Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

ing destroyed the aristocracy ultimately an armament, under different circumestablished a military despotism. There stances, and which had failed in the great were many points introduced in the justific object of its equipment, was a justification eation of the noble lord (Castlereagla) of the policy which led to the Expedition. which he could by no means admit. He It was to be recollected that the propos could not acquiesce in the argument, that sition of lord Nelson did not embrace any because upon general views of policy thing beyond the capture of Flushing, our allies ought to be supported, and that which he considered might have been there was at the moment a large disposable taken with 5,000 men, while the Expediforce, therefore the country was to en. tion planned by bis Majesty's ministers gage in Expeditions which put to hazard was one of a great and extensive nature, some of its most vital interests ; much embracing many objects, to which the less could he admit the doctrine, that be possession of Flushing was but auxiliary, cause there was no immediate part upon but in all which objects this extensive exthe continent in which a British army terprize failed. That Expedition was could have come in contact with Austria, not only tbe greatest that ever left this therefore we were bound to send an Ex-country, but it had also this remarkable pedition to another point, where the dan- peculiarity, that there was not one naval ger and the difficulties were such as to or military officer who had given their render the object either as a diversion for sanction to the project. But then it was our allies, or for the accomplishnient of concluded by the noble lord, that the a national benefit, almost wholly im. House of Commons had no right to discuss practicable. He could not recognize any the plan or to decide against it, upon the claims of policy or justice which made it ground that the ulterior object of the arimperative upon any country to engage rangement was not attempted to be put in assistance to any ally where the prog- into execution. He basi assumed to limit pect of suecess to thepower to be supported the whole combination of the arrangement was equivocal and precarious, but the in- within a certain point, and then contended jury to yourself certain and extensive. In that the only question for the House to appreciating the propriety of the princi-consider, was the nature of the impediple by which they were called upon to ments which opposed and prevented its make a diversion in favour of an ally, his accomplishment. Surely such a course Majesty's ministers were bound to consi- was not one calculated to bring the sub. dar, first, the extent of the assistance which ject fully into view, in order to ascertain, the country was able to afford ; and next first, whether the policy was right--next the nature of the risks to which such an whether the arrangement was proper; and effort was exposed. Having said thus lastly, to discuss the obstructions which much upon the general prineiple by which contravened the object. The honourable the policy of that country ought to he ac- member then proceeded, from various tuated, he had now to apply bimself to parts of the evidence, to prove that no adethe particolar merits of the Expedition to quate provision was made to obtain posthe Scheldt. In considering that transac- session of the banks of the Scheldt, so as tion it was a matter of regret that it be- to enable the fleet to proceed up towards came the duty of that House to discuss Antwerp, a circumstance which rendered operations with which, from the habits the enterprize abortive from its very comand pursuits of many of its members, mencement. With respect to the argument they could not be supposed to be very of the right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning,) reconversant. But it being the province lative to the dreadful sickness which affectof ministers to advise and direct military ed our army, he (Mr. B.) could not admit expeditions, it of course became the duty its application to the present question. It of that House to watch over the manner was most true, that there were cases where in which their arrangements were carried the prevalence of contagion in a possession into effect. That was a duty, however would never influence the government to difficult in the practice, which the con- think of abandoning such possession. It stitution demanded from that House. It was so with our West India islands, and was in his opinion no argument to say, sometimes with Gibraltar. Still its applithat because upon a former occasion it was cation to this Expedition could not be addeemed expedient to effect the conquest mitted, because no analogy existed. There of Flushing with a certain force, therefore was a vast distinction between that policy the mere acquisition of that place by wbich should insluce a government to retain, even under all the disadvantages of manding importance. Was it necessary great mortality, situations long in our pos- for him to refer that House to the increase session, with which many interests were ed and increasing marine of France ? connected, and the conquest of a new Was it necessary for him to dilate in that place equally contagious, but particularly assembly upon the facility which the ports if that conquest was made at the very pe- and arsenals in the Seheldt atlörded, for riod wben such contagion became inost the consolidation of that naval power ! malignant. The question then was, whe. But, though his Majesty's government ther on the whole, the Expedition des could not suffer such a danger to the secu. served not approbation, but justification or rity of this country to escape their con. censure. And he should not be deterred, templation: was there not something in by the apprehension of the consequences the period at which this Expedition was which might follow from doing his duty. I determined on, which must of itself con He agreed that bis Majesty's ministers vince them that the nument had then arhad not been actuated by an intention of rived for combining with our own security sacrificing the army or the treasure of the a most powerful effort for the general country. Even the weakest men would interests of Europe? What, he would ask, at the head of the government be incapa- would have been the decision of the coun. ble of entertaining any such intention. try, if it bad seen its government sunk in This species of defence, however, excited a cold and torpid inactivity at that period his suspicion, because it shewed that the when the storm was gathering in Gerministers had no ground to stand upon. many; when Austria was determined to The House was bound to exercise a con- make olie bold ettört to resist the unprintroul orer all administrations, and what. cipled exactions of the enemy of her indeever might be the future consequences of pendence? In such a state of things was his vote, however painful a duty he had Great Britain to continue regardless beto perform, he should still perforin it. He cause she was not a sufferer-1o be indifhad nothing to do with any ulterior mea- | terent because she was safe? Having sure, but he did think that the House then decided to co-operate with Austria, would abdicate all its functions, if disre- where did true policy point at as the garding the general voice of the country, theatre for our exertions ? Francé we it could be warped by any consideration, knew wished to regenerate her nara! from giving to that calamitous failure its greatness, and nature, combined with art, appropriate character, and from pro- had fitted out the Scheldt as the most fornouncing its censure upon the conduct of midable position for extending her marithose who advised it.

time power. Whether they looked to see Mr. Peel observed, that it was his inten- curity from invasion, or to the protection tion shortly to state the general grounds of our commerce, ministers must have felt upon which be was induced to support the necessity of making an attempt upon the amendment of the hon. general (Crau- those sources of our annoyance. Could -furd) in preference to the rigorous Resolu- they have shut their eyes to a danger that tions subunitted by the noble lord (Por- was so palpable? Could they say that chester.) His first reason for that pre- the cause of our apprehension was remote, ference was, that he found it established or that its extent was exaggerated? Supby the evidence upon the table, that his pose that very danger realized; suppose Majesty's ministers had determined upon this House now sitting in judgment upon - that armament with the fairest prospect the ministers who would have so sacrificed of success. The right hon. gent. (Mr. the interests of their country, and disreBathurst) had argued, that ministers were garded the duties they owed their sonot justified to risque such dangers as that vereign With what justice, with what Expedition was exposed to, merely be indignation, would the hon. gent. (Mr. cause the country, at that moment, had at Whitbread), who, with such zeal and taits command a very large disposable lents, talents which he (Mr. P.) would force. That the safety of such a force not presume to depreciate by the bumble should not be committed, but for objects tribute of his panegyric, concluded the delikely to be effected, and with advantages bate of last night, call them to answer for commensurate to the hazard. He (Mr. such a manifest dereliction of their public Peel) admitted the political axiom, but trust? Would he be satisfied with their denied its application. These were ob- defence or their extenuation, because they jects, which to him, were of the most com- answered that Lillo and Liefkenshoeik were in a state of preparation and defence ; him literally in his course as usual, of or that the difficulties in the execution of taking the farthest way about the nearest the task bad deterred them from the ne- way home. But some remarks had fallen cessary experiment? If the House was froin that right hon. gent, which he prepared to give its sanction to such doc- should take leave to answer. That right trine, if this tame and spiritless calculation hon. gent. had said that the late Expedition of the risk became the criterion of national was of such a character that even success enterprize, then at once let it obliterate could not justify it. Why, it was a little from the proud pages of its history, the consolatory to think, that in such a senti. , memory and the mention of all its heroic ment the right hon, gent. enjoyed his deeds. Then, if in the beginning of the characteristic singularity, and he was Austrian struggle, the right hon, gent. ad quite persuaded, that had the Expedition mitted this country should attend to the been successful, the right hon. gent, precepts of her ally, upon what principle would have stood completely alone in any was it that it should refuse to listen to her, opposition which he might have thought at the moment of her depression, when, proper to make to its policy. Butas to the though her spirit was impaired, it still was right hon. gent.'s idea that the object of not subdued In her vacillation between the Expedition was to catch at any popus peace and war, when it was in evidence larity by the acquisition of a few ships, that she desired the retention of Walche- he assured the right hon. gent. that he Ten, could his Majesty's government be was quite inistaken. Those alone could justified in removing the only fulcrum attend to the idea, who were not aware of upon which she rested for support ? Sen- the important ends, with a view to which sible of the calamities. our army was suf- this Expedition had been undertaken. fering, and regretting it as sincerely as any Unfortunately those ends were not obtain. man in the empire, yet could it be sup- ed, and the Expedition had failed, But posed, that any motive but that of the most did it become the right hon. gent. to atcommanding and positive importance tach the character of incapacity to an adwould have induced his Majesty's go- ministration, because its Expedition had vernment to defer the evacuation of Wal- failed ? For surely if such a criterion cheren

were established, the right hon, gent, and Mr. Windham spoke at length in favour his colleagues could not stand very high of the original Resolutions.

in public estimation, while the Expeditions The Chancellor of the Exchequer felt that, to the Dardanelles and to Buenos Ayres, notwithstanding the exhausted state of the were at all in our recollection. [A cry of discussion, of the House, and of himself, hear, hear, from the Opposition Benches. he was bound to submit his opinion upon The right hon. gent. submitted that it was the subject. Although be could not hope fair in him to refer to those events, beto command attention upon a question so cause gentlemen in a case of this nature ably canvassed already, yet it was due to to consider comparative merits. the question, to the House, and to himself, [No, no, from the Opposition Benches.] that he should not allow the debate to con- But he contended yes, yes! for compachude without offering his sentiments. rison was the fair rule of judgment. 'lf The House had heard much of the tragic parties were to change sides, he would ask, consequences of the measure under consi- what could be the pretensions to wisilom deration, and they had witnessed a con- or common prudence on the part of those version of the tragedy into comedy, by who undertook the Expedition to the the manner in which some gentlemen on Dardanelles, wbich could not be accounted the other side had observed upon it; but for upon any consideration of policy, in point of argument, he never recollected either national or general; or what right an occasion in which less was called into had such med to find fault with those who action. Of argument, indeed he felt that planned the Expedition to the Scheldt, there never was a case in which opponents which had in view both a national and a had presented less to answer, or fuiends left general object ? Jess to supply. Yet he did think it neces- But it had been contended that the obsary to take some part in the debate, and jects of the Expedition to the Scheldt, he conceived itfortunate that it fell to his were unattainable, nay, that it was chime. lot to follow a right bon. gent. of the late rical to calculate upon their attainment. administration, (Mr. Windham) although Before, however, the House concluded it was by no means his intention to follow upon this assertion, he hoped they would

were

look to the authorities which spoke against attainable by the occupation which Ausit. They had the authorities of general tria gave to the troops of the enemy. Brownrigg, and of his highly respected This he observed, merely to shew that esfriend near him also, (general Craufurd), isting circumstances were not so unfavour. that the object of the Expedition was at able to the Expedition, as the gentlemen tainable; and they had the authorities of so earnestly contended. That this latter lord Nelson, sir Home Popham, and como object was practicable, was, he mainmodore Owen, as to the value of that ob- tained, apparent, from the evidence, and ject. In fact, the occupation of Wal- that the means were sufficient, could not, cheren, and the destruction of the great he thought, be questioned; government did naval arsenals of the enemy in the Scheldt, not however undertake the expedition had been deemed of so much importance without a conception that it would be at. by various administrations, that that alone tended with risks and losses, but they never formed a sufficient justification for the ex- calculated upon it as a last stake. They pence and risk attendant upon the unders were prepared for all the hazards of war, taking of the measure under discussion. but they certainly did not expect the It was not with a view merely to the ravages of disease; and the former he had destruction of the 10 or 11 sail of the line no doubt would have been completely actually afloat in the Scheldt, that the Exo overcome, if it were not for the progress pedition was undertaken, but in order to of the latter. When gentlemen dwelt so destroy that ársenal which furnished faci- much upon the great disasters of this Exlities for the preparation of a formidable pedition, he would beg it to be recollected, fleet, in a quarter most dangerous to the that no military failure had occurred in safety of this country. But independently the whole course of it; that in fact nothing of all solicitude for our own interests, the bad taken place which could be said to Scheldt was, he maintained, the best point redound to the discredit of the country. that, under all the circumstances of the But the tone in which all the gentlemen case, could be selected for the common on the other side spoke of this event, bepurpose of promoting a British interest, trayed the character of their opposition. and aiding the cause of our allies. It had a right hon. gent. had said, that wind and been said that our army would have weather formed part of the plan; but he been better disposed of if sent to Spain. must be allowed to say, that wind and But he begged gentlemen to consider bow weather formed part of the failure, of unwise it would have turned out to send which they were a great cause. He was an additional force to Jord Wellington, aware that an hon. officer in his eye, (sir who found it so difficult to provide suffi- Home Popham), had communicated his cient supplies for even the force which he opinion, that unless the Expedition sailed had. In fact, any additional force, in his within a certain period, adverse winds circumstances, instead of being service- must be expected—that it was to be reable, would have rather increased his em membered, that according to the evidence barrassments.

of admirals Strachan and Keates, the weaThere was, however, another reason ther was unusually unfavourable, and to why an army could not have been sent to that state of the weather was attributable any of the points, which gentlemen on the whole difficulty of our debarkation. the other side recommended, and that was Why then, to this circumstance, which the inadequacy of our means, as appeared occasioned (such derangement and delay from the papers on the table, to defray in the conduct of the Expedition, ministers the expences of any lengthened service. could not be pronounced any party. But In fact, the country could not afford it, it was said that ministers had no naval and no other choice remained, than to authority for the practicability of their take the direction objected to, and in project. That, however, cold not be which, unfortunately, our efforts had been maintained by any of those who took the 80 unavailing. But, let it be considered, trouble of looking at the minutes of the that, although we could achieve nothing admiralty. in the way of a dirersion, in favour of Bat the military opinions were urged -Autsria, which was one of the objects of against them. Let it however be observthe Expedition, yet that from the state of ed, that the opinion of colonel Gordon, the war, a diversion was created in favour for instance, which had been so much of the other object of that Expedition, our dwelt upon, referred only to the danger 10 own national object being rendered more which our army might be exposed on its retreat. Now, it was calcolated, that our from the opposition benches) Was he to army would reach Bathz on the 3d of infer from that cheer that his sincerity was August, and it appeared, that so late as questioned? If so there was a want of the 11th, the enemy bad but 26,000 alto reciprocity, and those gentlemen were not gother in Antwerp, Bergen-op-Zoom, Cad- willing to allow to others that credit which sand, and all the adjoining country. they claimed for themselves. But what, What then had our troops to apprehend in he would beg the House to reflect, did their retreat from Antwerp, had their ob- those gentlemen look tor by the Resoluject been accomplished within the time in tions under discussion? They looked for the manner expected? As to the doubt the punishment of an administration, which expressed by bis right hon. friend (Mr. had sought a practicable object by comBathurst) respecting the plan intended to petent means, because that object failed, be pursued, he referred bim to the evidence through causes, against which it was imof sir Home Popham and lord Castlereagh, possible for any administration to provide.. from which it appeared that the resolu- But be trusted that the House would by tion was to go on to Bathz, as soon as a the adoption of the amendment of his hon. footing was secured in Walcheren. That and gallant friend (general Craufurd) wbich the fleet had not at once gone up the contained a fair character of the whole proScheldt, was owing to the same cause ceeding, disconcert the means and frustrate which prevented the landing of our force the views of those hon. gentlemen. at Cadsand on the 30th of July, namely, The right hon. gent. here read the the state of the weather. If it were not amendment, which had been proposed by for these impediments, for which it could general Craufurd, wbich, he contended, not surely be meant to make ministers contained a fair description of the grounds responsible, he maintained that our fleet of the Expedition. The right hon. gent. and army would have reached Bathz, as however, who preceded him, had referred soon as sir John Hope ; namely, by the to the Copenhagen Expedition, which he 3d of August, and, if so, they could have described as a lasting disgrace to this arrived before Antwerp by the 4th or 5th, country; and at the same time stated, when it was clear from the evidence there that one of the consequences of that Exwas no adequate force there for its de- pedition would have been, that we should. fence. The failure then of this great ob. have had Danish sailors to contend against ject was ascribable to causes over which at Antwerp With respect to that Expeministers 'had no controul, which indeed dition, he begged to say, that it was one they could not reasonably apprehend. which government had not engaged in Therefore, instead of the observation from from choice; it was imposed upon them the other side, that all circumstances were by the imperious necessity of the case; required to be favourable, in order to in. and with respect to our having Danish sure the arrival of our force in due time at sailors to contend against in the Scheldt, Bathz, he would maintain that unfavour- gentlemen, he was sure, would not deny, able circumstances alone prevented their that, if that Expedition had not taken arrival-any candid man who followed the place, we should not only have Danish evidence would, he was persuaded, admit, sailors but a Danish fleet to contend with. that, if our force had reached Antwerp by Ile now came to a very important the 4th or 5th of August, no army could branch of this case, he meant the conduct have been formed there to resist the na- of his Majesty's ministers in not abandontional object of the Expedition. This, ing Walcheren as soon as the ulterior however, was an admission, which he did objects of the Expedition were found to be not expect from the gentlemen on the op- unattainable. Upon this part of the case posite side of the House. Those gentle more feeling had very naturally been exmen were, on this occasion, seeking their cited than upon any other. No man could own objects. No doubt they thought it speak of it, no man could think of the loss for the benefit of the country to do so, and of valuable lives, without the deepest rehe would give them credit for the sincerity gret. He could not suppose, however, of that opinion as the ground of their ef- that those who declajmed loudest upon forts to get into the places occupied by this melancholy subject, really felt more himself and his colleagues. Now he upon it than bis Majesty's ministers. begged 10 take credit for equal sincerity, Party opposition could hardly be carried in thinking it for the benefit of the coun. to such ia length as to induce gentlemen try to keep them out. (Hear, hear, hear, to believe, that the feelings of regret on

« AnteriorContinuar »