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The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

The negotiations consequently progressed but slowly


It

is impossible to refer here to all the topics discussed at Amiens. The determination of the French Government to adopt a forward colonial and oceanic policy is clearly seen in its proposals made at the close of the year 1801. They were: (1) the abolition of salutes to the British flag on the high seas; (2) an _absolute_ ownership of the eastern and western coasts of Newfoundland in return for a proposed cession of the isles of St. Pierre and Miquelon to us--which would have practically ceded to France _in full sovereignty_ all the best fishing coasts of that land, with every prospect of settling the interior, in exchange for two islets devastated by war and then in British hands; (3) the right of the French to a share in the whale fishery in those seas; (4) the establishment of a French fishing station in the Falkland Isles; and (5) the extension of the French districts around the towns of Yanaon and Mahe in India.[188] To all these demands Lord Cornwallis opposed an unbending opposition. Weak as our policy had been on other affairs, it was firm as a rock on all maritime and Indian questions. In fact, the events to be described in the next chapter, which led to the consolidation of British power in Hindostan, would in all probability never have occurred but for the apprehensions excited by these French demands; and our masterful proconsul in Bengal, the Marquis Wellesley, could not have pursued his daring and expensive schemes of conquest, annexation, and forced alliances, had
not the schemes of the First Consul played into the hands of the soldiers at Calcutta and weakened the protests of the dividend-hunters of Leadenhall Street.

The persistence of French demands for an increase of influence in Newfoundland and the West and East Indies, the vastness of her expedition to Saint Domingo and the thinly-veiled designs of her Australian expedition (which we shall notice in the next chapter), all served to awaken the suspicions of the British Government. The negotiations consequently progressed but slowly. From the outset they were clogged by the suspicion of bad faith. Spain and Holland, smarting under the conditions of a peace which gave to France all the glory and to her allies all the loss, delayed sending their respective envoys to the conferences at Amiens, and finally avowed their determination to resist the surrender of Trinidad and Ceylon. In fact, pressure had to be exerted from Paris and London before they yielded to the inevitable. This difficulty was only one of several: there then remained the questions whether Portugal and Turkey should be admitted to share in the treaty, as England demanded; or whether they should sign a separate peace with France. The First Consul strenuously insisted on the exclusion of those States, though their interests were vitally affected by the present negotiations, He saw that a separate treaty with the Sublime Porte would enable him, not only to extract valuable trading concessions in the Black Sea trade, but also to cement a good understanding with Russia on the Eastern Question, which was now being adroitly reopened by French diplomacy. Against the exclusion of Turkey from the negotiations at Amiens, Great Britain firmly but vainly protested. In fact, Talleyrand had bound the Porte to a separate agreement which promised everything for France and nothing for Turkey, and seemed to doom the Sublime Porte to certain humiliation and probable partition.[189]


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