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This will, I trust, be soon and safely delivered by Mr Short, who is now on his way to Madrid. Herewith I send you a copy of what in my last letter relates to the situation of this country.
A problem to be resolved just now is, whether the convention of neutrality lately entered into with Spain is, on the part of the latter, concerted with Great Britain ; or whether your Due d Alcudia prefers otium cum NOVA dignitate to the uncertain splendors of a great undertaking. As I am not apt to trace up to rational causes the conduct of a creature so irrational as man, I should decide at once, perhaps, that the un nerved indolence of a courtier has more to say in the decision, than any complicated combinations of state policy, if there were not a remarkable coincidence in the time and circumstance with what has passed lately in the British Parliament. Is the conduct of Spain to be attributed to a design of making future hostilities popular, by making them appear to result from French aggression ; or does it arise from the dread, that war might awaken the court from that profound oblivious sleep, in which its interest and its glory are all forgotten?
On the contingent answers to these questions- there results an alternative, which may operate favorably to the object of Mr Short's mission. If, for instance, a war should be imminent, I think that they would wish to avoid any contest with us ; and if ease and luxury be their motives, I think you may plague them into concessions, which, after all, (under the rose be it spoken) are of very little consequence to our country ; for I have no golden hopes from an uphill navigation of three or four hundred leagues.
I will not now go into any long discussions on the state of affairs here, because I have communicated my opinions to Mr. Short pretty fully, and shall continue to do so until he takes his departure. The Council here talk so highly to Great Britain that you, who know mankind, will conclude them to be afraid ; and this conclusion is not far from the truth. Mr Pitt has the nation now in his hand, and may do what he pleases. Will he make war? The King is, I believe, decidedly for it. Will he make war? Perhaps he can gain more by peace. Will he make war ? He envies, I am told, his father's fame. A gentle armament places him in a condition to make the belligerent powers bid high for his favor, while it will convince Old England that when at last he strikes, it is her honor which compels the blow ; and then she will fight, you may rely on it. I am, &sc.
- Gouverneur Morris
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832