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Foreign merchants.-Nature of their assistance to patriots and royalists. Remarks upon the formation of the Chileno squadron. Revenue of Peru.-Receipt and expenditure.-Loan transactions.—Mistaken policy.-General observations.
THERE have been some attempts to inculcate an opinion that the ex-colonies of Spain, particularly Chile, mainly owe their independence, and the formation of their naval forces, to the assistance of European merchants. The fact is, that some of them often assumed rather more credit than they were entitled to, from the circumstance of their happening to be the consignees of a few old ships, and of secondhand slops and stores. As men of business, indeed, these gentlemen were right to make the most of the market and their commodities; but then their claims to ardent patriotism, unmixed with views of profit, must be disallowed. It is true that many of them displayed that liberality of feeling which is generally found to exist in the commercial world; but in this case their sympathies and their interests went hand in hand. When these became unhappily at variance, poor Sympathy often went to the wall, and the royalists were supplied with the munitions of war whenever they could give a favourable price. The North Americans were not behindhand in this sort of
traffic. Commodore Stewart was loudly accused of affording the royalists a degree of support, inconsistent with his instructions, and the laws of neutrality. He was brought to a court-martial on his return to the United States; but the charges were not proved, and he was acquitted.
Foreign merchants did occasionally make advances to the new governments; but it was always upon terms of profit proportionate to the risk. Thus, speaking of the merchants as a body, and within the sphere of their counting-houses, their pretensions to disinterested liberalism fall to the ground. But speaking of them individually, a very great many may be instanced as having given unequivocal proofs of their zeal and adherence to the cause of independWhen the destiny of Chile depended upon the uncertain chances of a battle, some English merchants armed themselves, joined the patriot cavalry as volunteers, and participated in the brilliant charges which, at Maypo, decided the fate of the country. Amongst these gentlemen, Messrs. Samuel Haigh and James Barnard were particularly conspicuous. To such feats of gallantry, might be added some splendid acts of philanthropy and benevolence, which reflect particular honour on the parties concerned. It was such conduct, and not assistance bestowed in the way of business, which caused the British to be looked up to with distinguished consideration. Another powerful reason for their preponderating influence, was the strict observance of the laws of neutrality by the English naval commanders, and the honourable, straight-forward, courteous, and manly
frankness with which English naval officers conducted themselves. Captains Sir Thomas Staines, Bowles, Shirreff, Falcon, Sir Thomas Hardy (now rear-admiral), the Hon. Sir Robert Spencer, Prescott, Brown, the Hon. Frederick Spencer, Porter, and many other officers, are still remembered, and frequently mentioned by South Americans in terms of the warmest regard. Hence also arose a feeling of gratitude in the Chileno people towards England as a nation. They persuade themselves that she is the friend of liberal institutions, and consider her their well-wisher. But it is well known that Spanish America owes nothing to the British government save the foreign enlistment bill of 1819, which Mr. Canning stated in Parliament, in 1827, was passed at the express request of the king of Spain.
Chile, therefore, must not be defrauded of the honour due to her own exertions, and the assistance of the army of the Andes. A few facts will show that Chile, aided by the Buenos Ayreans, worked out her own emancipation, through her own valour, her own immense sacrifices, and her own perseverance; and, having stated thus much, it will be unnecessary to make any observation on the same subject with regard to Peru.
Notwithstanding the advantages acquired by the campaign of 1818, the directorial government soon perceived that its acquisitions were ill secured from new invasions, so long as the coasts were unprotected by a naval force. For the double object of defence, and of possessing the means to remove the seat of war to Peru, the centre of the Spanish possessions,
the Chileno government turned its attention to the creation of a navy.
The Windham, afterwards named the Lautaro, an old East Indiaman, of eight hundred tons, was the first purchase. One hundred and eighty thousand dollars was the price agreed upon. Ninety thousand dollars, in hard cash, were paid down before possession was given, and the remainder was paid by good bills upon the custom-house.
One hundred and fifty thousand dollars were paid for another old East Indiaman, of twelve hundred tons, the Cumberland, afterwards named the General San Martin. Contributions, for the purpose of raising this sum, were collected principally in family plate, copper, jerked beef, and tallow.
The Galvarino, formerly the British sloop of war Hecate, was purchased for seventy thousand dollars. The brig Columbus, afterwards the Araucano, cost forty thousand dollars; and the Clifton, afterwards the Chacabuco, thirty-five thousand dollars.
The debts contracted on account of those vessels were not of long standing, being principally and speedily liquidated by bills, taken by the customhouse in payment of duties, and therefore nearly as good to the merchants as ready money.
The following list of the ships of war taken from the Spaniards, from 1818 till 1825, shows that the sacrifices and exertions of Chile produced the wishedfor results, and that the maritime superiority of the Pacific was the fruit of her exertions and valour.
The Asia was seized by her crew, and delivered up to the Mexicans, at Acapulco, in 1825. The Aquiles was, in like manner, delivered up to the Chileno government in the same year.
One hundred thousand dollars were sent to the United States for the purchase of two corvettes, one of which, the Independencia, of twenty-six guns, arrived in a Chileno port. The person in charge of the other ran away with her, on the plea of only a part of the purchase money having been paid: he affected not to have sufficient confidence in the government for the remainder, but he did not refund the money already advanced. The want of judgment and incompetency of the Chileno agent, in the United States, rendered the matter still worse; for he suffered himself to be involved in such an expensive lawsuit