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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: September 2011
  • First published in: 1840



The naval politics of this period, and the actual state of the British navy, were fully discussed in the debate on the preliminaries of peace, which began on the 17th of February, 1783. The importance of the island of Minorca, which had been ceded to the enemy, was thus particularly dwelt on by Lord North: “When we consider the value of Minorca, that it was always possessed with much greater ease and less expense than even the impregnable Gibraltar; that it has one of the finest harbours in the world; that it has never been the object of contention with Spain which Gibraltar has, although it affords us advantages which Gibraltar cannot; that, from this island, our squadrons might have been always ready to sail at any time, to annoy the trade, alarm the coasts, and to meet the fleets of our enemies, without the least intelligence being communicated to the enemy, of their designs; the possession of Minorca being thus invaluable, should have rendered it of sufficient estimation in the opinion of ministers, to have kept it by every means of power and treaty.” Lord Mulgrave declared, “that the obvious impression made at first view by the peace was, that it was rather a peace patched up to serve a purpose, than one that promised to be of long duration:” he expressed his indignation at what he had heard asserted, that any peace, however short, was better than continuing the war. Mr. Fox, after minutely tracing the grounds of the various concessions, declared, “that the terms were humiliating in the extreme.”