dating the entire scheme. But Gi. labouring men, and creates a custom braltar is a place of retail as well as for the purveyors of provisions and wholesale trade. The coast of Morocco, supplies of every kind. English and Spain, and Portugal is lined with colonial manufactures and other mer- small gardens and farms, whose owners chandise exported from England to Gi- bring or send their produce in ships braltar are almost entirely conveyed in of slight burden to the population large steamers en route to ports lying to of the Rock, purchasing there with the eastward. Obviously it is of the the proceeds of their cargoes little utmost moment that the transshipment ventures of Gibraltar merchandise. of these goods should be expeditious An embargo will virtually be laid on and inexpensive. “Wool, grain, wax, these by the new customs regulations, and other produce from Morocco”-it is and the probability, or rather the cerstated in a memorial presented to Lord tainty, is, that they will seek another Carnarvon by the members of the Gi- market, the most likely spot for which braltar deputation which was in Lon- is Oran." don a few months ago—“fruit, wine, That in this latter class of craft a oil, and other produce from Spain, are considerable amount of smuggling into sent to Gibraltar for transshipment to Spain is done cannot be denied, the England, France, Germany, Belgium, contraband articles imported being not Holland, Portugal, America, ports in only tobacco but Manchester goods ; the Mediterranean, India, and China. With the exception of India and China

1"On our side," writes Senor Montero,

deputy to the Cortes for the district contiguous this produce is sent without any pre- to Gibraltar, “it must be stated very disvious knowledge of the exact vessel tinctly that Gibraltar is for the towns of the which will convey it from Gibraltar, neighbouring districts the universal market in but in reliance upon the fact that

which our corn, our garden produce, game,

fish, and cotton, are disposed of.... It is a vessels for all those places constantly

centre which maintains numbers of labourers call there.” In the case of India and whom the farmer could not pay if he had not China the enforcement of the restric- a ready and convenient sale for his produce. tions now contemplated must destroy

All these will suffer inevitably from the conthe carrying trade conducted by the

sequences of any impoverishment of Gibraltar.

.... Spain possesses a numerous body of mail steamers. The risk of delay, and carabineres, and a fleet sufficient to guard her the heavy penalties which delay entails, coasts. These are ample for the purpose of will compel these to leave Gibraltar

preventing smuggling, without requiring that out of their calculations.

ancient rights should be set at naught, with

the additional result of injuring Spanish and There is another sort of traffic which English subjects."

« EelmineJätka »