GREAT BRITAIN IN HONDURAS.
We have lately had by telegraph two announcements of interest in regard to British movements in Central America. One is, that the British Government has concluded a convention with that of Honduras, for the protection and neutralization of the projected Honduras line of transit across the Isthmus; and the other, that the convention for erecting the Bay Islands into a free territory, subject to the general authority of Honduras, had been rejected by that power, because of its interference with her rights of sovereignty.
It has been thought in the United States, and with apparent good reason, that the Bay Islands convention, between Great Britain and Honduras, was duly ratified last year, and in force now. It was so recited to be, in the Clarendon Dallas treaty with us, and one of the articles to which the United States objected, was that which required us not only to recognize the treaty, but be bound by the terms which Great Britain had imposed upon Honduras, which included an express engagement to guarantee the perpetual exclusion of slavery. There must have been a very confident belief on the part of the British government in their power to control the action of Honduras, that they should have negotiated with us on the basis of a treaty assumed to be complete and ratified, before it had secured the assent of Honduras. And conceding this great influence, the rejection of the treaty by Honduras, at this time, subsequent to the repudiation by the American Senate anti-slavery compacts therein, might be taken as an expression of the desire of England that it should not be accepted, a signification that its only importance to them was in its stipulation against slavery which it contained, but which our Government refused to endorse and enforce.
The refusal of the treaty by Honduras comes in opportunity to give Great Britain the opportunity to lay claim again to the Island of Ruatan, and secure thereby the absolute control of the Bay of Honduras, and the trans-Isthmus route, which has its Atlantic terminus there. We have, accordingly, information simultaneously with the announcement of the loss of this treaty, and the consequent falling away of the Dallas- Clarendon treaty, of which it was a condition precedent, the further intelligence that England reasserts her old claim of dominion over the Bay Islands, and that she has concluded a convention with Honduras, of subsequent date to that relating to the islands, in which she covenants for the completing and protection of the Honduras railway. In all this—the making and the misinterpreting of treaties, the negotiating and the frustrating of them, by direction and by indirection – the main purpose is apparent. It is to secure for Great Britain the control of some one, if not of all, the routes across the Isthmus, for the special benefit of her own commerce, and for the purpose, equally plain, although unavowed, of repressing the growth and lessening the influence of the United States, on the side of Central America, and on the Pacific slope.
This Honduras project is a favorite one in England, the most formidable competitor of any of the lines of transit, in which Americans have taken interest, or embarked capital. It is, next to the Tebuantepec route, the nearest to us in distance, and consequently the shortest in time, as a means of communication between North America and the Pacific coasts and shores, and the facilities for constructing it are described to be very great. Besides, and chiefly, its eastern terminus, just out of Gulf of Mexico, is directly controlled by the Island of Ruatan, the best military position in those seas, capable of being made a Gibraltar, or a Malts, for the mastery of the commerce which may go by.
Now we cannot help suspecting a design in the coincidence of these events—the defeat of the Honduras treaty, the rejection of the amendments to the Dallas Clarendon treaty, the new Government support given to this Honduras railroad project, and the reassertion of the British title to the Bay Islands—the military key of the Bay of Honduras, the station which protects and commands the Honduras transit route. We want to give faith to British professions of the desire to give the United States no just cause for uneasiness or complaint in this hemisphere, and to find in her acts better evidence than honeyed phrases of a courtly ambassador can give us of the new policy which he talks of, a union of the counsels and strength of kindred races, for their mutual glory and advancement. But we have a misgiving that the present English Cabinet, at least, has a very different understanding from that which pervades our people and dictates the policy of our Government, under all Administrations, in regard to the Gulf of Mexico, and American rights there and on the highroads to our possessions on the Pacific. We are afraid that we are yet to go through some severe trials with her before she will appreciate the full extent of the requirements and resolves of the American people; but we trust that our Government will not retreat or temporize or compromise further.