British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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Castlereagh's State Paper of 1820: Minute of the Cabinet, 5 May 1820

It [must be] considered what course can best be pursued by the Allies ... in order to preserve in the utmost cordiality and vigour, the Bonds which at this day so happily unite the great European Powers together, and to draw from their Alliance, should the moment of danger and unrest arrive, the fullest extent of benefit of which it is in its nature susceptible.

In this Alliance ... nothing is more likely to impair or even destroy its real utility, than any attempt to push its Duties and its obligations beyond the sphere which its original Conception and understood Principles will warrant: It was an Union for the Re-conquest and liberation of a great proportion of the Continent of Europe from the Military Dominion of France, and having subdued the Conqueror, it took the state of Possession as established by the Peace under the Protection of the Alliance: It never was however intended as an Union for the Government of the World, or for the superintendence of the internal affairs of other States...

...What is intended to be combatted ... is, the notion ... that whenever any great Political Event shall occur ... pregnant perhaps with future danger, it is to be regarded almost as a matter of course, that it belongs to the Allies to charge themselves collectively with the responsibility of exercising some Jurisdiction concerning such possible eventual danger...

... We must admit ourselves to be ... a Power that must take our Principle of action, and our scale of acting, not merely from the Expediency of the Case, but from those Maxims which a System of Government strongly popular and national in its Character, has imposed upon us: - We shall be found in our place when actual Danger menaces the System of Europe, but this Country cannot and will not act upon abstract and speculative Principles of Precaution.

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