chap. XVII.} 1761. Aug.
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1 Of this special convention Pitt was correctly informed. He knew, also, that the court of Spain wanted to gain time, till the fleet should arrive at Cadiz. Compare the letters of Grimaldi to Fuentes, of August 31, and September 13, in Chatham Correspondence, II. 139-144, and the private note of Stanley to Pitt, of September 2.The existence of this special convention, so well known to Pitt, and so decisive of his policy, appears to have escaped the notice of British historians, with the exception of Lord Mahon. In the edition of Adolphus's History of England published in 1840, that writer assumes that Pitt was misinformed, and hazards the conjecture, that ‘the communication made to Mr. Stanley was a refined piece of finesse in the French ministry.’—Adolphus, i. 46, note. Yet, in the second edition of Flassan's Histoire de la Diplomatie Francaise, VI. 322-326, an abstract of the convention itself may be found. I endeavored to obtain from the French archives an authentic copy of the whole paper; but was informed that the document had been misplaced or lost. The allusion of Grimaldi, in his letter of September 13, ‘to the stipulations of the treaty between the two courts,’ is also to the special convention; though the editors of the Correspondence of the Earl of Chatham, in their comment on the passage, refer it to the Family Compact. The accurate knowledge of this transaction is essential to a vindication of the course pursued by Pitt towards Spain. He did not insist on war with that power, till he had evidence in his possession, that Spain had already made itself a party to the war by a ratified treaty with France. The advice of Pitt on this occasion was alike wise and just. The error comes from confounding the Special Convention, regulating the conditions on which an immediate war was to be conducted, with the General Treaty of alliance between the princes of the House of Bourbon. The last was no ground for war; the first was war itself.
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