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to oppose the papers moved for, because House, and an Address was voted to his they tended to take the negociation out Majesty, praying him to take the necesof the regular channel. Their lordships sary steps to communicate a positive dewould not fail to perceive the very great nial of the accusation 10 all the princes disadvantage, nay the absolute mischief and potentates with whom he was in that was likely io arise from discussing friendship and alliance. How did the gothis subject while it was under considera- | vernment now stand ? Here was a solemn tion elsewhere. He would admit that charge, made in a paper coming from one there were various communications on of the highest official authorities in France, this very subject, during the period alluded which charge was suffered to spread to.—The noble baron did not appear to throughout Europe, unrefuted and unconunderstand the nature of the proposals tradicted. Instead of disavowing an imwhich he supposed to have been made. putation so unworthy of the national chaIf he did he would know, that it was pos- | racter, and so contrary to its practice in sible the proposed basis of negociation other periods, the person most interested might be so unjust as to render it inadmis- rose with a levity ill-suited to the occasible, at the very outset; or that it might sion, and eluded the charge, instead of be so objectionable in parts as to render meeting it fairly. The explanation of the previous explanation necessary. He con- noble earl was not less equivocal and evasidered the motion to be both very ill sive. They came to their lordships with judged, and injurious in its consequences, the stale and hacknied pretence that any if granted. It would have the effect of information on the subject would be proembarrassing, instead of facilitating the ductive of disadvantage. The noble baron negociation. It would commit govern- and his colleagues might elude the moment on points of great delicacy, and tion for the present, but the information would not attain the end proposed. sought for must be disclosed, and if it was
Lord Grenville could not consider the of the nature asserted, and that he had explanation given by the noble baron reason to expect, he hoped the vengeance or the noble earl who spoke last, as any of parliament would follow. A charge way satisfactory. It was deficient in highly injurious to be humanity of the frankness and candour. There was some- British government had been made, and thing behind, something concealed in it. not repelled, as it ought to have been. We were now for the second time in. He hoped the motion would be agreed to. volved in a war, which it seemed was to Earl Grey could not conceive why the be carried on, as far as depended on the noble lords on the other side should hesidetermination of ministers, in horrible tate to give a direct answer to the question violation of the usual courtesies of that so often proposed. Did it proceed from a dreadful state. What had been the proud consciousness that they could not answer boast of this country up to this day? That it in a way that would acquit them of the it did on all occasions every thing to sus imputation in the Moniteur? Instead of pend the cruelty of war: that no opportu- meeting it fairly, they sheltered themnity was neglected to try to bring it back selves under the stale, old generalities of to the semblance of what it was in former a pending negociation. And yet even on times. This was the state to which it this point they could not speak out. What seemed his Majesty's ministers were averse prevented the noble lord from stating wheto bring the contest between us and France. ther equitable propositions had been made In the year 1797, a charge appeared in a by the French government, and whether French paper, respecting the improper they had been entertained? This surely treatment of the prisoners in this country. might be done without prejudice to the What was the conduct of that great man negcciation. The noble earl here read the (Mr. Pit:) whose name was so often quoted Resolutions of the Committee of 1797, on the other side, on that occasion. He pro- to justify the interference of parliament. posed that the charge should be submitted Hitherlo he knew it was always the wish to a Committee of the other House; not of government to obtain a reasonable printhat be or any person in this country could ciple of adjustment respecting the exentertain a doubt of the falsehood of the change of prisoners, which was always accusation, but for the purpose of satisfy- resisted by the enemy. But it was posing all Europe by a Report and Resolution sible that this unjust pretension of the of parliament, that it was wholly unfound- enemy might either be abandoned from ed. That Resolution was adopted by the imperious reasons, or removed from matives of policy. He had, however, a pro- upon the subject, it was rather a delicacy to posal to make, which would put the sin- themselves than a delicacy to the country. cerity of ministers to the test. Let minis- Lord Mulgrade resisted ihe communicaters either agree to the appointment of a tion of the dates, which he thought would Secret Committee, as in 1797, or consent lead to no useful purpose.
He did not see to lay before their lordships the dates when how any motion could be grounded upon these propositions were received, and the the dates, even if they were before the answers returned. If they would consent House; and under the present circumto either of these proposals, he would re- stance, he did not think it would be right commend to his noble friend to withdraw to grant them. his motion.
Lord Holland said, that the dates might · Lord Mulgrade would not accept the al- be in themselves of great importance. ternative offered by the noble earl. He For example, if on the production of the would never consent to take the negotia- dates, it should appear that an overture tion out of the constitutional channel, and from the French government was for a put it in the hands of a committee of that long time unattended to, this circumstance House. lo answer, however, to the ques- might be sufficient to ground a motion on, lion so often put by the noble baron and even although the papers were not prehis friends, he would state, that no proposi- viously wanted. tions for the nomination of commissioners Lord King said, he would wish to put it to repair to Morlaix, to negociate an ex. fairly to the sinceriiy of ministers, whechange of prisoners of war, had been made ther they intended, when the negociation by the French government, or refused by was at an end, to produce the papers as his Majesty's ministers.
well as the dates. Lord Holland was not yet satisfied with No answer was given from the Ministhe noble baron's answer. Would he con- terial side. sent lo lay the dates of the negociation The Earl of Derby said, that the country before parliament? These, surely, could could never be satisfied if the question not disclose any thing that might, by pos- was evaded. He believed that it would sibility, prejudice the negociation. They appear to the gentlemen below the barmight, indeed, disclose the culpable neg. (a loud cry of Order, order!) On the lect of one of his Majesty's ministers. The noble lord repeating the expression, manner in which the proposition was re- Lord Morton moved that the House ceived, convinced him that there was se should be cleared. Strangers consequently rious ground for the charge in the French were ordered to withdraw. We underpapers. He had another proposal to make. stand that afterwards the motion for dates He would agree to withdraw his motion, was negatived by a majority of 37 10 29. if ministers would consent to an Address to bis Majesty, praying him to order to
HOUSE OF COMMONS. be laid before the House the copies of any communications from the French govern
Thursday, March 22. ment relating to the exchange of prisoners (Vote of THANKS TO Sir Robert of war, since September 1809, together Wilson.) Mr. Hutchinson began by ubwith the dates of the answers thereto. serving, that after the angry and hostile
Lord Mulgrave having declined this pro- discussions which had occupied a great posal, the House divided. For the mo- portion of the present session, it was with tion 27; against it 39; majority 12. On much satisfaction that he rose to address the re-admission of strangers,
them on a subject, upon the main point of Earl Spencer was speaking in favour of which there was not likely to occur any lord Holland's motion for an Address to difference of opinion; for he felt confident his Majesty, praying for the dates of those that there would exist but one, within and papers. He contended that communi. without their walls, as to the merit of the cating the dates could not be attended gallant officer, and the small corps, whose with any inconvenience, but that it might services it had fallen to his lot to submit convey most important information to that to the consideration of the House. There House.
were two questions of which he begged The Earl of Essex also supported the gentlemen, on the present occasion, if posmotion. He could not see any inconveni- sible, to divest their minds :--the one, the ence in such production, and he thought perilous situation of Spain and Portugal at if there was a delicacy on the other side this moment; the other, the wisdom or VOL. XVI.
irnpolicy of having at all (or in the man- bation of the governinent of Oporto. In ner in which we have) interfered in the December, being apprized of the defeats war in these countries. We are not to which the different Spanish armies had undervalue the importance of military ser- sustained, and of the alarm which very gevices achieved in the Peninsula, from their nerally pervaded Spain and Portugal, he haring failed in rescuing it from the grasp decided upon advancing towards the fronof the enemy—that is, from their not hav- tier, and having crossed the Daneo, took ing succeeded in accomplishing that which up a position in the province of Salamanca, no rational, certainly no military, mind where the enemy shortly arrived with a could have expected from such means. corps, which at last amounted to about Neither are we to consider ourselves as 12,000 men, and which, at all times, was pledged to approve the principle of the more than double the force of sir R. Wilwar, because we confer the distinguished son, whose corps never exceeded 3,000. honour of the approbation of this House Without entering into a detail of operaupon the troops employed in that service. tions in this quarter, one cannot avoid There was nothing further from his inten- admiring the boldness and judgment with tion than to depreciate, by invidious com- which this forward movement was conparison, the merit of any officer, however ceived and executed. The ever to be lahumble or elevated his rank. He had mented sir John Moore had but recently long been greatly anxious to find this sealed by his death his victory at Cocountry disposed at last to make what runna; his brave troops had already might be considered a fair military exer- reached the shores of Britain. The few tion_such as, he was sorry to say, he scattered English regiments which recould not agree had been attempted, even mained in Portugal, had hastily been consince the commencement of the war in centrated at Lisbon, expecting hourly to 1793. With this feeling, he had been de- be obliged to abandon the country, at the sirous to see at the head of the country, a distance of nearly 200 miles from sir R. government both willing and capable of Wilson, whose fate they awaited with the calling forth and directing such energies. utmost anxiety, and whose daring conduct With whatever jealousy he should feel it they could not but view with admiration. to be his duty towards any government It was at a moment thus critical and apnarrowly to examine into the policy of all palling, that he came to the decision of such Expeditions, their objects, and the affording a sigral example of undaunted means employed to effect them, and cer- firmness to the Portuguese and Spanish tainly never more disposed to scrutinize nations, and at the most imminent risk in. than at the present moment; still enter- terposed his small corps to the further protaining a small esteem and regard for the gress of the enemy in that quarter; when, profession of arms; estimating highly the by a most judicious disposition of his zeal and value of our troops in both ser- troops, he was enabled effectually to devices; recollecting that they seldom or ceive the enemy as to his great inferiority ever fail to accomplish their part in of numbers, and by frequent well-timed, the most brilliant manner; being also continued sallies, as by the most gallant ready to make due allowance for the defence of posts, he kept him much on the embarrassments under which government alert-foiled his projects—withheld a part plan and direct such operations — with of a province abundant in resources, and this disposition, he had come to the kept open the communication between the consideration of such questions, but with northern and southern provinces of Spain. the mosi anxious wish to applaud and | At the latter end of April, gen. Laplisse, reward. As to the present one, he hoped | who commanded the French corps in Sait will be decided solely by its own merits. lamanca, having moved upon the Aguida, -Sir Robert Wilson having arrived at in order to combine a movement with Oporto in September, 1808, was enabled, Marshal Soult, at that time advancing in by the December following, to raise, arm, another direction upon Oporto, was driven and discipline a corps, called the Royal by sir Robert Wilson from the bridge St. Lusitanian Legion, with which he took Tipies, on that river, which he had occu. the field within the short space of three pied, as opening his march into Portugal. months, having previously obtained, for It happened, however, that this general, his zeal, alacrity, and talent in organizing shortly after, abandoned his original plan this corps, and for his earnestness in the of moving on Oporto, and proceeded to public cause, the confidence and appro- the southward to join Marshal Victor. During his progress, he was pursued and be attributed to a manœuvre ordered by harrassed by the legion with some loss; lord Wellington, and undertaken by sir but the junction with Victor was effected. R. Wilson at the head of his corps, by Sir Robert Wilson now received orders to which in a masterly manner, he threatened join lord Wellington, which he did, hav.. the enemy's flank, as apears from the ing first placed bis corps in a very strong French accounts—(which'the honourable position at Alcantara. And it is but jus- gentleman here cited from the Moniteur). tice to the corps to mention, in passing, The importance to the allied army of this that, commanded by colonel Maine, in retrograde movement, on the part of the the absence of sir Róbert Wilson, it gal- enemy, needs no comment. Immediately lantly and successfully defended itself after, lord Wellington having retired from when attacked at Alcantara, by a very | Talavera, in the hope of destroying Soult's superior force under Marshal Victor—for corps, in which expectation he was disapthis spirited conduct, colonel Maine and pointed by the advance of the French arthe corps received the thanks of Marshal my under Joseph Buonaparté, sir R. WilBeresford. (Here the honourable gentle son being again separated from the allied men read the thanks from the Gazette.) army, and compelled to make a circuitHaving joined lord Wellington, sir ous retreat through a difficult country, Robert Wilson was entrusted with the fell in with (in the passes of Banos) one command of the van of Marshal Beres of the French divisions, where, though ulford's army, and although that part of timately defeated, he very gallantly disthe allied army had not an opportunity puted the passage of the enemy for seveof coming up with the enemy, he received ral hours. The best commendation of the the thanks of the marshal for the manner conduct of his corps, and of his own perin which he had conducted the advance. sonal exertions in that action, will be Upon the expulsion of Soult, sir R. Wilson found in the enemy's report of that affair. again reassumed the command of his le- (Here the hon. gent. read the account of gion, and, with the rank and emolument the battle of Banos, as given by the eneof brigadier-general, composed the ad- my, the duke of Elchingen.) This action vance to lord Wellington's army on his it is material to observe, sir R. Wilson march to Talavera. Here he should might have avoided, for he had already merely state, that at one moment of that passed the road by which the French had advance, sir R. Wilson was within three to advance, and being apprized of his apleagues of Madrid, having had frequent proach in this quarter, he retraced his skirmishes with the enemy, who by their steps, and interposed himself to the march own dispatches, appear to have been con- of this corps. In this conduct the House siderably alarmed by the movements of will discover the same mind which actuthis corps. (Here the honourable gentle ated sir R. Wilson during the whole of his man read several passages from the Moni- operations in the province of Sali anca. lear, to the above effect.). From this point We knew he had not the means of giving he was recalled, in consequence of the effectual resistance to the enemy, but he expected battle of Talavera, and by forced felt also that he could embarrass and re. marches he was enabled, early in the ac- tard him. That some estimation may be tion, to take up a position in the rear of the formed of the importance of the general enemy-a position of considerable risk to services of this officer, he begged leave to himself, as the whole of the French force state, that the government of Oporto made intervened between his small corps and the him a very liberal offer of a pension of allied army; but one from which he could 1,000l. a year, which, with great proprihave considerably annoyed them, had ety, he declined, and of this circumstance ihey retreated in that direction. After the late secretary of state is fully apprized. wards, by a movement along the enenıy's By his advance upon Almeida and Rodriright flank during the night, he succeeded go, he rescued stores and property to a in joining lord Wellington early in the considerable amount; and by his advancmorning of the following day. Gentlemen ed position, contributed to prevent the are aware that, by his lordship’s dispatch, speedy evacuation of Portugal. He (Mr. it appears that ihe enemy did not retire H.) had thus, with as much brevity as the from the position which he had occupied nature of the subject would admit, put the after the battle of Talavera, till towards House in possession of the services of this the end of the second day after the action, gallant officer and his corps. They have and his retrograde movement then may already received the unqualified approbation both of the Spanish and Portuguese , With this impression deeply engraven on governments, as also of our ministers, both my mind, I feel it to be iny duty, not in the Peninsula and at home; and he more towards the gallant officer than to begged leave to add, as a most flattering the enipire, to make the statement with and decisive proof of their merits, that it which I at present trouble the House, and bas fallen to their lot to make prisoners of which, when gentlemen recollect the times French officers, upon whom had been con- in which they live, will, I trust, not be ferred brevels of the legion of honour, for considered inopportune..Mr. Hutchintheir conduct against sir R. Wilson and son then concluded with' moring “ That his corps. I hope, said Mr. Hutchinson, sir R. Wilson and the troops under his I shall not be told, that there is no pre command, by their advance into Spain, in cedent for what I ask. I answer that the December 1808, at a moment of great petimes require we should make one. Why ril and alarm; by their resolute persevehave you thanked for the victories of Vi- rance in remaining in presence of a very miera, Corunna, and Talavera ? Not be superior force until the month of May folcause they beat down the power of France, lowing, and subsequentiy while formor rescued your allies from her grasp. ing a part of the British army in which Neither did you send forth these small corps sir R. Wilson served as brigadier general comparatively to the force with which they under the command of viscount Wellinghad ultimately to contend, most inade ton, having hereby rendered important quate, with the hope of expectation that and distinguished services ; Resolved, they could have restored the balance of that such services have merited and do power, or driven France within her proper hereby receive the thanks of this House, limits. It was for the example that you and that Mr. Speaker be requested to sent forth your chosen few. Sir R. Wilson communicate this resolution to brigadier felt this, and admirably well acted up to general sir R. Wilson accordingly." your own principles. I have not called The Chancellor of the Eachequer expresihe attention of the House to the services ed a most anxious wish that the honouraof an officer young in campaigning, or in- ble gentleman would see the propriety experienced in the toils and perils of war; of withdrawing his present motion; that for though yet young, sir R. Wilson has gentleman had himself confessed in passed seventeen years in almost constant, he course of his speech, that the meacertainly very active and distinguished sure was altogether unprecedented. He service, which he has ever ardently sought, was afraid that that objection was in itself even in the most distant and unfriendly insurmountable. The merits of sir R. elimes. I entertain no prejudice; I join Wilson's services could not for a moment in none of the vulgar calumnies against be disputed ; as far as they went they the grent ruler of the French nation, who were deserving of every encomium, as I consider as the greatest statesman, and evincing, in no ordinary degree, zeal, the ablest general of ancient or modern skill, enterprize, conduct, vigour, prompt. times; and I highly esteem the nation atness, valour, perseverance, and, in short, whose head he has had the good fortune every military excellence; and would to be placed. I make this declaration, in the hon. gent. put the House under the the hope that the opinion which I am unpleasant and distressing necessity of about to give may not be ascribed to that putting a negative upon a vote of thanks Þesotted illiberality, unfortunately too pre to so meritorious an oficer? Great as the valent. I have little doubt, then, that services were in themselves, he was apshould it please providence to continue prehensive that their scale was such as to Buonaparte a few years longer, in the pos- debar them from the honour proposed. session of that power which he has hither Of all the successes in Spain, Talavera to wielded, but to the destruction of his was the only one which was thought enemies, and which power is every hour worthy of the distinction of the thanks of increasing in a most alarming degree, we that House, and even with respect to that shall have to contend with him for our splendid service, there had been a differ. very existence as a nation. I am there- ence of opinion with respect to the justice fore convinced that it is our first duty, and of its claims. He trusted that the bon. consistent with our best interests, to che- gent. would be prevailed on to withdraw rish and encourage, nay, studiously to his motion, otherwise he would be reluctseek out talent and military enthusiasm, antly compelled to give his vote in the wherever they shall manifest themselves. negative.