The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37
Restoration of Gibraltar to Spain
Restoration of Gibraltar to Spain.
Vain as ever would it be to endeavor to make our many-headed multitude comprehend a truth that was plain enough to a certainly "truly British Minister" of a preceding age, namely, That Gibraltar is of no use to any power, except as a means of invading Spain. It does not command the strait of Gibraltar any more than the castle commands the strait of Dover.
If any Englishman wish to know the effect produced upon every Spaniard by our tenure of Gibraltar he has only to imagine the castle and works of Dover in the hands of the French. It would not give France the command of the channel; but it would give her the command of the metropolis. True it is that Spain had become inferior to England at sea before the latter had obtained possession of Gibraltar; but by the Declaration of Paris England has lost the command of the sea. There is nothing now to prevent the French from retaining Dover should they once seize it.
It is admitted, even by Lord Palmerston, that it is desirable in any dispute with France to have the friendship of Spain. Napoleon, when asked why he did not take Gibraltar, page 43 replied that its possession by England secured her the undying hatred of Spain.
The restoration of Gibraltar as an act of justice without conditions would in like manner insure Spain's sincere gratitude, as pointed out by far wiser men than Mr Congreve, able though he be on that point; and therein he only follows the footsteps of him of the ' Pillars of Hercules' (Urquhart.)
This restoration would be equivalent at least to a force of twenty thousand men, and it would save the annual expense of keeping up Gibraltar. It would not be an act of aggression against France, since it would be only restoring to Spain her own territory; or, as the French would say, her natural boundaries.
Gibraltar was ceded, it is true, by the treaty of Utrecht; but that does not cover the vice of the original capture. It was captured in the name of Charles the Third, and fraudulently transferred to Great Britain. Chatham sought in vain a favorable opportunity of redeeming the national honor by giving it up, but "public opinion" was too strong for him.