Imágenes de página

Narrative, that his Majesty's ministers ad- | to the Scheldt, That his Majesty had vised his Majesty to give that answer to not deemed it necessary to institute any the city of London, by which all enquiry inquiry. was denied. He would not believe, unless The Earl of Liverpool said, if the object the noble lords on the other side stated it of the noble marquis was merely to know themselves, that they could at that time who it was that advised his Majesty to rebe ignorant of those facts and circum- turn the Answer alluded to, he had not the stances. Their lordships were aware, that smallest objection to state, that the whole in consequence of some dissentions in the of his Majesty's ministers had concurred cabinet, iwo of his Majesty's ministers, in advising his Majesty to give that anwho were ministers at the period of this swer, with the exception of the earl of Expedition, had since resigned. But what Chatham, who, as must have been obmust be their lordships opinion, if it was served, from some of the papers on the now pleaded by the noble lords on the table, had not attended the deliberations other side, that they were ignorant of the upon that subject. It was open, therefacts and sentiments detailed and expressed fore, to the noble marquis to make that by their colleague, the author of the Narra- answer the subject of any accusation, that tive?-Were they then to infer, that he might think it proper to urge against their dissentions on the cabinet still conti- his Majesty's ministers; and he had no nued ; that such was the indifference, with besitation to say that he was prepared diswhich they viewed each other, that they tinctly to meet the noble marquis upon would not even ask for information from a the ground of that answer. He was fully colleague with reference to factsofthe great prepared to justify the advice given to his est importance to the country ; that such Majesty with reference to that answer, was their mutual distrust that they could upon the grounds of the facts and circumnot communicate with each other even stances of which his Majesty's ministers upon topics which intimately affected the were then in possession ; and if the occapublic service; that such was their con- sion were to occur again, he would advise tempt of each other, that one would not a similar answer upon a knowledge of condescend to ask the other a question, for facts and circumstances similar to those the purpose of obtaining information, how- then known to his Majesty's ministers. ever essential that information might be to The noble marquis had spoken of the nothe purposes of goveroment, or to the in- ble earl as master general of the ordnance, terests of the country? Was the House and a confidential servant of his Majesty ; to infer, that such was at this moment but the fact really was, that the noble the divided and degraded state of the ad- earl acted as commander in chief of the ministration of the country? He would Expedition in a capacity wholly distinct not believe then that such could have from his office as a minister, and that his been the ignorance of his Majesty's mi. Majesty's ministers considered that noble nisters, unless they themselves stated it. earl in his situation as commander in Under the impression, therefore, that his chief to be under the same circumstances Majesty's ministers could not have been as the commander of any other Expeignorant of the facts and circumstances dition. They had, therefore, no more detailed by their colleague, the master ge- right to call upon him for papers or neral of the ordnance, in his narrative as documents, than ibey had upon the commander in chief of the Expedition to commander of any other Expedition.ihe. Scheldt, of circumstances, each of The noble earl was therefore, perfectly atli. which most imperiously called for inquiry, berty to use his own discretion, with reas well for the purpose of satisfying the spect to the facts and circumstances he public and the country, as for clearing chose to state, and must have been consithat profession, which was so important dered in the same situation as any other and valuable to the dearest interests of the commander. The noble marquis had country; the, navy, from the blot, which omitted to state one part of the answer, had been attempted to be cast upon it, he which did not exactly suit his purpose, felt it to be his duty to move for an Ad- and the object of which was to refer the dress to his Majesty, praying That his Ma- inquiry to parliament. This, he contended, jesty would be graciously pleased to in- was the only proper course that could be form the House who it was that advised pursued. There was no ground for a milihis Majesty to return the Answer to the tary, inquiry-there was no charge by City of London respecting the Expedition one branch of the service against another


the way

there was no charge by any individual that the only fit course of proceeding was against the commander. How then, could what had taken place, namely, to refer the an inquiry be instituted ? He put it to whole case to parliament. those who objected to instituting a court The Earl of Rosslyn admitted, that conmartial, where the noble lord who was the siderable difficulties arose from the difobject of it demanded it; how it could be ference of the naval and military code, in justified if they were to have instituted an instituting a general enquiry into the inquiry where no charge was made, where conduct of a conjoint expedition. But

court martial was demanded, and the existence of such difficulties was by thus to have trifled with the feelings of no means to preclude all enquiry. On officers, and cast a stigma upon either ser- the contrary, in such cases, it was the vice. There was no instance, besides, of duty of ministers to pave

for an inquiry in the case of a conjoint service, practical investigation, by calling upon nor could it with any propriety take place, the commanders in chief of the two serwhere the military and the naval code vices for reports of the occurrences which differed in so many material points. The fell within their respective departments; · only place in which a case of that kind and if the failure of the Expedition arose

could be fully gone into was in parlia- trom a deviation from instructions, or any ment, and to parliament it had been re- delay, negligence, or want of energy in ferred. It was true that the Expedition had their execution, the reports in question failed in its main object. The original de- would furnish the details out of which sign of the Expedition was, that the attack such charges prima faciè aroge, and which upon Antwerp should be simultaneous with therefore ought to form the subject of that on Walcheren, and this proceeded particular enquiry. Ministers justified upon the assumption that Flushing might the late Expedition by saying that it was have been masked whilst the attack was intended to be a coup de main, and that made on Antwerp. He then was strongly the success of it essentially depended of opinion, and still thought, that to at- upon rapidity of execution, and simultatempt the destruction of the enemy's naval neous co-operation. But were they enpreparations at Antwerp was worth en- couraged to entertain any such expectacountering a considerable risk. He there- tions from what had passed between sir fore most sincerely regretted that the in- Richard Strachan and the first lord of the tended destruction was not effected; be admiralty? The winds and weather, it cause he still thought that those naval seems, had disconcerted the project in the preparations might become formidable to

But if simultaneous co-operation this country. To effect the desired ob- was to be the life aud soul of the enter. ject, the greatest Expedition was em- prise, how came they to plan an expedie ployed that was ever sent from this or any tion which was to sail in three or four other country upon any occasion. That successive divisions ? and if it were so to it failed in its ulterior object was not to be sail, how came they to calculate that the attributed to any fault or failure in the winds and weather were to be exactly plan, or in the execution of it, to any neg.

such as would favour the junction of the lect of the executive government, or to any whole, at a given period, at the point of misconduct in the army or navy, butto cir- debarkation. The fact was, that they cumstances which it was impossible to shut their eyes to the doubts and difficul. control-to the elements, and to the un- ties suggested by sir R. Strachan. To usual state of the weather at that season. him they said “Go, go, we have come He denied that there was any blot upon plete confidence in you, every thing wilt the navy, or the least slur cast upon that go on well.” From lord Chatham alt most important and valuable service. The these difficulties were studiously conceal. failure of the ulterior object of the Expe- ed. To him they said, “ You will find dition, was alone to be attributed to the every thing ready to your band; you difficulties arising from the unusual state of will find Flushing invested, and cut off the weather. It was under this impres. from all reinforcements and supplies ; sion, that his Majesty was advised to re- and you will have nothing to do but to turn the answer alluded to, and upon proceed as fast as possible, up the West which, without meaning to go into a de Scheldt to Antwerp.”-He would not detailed argument relative to the Expedition tain their lordships, upon the present oche was still prepared to say, that an in- casion, with minute details ; but he could quiry could not have been instituted, and not abstain from touching upon two or


three points, upon which, in his opinion, by direction of the naval commander in his Majesty's ministers ought long ago to chief applied to him (lord Rosslyn), then bave called for explanation. In lord in command of the troops in South Beve. Chatham's dispatch of the lith of August, land, to know whether he had instructions he stated that he was prevented from to prosecute the ulterior objects of the Exproceeding up the West Scheldt, owing pedition, assuring him at the same time to the transports with the cavalry and that every thing was ready on the part of provisions not having then got through the navy, to co-operate with him. the Slough; whereas, in the dispatch of answer was, that he had no instructions ; the same date from sir R. Strachan, the and he would now say further, that if he transports were stated to have already got had had instructions, he had not the means through, and every thing was alleged to of carrying them into execution. Was be in the most forward state for prosecut there not something on the very face of ing the ulterior objects of the Expedition. those documents that demanded enquiry Ought not this difference of statement to the instant they came into the hands of have induced ministers to have called for ministers ? Did it not strike their lord. some explanation Ought they to have ships as extraordinary, that the naval published both, and there let the matter commander in chief, though able to comrest ? Ought they not to have suspected municate directly with the military comsome mistake on the part of one or other mander in chief, without the delay of a of the commanders, and to have inquired couple of hours, and thus at once ascertain into the reason ? Were they not aware what instructions had been forwarded to that much of the abuse and calumny so the commander in South Beveland, should, improperly directed against lord Chatham instead of taking that course, apply to the originated in the erroneous supposition, latter through the medium of a subordithat as early as the 111h of August, ali nate naval commander? If all the naval the necessary preparations for going up preparations were complete, must not mithe Scheldt were completed? The pas- nisters have thought it strange, that lord sage to which he alladed in the admiral's Chatham should still be at Middleburgh ? dispatch, he found altered in the copy Did they suppose that he was so indifferent laid on their lordships' table. He hoped to military reputation, as that, at the mothat circomstance would be explained. ment when the enterprize was to be

Lord Mulgrade bere said, that he could crowned with success, he should voluntaimmediately explain it, to the satisfaction rily transfer all the glory that would have of noble lords. The discordance in the resulted from it, to one inferior in comdispatches alladed to, had not escaped his mand ? --The noble lord then proceeded attention. On the contrary, it was one to remark upon the tendency of sir R. of the first points on which he requested Strichan's dispatch of the 27th of August, an explanation from sir R. Strachan upon the period when the ulterior object of the his return; and the answer was, that ihe Expedition was finally abandoned. He mistake originated in a premature report severely censured ministers for having made to him.

published that dispatch, unless they had Lord Rosslyn then proceeded, and ob- determined upon enquiry, because hav. served, that the explanation just given, ing been given in a garbled shape, its instead of being satisfactory, came power- | immediate effect was to direct the censure fully in support of the charge of egregious of the public against lord Chatham. He negligence which he brought against his could not be accused of any bias in favour Majesty's ministers. Why was not the of that noble lord. He was not united explanation demanded at the time when with him in political party; he was not the dispatches were received ? He would in the babits of intimacy or friendship ask, too, why lord Chatham, who returned with him ; nor had he any connection or 60 long prior to the admiral, and whose intercourse whatever with him, except character was so much interested in an ex- what had arisen from the circumstance of planation, had not been applied to upon serving under his command. He could, the subject? The next point, upon which nevertheless, with perfect truth assert, ministers ought to have called for an ex- that he never remarked in that noble lord planation would be found in a dispatch, any want of zeal or energy, or any defiwith inclosures from sir R. Strachan, ciency in the qualities requisite for the dated the 22nd of August. From the in due discharge of the trust reposed in hina. closures it appeared, that sir R. Keats had But if sir R. Strachan's dispatch excited


such re

no surprise in the minds of his Majesty's , appeared only the more important. The ministers, he could assure them that it ex- plain matter in issue was this, whether bis cited a good deal of surprise when it got Majesty's ministers were in possession of over to Walcheren. The gallant admiral the information which had subsequently there gave the same satisfactory esplana- appeared from the Narrative of lord Chaition of it which he recently gave before ham at the time they gave the answer to the House of Commons, namely, that he the address of the city of London, stating pever conceived it was to be made public, that it had not been judged necessary to and that he had no other object in it, than institute an inquiry? If they had the inin writing to the heads of the department formation, then they would be called upon in which he was employed, to pass a just to account for their conduct in returning and merited encomium on the force under such an answer; if they had not the inhis immediate command. But why did formation, then it would appear that they ministers publish only an extract of the themselves had not the confidence of his dispaich in question? Sir R. Strachan was Majesty, but had been supplanted by one understood to have in the same dispatch, of their own colleagues. It was necessary or by the same conveyance, informed go- that their lordships should distinctly ascer. vernment of an impending scarcity of tain how this matter stood, to pass provisions, there being then only a supply solutions upon it as the nature of the case of ten days in store. Not a word of this should require. He had been often rehad come out ; because, to state that buked in that House for saying, that there there remained only a ten days' supply, was an influence behind the throne diswhile our force amounted to 70,000 men, tinct from that of the ostensible servants would have been to tell the public that of the crown-whose influence alone the there was an end of the Expedition. He constitution recognized. He had often disclaimed any idea, in what he stated, of been told that there was no such influ. casting any imputation whatever upon sir enee; but would those who had irrain. R. Strachan or the navy. He considered tained that position, assert now that there him as an ornament to his profession, and was no such influence? If the ministers þe was convinced, that he and his officers had the information communicated by and seamen had done every thing in their lord Chatham at the time they gave the power. He was satisfied that nothing in answer to the London address, then they Lord Chatham's Narrative was meant to were highly culpable; for it appeared convey an insinuation to the contrary. that one of the commanders did in his of The facts there stated would ultimately ficial Narrative accuse the other, a ground be found to lay the blame where it ought sufficient for inquiry. If, however, every to be laid, upon the board of admiralty. thing of this kind had been concealed from But the Narrative in question, like tħe them—if lord Chatham had availed him dispatches he alluded to, sbewed the ne- self of his situation as a privy counsellor, cessity of enquiry, with the view of fairly to give this Narrative to the King without ascertaining where the blame really lay. the knowledge, not only of the admiral That the failure did not, in the genuine and the public, but even of his colleagues, opinion of ministers, arise from the want what were their lordships to think of such of simultaneous co-operation, was evident, proceedings ? Was it consistent with their from lord Castlereagh's dispatch of the duty to pass over this species of secret in24th of August, in which he congratulated fluence without the severest censure ? If lord Chatham upon the fall of Flushing; it should appear that this Narrative had and expresses a confident hope that he been given in without the knowledge of would proceed to accomplish the ulterior the ministers; if they were kept in perfect objects of the Expedition, with the same

same ignorance on this point, in what situation zeal, vigour, and perseverance that had did they stand? They presented the disalready been displayed. The noble lord gracesul spectacle of a set of men submisconcluded with some observations on the sive enough to continue in office without illiberal treatment which lord Chatham the confidence either of their sovereign or had received, on the part of the public of their country. journalists, and particularly those of them The Earl of Westmoreland conceived, who were the supporters of the ministry. that the copduct of his Majesty's servants

Lord Holland expressed his hope that his was highly jųstifiable in not instituting an noble friend would persevere in his mo- inquiry, at so early a period, into the coption, as from all he heard in opposition it duct of the commanders of the Scheldt Ex.


pedition. In the public documents there charge against them. He could not but were no reflections against the admiral, admire the grace with which such an obno blame attached to either of the officers, servation came from the noble lord. But and therefore no grounds existed for in- he really felt ashamed to trouble their stituting inquiry. He then alluded' to lordships with answering such observawhat he conceived to have been said by a tions. The noble earl often indulged himnoble lord opposite (Grey) on a former self in such general assertions, for the sake occasion, viz. that it was impossible to of effect, he supposed; but he begged possess the confidence of the crown and leave to state, that henceforth he certainly of the people at the same time. As to the should not think himself at all called upon confidence of the people, he did not feel to give them any answer whatever when it necessary to say any thing upon that urged in such a manner. The merits of subject; but of this he could assure the the question, as to the Expedition to the noble lord opposite, that ministers did Scheldt, he would not anticipate. This not think themselves deprived of the con- much however was a matter of notoriety, fidence of the crown. His lordship seemed that an Expedition the greatest, as the to feel for them on that subject much more noble secretary had 'stated, that ever had than they did for themselves. On the been sent from this or any other country, subject of the Walcheren inquiry, his lord- on any occasion, had completely failed, ship expressed himself perfectly satisfied and that, under the most aggravating and that the ministers would come out of the disastrous circumstances, our brave troops trial with honour; that the country would having been so long exposed to perish, not think that they had done their duty; that by war, but by pestilence. And this was they had not only done their duty, but tlie state of things under which the noble that with the means they possessed they lord had held out, that he and his colwould have been bighly blameable if they leagues were so easy and confident; but had not made the attempt to destroy the parliament and the public however would arsenal at Antwerp: The conduct of mi- soon be enabled io decide upon that nisters, he said, would appear more bright matter.—He was ready to admit that the when compared with the incapacity of question at present before the House lay their predecessors.

in a very narrow compass, being merely Earl Grey observed, that after the ex. as to the propriety of ascertaining whepression of confidence, which had escaped ther, on the 20th of December, when the ilie noble earl as to the complete justifica answer was given, ministers were or were tion of ministers on the subject of the not in possession of the information which Scheldt Expedition, any thing which had | had subsequently come out upon that subbeen uttered by the noble lord with re. ject. He agreed that ministers ought spect to himself personally, must appear only to have called upon lord Chathana but light. But since the noble-lord had for information in the capacity of military alluded to what had fallen from him some commander; for it would have been abweeks ago, it would have been but fair to horrent from the principles of the constihave quoted him correctly. He did not tution, and unjust to the character of the say that it was impossible to have the con- admiral, to have received secret commufidence of the crown and of the people at nications. His lordship then contended, the same time. He had only expressed that independent of the Narrative of lord his regret at the sort of measures pursued, Chatham, there were various circumstances which, anfortunately had a tendency to stated in the dispatches, that called for indisunite the sovereign and the country, quiry, especially the change of measures and to hold the interests and consequently after the sailing of the Expedition. He the confidence of both as incompatible could not exactly collect from the arguAs to the observation about the incapacity ments of the noble lord who spoke last; of the late ministers, he felt that deeply, whether he meant to support or oppose and he felt it the more severely, on ac- the motion, but he was sure their lordships 'count of the peculiar sharp and acute ought to support it. manner in which it had been urged. He Lord Mulgruve entered into a defence of had never heard, however, that the late the conduct of sir R. Strachan, which," he ministers wished to avoid inquiry. The considered as wholly free from the slightest

, noble earl, if he thought their conduct possibility of imputation. He had been called for it, and he had': every opportu-induced to give the advice which he had nity of knowing, ought to make a regular given to his Majesty on the subject of the

« AnteriorContinuar »