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these papers were of a different descripc | might not he be supposed to feel from it, tion. Was that the case of Cuesta? he upon general principles, when he saw the had heard the noble lord's opinion loudly private letter exposed, and representing proclaimed as that of the army, and he him, as intriguing for command ? Consihad also stated that it did not affect der the possible consequences of this him in that country now! The weak- unadvised publication io the duke of ness and decrepitude of Cuesta's under- Albuquerque from the impression it might standing had been dwelt upon ; but how make on the minds of the people of Cales. would that bear hereafier in justification Might it not be injurious not only to its of those campaigns which another oppor- defence but also to our own interests tunity would be afforded to the noble there, as well as to the cause of Spain lord to enter upon? We had been told The noble marquis disdained all reserve: before this, of Cuesta's army being much on other points, and he (earl Grey) was superior to any other Spanish army that now glad one paper had been produced, had yet taken the field. We heard as we could thereby disclaim ali sbare in nothing then objectionable in his charac. a barbarous mode of warfare. Seven ter. Nothing of that kind was heard till hundred French prisoners, it is stated very now. That night he was arraigned of all coolly, were thrown into the Minho. sorts of follies and faults, and of no less Possibly this was an act of retaliation; than treachery. The man was not present but a matter so horrid made it indispená to speak for himself: but the sentence of sible, that we should have clearly shewn sondemnation was to be passed upon him it to be a retaliation. If ministers with all severity. The noble lord had called thought fit to publish it, they should have Cuesta's army the best disciplined army told the circumstances. This was the of Spain. Was it a slight merit in Cuesta first statement which France could lay to recruit and discipline that force ? Re- hold of on such a subject. France might collect the circumstances of Spain after say, there is your document, and you the dispersion of the two armies of Cas. are not able to show why the thing was tanos and the duke of Infantado;. there done. The effect this might have on the was nothing left in the field, this war was obvious, on your own countryCuesta collected the best army! Grant- men in prison, and on others in the pes ing, however, that he was unfit to com- ninsula, whom the French may take. mand, was it quite fair, now that he is Though the French have often been highremoved, to make these heavy charges ly censurable in the course of the war, against him, and the same too against yet we know that their army has retained Venegas ? The noble marquis says, Cu- many of the honourable feelings of old · esta is not now in command. Granted; France. This they had shewn at an early but it was known to him (earl Grey) that period of the late war, when they refused Cuesta was then at Cales, and probably to carry into execution the sanguinary contributing to the defence of that import- decree for giving no quarter to prisoners, after all that had
happened in other parts ton, too, had told them how well they had of the country, who could say what treated our soldiers after the battle of might be the consequences of thus re- Talavera. To advert often to this recent nouncing Cuesta? The noble lord had attention to the laws of civilized war not sufficiently defended himself against which might give France a pretext for the charge of those (perhaps unfounded) departing from this system, was most accusations of Cuesta." He said was it not unwise. There was another ca e meno material to know the duke of Albuquerque's tioned, of a French officer and some men opinions? Perbaps
Perbaps not. If,' indeed, applying to a Spaniard for concealment, the assertions generally of officers of rank in order to take a Spanish place by suta in the Spanish service were stated, there prise; this person let them in, and aswas no 'necessity for the production of a sinated them all. The noble lord insisted private confidential letter, but might it not that there was one part of the information make some difference with respect to the contained in these papers, which it was duke of Albuquerque, that though he unquestionably most rash and imprudent toudly proclaimed his opinion, he was in his Majesty's ministers to divulge, and endeavouring secretly to obtain the com- that was a passage relative to the governor mand for himself? Might not that have a of Avila ; that passage, if translated into prejudicial effect towards him? And what French, must shew that the governor of VOL. XVI,
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Avila had betrayed his trust; and if that ters had, in his opinion, been guilty of a
Friday, March 30.
Viseu, March 6tb, 1810. own part, and he had no doubt but the Sir; I have had the honour of renoble marquis formed this wish from his ceiving your letter of the 2d of February, in own opinion at least, that such publication which you enclosed the Resolutions of the would tend to justify his conduct. At the House of Commons of the Ist of February, same time, however, that he did this, it expressing the approbation of the House behoved him, when be was about to die of my conduct, and of that of the general vulge and publish to the world what had officers, officers, and troops composing the passed beiween other persons and the army under my command, in the battle British government, to be on his guard, fought at Talavera on the 27th and 28th of and not promulgate any matters or cir- July last. In obedience to the Orders of cumstances on which the fate of others the House, I have communicated to the might be implicated, not only as to their general officers, officers, and troops, this characters, but even as to their lives. honourable testimony of the approbation This necessary caution had, in his opinion, of the House; and I beg leave to adopt been greatly neglected in many parts of this mode of expressing to the House the the inforınation given to the House and high sense which I entertain of the honour to the world, in the papers now before which they have conferred upon me, and their lordships; and ihe House had no upon the army under my command, and other mode of putting a stop to such pro- to assure them that I shall endeavour to ceeding in future but by agreeing to the merit their approbation by a zealous disnotion of his noble friend. There was charge of my duty. I must likewise reonly one point more on which he would quest you, sir, to accept my thanks for the trouble their lordships. In a former de. kindness towards me which you have bate the nub'e marquis had justified the manifested in the manner in which you conduct of lord Wellington at Talavera, have conveyed to me the pleasure of the by stating that general. Venegas had been House; a kindness of which I had already stopt in his progress by an order from received repeated proofs during the pegovernment, for which the noble marquis riod that I' had the honour of being a could not account; but it had since turned member of the House of Commons. I out that general Venegas had been placed have the honour to be, &c. WELLINGTON." in a very disagreeable situation, and that [EXPEDITION TO THE Scheldt.] The the irue cause of his not advancing was Order of the Day for resuming the adfrom the intelligence he had received, journed debate on the policy and conduct thu lord Wellington would not be able to of the Expedition to the Scheldt having proceed from want of provision. With been read, regard to the papers in question, minis- Sir Thomas Turton rose to submit his
opinion on the subject to the House. | draw off the forces of the enemy, concenThe hon. baronet observed, that after the trated in any one particular place, for the very long and able discussion which this accomplishment of some great purpose. subject had undergone, he should only be He would ask, whether this had been the wasting the time of that House were he result of the Expedition to the Scheldt: to detain them long. It could not be sup- Was there a single man drawn from the posed that he could add any thing to the Danube? No.--It was said, that if the arguments already adduced in favour of army of the enemy was not drawn off, the Resolutions of the noble lord, nor that others were prevented from joining them. he could analyse the evidence with better This, however, was proved to be another effect than that noble lord had done. It fallacious subterfuge, as it was well known would be necessary, however, before he by ministers themselves, that on the arrival stated his opinions upon the great ques of our troops at Walcheren, the Austrians tion, to premise, that the responsibility had been annihilated, and their cause lost attached not alone to the noble lord who beyond the possibility of salvation. The had been at the head of the war depart. next consideration for the House was, ment, but to all the ministers, still more whether the object was commensurate with than to those who had the command of the the risk; and whether the sacrifices we naval or the military part of the Expedi. made were not greater than the advantion; in short, that censure was imputable tages we had attained. The second obto those persons who composed the cabi- ject of the Expedition was stated to be net, and that every man who voted on the capture of Antwerp; the destruction that occasion would be equally responsible of the basin of Flushing; of the arsenals for the consequences of that vote. In and of the fleet which was lying in the considering the question, it appeared to Scheldt and building at Antwerp. What him as branching into three heads: First, then were the means adapted to accomwhat was the object of the Expedition? plish the end ? It was natural to think, Secondly, what means had een used to that, on such an occasion, ministers, in carry the object into effect? and Thirdly, deciding on the expediency of the mea. whether ministers had been justified in sure, would have consulted experienced their retention of Walcheren? With person, on whose judgment they could respect to the first question, much stress rely, and in whose opinions they could had been laid by gentlemen opposite on place confidence. They did consult such the importance of the object--the pos- men, and five generals of the first respecsession of the island; and it had been tability and of known military character, stated by a right hon. gent. (the ex-secre- declared themselves adverse to the plan, tary for foreign affairs, that the Austrian as they considered the risk to be engovernment considered it of high im- countered too great for the advantages portance, as making a diversion in their that might possibly accrue. Notwithfavour—This assertion was attempted to be standing this, however, the noble lord proved by the production of a paper for (Castlereagh) without consulting the earl which a right bon. gent. on the other side of Chatham, the Commander in Chief, or of the House (Mr. Canning) had moved. even asking a question of the second in That paper had, however, when brought command, sir E. Coote, dispatched the forward, contradicted the statement which Expedition, the greatest that ever left the had been made, and thus the strongest shores of this country, without plan, whilst argument that had been used in favour of the superior officers were destitute of that the plan was subverted. The hon. gene confidence which was the soul of energy, ral (Craufurd) had argued that if the troops and the only basis upon which the hope had been sent into the North of Germany, of success could rest. When sir David it would have been attended with no bene- Dundas was consulted by the noble lord ficial effect; but he would put it to that in the month of March, his lordship said hon. general, whether, if the army had the object was Flushing, and stated that been sent to the North of Gerinany, and he had intelligence of there being eight some attempt was made in that direction, sail of the enemy's ships which might be he supposed there would have been so destroyed by a comparatively small force; many in the killed and wounded list as and the answer given to the noble ford were now in that of the dead and sick? If was, that there was no force in a state to a diversion was to be made in favour of be employed for that purpose. Here our allies, its object' must have been to then was a confession that out of a standing army of 105,000 men, an account of circumstance proved the weakness of miwhich was on the table of the House, there nisters in relying on the evidence of inwere not 15,000 10 send upon the Expe- formers, who were always ready to indition. When this fruitless Expedition crease facilities and remove difficulties, but 'was at length determined on, sir Richard whose information on the present occasion Strachan was chosen to take the command, had in every instance proved false. He which he did with the greatest reluctance, now came to the question of the retention assigning as a reason that he knew it could of Walcheren.—No doubt his Majesty's not succeed. It was somewhat extraor. ministers regretted the many melancholy dinary his majesty's ministers did not, calamities which occurred in that pestilen. when they found this sentiment prevail tial island, and sympathized with the dis. with the gallant Admiral, entrust the com- tresses of those unfortunate individuals mand to somebody else. He knew the whose misfortunes and sufferings were so situa!ion of the country from personal ob- great; but they were not the less responservation and was well aware that any sible for their conduct, nor the less culpa. man asfixing a flag on the steeple of Mid- ble for exposing so brave an army to such dleburgh, would, in the course of one certain destruction. Here the hon. bart. week, collect from the various depots, for took a feeling survey of the many disasseveral miles round, an army of 10,000 trous consequences of the troops remaiamen. The noble lord, too, should have ing in the island of Walcheren, and refer. been well aware that there was no chance red to the letters of sir Eyre Coote, and of destroying the fleet in the Scheldt, as, other documents, for a description of the on the least alarm, they could have run unhappy circumstances attending that imup above Antwerp. And, in addition to politic measure, the retention of that island this, he was told by sir R. Strachan, that after the principal objects of the Expedithere was no plan of the navigation of the tion had faiied. And now having gone river ; and that, without such a plan, it through a detail, which from repetition would be impossible to get up without a must have become tedious, he would put pilot on board each ship, which it was im. it to any twelve men of common sense, possible to procure. And yet after all whether from the evidence before the these opinions, the noble lord sent out a House any argument could be adduced to fleet of thirty-three ships of war, and the justify ministers in risquing an army on greatest force that had ever left England such an occasion. There was another upon a similar occasion. This Expedition point however to which he had to advert, sailed under a commander in chief who and which he thought called for the inter, knew nothing of Antwerp; who knew ference of the House. It was the common nothing of the opposition he had to en- yourse of an individual who was accused counter, and who had in fact to wait for of a breach of privilege, to go out of the information till he got to the place of his House, and leave the question to the disdestination, while, at the same time, the cussion of those who had to judge of the • naval commander declared bis conviction charge. But if a man was to give a yote that the attempt would fail. The instruc- in favour of his own acquittal, it was contions given to the commander in chief trary to every principle of justice.- His were, that the troops were to land,
Majesty's ministers now stood in that into effect as much of the object of the view; they stand accused of the most seriExpedition already detailed as possible, ous offences, and he trusted they would to garrison Walcheren, and the remainder themselves see the force and the equity of of the forces were to return. So that even the remark. Their situation was some. supposing there were no difficulties to en- thing similar to a man standing at the bar counter, by the time the troops arrived of a court of justice, who at the moment at Antwerp, calculating on the deductions the jury were about to decide upon his which must necessarily take place in gar- fate, jumps into the box and insisis upon risoning Walcheren, South Beveland and dictating the decision to which they should the other, places they passed through, come. He would ask his Majesty's mi- . their numbers would not exceed 18,500 nisters whether, if they were acquitted by men, and that force would have to contend la majority equal to their own number, they against the army of the enemy, which,' would call that a justification, or whether, from documents on the table, it was proved, in conscience, they could feel themselves contained a force of 26,000 men, amongst exonerated from all further imputation by whom were 10,000 veteran troops. This such an acquittal?-Was it not sufficient that there were so many others in the Netherlands, and from the very banks House, who were in some measure bound of the Scheldt. Therefore, if there ever to support their patrons, without them- was a time for this country to make a selves lending their aid, and not only as- great exertion, it was at the time this sisting to acquit, but actually approving Expedition took place, which was not their own conduct? He would put it to only a great diversion for our ally, the their own honour, whether they ought not Enıperor of Austria, but also was that, to retire.-(A laugh was heard on the mi- which we were called upon to make from nisterial bench.) He knew what was our own situation, cost what it would. meant by that laugh-it was as much as Besides it was the bounden duty of goto say, “Would you do so ?” He would vernment not alone to provide means of do so; and should feel ashamed to act preservation in case of attack, but to de. otherwise. The hon. member expressed stroy those means of attack, which the an anxious hope that the House would do enemy was known to be preparing, and their duty upon the present occasion, and by that enterprize to remove altogether convince the country that they would not the danger of our having to contend suffer the blood and the treasure of the for existence upon our own soil. The country to be wasted with impunity, in hon. general then desired they would look the execution of plans of iinpotence, cal to France with all her gigantic powers at culated only to end in disgrace and na. presentato look at her in possession of tional ruin. The hon. baronet, after makihe Netherlands--to look at her in possesing some further observations, in which he sion of the Flemish ports, and then to look attribuled the losses and disasters that had at the Narrow Seas, and to recollect that taken place to the disunions in his Ma. Holland was not now that Holland that jesty's councils, who were waiting for the once could and did preserve the balance eastern star (marquis Wellesley) to illumine of Europe, and then fairly to lay their the dark horizon, concluded by support. hands upon their hearts and say, if a going the Resolutions of the noble lord. vernment consulting the security of the
Mr. Canning explained that it was not country were not bound to undertake such he who moved for the paper alluded to by an enterprize as that which had been unthe hon. baronet as explanatory of the dertaken against the enemy's alarming wishes of Austria ; nor did he vindicate and growing force in the Scheldt? It must the Expedition on that ground of conti- have long since been seen that if France nental diversion.
was allowed to keep possession of the New General Loftus said, that he had listened therlands for any length of time, it would with the same degree of attention to the not be in the power of all Europe to set hon. baronet's speech as he had to all that any bounds to the progress of her arms. had been advanced by the hon. gentlemen We had seen the United Provinces fall who had previously spoken upon the pre- under her power, and France had the sent important subject, and was convinced command of all the means and resources that the more this subject was discussed, of that power, at present she had carried provided it was with that temper and pa. her arms into Germany, and extended her iience that had hitherto, so much to the conquests there as far as she pleased. credit of the House, been manifested Her great object now was, to possess herthroughout the debate, the more the coun- self of the command of the Narrow Seas, try would see that ministers were bound so that our trade should neither go out to undertake such an enterprise as that nor return, but at her pleasure. It was which had been undertaken against the almost fatal to England, that France great and growing force of the enemy in should be in possession of the Flemish. the Scheldt. But to consider the impor- ports, for if any accident was to befal our tant question fairly, they must look to the fleets at sea, that great extent of coast, actual situation of Europe at the time this our north-east coast, would be exposed Expedition was undertaken, particularly naked and open to the enemy. The failure. to the situation of the French and Austrian of the Expedition led him to call upon armies on the Danube, and the severe ministers to pay attention to that north check the French had met with, which east coast, particularly to Yarmouth and obliged Buonaparté to lay upon his arms the neglected batteries there, also to for such a' length of time, waiting for rein- the neglected batteries at Lowestoff; for if forcements from the interior of France, the enemy possessed himself of these pofrom the interior of Holland, from the sitions it would be difficult to remove him