« AnteriorContinuar »
HOUSE OF LORDS.
his side of the House. It would be re- of their contents were better ascertained. membered, that he had yesterday dis- In the absence of the noble lord (Wel. tinctly maintained that time for delibera- lesley) to whom these matters more partion ought to be afforded upon the very ticularly, but not exclusively, belonged, grounds precisely which the learned gent. he should not now enter into any details, on the other side had urged in the course wishing, however, to be informed by the of this night's discussion. It did not noble secretary opposite, (lord Liverpool) therefore become the right hon. gentle whether more, and what papers, were inman to impugn the conduct of the gentle- tended to be delivered. men on his side of the House. But as to The Earl of Liverpool had only to obthe right hon. gentleman's allusion to our serve, that the papers alluded to by the triumph, said Mr. Ponsonby, he really noble baron had been divided into two rates himself too high and us too low, if sets, those that belonged to the diplomatic he supposes that there is any thing in his and those which belonged to the military conduct or character which should make department. He believed the diplomatic us feel elated by any triumph over him. papers were already before the House, as
The Amendment was accordingly with they were in a greater degree of forwarddrawn. Upon the question being put for ness. The remaining documents, viz. the adjourning ihe debate vill to-morrow s'en- military papers, would soon be ready ; nigbt, some Noes were heard, but the but, in the absence of his noble friend, Speaker declared that the Ayes had it. he should likewise decline going into any Mr. Lethbridge declared the contrary, detail on the subject, while he expressed and a division was called for. Before, a wish, at the same time, that the produchowever, the whole of the strangers had tion or non-production of the papers should withdrawn from the gallery, Mr. Leth not be decided by motion, but by an unbridge was induced to withdraw his op- derstanding that no further papers should position.
be delivered until after the discussion, of which the noble baron had given notice for to-morrow. In the mean time he
should take occasion to communicate with Thursday, March 29.
his noble friend. [CAMPAIGN IN SPAIN.] Lord Grenville Lord Grenville expressed his acquiessose, and said, that he held in his hand cer- cence in the noble earl's proposition, and tain papers which had been laid before it was ordered that the House be summoned their lordships, respecting the conduct of for to-morrow. the late campaign in Spain. Further papers had been moved for, some of which
HOUSE OF COMMONS. had been delivered to their lordships, and others were daily expected to come from
Thursday, March 29. the printer's. In looking over those [EXPEDITION TO THE Scheldt.] On which have already been delivered, he the order of the day for resuming the adhad discovered a fresh proof, either of the journed debate on the policy and conduct culpable neglect, or the palpable incapa- of the Expedition to the Scheldt, being city, of bis Majesty's ministers. They read, had now published papers, (a thing, he be- General Tarleton rose to reply to the lieved, almost wholly unprecedented,) speech delivered on a former night by gewhich went not only to compromise the neral Craufurd. That hon. general had characters, but to expose the lives, of described the horrors of campaigns that persons officially or confidentially em- never existed, and entered minutely into ployed in Spain. This, be believed, was the particulars of assaults, ambuscades, ihe first instance, in diplomatic corres- stormings, and other miseries of war, so pondence, in which persons of the descrip- much that it was enough to deprive memtion he alluded to, had been so compro. bers, who were not military men, of their mised. He thou, ht the matter a most se- sleep. He had then gone into a disquisirious one; so much so, that he should tion on the fallibility of man, illustrating now give notice of a motion, which he thereby the fallibility of ministers; and, should submit to their lordships, to-more he really believed, that a more fallible set row, respecting the propriety of deferring than the present, in war, never existed. the farther publication and delivery of The hon. general then examined the those papers, until the nature and tendency chances, and explained the probable hard, vol. XVI,
ships of a contest, supposing 40,000 troops opposite (Crawfurd) had commented somehad been transported to the north of what too severely on the evidence given Germany, to act between the Ems and the by a worthy friend of his (sir W. ErsWeser. But this was not required, for all kine,) in whose answers so much accuracy, that Austria asked of this country, was, information, skill, judgment, and intellidetachments of cavalry and artillery: gence was displayed, as to make him alFrom Germany, the hon. general travelled most believe that the soul of his illustrious into Spain; and here he agreed with him, father again lived in him.' There was no that from the season of the year, nothing similarity between the late campaign and could have been done in that quarter. that of 1740, for then we were masters of From Spain, he went to Italy, and con- the country, and able completely to invest tended, that to this point an Expedition the fortified places; while in the last cam. would have been too late. lle (general paign the relief every day to be expected T.) did not think so. As ministers were from their friends, would induce the be. in possession of information of what was sieged to hold out to the last extremity, passing between Austria and France, so He then proceeded to remark on the eviearly as December, 180$, they might dence of gen. Brownrigs, for whose prohave had an effective force joined to ihe fessional knowledge he professed very 20,000 men already in Sicily, ready to high veneration. That general had given act, where alone the enemy was vulnerable, it, as his opinion, that the Expedition in time sufficient effectually to co-operate might reach Santvliet, and land in divisions, with Austria. But they would have the on the 1st, 2d, and 3d of August; and in Scheldt, and nothing but the Scheldt; and 13 or 14 days, accomplish all the ob. an Expedition, to waste our resources, jects in view and be on their return home. must be sent somewhere. He was firmly This was a mere visionary opinion, upon convinced that, having now overcome all which government was so much buoyed opposition on the continent, we must ex. up, as to undertake this impracticable Es. pect that the greatest warrior of this or pedition, where every thing depended on: other times would gratify his ruling pas- ihe veni, vidi, vici. sion, by an invasion of this country. It He should now take a view of the cambecame us, then, to husband our means of paign, and see how different to these defence, and not squander them in such a pleasing speculations, which the planners manner and upon such fruitless enter- of it indulged in by anticipation so confi: prises as the calamitous Expedition to dently, every thing turned out. After an Walcheren and the Scheldt. He denied unaccountable and culpable delay of ninethat this Expedition was any diversion in teen days, the army obtained possession favour of Austria ; as, before it sailed, of Flushing. With regard to the capture ministers knew of the battle of Wagram, of Walcheren, their operations were as and the conclusion of the armistice. slow and clumsy as any he had ever had Whenever they were informed that Napo- occasion to contemplate in the whole leon had entered into negociations, ex- course of his military observation. In. perience ought to have taught them to stead of proceeding in the way they did, anticipate the complete triumph of France, time was their object, they ought to and the certain prostration of Austria. have marched down at once a single coSuch had been the consequences to the lumn of 6,000 men. By these means powers who treated with him after the they would have cut off the reinforcebattles of Marengo, Austerlitz, and ments thrown into Flushing from the Friedland. A noble lord (Castlereagh) country, prevented inundation, and, if the had told them, that the general officers, garrison came out to fight, terminated the with whom government chose to consult, affair, by defeating them, and entering the were not, when they delivered their opi- town with the flying enemy. nions, in possession of the facts on which As for the operations against Antwerp, government decided. These officers were there appeared some contradiction berash in declaring their opinions, without tween the evidence of general Brownrigg a perfect knowledge of the grounds on and the other officers who had been exwhich they stood ; and as no data had been amined, as to the state of its fortifications. given them, he considered the consulta- General Brownrigg appeared to have paid tion of government to be one of the greatest more attention to the suburbs and outmockeries and insults ever offered to the works, than to what in general more occumilitary profession. The hon. general pied a soldier's attention-the height of the ramparts, and depth of the ditch. In | the ulterior objects were given up. The his opinion, respecting a landing at Cad. | whole transaction, for absurdity of design, sand, he was also at variance with other and profligacy of expenditure, among all officers. Having animadverted upon gen. the vacillations of ministers, stood preBrownrigg's opinions, on this point, the eminent for folly and ignorance. He hon. general also argued against the opi- must therefore give his vote against the nions of gen. Mac Leod, that a bombard-Amendment. ment of Antwerp would have had any effect,
General Craufurd explained. It had and of gen. Sontag, that it might be easily never been said that government kept back compelled to surrender; and contended, information from the officers they conupon the whole, that the fall of this place sulted, but that the information that recould not be expected so early as mi- solved them was received after that connisters were led to calculate upon. The sultation, and induced them to determine noble lord (Castlereagh) had brought be upon a measure, to which they had prefore the House many instances of failure, viously inclined, but upon which they had as if all the failures in the world could not already made up their minds. ever exculpate him from his share of re- Mr. Rose said, he would not undertake sponsibility upon this disastrous Expedi- nor was he competent to follow the hon. tion. He had gone to the Dardanelles, to general through all his military details and Egypt, to Buenos Ayres, and when the observations, particularly as all his arguwinds failed, had tried the waves, and ments went against the operations in steered to the Baltic. After endeavouring Walcheren, in approbation of which a to excuse his failure, he had tried to make vote of the House bad passed. He conthem believe that the expence was no tended, however, in opposition to the more than 800,0001.; but surely they hon. general, that the Expedition had must be blind and lame who could give operated as a diversion in favour of credit to this. He would mention a few | Austria, and had drawn troops from the of the extraordinary items in which the north of Germany, which would otherwise expence incurred must have been very have been brought to bear upon the great. It must have been very great in Danube. The Expedition was prepared transports; in the additional ships of war and in readiness, before the news of the placed in commission; in the great and armistice was received; and would the expensive changes in these ships, taking hon. general and his friends have, merely out their guns and taking in horses; in the on that account, laid it aside, without hospital ships, fitted up in the peculiar doing any thing? By being sent to the way they were; in the commissariat de- Scheldt, it had drawn general Gratien, partment; in the expenditure of ord with 7000 men, from the north of Germanance; in the medical department; in ny ; it had brought the garrisons from the new staff appointments; in secret- Stettin, Custrin, &c. and the whole service money ; in materials for building, Westphalian army was on its march to bricks, lime, &c. ; in the flotilla ; in the oppose it. But, even stripping the affair carrying out of general officers; in the of its merits as a diversion, after the hopes miscellaneous charges; and in the loss of of assisting our allies were over, the Bri. 7,000 men, the expence of recruiting tish object was worthy of the Expedition, whom, estimated at 401. per man, in itself and the taking of Flushing alone, could would amount to little short of half a mil- it have been retained, was worth the lion. Upon all these items the expence
This was not his opi. could not reasonably be taken at less than nion alone; it was the opinion of men, to 3,000,0001. When our force arrived at whose sense and skill the country would Bathz, then it was that the officers, so san- ever bow with deference, and not expressed guine in England, discovered that the ob- privately to him, but publicly, to public ject of the Expedition was impracticable ; men. Lord Nelson, when employed that Lillo was not to be taken; that Ant- against Boulogne, had declared it to be werp was not to be approached, and that his opinion, that the conquest of Flushing the shipping, the great end of their equip was the most important object this counment, were moved entirely out of their try could achieve. In his letter to lord St. reach. He would not go into arguments Vincent, on the subject, he stated, that. on the unhealthy season selected by mi- to get to Helvoet or Flushing, and destroy nisters for this Expedition, and the cruel the enemy's shipping, would be the greatdetention of the men at Walcheren, after est service that could be rendered to the country. He offered to undertake the them of being the most fallible ministers task, staring, that it would require a that ever this country saw, and a noble week's time, and 5 or 6,000 men, This lord (Porchester) bad described this as the shewed that lamented hero's opinion, that most disastrous of all expeditions; a l'ethe greatest danger of invasion to bis na- view of our history however would shew tive land was from Fiushing, and that it that these assertions were not well foundwould be of no difficult conquest. The ed. He would not go back to the great same was the opinion of commodore failure of prince Eugene and the duke of Owen; than whom a more skilful, dis- Savoy ; but take a short retrospect, from cerning, and excellent officer did not the end of the reign of queen Anne, and grace the British service.
Here the right from thence prove, that other ministers hon. gent. entered into a handsome eulo- had been as fallible, and other expeditions gium on the distinguished officer whose equally unsuccessful. He did not mean name he had mentioned, and who from his to throw a shade on the enshrined virtue gallantry, activity and promptitude, in of those distinguished men; but it was every emergency, had attracted the pe- impossible to look into their history withculiar notice and friendship of lord Nel-out finding that they had, in their zeal son. He entertained similar opinions as for England and England's glory, someto the importance of Flushing; and it was times attempted projects which they were from such authorities as these that he (Mr. unable to accomplish. He looked to the Rose) drew his argument, that the con- celebrated attack on Toulon, by an army quest of Flushing alone (could it have under prince Eugene, and a fleet under been retained) was a sufficient object to the command of a great British admiral. justify and indemnify us for the expence That attempt, concerted with wisdom, of the Expedition. By the possession of and prosecuted with bravery, prored aborthat port, where 20 sail of the line could tive. An allusion had been made to the lie in the basin, fully equipped, and rea- attack on Rochefort, and the force emdy to come out with an east wind, we ployed there stated as holding no compa. would avoid the great expence of keep- rison in point of numbers to that employed ing two fleets, on different stations, to in Walcheren. But draw the comparison watch the enemy. It would also have of those separate forces from their proporbeen more effectual than even destroying tion to the whule force of the kingdom as the enemy's shipping. For, though we it stood at the periods of those two Expedestroyed his ships, they could be ditions, and they would be found close replaced, while
the forests suppli. upon an equality. The Rochefort Expeed the timber; but, by possessing dition was undertaken with all advanFlushing, we utterly annihilated Ant- tages in its favour. Accurate information werp, and all the fleets in the Scheldt. had been obtained; the Expedition itself The right hon. gent. then went into an had originated in the memorial of a most examination of certain parts of the evi- able officer; and yet the whole service dence, to shew that sir R. Strachan, capt. done was the capture of the little isle of Cockburn, and others, from 13th August Aix. Lord Howe, in the Magnanime, to 29th Oct., continued to think Flushing with a pilot on board, better acquainted of such importance, that it ought not to than any man in England with the French be given up.
That it ought not to be coast, was run aground within two miles given up, on account of the security re- of the island.-On the return of the Extaining it gave to this country, as well as pedition, the public expressed no diswith an eye to future operations against pleasure, until a clamour was gradually the enemy on the continent. There was excited, when sir J. Mordaunt, the another consideration attached to this commanding officer of the Expedition, subject. Even though we were unable to was brought to a court martial. Much have kept possession of Flushing, could ridicule had been thrown on the idea we have destroyed the navigation of the of taking Antwerp by a coup-de-main; Scheldt? Such a service would have jus- but without attempting to set himself up tified the Expedition.-He shewed, from as a judge of military matters, he had an extract from a letter of sir R. Strachan, strong authorities for his belief of what that, on the 13th Aug., he had considered might be done by a coup-de-main. (He that as practicable. Ministers also were then read some extracts from a military therefore justified in having thought it at work, in which general Ligonier's opitainable. The hon. gent. had accused nion was given on the nature and uses of the attack by coup-de-main, and a but the idea was absurd. The estimates narrative of the capture of Bergen-op- were all before the House, and it was idle Zoom by general Lawendahl by a sud- to suppose public officers capable of put(len attack.) It was, said he, by a coup. ting so low and unartificial a trick on the de-main, that this fortress, then the common sense of the House ; 246,0001. strongest in the world, was taken. Ismael, had been charged for ordnance transports. with a large army within its walls, was This was the charge not of the ordnance, taken by the same rapid and bold assault. but of the transport board, with whom But to revert to the Expeditions of which those matters lay, and whose peculiar prohe had been previously speaking. Lord vince and duty it was to collect all transAnson, when first lord of the admiralty, port services, which were formerly sepasailed with an army on board, commanded rate, into one system and direction. He by the great duke of Marlborough, on an still felt the most perfect conviction that expedition to the coasts of the Bay of the retention of Flushing was a wise meaBiscay. That expedition returned, re in- sure; and when the country bad given fectâ ; the Duke went to command in Ger- itself time to consider its velue, and calmly many; and general Bligh, at the head of estimate the dangers which wenaced it the forces, landed to destroy Cherbourgh. from that quarter of the enemy's force, He could there do nothing more than burn he was convinced that their judgment a few merchant ships, destroy a basin, and would be altogether in favour or the wiscarry off a few brass guns. He marched dom which planned the Espıdition, and a short distance up the country, and was the policy by which its great objects were attacked ; his return to the shore was im- endeavoured to be retained. peded, and on the embarkation at St. Cas, Lord F. Osborne (in a maiden speech) his rear-guard were taken prisoners or said, he should not venture to deliver his slain. Thus ended that expedition. He opinion or trespass upon the aitention of (Mr. Rose), now turned to another in- the House to night, when he was aware stance, in which nothing but accident the time of the House might be so much could have prevented a total failure. It better engaged, did he not feel it to be his was on the expedition under general Bar- duty on a question of such importance, rington against the French West India not to give a silent vote. The question, as islands. After a two months resistance, it struck him, was, whether ministers in Guadaloupe was taken ; but the general, the Expedition they had undertaken had in his dispatches, acknowledged himself made a wise and judicious use of the deeply indebted to tortune that it was not means entrusted to their care? After a lost to the country, as count Beauharnois, result which had so little satisfied the exthe father (said Mr. Rose) of, I believe, peciations of the nation, an inquiry seemed the vice-king of Italy (a laugb)-appeared generally to have been required, and that off the island at the moment of its capture inquiry had taken place in tliat House, with 2,000 men, whose arrival, a few where alone it could satisfactorily prohours earlier, would have foiled the whole ceed. After an attentive perusal of every Expedition. He then turned to more part of the case, it did not seem to him modern times, and hinted at the Darda- that the evidence was calculated to excuse, nelles, Egypt, and other miscarriages of but, on the contrary, that it went wholly the last administration. He did not state to condemn the ministers, by whom the these things in order to throw any censure Expedition had been underiaken. The on any administration, but to disprove invasion of Holland in the year 1799, what had been asserted; and to shew that should have shewn them what chance if nothing was ever to be undertaken but they bad of success in adventuring on with an absolute certainty of success, no- similar enterprizes in future. Even fier thing worthy a nation would ever be done. the Expedition was ready, ministers should After enumerating some additional cases
have looked to the state of the country of unavoidable failure, Mr. Rose proceed they were about to attack, before they ed to reply to other points, which had sacrificed the army. They should also been touched upon in the course of the have looked to what the shoulders of the debate. It had been asserted that the ex. people of this country would bear, before pence of this present Expedition must they added six-pence to the expences, have been understated at 800,000l. The which already pressed on them so severely. calculation of an hon. general (Tarleton) It was alledged, that we might have taken ingeniously swelled it up to three millions, Antwerp by a coup-de-main. He agreed