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said, the situation of the country required he had never given his concurrence to this the instant adoption of masculine measures order, and even, if under any impression of this description. The country was to
at the time he had given such consent, be saved and must be saved; and it was from what had since come to his knowacknowledged on all sides, that that salva- | ledge, he was most anxious to have it tion depeniled on reforming the finances; withdrawn. he knew of nothing to intervene to prevent
[EXPEDITION TO THE SCHELDT.] Lord it. That long hackneyed bugbear, called | Porchester rose in pursuance of his notice invasion, was now declared to be “ mo- to submit certain Resolutions to the House rally impossible:" the truth and fact is, founded upon the evidence taken at its said Mr. Moore, that this was always a bar, during the laborious but important bugbear; there never was the least foun- investigation, which had occupied so dation for any apprehension of the kind; much of their attention since the comand it only formed part of a system of de- mencement of the present session, He lusion, of imposition, and fraud upon the was fully aware, that in endeavouring to public mind, from the year 1793, under lay before the House a clear and comwhich ministers had exacted from the prehensive analysis of that evidence the country, and expended upwards of 1,000 task he had undertaken was difficult, and millions of money.
was afraid he should weary the attention Mr. Tierney moved an amendment, of the House by the details, which it “ That a sum no greater than 449,0381. 11s. would be absolutely necessary for him to 10d. be granted for the service of the go into, in order to the complete developemilitary stoff.”
ment of the question which they would Mr. Wardle supported the amendment. have to decide upon, and to lay an irre
The Chancellor of the Erchequer was fragable ground for the motion with surprised that gentlemen should think the which he was to conclude. Difficult, estimate extravagant, when such a mode however, as he felt the task he had unhad been adopted by those who were for- dertaken, he also felt that it was as painmerly in power, and to whom the gentle- ful as it was arduous.- Painful to review men had been supporters.
a campaign, in the conduct of which Mr. Whitbread said, the right hon. gent. there was so much to wonder at, to lament, · had begun his speech as he commenced and to condemn—a campaign which had his political career, by recurring to the equally astonished Europe by the magconduct of those who preceded him; and nitude of its preparation, as by the extent by a trifling recrimination. He con- of its failure. Notwithstanding such sidered the system of those estimates failure, and such a calamitous issue, he vicious, and would therefore vote for the had still hoped that in proceeding to ana. amendment.
lyse the evidence, he would have been After some observations the House able to extract from this mass of national divided on the amendment, when there ap- misfortune, something that might by its peared Ayes 61, Noes 99—Majority 38. eventual consequences amidst the present
cheerless gloom, afford even partial grounds for national consolation. He had
hoped to find that such dreadful failures Monday, March 26.
were, at least in part, attributable to those [LORD ERSKINE.) Sir John Anstruther uncontrollable causes which are incident begged to correct a misconception, which, to all the operations of war, and are infrom what he had said on a former evening separable from enterprises dependent for respecting the obnoxious bye-law of the their success, upon the state and condiLincoln's Inn benchers, had gone abroad. tion of the elements. But what had the It would appear from his former statement, disastrous issue of this Expedition proved? that lord Erskine had given his assent to It had proved to be the result of predicted that resolution, whereas the fact was, that and anticipated causes. It had verified that noble lord was only present on the every prediction, and realized every fear 5th of February, when it was first pro-expressed by all those best competent to posed for consideration, but was not pre-decide upon its policy and practicability, sent when it was subsequently decided but whose opinions upon this occasion, upon.
most fatally for the honour and interests Mr. Sheridan stated, that he had it in of the country, his Majesty's ministers did anthority from the noble lord to say, that not deem it expedient to follow.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Before he should trace thris ill-judged contradictory to truth thus been made? and disgraceful Expedition from its mon- Was it not in disguise the nature and exstrous birth to its most horrible catas- tent of the nation's afflictions, lo gloss trophe, he felt it necessary to advert to over the misconduct of ministers, and by another abortive enterprise, which was keeping from view the just description of previously in the contemplation of his och lamentable occurrences to confirm Majesty's government, but with which, that House in a fatal and ruinous delufrom the reasons he was about to state, sion ?-[Hear! hear!) What answer they were wholly unable to proceed. couid nimisters make to this charge ? They would find from the evidence of here they had the undeniable information the commander in chief, sir D. Dundas, before them that although in the month that so early as the the 22d of March last, of January last, 23,000 men re-embarked a communication was made to him, direct. at Corunua, still in the month of March, ing bijin to attend a cabinet council on it was impossible out of ihe whole regular the 24th. Having so attended, he was arıny to furnish 15,000 men for the purthere informed, that the enemy had a pose of effecting a most desirable object. force of nine or ten sail of the line at Flushi- He should now proceed to take a view of, ing, and he was required to say, whether the first ovi rt act in this Expedition. In a number of troops, competent for a suc- order to form any thing like a correct judga ce:sful attack against these shipping, ment upon the subject, it would be neces. could be then furnished. Here, then, was sary to trace it through every part of its hisan opportunity for carrying into effect | tory and progress; to expose the grosignothat objecta arust the growing naval force rance and improvidence of its authors of Fraiite, which dis Majesiy's Govern throughout every part of the detail, before ment professed to have had so long in con- any opinion should be formed upon their templation. Had it succeeded at that pe aggregate imbecility and incompetence. riod, what a proud theme for triumph; The first overt act ihen in the history of what a consoling souice for national ex. this most disastrous Expedition was the ultation ? But why did it not succceed, Letter of Lord Castlereagh to the conor why was it not atiempted : It could mander in chief, dated May 29th. That not succeed, it could not be attempted; Letter conveyed to the commander in because, as the commander in chief chief the following statement: “ The himself told them, it was absolutely im- | naval establishment which the enemy has possible, from the whole regular army of created in the Scheldt, has already led to this country, to furnish even 15,000 men. the construction of not less than twenty And on what grounds did he give that ships of the line in different stages of equipopinion? Upon the well-known shattered ment, and promises to receive at no disstaie, in which a great portion of our distant period an extension in point of numposable force returned from Spain after ber of ships, and a solidity in point of dethe battle of Corunna? The men, for the fence, which must render it, as a maritime most part, unfit for duty, with arms and position, not only extremely formidable to equipments in the most defective state. the security of Great Britain, but still General Calvert corroborated that state- more invulnerable to attack. The intelment, and fully coincided in the impos.ligence received from the northern parts sibility of providing so small a force as of France, from Flanders, and from Hol. 15,000 men at that period.
land, although not such as will enable me Here he must intreat the House to re- to furnish you with any precise statement cal to its recollection the barefaced as- of the enenıy's force on that line, represertions, the confident assurances so fre- sents them as drained as low, if not lower, quently repeated by his Majesty's minis- than at any former period, of the regular ters during the last session of parliament. troops; and I apprehend it may be geneLet them compare the lamentable truths rally assumed that we can never expect which the commander in chief bad com- to find the enemy more exposed or niore municated, and which would never have assailable in that quarter.' In this they been disclosed but for this inquiry, with had the first overt act of the noble lord, the statements that were re-echoed from who, though obviously ignorant of the the opposite side of the House and the re- real strength or actual situation of the turns which were officially laid upon their force of the enemy in that quarter, still table during the last session. Why, he advised, planned and carried into execuwould ask, had statements and returns so tion an Expedition, in the disastrous con: sequences of which the dearest interests opinion. Instead of such general indeof the nation were most wantonly sacri- finite statements as the noble lord's letter ficed. Willing however as he was to allow contained positive defined intelligence every credit to minister», where credit was ought to have been communicated, but, justly due to them, he was free to acknow- above all, the safety of so large, and, perledge the propriety of their conduct, so haps, the last army of this country ought far as that propriety was discernible in not to have been risqued upon suchdesultory their application for advice and intelli- arguments. But, returning to the opinions gence to the best sources of authority; of the five military officers, it was evident but here their title to credit terminated. from their tenor, that in putting into pracFor when gentlemen read the opinions of tice their plan of attack upon the naval those officers to whom ministers applied resources of the enemy at Antwerp his for information, and contrasted the course Majesty's ministers had in their own condetermined upon with those opinions, it templation two plans. One to proceed was absolutely impossible even to conjec- by way of Ostend, and the other, that is ture, much more to ascertain their motives the one attempted, by naval and military at all for making the application. This at- operations in the Scheldt.
Extravagant tempt upon the shipping and arsenals of as was the one which, in their wisdom, Antwerp, ministers told them was a plan they had adopted, ten times more so was long considered and fully matured, and that which they had abandoned. But the yet, strange to say, in this letter to the commander in chief stated in his answer, commander in chief, they found him that if the attack was to be made at all, it called upon not to state his opinion as to should be a combined naval and land opethe best means of carrying into effect this ration, and he proposed, that the relative long considered and determined project, strength of our force, and the presumed but his sentiments" upon the practica- amount of the enemy, should be deterbility of such an attempt, the means re- mined as a question of calculation, and quired, and the mode of carrying it into not of surmise. execution.” The noble Jord (Castlereagh) The commander in chief wrote as foladmitted in this letter too his inability to lows: “ Horse Guards, June 3, 1809. The afford a precise statement of the enemy's object to be attained is a most important force upon that line of operation, but he and desirable one, but the force we have assured the commander in chief, that that to employ must be considered, and the part of the enemy's territories was never difficulties and risks they have to encounter more exposed, nor more assailable, and from the enemy's strength and advantages that this country had never at its command must be well weighed. Every calculation a greater disposable force. Upon the re- or prospect of successful attack can only ceipt of this communication, with a most be foreseen on a knowledge of the relative laudable attention to the interests of the situations and strength of the enemy's country, and to the protection of that country, fortresses, and armed men that army at the head of which his Majesty can be brought in defence of both. If the was pleased to place him, the commander route of the army is therefore to be taken, in chief felt it to be his duty to consult as in the first case, though Flanders, the with other officers of high and distin- country is known to be one of the most guished character, and qualified from ta- intricate in Europe for military operations. lents, experience and many other partia With our state of preparation and numcular circumstances to afford him most bers, an attempt by this route of marching able assistance, in returning the fullest in- through Flanders to arrive at Antwerp formation to his Majesty's government would be most singular, and perhaps His own and their opinions he delivered without example. In whatever way Antto the noble lord, in official documents werp is to be approached or taken, the dated the third of June.
service is one of very great risk, and in Before he should proceed to an analysis which the safe return of the army so of these opinions, he wished to advert to employed may be very precarious, from the last sentence in Lord Castlereagh's the opposition made and the length of Jetter, which he must contend, did not af- time consumed in the operation, which ford the information that was necessary, enables the enemy in a short time to asand ought to be afforded in order to en- semble a great force from every part of able the gallant officers who had been con- | the Netherlands and Holland, and even sulted to form a definite and conclusive from Westphalia, and from the course of
the Rhine, as well as from the frontier of itself afforded, they were told by general France."
Calrert that the service would be arduous, Here was the opinion of an old, an able and that the troops employed upon it must and experienced military man, which one be exposed to con.lerable risk. might suppose would have arrested even He next came to an opinion which was the rapid progress of the noble lord's almost impossible to believe to hare been (Casilereagh) enthusiastic mind-an opi- received by ministers, or if it had been nion, that oight to have created in him received, that it was ever read by them, a distrust of his frantic project, and let for most assuredly had any attention been in such light upon him, that he must have paid to its most impressive and unansweralmost anticipated that issue which in the able inferences, they never would in condestruction of our army and the disgrace tradiction to its purport have conveyed a of our character, has far exceeded even British army to alınost certain destruction. the forlorn and disastrous expedition, Need he say, that he alluded to the miwhich, under the same auspices, had but litary opinion of colonel Gordon? (Hear, just preceded it.
hear!) That officer stated the previous The next opinion delivered was, that of consideration necessary in weighing the general Calvert-an opinion deserving of practicability of this project, to be the the most serious atiention because he had extent of our means compared with the what his Majesty's ministers had not, a means of the eneiny, and the obstacles knowledge of the local. That officer we should have opposed to us ;” and in stated the utter impossibility of laying continuation observed," that there does down any thing decisive in the shape of not appear to be any datum that can lead detailed reasoning, without being in pos. to any probable guess at the extent of the session of that knowledge, which most force which the enemy may have at people imagine an indispensable preli- | Antwerp and the strong towns adjacent, minary, but which, iinportant as it must or even at the extent of the armed popula. appear to all others, was iy his Majesty's tion or militia of the neighbouring disministers, through the whole arrangement tricts; but it is imagined from various conof this project, considered highly super- curring testimonies, that the whole rego. fluous, namely a knowledge of local cir- lar force has been drawn oft towards cumstances and to what extent those cir- Germany, and that the country in the vicumstances would admit of a naval co- cinity of Antwerp has been left more desoperation. After describing the means titute of troops than at any former period. possessed by the enemy in drawing from This appears to be the utmost exient of various quarters reinforcements, he con- our information, and upon the accuracy of, cluded with an opinion, that, one should which must depend the success or failure have supposed, world have operated with of our project." Upon his receiving this ministers against the adoption because it opinion it was really astonishing to think must have proved to them the inexpediency that the noble lord did not pause before he of this project. Before he read that con- ventured to send an army, such as this clusion he must say, that he was not aware was, out of the country, to certain deof the extent of their want of that descrip-struction. The whole of that officer's tion of information, without which bis opinion went most conclusively, in his Majesty's government should not have mind, to deter any man or set of men, but ventured to risque the safety of a gallant his Majesty's late minister of war, and army. For what said general Calvert those who acted with him, from encounupon that point. He toldihem that having tering the hazardous and horrible enterno data to go on in respect of the enemy's prize. force, no argument could be entered From what had transpired during the
that point. Would the noble inquiry, it was apparent that his Majesty's Jord or any one of his formier colleagues ministers intended resting a part of their say, that they should have committed the defence upon information alledged to have honours and interests of this country, the been received subsequent to the delivery blood of its defenders, and the product of of these military opinions. But in anits industry, npon an enterprize, the suc. swer to such an extenuation, he would cess of which must have depended upon challenge his Majesty's government to a state of things, of which they theinseives state one single proof of such subsequent now stood so confessedly ignoranti Yet information. Was there any thing in the even upon the presumptions that the case documents submitted to the xcret Com.
mittee which could authorise that House wbile it would be pursued by that which to believe that the army in the vicinity of opposed it at Antwerp.” Antwerp were, in any considerable force, Upon the conjoint operations in the drawn off into Germany ? In this opinion, Scheldt general Brownrigg proceeded to dated so far back as the 29th of May it state his opinion. was also to be recollected, that colonel “ If I am justified in the foregoing reaGordon considered that the first operation soning, it appears that the loss of the necessary would be to get possession of whole force is risked by such an underCadsand and South Beveland. And yet taking ; but if the destruction of the eneit was not until the Expedition had in my's arsenals at Antwerp, and his feet part actually sailed, that it had ever oc- in the Scheldt, is the object in view, I curred to his Majesty's ministers to con- am humbly of opinion, that this can only sider of the necessity of taking possession be effected by our fleet being able to sail of these places or of hinting at it in the up the Scheldt, 10,000 troops on board, instructions given to the officers entrusted to land occasionally, tv possess forts and with the execution of this project. But it batteries placed to obstruct the navigation. was impossible to put the nature of the Should this be deemed impracticable, the Expedition in a stronger light, than as possession of the island' of Walcheren stated in the emphatic words of colonel seems the most likely step to lead to the Gordon, when he summed up with his con- accomplishment of what is so much decluding inference.“ That this attempt sired. By possessing the anchorage of would be a most desperate enterprise can- Flushing, the enemy's fleet in the Scheldt not be doubled; and that in the attempt, would be rendered useless, and exposed whether successful or otherwise, a very to such modes of attack as might from large proportion of our navy, and mili- that point be devised for its destruction.". tary means, would be put to imminent As to the accomplishment of the ultchazard.”
rior and main object of the Expedition The next opinion taken by the com- general Brownrigg thus expressed himmander in chief was that of general Brown self: rigg, who agreed with all the other mili- “Should it be thought right from thence tary authorities, that the line of operations to attempt the destruction of the arsenals through Flanders was not to be thought of at Antwerp, a force passing over to and for the following reasons:
South Beveland would take possession of “But if the enemy is enabled to as- Sandvliet and the main land, and from semble a force sufficient materially to ob- thence, the distance to Antwerp being struct the progress of the march at par- | about six leagues, might succeed in taking ticular points, and that the people of the it by a coup-de-inain; or being masters country are hostile, which may also be of ihe Western Scheldt, the force of this expected, it is hardly probable that the enterprise might proceed by sea to SandAriny can reach Aniwerp in less than vliet.-have, &c.' fifteen days after its landing. That it Of all the pians proposed, this was by may penetrate that distance, under the far the most extravagant and impracticaa presumption of the absence of the French ble. Flushing having been taken, genarmies in Germany, cannot be doubted; eral Brownrigg really thought that a but so much time would be aítorded to force passing over 10 South Beveland, the enemy to assemble troops from Hol. would take possession of Santvliet on the land, and the fortified places immedi. main land, and the distance from thence ately in the vicinity of Antwerp, that it to Antwerp being only six leagues, might being able to effect its object is by no succeed in taking the latter place by a means certain; should it not do so, a re-coup-de-main. treat by the route which it look in its ad- T'he House would perceive, that alvance seems nearly impossible, as an though this opinion was not as adverse army must be expected to be formed in as the preceding ones to the ministerial its rear, of the Militia and Gens d'Armes project, still it vas far from very encouof the country, and from the garrisons of raging. The next opinion taken was that at least twenty fortified towns of West of general Hope. He began with making Flanders, none of which are at a greater several assumptions, and after dilating distance than seven days march from upon the impracticability of effecting any Ghent, which would be retaken, and part of the objects of the Expedition by would probably be the point of assembly, an attempļ to penetrate to Antwerp through