§ The Speaker
acquainted the house, that the house had been at the house of peers, at the desire of the lords commissioners, appointed under the great seal, for holding this present parliament; and that the Lord High Chancellor, being one of the said Commissioners, made a Speech to both houses of parliament; of which, to prevent mistakes, he had obtained a copy; which he read to the house, and for which we refer to our report of the proceedings of the lords, see p. 1. After the Speaker had finished the Speech,
The Hon. Frederick Robinson
rose. He said he would not detain the house for a longer period than it was usual for gentlemen, placed in a similar situation with his, to claim their indulgence, and would therefore, without further preface or apology, proceed to state such observations as occurred to him on the Speech they had just heard read, and which would form part of the Address he should have the honour to move.—His majesty had expressed his confidence, that his parliament would concur in giving every aid in their power which could contribute to the firm and vigorous support of the war in which we were engaged. With such views as they originally entertained on the subject of this war, with such views as they had continued to take of it, it would indeed be a singular inconsistency to depart from them at a moment like the present, and refrain from giving his majesty an assurance that they were ready to give him all the assistance required, and which the extraordinary nature of the case demanded. The leading topic in the Speech referred to the state of Spain, and whoever looked to the actual situation of affairs in that country, and the nature of those occurrences that led to the connection with our own, would agree with him in the propriety of reducing into practical use that excellent maxim, that 'vigorous war led most directly to safe and honourable peace.' Our connection with Spain was formed, for the 31 purpose of enabling her to resist the tyrannous usurpation of France, the injustice of which could only be equalled by the perfidy of the means employed to accomplish the detestable design. It was, indeed, difficult to determine which to reprobate most. He knew not in what language to describe the fraud and falsehood employed by Bonaparte to subdue a people to whom he was united in the closest bonds of alliance, and who had reposed an ill-founded confidence in him. In the Declaration he hsad published, he had told them, that if they refused to accept his brother Joseph for their king, he would cut out a new kingdom for him, place the crown of Spain upon his own head, and punish those whom he dared to designate as 'the wicked.' It would be well for the yet unconquered countries in Europe (of which he was sorry to say there were now but few), to attend to the first part of this Declaration, as there were doubtless some to be found from whose territories this embrio kingdom might be formed; and it would be well for G. Britain to look to the latter part, as she was assuredly included among' the wicked,' whom the tyrant presumptuously pretended he had a divine commission to punish. Some few, perhaps, of his countrymen, might think that the cause of freedom in Spain was less pure, because that country had not agreed or participated in hailing the dawn of liberty, which was once thought to illume the horizon of France. But surely no sight could be more grand and animating, than such a people, whose character for ages had been famed for many virtues and noble qualities, rising against foreign injustice, tyranny and oppression, resolved to be independant, or to perish in the struggle. Could we wonder at the sympathy which the people of this country felt, at the energy with which they came forward, and at the glowing participation of sentiment, which they expressed in a cause so like their own. Speculative men might differ on points relating to internal reforms and regulations; but it was evident, that the Spanish people did not think the return of a native king to his legal throne, incompatible with national reform. The cause of Spain had lost none of its first interest, and Britain was still bound to extend her mighty arm, to save and to succour. Under these circumstances he could easily conceive what his majesty's feelings must have been, when it was proposed to him to abandon the 32 cause of Spain, a proposition to accord with which would have been disgraceful to the sovereign and to the country. When he heard of the opening of negociations, he entertained little or no hopes of success. Buonaparté would not give up his pretensions, and we were not base enough to agree to the shameful terms offered as the grounds of treaty. Indeed, no one could believe that the two emperors at Erfurth ever entertained an idea that their proposals could be listened to, as they must have been aware, from the history of this country, that we were not in the habit of deserting our allies, and surely they could never expect that we would degenerate from our known character, in a cause so great and important as the present.—As the house were not yet in possession of the Treaty of Alliance entered into with the Supreme Junta, it would be premature to make any remarks upon that subject. The contest we had undertaken was arduous, but we were not on that account to despond. If so, we might have long since sat down in dumb despair, and have submitted to France. He trusted, therefore, that not withstanding the surrounding difficulties, with our assistance, Spain would yet triumph over her misfortunes, and confound her oppressors;Per damna, per coedes, ab ipsoDucit opes animumque, ferro.The next topic to which he would allude was the campaign in Portugal; and he could have no doubt of the house acquiescing in a sentiment which acknowledged the gallantry and excellence of our forces employed in that country. The battles fought spoke for themselves. In no cases were the discipline of men, or the skill and military talents of their generals, more conspicuous. As a proof of this, it was only necessary to revert to the expression of public opinion on the campaign, which was not considered as commensurate to what ought to have been secured from the bravery displayed by our soldiers, and the success that had attended their efforts.—The next subject touched upon was our relations with Sweden; and though Russia, by dint of superior forces, had obtained advantages over our ally, yet every one must admire the king of Sweden's steady adherence to the principles which first united him to us, and drew down the implacable hatred and vengeance of Buonaparté upon his head. His determination also not to listen to terms of accommodation, hostile to the independ- 33 ence of the Spanish nation, gave him an additional claim to our support. It was our. duty, then, to assist him with all our power; thus evincing to the world, that Britain never forsook those who remained true to themselves and to their engagements with her. It would also have the good effect of establishing a character not to be shaken, that we never by indifference would create hostility, where by liberality we could make friends.—Upon a review of the existing circumstances mentioned in the Speech, it was clear that we could not support our part in the arduous scene without incurring much expence. But on this point he had no cause to expatiate, as he was truly happy to hear it asserted, that the public would not be materially burthened, as other means could be found to answer the exigencies of the times. It was also highly satisfactory to learn, that our revenues were in so prosperous a condition. Considering the means adopted by our enemy, and the exertions he used to destroy our commercial prosperity, though he never thought they would have the full effect designed and hoped for by the contriver, yet neither had he been sanguine enough to imagine that they would be employed so inefficiently, that, instead of doing us any injury, a progressive increase of revenue was the consequence. All the attempts of Buonaparté to undermine our national strength had failed, and the trial had proved that Great Britain was superior to all the opposition and schemes of deterioration the tyrant of the continent could devise.—The last topic to which he should call their attention was the military state of the country. As he had ever been a friend to the measure adopted in the last session of parliament, he rejoiced to find it had been so eminently successful. It was, however, necessary to provide for offensive as well as defensive war, as nothing contributed more effectually to a state of security than a vigorous prosecution of offensive hostilities. Never was our army in a higher state of excellence in discipline, equipment, or numbers, and he should be happy to sec some mode devised by which an increase could be made to its present superior establishment. These being his sentiments with regard to the principal subjects alluded to in the Speech, he begged leave to move, "That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, to return his majesty the Thanks of this house for the gracious Speech which 34 his majesty has directed to be delivered by the Lords Commissioners: To assure his majesty, that we are met together with a determination cordially to support his majesty in the prosecution of a war which we are well convinced there is no hope of terminating safely and honourably, except through vigorous and persevering exertion:—To express our humble acknowledgments to his majesty for having been graciously pleased to direct to be laid before us, copies of the proposals for opening a negociation which were transmitted to his majesty from Erfurth; of the correspondence which thereupon took place with the governments of Russia and of France; and of the Declaration issued by his majesty's command on the termination of that correspondence; and to assure his majesty that we will lose no time in taking those Papers into bur most serious consideration:—To congratulate his majesty on the strong assurances which his majesty continues to receive from the Spanish government of their determined perseverance in the cause of the legitimate monarchy, and of the national independence of Spain; and to state that we rejoice in the determination expressed by his majesty, that he will continue to the people of Spain, so long as they shall remain true to themselves, his most strenuous assistance and support:—Humbly to express the satisfaction which we feel in learning that his majesty has renewed to the Spanish, nation, in the moment of its difficulties and reverses, the engagements which his majesty voluntarily contracted at the outset of its struggles against the usurpation and tyranny of France; humbly to thank his majesty for acquainting us that these engagements have been reduced into the form of a Treaty of Alliance; and for his gracious condesension in assuring us, that so soon as the ratifications shall have been. exchanged, that Treaty will, by his majesty's directions, be laid before us:—To assure his majesty of our entire participation in the lively satisfaction with which his majesty has contemplated the achievements of his forces in the commencement of the campaign in Portugal, and the deliverence of the kingdom of his majesty's ally from the presence and oppression of the French army; while, on the other hand, we deeply regret the termination of that campaign by an Armistice and Convention, of some of the articles of which his majesty has been graciously pleased to inform us that his majesty has felt himself 35 obliged formally to declare his disapprobation:—To assure his majesty, that he may rely on our disposition to enable his majesty to continue the aid afforded by his majesty to the king of Sweden; and to state that we are sensible that monarch derives a peculiar claim to his majesty's support in the present exigency of his affairs from having concurred, as his majesty has been graciously pleased to inform us, with his majesty, in the propriety of rejecting any proposal for Negociation to which the government of Spain was not to be admitted as a party:—To return his majesty our humble thanks for directing the Estimates of the current year to be laid before us; and to assure his majesty, that he may confidently rely upon our zeal and affection to make such further provision of Supply as the vigorous prosecution of the war may render necessary; and that we shall have the greatest satisfaction in finding ourselves enabled, according to the wish so graciously expressed by his majesty, to provide such Supply without any great or immediate increase of the existing burthens of his people:—To assure his majesty, that we learn with the highest satisfaction, that notwithstanding the measures resorted to by the enemy for the purpose of destroying the commerce and resources of this kingdom, the public revenue has continued in a course of progressive improvement:—Humbly to thank his majesty, for informing us that the measure adopted by parliament in the last session for establishing a Local Militia has been already attended with the happiest success; and that it promises to be extensively and permanently beneficial to the country:—Finally, to assure his majesty, that, duly weighing the immense interests which are at stake in the war now carrying on, we will, in obedience to the special recommendation of his majesty, proceed, with as little delay as possible, to consider of the most effectual measures for the augmentation of the regular army, in order that his majesty may be the better enabled, without impairing the means of defence at home, to avail himself of the military power of his dominions in the. great contest in which his majesty is engaged, and to conduct that contest, under the blessing of Divine Providence, to a conclusion compatible with the honour of his majesty's crown; and with the interests of his allies, of Europe, and of the world."
§ Mr. S. R. Lushington
rose to second the Address, It is highly satisfactory to me 36 (said he) in rising to second the Address which the hon. member has moved, that the ability and eloquence with which he has illustrated the various important topics which it contains, leaves little for me to perform. In executing this lighter task, I trust, however, to the usual courtesy of the house, to make a large allowance for my deficiencies. Believing as I do, that there never was a period in the history of this country, when Parliament assembled under circumstances more deeply affecting the vital interests of this Empire, I cannot but feel the strongest desire, that the house may join in an animated and unanimous expression of loyalty and attachment to his Majesty's person, and of hearty cooperation in the just views of his government. To the cordial manifestation of these sentiments on former arduous occasions, to the vigour thereby infused into the measures of his majesty's government and thence transmitted to the nation at large, we owe it that at this moment Great Britain remains single, amidst the nations of the world, unhurt and unappalled by the tyranny or treachery of France. If such have been the acknowledged benefits flowing from the united force of Parliament on former occasions, assuredly I cannot err in anticipating a cordial concurrence in the motions made by the hon. mover on this occasion, involving as they do the honour of the crown, the pledged faith, and all the generous feelings of the nation, and the only remaining hope of deliverance to Spain, and all those nations who have successively fallen under the violence of France and their own concurring supineness. Reflecting upon the unhappy events which in these latter years have alienated so many of our Allies from this country, and thrown them into the arms of the enemy, his Majesty's ministers have felt it particularly their duty to give an example to the world of the interest which his Majesty takes in the welfare of other States—of the good faith of this country in performing all the duties of alliance. Convinced that they were dealing with an enemy, who omitted no means of fraud or force to gratify his lust of dominion, and satiate the vengeance which his heart feels, and his tongue often acknowledged, towards this country, his Majesty's ministers have not been deluded, by hollow offers of peace, from performing the duty they had solemnly pledged to Spain. Acting on that spirit of caution which the experience of former treachery 37 justified, they ascertained that the principles upon which the enemy professed to treat with this country must be to the last degree offensive and insulting to every man not prepared to humble and disgrace it. To have made peace with France by abandoning Spain, would be so foul an act of cowardice and desertion, that it seems to me impossible any man could counsel his majesty to an act so disgraceful to the country. War, under any circumstances of disaster that the imagination can conceive, appears to me preferable to such a peace. I feel therefore that his majesty's government is entitled to our warmest approbation, for anticipating and defeating the treacherous views which dictated the insidious offers of the enemy, for the manly Declaration published on that occasion. I trust, indeed, that the feelings of the house, in this respect, will be as general as their determination, cordially to support his majesty in the vigorous prosecution of the war in Spain, and such a declaration seems to me a homage which all parties must be not less anxious to pay to our national honour and faith, than to the principles they have themselves formerly professed. But if we shall desert the cause of Spain, in the midst of her reverses, even whilst the Spaniards continue true to themselves, with what confidence can we hope for our own safety. So deep a stain will, I trust, never fall upon this country; for with nations as individuals, punishment follows fast upon the footsteps of dishonour. I trust therefore, that every member of this house will feel, that the faith of Great Britain, solemnly pledged to Spain and Sweden, must be religiously observed, and that the preservation of that faith, in all cases of difficulty and trial, is the surest tower of safety to this country; and the best hope of deliverance to the rest of the world. His majesty has expressed the lively satisfaction he has derived from the achievements of his army, in the commencement of the campaign in Portugal. Sir, there is not a hamlet in this empire which did not partake of his majesty's feelings, in viewing the successes which crowned the valour of his troops, whilst they were under the sole command of my right hon. friend; though the nation universally shares in the anguish of his majesty's heart, upon the extraordinary infatuation which sacrificed all the glories of Vimeira to the enemy, yet I trust that the disappointments and difficulties which have occurred, great and severe as they 38 are, will have no other effect than to inspire us with additional vigour, and stimulate us to new exertions, in the confidence that the same skill and heroism will hereafter lead to happier results. Alter all the gloomy predictions which were held forth to us, of the failure of our revenue and commerce, during the last Session of Parliament, it must be matter of the most substantial satisfaction to this house, to find that the enemy has himself chiefly felt the evils of his own injustice. The system adopted by his majesty's government, and the spirit of enterprise and industry which distinguish the commercial dealings of this country above all the nations of the world, have alleviated the mischief meditated by France against the resources, credit, and commerce of this country, and the revenues are still proceeding in a state of progressive improvement. His majesty has recommended to the house the increase of our military power. In times of tumult and disorder, like those in which we live, our military strength must be made to keep pace with the enemy, and the house feeling that not only the success of our arms in foreign countries, but the defence of our own islands depend upon the speedy augmentation of our military power, will no doubt determine, with every possible expedition, the best means of obtaining that increase. To me this has always appeared to be the paramount subject of our anxieties and deliberations; and it is highly satisfactory to know, that the measures heretofore adopted for this purpose, have succeeded to the full and best of our expectations. It now becomes the wisdom of this house to enable his majesty to avail himself of the military strength of the dominions at the earliest possible period, for without it there can be no hope of a successful resistance of that tyranny which has already desolated some of the fairest portions of the globe, and still menaces with its baleful influence the interests and happiness of the world. For these reasons, I most cheerfully second the motion of my hon. friend.
The awful circumstances, Mr. Speaker, under which the present session of Parliament commences, would in themselves, without even his Majesty's direction, have called our attention to them, and produced, I am sure, in the mind of every man, a wish to offer to the House such opinions and counsels as are. likely to tend to the honour and security of the 39 country. His Majesty in his Speech intimates to us, that the contest in which we are engaged has no likelihood of being brought to a conclusion favourable to the interests of this country, or of our allies, without a vigorous and persevering continuation of the efforts of the British nation. I do believe that his Majesty may have formed a very just estimate of the situation of this country, and of the rest of Europe, in so saying; but I cannot but lament how deeply he is likely to feel the disappointment which must probably ensue from the conduct of those to whom he has entrusted the councils of the nation. If his Majesty thinks that a vigorous perseverance in our exertions is the only means of bringing the present contest to a favourable conclusion, I do imagine that we can form but a feeble hope, that the same men who hitherto hare so feebly negociated, and who have so ineffectually conducted the force of this nation, will gratify the wishes of the country in their future efforts, either in our own behalf, or in that of our allies; for never, I believe, since Great Britain attained and supported its present rank among the nations of Europe, has its public force been directed with so little skill, so little foresight, or so little success.—His Majesty last year concluded a Treaty with the king of Sweden, by which the country stands pledged to pay to that monarch the sum of one hundred thousand pounds, which stipulation the country has performed, with fidelity; for I believe that so far as relates to the expenditure of the public money, there are none who will think of accusing those of his Majesty's council with ever having been wanting in vigour. (Hear! hear! hear!) By that Treaty it is stipulated, that if the king of Sweden be attacked by his neighbours, this country shall concert with that Sovereign as to sending out an auxiliary force to his aid. How far there has been any thing of concert—how far there has been any thing of counsel—how far there has been any mutual communication, or common understanding, between the government of this country and his Swedish Majesty, in conformity with the Treaty, we can form some judgment by the expedition of sir J. Moore and his army sent out in the course of the last summer. Upon that occasion, an army was brought from the south of Europe almost at the moment when Spain had resolved upon hostile exertions against the usurpation of the government of France, for the purpose of de- 40 fending Sweden. That army was commanded by one of the ablest generals in the British army, aye, and the most confided in; for that gallant officer has since been entrusted with the command of an army in Spain, upon whose success and safety perhaps at this moment depends, not alone the independence of Spain, and the glory and character of Britain, but the fate of Europe; even the hopes of humanity itself. It cannot then be argued by the right hon. gent. opposite, that if there was a failure of the expedition for the defence of Sweden, that failure was attributable to the commander of that army. For it is impossible, that the same men could have recommended to their sovereign, to employ him in Spain with whom they were dissatisfied in Sweden. (Hear! hear! hear!) What then, I ask, was the result of that expedition? Was it because sir John Moore was kept in ignorance of the mutual counsel and concert of the two governments; or was it because there existed in the counsels of his Majesty's ministers neither method, system nor design, that that officer, without a single musquet being fired by his army, or any battalion of it being formed in array against an enemy, was compelled actually to make his escape from Stockholm in disguise? (Hear, hear, hear!) Is it here the empire is to look for a proof of that energetic vigour, on which the present servants of the Crown have ventured to plume them selves? Is this the prospective hope they hold out to their sovereign and to their country, of an able and commanding direction of its means and its resources? If we can find no such testimony from these occurrences, I fear we shall be able to trace in them the counterpart of the same compromising and dastardly policy, which in the same quarter of Europe marked their career a short time previous to the last session of Parliament. When they waged their detestable and fatal hostilities against the crown of Denmark, by the attack on Copenhagen, an aggression which has lowered the character of Great Britain for national honour and good faith, it was at least to be expected, that when such invaluable sacrifices were made, some great eventual and permanent benefit ought to have ensued. But what have we experienced? Were the evils which we had sacrificed national character and our before unsullied honour to avoid, less either in quality or extent than those, the very consequences of that policy which we now feel? If that rash and inglorious ex- 41 pedition had not taken place, the Danish navy would now consist of ships of war, blocked up in the ports of that country, instead of being converted, as it is now, into a more active and successful means of hostility against our commerce, than the navy of any power in Europe. Our commerce has, I contend, suffered far more in consequence of your attack, than it could have suffered had you not taken their fleet. (A laugh from the ministerial benches.) That opinion I maintain. Did you, when you made your assault upon the navy of Denmark, deprive it of the services of a single sailor? No. You contented yourselves with taking away their ships of war. Had their marine continued safe from your assault, it would have absorbed the exertions of their seamen. If hostilities between the two countries were unavoidable, a sense of pride would probably have compelled them to risque a contest with a British Fleet. Our tried experience and superiority at sea, made us easy as to the issue. But by your own policy, having deprived them of that which occupied the exertions of their numerous sailors, Denmark now applies her whole force of that kind in a predatory warfare against your commerce. This has been the result of an unjustifiable measure; which, whilst it exasperated the enmity of an unoffending neutral, has by no means diminished her means of annoyance. And this is a fresh instance of the merits of that ministerial vigour, which was to characterize the government of those now entrusted with the confidence of the Crown. In what view the right hon. gent. opposite considers such consequences, it is not for me to presume. I for my part cannot but consider them not less injurious to our interests, than they are degrading to our reputation; for, I ask any man, when the nations of the world sec expeditions sent for certain objects, return, not alone without effecting such objects, but even without adopting one single measure to promote their accomplishment, in what light, I say, can they consider them, but disgraceful— disgraceful not to the commander of the British army, nor to the gallant men under his command, but certainly disgraceful to those counsels which have manifested no farther proof of enlargement of system, which have realized no other promise of energy in cultivating resources, or promptitude in applying them, save in a sort of pantomimical movement of fleets and armies from one end of Europe to the other 42 without effecting any thing. (Hear! hear! hear!)—After these transactions in the North of Europe, the affairs of Spain next engrossed the attention of the world. The government of France having made its iniquitous attempt upon the independence of that nation, (an attempt deserving of all the censure and reprobation which the hon. mover has so eloquently pronounced upon it,) an opportunity of ardent hope to this country, and of probable deliverance to Europe, presented itself, such as we had not witnessed since the revolution of France in 1789. This was an event of the greatest importance, an event big with the greatest consequences, and which demanded the greatest attention of the king's ministers: they, and they only, were capable of forming a just opinion concerning it. It was impossible to conceive that such a country as Great Britain could view such passing events with indifference, or without taking a very prominent part in their direction. The question for those entrusted with the management of our concerns, was to obtain the necessary knowledge, and to bestow upon it, when acquired, the most mature consideration. It is upon this principle the conduct of his majesty's ministers, with respect to the war in Spain, in my opinion, is to be appreciated. It is in the recollection of this House, that we were first acquainted with the exertions of the Spanish people a very short time previous to the prorogation of Parliament. The right hon. gentlemen opposite at that period studiously avoided to make any communication on that subject to this house. They had determined to apply to their own credit, all the glory and advantage, which the cause of Europe may derive from their co-operation with the Spanish people. They, and they alone, were aware of the wishes and objects of that nation; all that was known was known by them; all that was done, was done by them; all that was advised was advised by them. When, therefore, the Spanish nation undertook to resist the power and usurpation of France, and when the government of this country had determined to co-operate in that effort, the natural course of duty was to decide on the system best calculated to insure the important object. It will not be denied that the maturest reflection was necessary, and that this country, in the application of its means, should not take any precipitate steps. We had to recollect, that if Spain was successful in its struggle, such an event would not only, in its immediate 43 effects, prove highly beneficial, both to them and Great Britain, but that the relative power of France would have been considerably diminished. Had we succeeded! in placing upon the throne of Spain, a prince hostile to the present dynasty of France, and friendly to this country for its services in its cause, the designs of France against the peace and independance of Europe would have vanished into air.—When, therefore, such consequences hinged upon the decision of our counsels, I can, without fear of contradiction, assume, that in our system of co-operation, ministers should have been comprehensive in their views, and energetic in carrying them into execution. The most prominent object for their consideration, we should suppose, was the nature of the warfare which was most likely to be successfully carried on by the Spanish people: Whether it was to be conducted in the field, according to the modern system of military tactics in Europe, or whether it was to be considered as a kind of desultory attack by the host of the Spanish population, supplied by Great Britain with arms and military equipments, throughout every province of that peninsula. This mode of warfare has been recommended by the advantages which it affords an armed population, favoured by a mountainous country, capable of enduring the severest privations, and of profiting by every incident to harass the enemy against which it is opposed. When such a system is carried to its whole extent, the most powerful invading army may be brought to conclude, from its great loss of blood and treasure, that it were wiser to desist than persevere in such an hazardous attempt. These were the two schemes, one of which, in contemplating the affairs of Spain, ought to have been pursued. But his majesty's ministers seem, from their conduct of the war in Spain, not to have decided. System they had none: on one day they gave the preference to this plan, and on the next they changed it for another. If any reliance can be placed on the communications which have been made in the various newspapers, as to the proceedings of the Board of Enquiry, it would seem that sir A. Wellesley was sent out by his majesty's government without any specific instruction, without any direction whither he was to proceed, or with what authority in Spain to consult. Indeed he appears to have sailed with a sort of adventurous roving commission:—to do whatever he pleased!—It is next to 44 be considered, whether the force under his command was sufficient for any really serviceable object. For I can conceive nothing less likely to serve the Spanish cause, than to send out to that country a force not competent to keep the field itself, and not able to co-operate with the force which we were told the Spaniards had in I arms. If I am wrong in the statements I have considered it my duty to make, no blame is imputable to me. I have been kept in ignorance, and therefore have a right to refer to the communications which, whether right or wrong, have appeared in the public journals. From these it appears, that sir A. Wellesley had, on his arrival at Corunna, consulted with he Junta of Gallicia, and that that body had recommended to him not to debark at St. Andero, but to proceed to Portugal and make that country a point of union? and connection between the northern and southern provinces of Spain. That the Junta of Gallicia were very anxious to get rid of a French force, in possesion of a country on their rear, is what few could doubt; but how a compliance with their wishes, by the commander of a British army, could have tended to the delivery of Spain, is that to account for which all men are at a loss. Because, if Spain had been relieved by the expulsion of the French force from its provinces, there was little doubt that the enemy, in possession of Lisbon, would have been compelled to submit. The smaller country was dependent on the greater for its deliverance from the invaders; but it by no means followed, that the possession of Portugal extended a reciprocal protection to Spain. How did the facts unfold themselves You have expelled the enemy from Portugal, and since that he has entered Madrid, defeated three Spanish armies, and is at this moment in pursuit of your's. (Hear, hear, hear!) We learn this night from his Majesty's Speech, that his arms, though at first honourable, have terminated in an Armistice and Convention, of some of the articles of which his Majesty has felt himself obliged to declare his formal disapprobation. When or where this disapprobation has been declared, is to this moment a secret to me. find from others, whom I should suppose to have better information, that they never heard of this disapproval, nor ever met with any person who had. But even had we heard of this disapproval before, we are to this moment left in ignorance of what parts of these two transac- 45 tions his Majesty's disapproval was expressed. Was it to the substantial points of the Convention of Cintra, or was it to those Articles which recognized the titles of the head of the French government, and the general who in Portugal commanded the French army? It is not a little surprising to be told that his Majesty had declared his disapproval, whilst at the same time no explanation is given of the points to which it was directed. But it would be far more surprising to find that this House was not determined to canvass the whole of this transaction, in order fully to ascertain what were the points which called for censure, and to whom the delinquency was to be attributed. (Hear, hear!) But it was not only in sending the British troops to Portugal in preference to Spain, that the vigour of the King's ministers was illustrated. It was also to be traced in the various equipments of the army. It was felt in the want of artillery, in the derangement of the commissariat, in the scantiness of the cavalry force. (Hear, hear, hear!) If the newspapers be correct in their accounts, the defence of all the generals employed in Portugal, for acceding to the disgraceful Convention of Cintra, rested principally upon the ill provided state of the British army, and its inability: on that account to fulfill the object for which it was appointed. And, yet, the ministers who planned and sent out that Expedition are the men, on whose able and energetic exertions this House and the country is now called upon to rely, for the propel and successful management of these vigorous efforts which his Majesty's Speech has told us are necessary to bring this awful contest to a favourable result. Is it not more consistent with common reason? Is it not more suited to the duties we owe the British people to presume, that from the experience of the past, such men are unsafe to trust with the destinies of the future; Was the noble lord (Castlereagh) opposite so stinted as to that species of force: or so stinted as to the menus of its conveyance, that for a British army, destined to act in the field against the enemy, he could only obtain 200 cavalry? Who that reverts to the proceedings of this House, in the last session, but must remember that noble lord, almost with tears in his eyes, and in a tone of despondence that arrested commiseration, regretting the exhausted state in which he asserted that department of the public service was, through a feeling of false economy, left 46 by a right honourable friend (Mr. T. Grenville) not now in the House. It was then, we were told by him, that by having transports when they were not wanting, we were sure to have them at hand in the moment of urgency. By what fatality I ask the noble lord is it, that all his characteristic energy seems to have set upon the present state of things? (Hear, hear, hear !) Is this the testimony, which under the administration of the noble lord, Great Britain exemplifies to the continent of Europe, of her military powers, and of the strength and comprehension of those who manage her resources? Indeed, if their effects had not proved most lamentable to the security of Europe, and the character of this empire, it would afford a most prolific source of ridicule to review the ministerial operations of the noble lord. An army sent without instructions, without plan, almost destitute of cavalry, and deficent in stores; the artillery not fit for the operations which should have been pursued, whilst the horses, (the accounts given of the state of which, if it were not for the melancholy consequences, were truly ridiculous) were represented as blind and lame, and some even as dying of old age. These, at least, are the statements of the general officers whom the noble lord had selected; and if they are not satisfactory to himself, he alone is to blame for their inaccuracy, having appointed three commanders in chief with a rapidity greater than the relays of post horses, from whom, of course, no very intelligent accounts were to be expected.—Now, let us examine the reasons stated by the generals for acquiescing in the Convention. Time, say they, was thus obtained to for ward the British army to Spain. The Convention was signed definitively on the 30th of August; and yet the British army was not ready for action in Spain for two months, nay, some of the troops did not leave Portugal for ten weeks after. Is it only for the conveyance of the troops of France that the noble lord can find transports? These he can convey in British shipping, to be again, almost immediately on their debarkation, employed in Spain, whilst by that very measure he subjects, in a dreadful season, the British army to a march of 500 miles. It is impossible to pronounce adequately upon that disgraceful measure; there is so much in every part of it of mystery, enigma and riddle. We are now told, that his Majesty has expressed his formal disapprobation of 47 some parts of the Convention; and yet his ministers thought proper to fire the Tower guns in approbation of it. His Majesty, it appears, had a different feeling of what affects the honour of the country and the glory of the British army, and I most sincerely believe it, from that entertained by those ministers, who conceived it right to proclaim with all the demonstrations of public rejoicing, this stain upon both. His Majesty protests against being deemed a partner with his servants in this disgraceful transaction; and has this night announced to his Parliament that he has formally disapproved of it. Early in the progress of the hostile operations in Spain,I believe in the month of July, a document was published by the Supreme Junta of Seville, under the title of Precautions, which fixed upon a plan of warfare, and also conveyed instructions to the. inhabitants of Spain, as to the manner in which they were to conduct their hostility against the enemy. Biscay, Castile and Navarre were the parts of the peninsula pointed out as the most proper theatre for hostile exertions. These were the points most important to engage the consideration of the patriotic leaders, and, of course, of the auxiliary force which was naturally to be expected from this country. Now, if his Majesty's ministers had condescended to hold a little intercourse with the Supreme Junta, or have allowed the army to remain in England till they actually knew something of the state of Spain; or, if sir Arthur had even corresponded with the Junta, they, and we too, would have learned, that the most important duty to be performed was the defence of the north of Spain, and the passage of the Pyrenees; and then, instead of being worsted, the army so sent might have been used for the most beneficial purposes, so as to make the French retire within the frontiers of France. I am certain that was the plan of warfare which would have been most essential to the safety of Spain. The Convention of Portugal having taken place, his Majesty's ministers thought proper to cause the Tower guns to be discharged, in token of the satisfaction they felt, until they found that all the rest of his majesty's subjects entertained a contrary feeling upon the transaction. The public displeasure was loud and general; every patriotic heart felt the stain cast upon his country's honour; every tongue uttered the complaint. It did so turn out, too, that the first city in the empire, the city of London, 48 sympathising with the national feeling, approached the throne with their sentiments, and a most vigorous reception they did meet with indeed, (hear! hear!) The right hon. gentlemen had certainly anticipated a complete triumph over the Lord Mayor and Common Council of London; but subsequent events proved that his majesty's citizens could rally. The Corporation tell his Majesty, that they think the Convention disgraceful, dishonorable to the British arms, and injurious to his Majesty's interests: they call for investigation and the punishment of the guilty. In answer to this application, his Majesty's ministers advise his Majesty to tell the Citizens of London that their interposition was unnecessary, and that it was inconsistent with British justice to pronounce judgment before investigation. Really, though the gentlemen opposite may think their responses not only wise but oracular, I am at a loss to know what the difference is between British justice, and that justice which, in every variation of time or place, is immutable. Feeling the profoundest respect in every case, in which his Majesty appears to act, I still must say, that his advisers put into his mouth upon that' occasion, an answer as little congenial to the spirit of the British Constitution, as it was ill suited to the dignity of the throne. Ministers may talk with flippancy themselves, they may pun and epigrammatise, they may sneer, or they may snoutch,—but when unfortunately the king of this country feels it his duty to hint his displeasure to his people, or convey to them a rebuke for their conduct, there ought to be a dignity and decorum observed in the language of reproof from the throne, which would make displeasure more severely be felt by those for whom it was intended. But, Sir, I can easily conceive that ministers might have been a little irascible on receiving that remonstrance, because, notwithstanding the usual complacency of the City of London to their measures, it had within the last year on two important occasions opposed them, first on the Reversion Bill, and latterly on this disgraceful Convention.— The most material considerations, however, are the employment of the British force in Spain, the dilatoriness of those directing it, and their total want of capacity. If it were wise at all to send a British army into Spain, that opportunity has been lost, which appears to have been the only favourable one that presented itself. In 49 giving assistance to the Spaniards, there were, as I before stated, two modes of proceeding. What the opinions of the Spaniards themselves are I profess myself totally ignorant. The fact is, that this ignorance does not proceed from any want of diligence on my part in making inquiries; but for want of any authentic source from which information could be procured. Did the Spaniards make application for a regular force to be sent into their country, or for money, arms, ammunition, clothing, and all other necessaries to enable them to prosecute the war against such armies as France had the power of pouring into their country? I ask this question, because if Spain with such assistance could not carry the point of keeping out any fresh reinforcements, there was little probability of preventing that country from being over-run. In investigating this matter we should have considered what was the amount of the disposable force of France. To guide us in regard to this point, we have a recent document to refer to for information. In papers which were laid before Parliament in the beginning of the year 1806, just after the failure of the third coalition, there appears a Memoir from the court of Vienna to that of St. Petersburg, stating the amount of force which France could probably bring against the allied Powers. From this document it appears that the French force was then estimated at 500,000 men, exclusive of the imperial guards, which consisted of 15,000 men. This was the opinion of the court of Vienna before France had over-run Germany and Poland and some other countries of Europe, and previously to her connection with Russia. The disposable force of France must, therefore, have been since considerably increased; and it was consequently most material for this country, before it adopted any measure whatever, to consider well the propriety of employing her troops in Spain, where there was a likelihood of such immense numbers being brought against them. Never, I believe, was sympathy so strong, as that evinced in England in favour of the Spanish cause. Yet, though such had been the enthusiasm of the nation at large, and however ardent the people might be in lending assistance to support such a glorious struggle, it was the duty of those, who were intrusted with the management of the national force, to consider in every point of view the propriety or impropriety of complying with the po- 50 pular feeling. That was perhaps the feeling of the moment, but ministers were bound to consult for the permanent interests of the public, and it was therefore their duty to investigate and ascertain by every possible mode, whether they ought to risk an English army at all in Spain, or confine their assistance to the supplies I have mentioned. I do not wish to impute blame to them for having sent a British force to Spain, if the Spaniards themselves applied for it, and if it was the opinion of competent judges, that there was a probability of enabling them thereby to keep the field against their powerful enemy. We have instances in our history of our having been before in a similar situation and under similar circumstances. The independence of the United Provinces was effected principally by the assistance of England. Queen Elizabeth for her own safety, against the designs of Spain, assisted those who revolted against its tyranny and oppression; and I wish that ministers had adverted, in the present instance, to the conduct of that wise princess, and her wise administaation. None of the present ministry can think themselves disgraced by a comparison with lord Burleigh; and yet we find that queen Elizabeth, pressed as she was by the power, the rancour, the persevering hostility of Spain, did not hazard the whole force of her dominions, nor proceed to send any number of troops abroad, without some assurance of safety in case of disaster. She, by the advice of her ministers, took care to possess what were called cautionary towns, and thereby assured herself of a retreat, and gained a safe point whither to send reinforcements, as well as a security that the United Provinces should not abandon her in the contest in which they were engaged. I know not what has taken place between the English and Spanish governments upon that subject; but, I perceive, that in his Majesty's late Declaration it is stated, that certain obligations exist which are considered equally binding as the most solemn treaty. From what I yet know of the matter, I cannot agree in the propriety of any such sentiment: I should not, however, think of abandoning them in the hour of misfortune; but I cannot admit, that we should consider our present obligations in the light of a solemn treaty: for what is the nature of such an engagement? It is entered into in a moment of hurry and precipitation; it has not been, laid before us, and therefore, is, as yet, un- 51 authorised by Parliament; and, consequntly, you may approve or disapprove, you may grant or refuse the supplies for carrying it into effect. Upon the whole, therefore, I know not how an engagement of this sort is to be considered as equally binding as the most solemn treaty. But we now understand, that a formal treaty has been negociated, which it is intended to lay before the house, and until that be done I cannot decide upon its merits or propriety. I dare say the house would naturally be inclined to receive, with the fondest partiality, every thing apparently tending to the advantage of the Spanish cause: but, sir, the state of our warfare, under such circumstances as I have already stated, and as his Majesty's ministers have conducted it, is truly extraordinary. If the Spaniards preferred that mode of warfare, which was of a desultory nature, instead of a continued warfare, then the British army could not have been of the least use in Spain; for a British army there must necessarily have pursued a plan wholly different from that of the Spaniards. I know not which system of warfare was proper to be adopted; but I say the two systems are completely incompatible. The Spaniards, in their own country, and pursuing a desultory mode of attack, have the power of dispersing and rallying again, as occasion might require; but this is not the case with a regular army. If you combine the two modes you must necessarily destroy the energies and efficacy of one of them. We have already seen this exemplified in the Spaniards. We have seen their regular army defeated, and almost destroyed by the enemy; while in another quarter we have found their irregular force very successful; which shews that the two modes of fighting are perfectly inconsistent.—Now, sir, let us see what has been the vigour of ministers upon this occasion. By vigour, I presume, is meant a prompt energetic use and application of the public force. Will you tell us of one instance of such, promptitude and energy? I presume you cannot say it was displayed in Portugal; nor in Spain by sir John Moore's coming into the field after the Spanish army had been defeated It was not then useful, because it was unable to keep the field by itself. It. is an extraordinary circumstance, that the Convention of Portugal is made to rest in a great degree upon the speedy applicability of the British army in Spain, and yet the. general of that army, sir Hew Dalrymple, tells you there was no preparation 52 made for its reception in that country for some considerable time after the Convention was concluded. Can it then be said, that the object of the Convention was carried into effect, or that any time was gained by it? If such measures deserve the name of being energetic, or useful, I am at a loss to know what sort of measures would be deemed the contrary.— As to that part of the speech which relates to Sweden, I have only to observe, that this country is placed in such a situation that I do not see how we can refuse to give the stipulated supply; but I cannot help lamenting, that there is not the smallest probability of any good arising from Sweden continuing to persevere. We are told that the king of Sweden deserves our support the more, because he refused the overtures made to him from Erfurth, relative to excluding the Spaniards from the negociation. Perhaps he deserves the applause of mankind for his bravery and perseverance; but what good, I may ask, can he thereby render to Spain or England? When this vote of supply was proposed last year, I ventured to say, that the most prudent use Sweden could make of the money, was to procure a peace for herself, as it was totally impossible for her to resist her enemies, or be of the least advantage to her allies. Nothing can be more hurtful to us in the eyes of the world than endeavouring to involve the smaller countries in Europe in hostilities with France. The immense superiority of our naval power, our commerce, and prodigious wealth, enable us to look to a long continuance of war, perhaps with safety; but what is that to the powers of the Continent? Their resources are not great; they have no means of offence against France; and what advantage can we derive from the misfortunes of other countries? Instead of being the arbiters and protectors of the Continent, we should, by so doing, be holding up ourselves as the cause of the ruin of other nations.—Having said thus much upon what comes under our notice in the speech itself, I must now take the liberty of making an observation or two upon what the speech omits to state—I mean in. regard to what relates to the United States of America. Much correspondence has taken place betwixt the American government and this country, as well as between America and France; and we know that a direct overture was lately made by that power to us, and by us rejected. When the last session of 53 parliament concluded, we left America in a state of hostility and alienation, apparently with great probability of a connection with France leading her into a state of war with us. The commerce of America has suffered much—her own measure of embargo, (whether wise or not) is in itself a prodigious restraint on her trade, and indeed nearly tends to its total annihilation. It was always alleged that we were justified in our Orders in Council, because that neutral power had not taken the necessary steps to obtain from France a revocation of her Decree. The American government however seems to have conducted itself with much activity oh this subject. An application was made to France, which I think seems to acquit that government of any wish to favour France more than England, and also of any desire to do any thing more than was necessary for protecting her own interest. America now tells us, that she will take off the embargo with regard to England, and enforce it as far as regards France, the latter power being the first transgressor against her commerce; and that we shall thereby have all the advantage of her trade confined to us.—The right hon. gent. opposite, in an answer, assigning his reason for refusing that proposition, states, what I think rash and unjustifiable, that his Majesty cannot avoid hostility with America, by a concession, not made to America, but to France. Now, do the facts of the case bear him out in this assertion? Did she not enable you by that offer, to make your own Orders in Council infinitely more efficacious than they otherwise could have been? America suffered in her commerce; you suffered also; and you formerly said, that America had not applied to France to recal her decree: she has now made that application, and yet you will not accede to her proposition. The right hon. gent. assigns for his conduct another reason, which, if he does not review with wisdom and discretion, must, with deference to him, seem to imply a degree of levity and intoxication, arising from momentary success; he tells the Americans, that the system of blockade is harmless, and is now broken up into contemptible fragments. If the plan to be adopted with America is to be continued in this way, I am not surprised that his Majesty's speech should have been silent on the subject.—When the papers, which have been promised, shall be laid before the House, I shall then 54 be able to enter more fully into the discussion of the affairs of Spain. I have no desire to disturb the unanimity of the House on this occasion, though I thought it my duty to state distinctly my sentiments upon the various topics to which I have adverted, and for the full discussion of which other opportunities will arise. The particulars to which I wish to call the attention of the House on a future occasion, are the disgraceful Convention in Portugal, the conduct of Ministers id regard to the Spanish war, and also their conduct with respect to America. With the assistance of my friends, I intend, as soon as possible, to bring these matters before parliament for discussion and inquiry. After this previous notice of my intention, I cannot surely be accused of making a factious opposition, in order to interrupt the progress of public business, and without promoting the genuine interests of the country.
then rose. He observed that the declaration with which the rt. hon. gent. concluded his speech, that he would not oppose the Address that had been so ably moved by his hon, friend, and his farther declaration, that the various points on which he had briefly touched should become the subjects of subsequent discussion, released him from the great and irksome task of entering minutely into an, examination of the statements which the right hon. gent. had ventured to make. The right hon. gent. seemed particularly impressed with the conviction, that in the cause intrusted to his majesty's government (and never was there a cause more deeply interesting), there had been shewn a total want of wisdom and vigour, and that this country and Europe had no chance of salvation but by a change of the men who were to conduct the affairs of the state in the present most critical and important period. Whatever might have been the want of vigour in his majesty's present ministers, so much complained of by the right hon. gent., he believed the country would not have much more to hope for if the reins of government should fall into the hands of the right hon. gent. and his friends, who had given such ample proofs of zeal and anxiety for the welfare and interests of the country, by deserting all those, who were then allied for the defence of the cause of Europe. No great parliamentary recollection was necessary to carry back the mind to those periods, when the rt. hon. gent, and his 55 friends were called upon to support the cause of Europe, at a time scarcely less momentous than the present. Although the conduct of his majesty's present ministers might lie open to examination, he yet felt proud that it would bear an honourable contrast to that of their predecessors, He certainly did not mean to detain the House long on the present occasion; but he would shortly call their attention to the rt. hon. gent.'s observations in succession. The first instance adduced by the rt. thon. gent. in support of his charge of an absence of vigour in government was, that early in the last spring they sent a large military force to the Baltic to co-operate with our ally the king of Sweden. Now, with respect to this measure, as far as naval interference went, it turned out to be most critically opportune; for the marquis of Romana, who was at that time at the isle of Funen, had distinctly stated, when subsequently in this country, that if the British fleet had not entered the Belt on the very day on which it had, his army must have passed over to Zealand, followed by that of Bernadotte. As to what related to the military force, that was not left to the judgment of the British government alone. However highly he might think of the right hon. gent.'s judgment in military matters, he certainly thought that the opinion of the Swedish government on this subject should have at least equal authority; and he distinctly stated, that the force sent to Sweden was on the requisition, nay, at the entreaty of the Swedish minister resident in this country, who had declared that that force might make the whole difference of the salvation of Sweden. Feeling the determination to support the cause of Sweden by arms, and not as the rt. hon. gent. had held out, to sell it to the enemy, the British government had not hesitated to comply with this invitation. What had been the circumstances which led to the return of the troops, the house was not at that time investigating. His majesty's ministers would experience no difficulty in affording every explanation, except what might wound the feelings of our ally, or affect injuriously the interests of the public service. He certainly had no hesitation in declaring, that the gallant commander of that force stood completely exculpated; and he joined issue with the rt. hon. gent. that his majesty's government had given unequivocal proof, that they did not disapprove of the conduct of that brave and zealous 56 officer, by entirely intrusting to him the highest military confidence, that had ever been intrusted into the hands of a British general, in the annals of our history.—The next point in the rt. hon. gent.'s speech, which he should notice, was the great naval exertions, which that rt. hon. gent. stated to have been made by Denmark, notwithstanding the expedition, the morality of which he had formerly so strongly deprecated. And here he must remark on the strange perversion of terms created by the rt. hon. gent. who compared the teasing warfare of gun-boats in a calm, with the great naval efforts of our whole fleet. Did the rt. hon. gent. mean to say, that in the course of the last naval campaign in the Baltic, it would have made no difference, if, when the Russian fleet came out of Cronstadt, they had been joined by 15 Danish, sail of the line? Would not this country have been obliged to provide an equivalent fleet for the purpose of counteracting the naval force of the enemy, if we had had to meet 30 sail of the line, instead of 12 or 13' He left it to the rt. hon. gent.'s candour, as a statesman, to say, whether in such a case, the naval affairs of Great Britain would have stood as they now do, either in the Baltic or in any other part of the world. In those seas, exposed to frequent calms, especially in summer, the whole English fleet could not completely defend our commerce against the gun-boats. And often all the injury done to our trade was so inconsiderable, in proportion to the extent of that trade, as to be scarcely perceptible.—But all these points were collateral to that great and overwhelming consideration which must press upon the mind of every man, as connected with the probability of producing the resurrection of the world, or continuing it in that lamentable state in which it had been so long buried. He was most ready to admit, that on no former government had so heavy a responsibility attached, as that which had fallen on the present government since the close of the last session of parliament. He had no hesitation to concede, that to no government had the wishes, the hopes, and the determination of the country in their support been more unanimously expressed. He was ready to allow, that his majesty's ministers felt, that they had only to call upon the country, and that their call would be answered with the utmost liberality of feeling; they were controlled, therefore, by no other considerations than those natural limits to 57 which all human exertion, and all human power, were subject even in such an empire as Great Britain. Admitting, therefore, in the most extensive degree, the responsibility of his majesty's ministers on this subject, he felt no apprehension at the prospect of meeting the charge of the rt. hon. gent. upon it. He felt confident, that it would be proved they had redeemed the pledge given by them to parliament in the last session; that they had carried on the struggle and applied the abundant resources of the country in a manner which, on mature reflection, appeared most likely to secure the object in view, an opinion which even past experience served only to confirm. He felt bold, therefore, in declaring that whenever the rt. hon. gent. should bring the subject before the House in a tangible shape, he should be fully enabled to prove, that his majesty's government had acted on the fullest conviction of the course, that would be most conducive to the success of the cause of Spain; and, if that cause should not succeed, the failure would result, not from any neglect on their part, but from greater engines of destruction having been brought against that country than it was in the power of Great Britain to afford means of defence. This was too large, too interesting, and too important a subject to be broken down in a debate of that sort. Opinion upon it must depend on considerations, that could not be superficially examined. But he must be permitted, however, to say a few words upon the subject; and here he must observe, that it was not very easy to collect the rt. hon. gcnt.'s sentiments as to the course of military policy which ought to have been adopted towards Spain. The right hon. gent. had described two modes in which our military assistance might have been afforded: the one by furnishing the Spaniards with arms and ammunition merely; the other,(that which had besides been adopted by his majesty's government,) that of sending to their aid a regular military force. The right hon. gent. expressed his partiality for that species of warfare, recommended in their List of Precautions, by what he called the Supreme Junta, He certainly did recollect the paper alluded to by the right hon. gent. but it was circulated long before the Supreme Central Junta had an existence. The writer was unknown; it had no kind of authority; and it was impossible to ascertain, whether it expressed the general sentiments of the 58 nation. The right hon. gent. deprecated the introduction of a regular army to assist an irregular force. Certainly, early in the war, the Spanish troops were local and irregular; but this force was soon found to be ineffective. Even in Andalusia a regular army had been established, and it was not until they got a regular army, that the Spaniards were enabled to make an effectual struggle, and to reduce the power of the enemy by the defeat of Dupont at the memorable battle of Baylen. The course of events decided the question between a regular and an irregular force. When Madrid was evacuated, and the provinces purged of the French, every province felt the necessity of advancing its troops, and they had consequently been advanced and consolidated in the centre of the kingdom. His majesty's ministers had, therefore, no option—the option had been made by Spain. They had chosen the. mode of regular warfare, and it would have ill-befitted the character of Great Britain to have shrunk from the contest, and to have said to the Spaniards: We will give you money, we will give you stores, but we will not hazard our blood in your defence. Such language would indeed have been most ungenerous towards our allies, and most unworthy of the spirit and general feeling of this nation, in support of the Spanish cause. What had this country to do with the prudence or imprudence of the Spaniards adopting the system of warfare laid down in the Precautions? Whether Spain was to contend against France in irregular warfare or by regular war, was a matter for her own option; and she had at that time made her option for regular war, and forgiving battle to her enemies in the field. It was, therefore, the duty and policy of this country to support her cause in the same manner. The speech of the right hon. gent. was rather of a prudent cast, and not in that animated stile, in which another right hon. gent. (Mr. Sheridan), had, in the last session, represented the aiding Spain as paramount to all other duties. The right hon. gent. who spoke this night, seemed to think it was very improper and imprudent for a British army to enter Spain, without having some cautionary towns and forts surrendered to us, to secure our retreat in case of calamity. For his part, he knew of no town of that sort which could be surrendered, except Cadiz; for as to Ferrol, it was not a town capable of answering the object proposed, nor of 59 protecting the embarkation of an army. Now, as it was evident, that if we were to make any operations at all, they must be in the North of Spain, he could not conceive that a proposal would be well received in that country for surrendering a town quite without the line of our military operations. If we had made such a proposal to that generous and high-spirited nation, he could not conceive that we could have thrown a greater apple of discord to disturb the harmony of cordial cooperation. As to another disposition of the forces which had been mentioned, that of sending sir Arthur Wellesley's force of 9000 men to the Pyrenees, to cut off the communication between the 60,000 French troops who were in Spain, and the rest of the 500,000 disposable troops, of which the right hon. gent. stated the enemy's army to consist, the bare statement of such a plan must convince the House of its absurdity. If the right hon. gent. had really no other advice to offer to the House and the country than what he had stated, he rejoiced that his majesty's government had adopted other measures. As to the complaint which the right hon. gent. had made of want of regular information, he could assure him, that it was his wish to lay before the House, as early as possible, every information that would not be prejudicial to the public service; and he was happy to state, that he saw no objection to the fullest information being granted with respect to the transactions in Portugal, one of those topics to which the right hon. gent. had promised to call the attention of the House. He also thought, that very shortly the fullest information might be given with respect to our operations in Spain; and he was sure, that when the time of discussion should arrive, he would be perfectly ready to meet the right hon. gent. either upon the principles or upon the details of the question. As to the idea which had been thrown out, of the propriety of directing our forces to Spain in the first instance, instead of Portugal, he must say there never was a fallacy more absurd than the idea of a very inferior force occupying the passes of the Pyrennees, and cutting off entirely the communication between two armies infinitely superior. This fallacy seemed to arise from the idea that an army, when once landed, could put itself on march the next morning, to attack the enemy. There were some persons who appeared to think that an army once landed could act as 60 speedily as a ship when it has left the port. The difference, however, was very great: the ship had nothing to do but to go with the wind, and meet the enemy; whereas an army when landed had much difficuly in collecting provisions, and the means of transporting their necessary baggage. If the present administration were, however, to have waited till everything was ready for the reception of our armies, they must have stood as still as the last vigorous administration, who actually did nothing while in office.—He would venture to say, from the melancholy experience of the fate of general Blake's army, that if a British army had landed at St. Andero, and scrambled as far as gen. Blake advanced, none of them would ever have come back. He was convinced that there was not a single military man who would support the idea of a campaign in the Pyrennees, for a British army. The right hon. gent. had stated, that the expedition which had atchieved the deliverance of Portugal had been sent to sea, to seek its fortunes, without any particular direction from government. The fact, however, was directly the reverse, because, most unquestionably the expedition under sir Arthur Wellesley did sail with a most precise and determinate object. It had been ordered to go immediately to the Tagus, without stopping at Corunna. This direction was given in consequence of precise information received from sir C. Cotton, (which, however, afterwards turned out to be unfounded,) that there were no more than 5000 French troops in Lisbon and the other forts upon the Tagus, and that sir Arthur Wellesley's expedition would be sufficient to dislodge them. The expedition then had been sent out with a precise object, and with precise instructions, but it would hardly be contended, that government should have tied up the hands and the discretion of such a meritorious officer as sir Arthur Wellesley so completely as to say, that he must on no occasion take advantage of any favourable circumstances which might occur in the varying and fleeting fortune of the war, without waiting Until he had made a direct communication to government upon the subject, and had received their answer. It appeared to him that floating armies, under the command of trust-worthy officers, might be of great service, even when acting according to the circumstances of the times, without any particular directions from government; and he was confi- 61 dent that in this manner the corps of gen. Spencer had been of considerable service ill marching from Seville to Ayamonte, and stopping a portion of Junot's army that was coming to the relief of Dupont.— As to the attacks which had been made upon him for not having sent sufficient cavalry with the Expedition, he was ready to strengthen the right hon. gent.'s argument, and to admit, that it was only by accident that any cavalry at all had been attached to it. It was not supposed that cavalry was a proper description of force to send with those floating expeditions, which might be a long time at sea, before they found a favourable opportunity for landing. Some of the cavalry, however, which were in Portugal, had happened to come from the Mediterranean. He should always protest against the notion that we were never to engage an enemy, unless we were equal or superior to him in cavalry. He would ask the House, would they wish to blot out from the page of our history, those brilliant victories which we had gained when much inferior in cavalry? At the glorious battle of Alexandria, sir Ralph Abercrombie had but 150 dragoons, and the French had 2,400 cavalry; and at the battle of Maida, sir John Stuart had no cavalry at all. In the expedition to Portugal, the government had made sufficient provision even of cavalry. Our army would have been superior to the enemy in this respect, if the cavalry which was in Mondego Bay on the 20th (the day before the battle) had landed. The 18th dragoons were also very near. He would allow, however, that if sir Arthur Wellesley had had the cavalry on that day, upon which he routed the French, perhaps more completely than ever they had been routed on a former occasion, [Cries of hear ! hear !] the result of that victory would have been still more glorious. Although he was free to confess this, yet he must entirely resist the idea of government having neglected its duty in any particular. He believed the House must now recollect what was the temper of the country at the time that there appeared a delay in the sailing of the expedition under sir A. Wellesley from Cork. Whatever was the enthusiasm which prevailed in the public mind, for the immediate co-operation with the Spaniards, ministers would have been much to blame if they had not acted upon the information which they received from sir C. Cotton of the state of Lisbon and the forts upon the 62 Tagus. He could assure the right hon. gent. that for his own part, after having been attacked for four or five months upon this subject, in a mode, that he certainly had not resorted to do defend himself, he should be extremely glad to have an opportunity of making that defence firs himself and his majesty's government, and that the fair case should be laid before parliament. He could assure the right lion. gent. also, that although his sagacity might enable him to lay his fingers on some fault in the present government, yet he felt confident that his majesty's ministers could prove to the satisfaction of the House and the country, that they had not been negligent in the great trust which had been reposed in them: and no greater personal favour could be conferred upon him than in giving him the opportunity of defending those measures for which he felt himself so highly responsible.—As to the inconsistency which was stated between the disapprobation of his majesty of some parts of the Armistice and Convention, and the joy which his ministers had manifested in the usual manner, on hearing the news of the evacuation of Portugal, he thought this was a charge which might be easily explained. He believed, that every body had heard with joy the brilliant victories of our army, and the delivery of Portugal from the oppression and tyranny of France. If the right hon. gent. himself did not feel joy on those topics mentioned in the Speech, he could not conceive upon what grounds he had concurred in the Address. If, upon the receipt of the news of the deliverance of Portugal, ministers had not thought it proper to announce the intelligence by the usual demonstrations of joy, their silence would have been considered unfair with respect to the generals who negociated the Armistice and Convention. It would have appeared as if the whole weight of ministers and of his majesty's government was against them. It was not at all extraordinary, that his majesty's opinion on a question submitted to a military tribunal, should not be expressed in his Speech from the throne; but if the right hon. gent. chose to seek information in another manner, it would not be difficult to obtain it. As to the Answer which had been given to the Address of the city of London, he believed the right hon. gent. would find it very hard indeed to persuade the city of London that his majesty's ministers were actuated by any other view in the advice 63 they gave his majesty on that subject, than the sense which they felt of their public duty; and much less that they could have any wish to use language to the city of London which could be conceived harsh or irritating. They did, however, think, that the business had begun to take a complexion of party, and that the city of London had been surprized into that Address, which appeared to take for granted, that there must have been guilt some where, and to demand the punishment of the authors. The Answer was in plain but not disrespectful language; and in using such language, his majesty conceived that he was taking the best means of securing the confidence of that city, which had given him so many proofs of its affection. — As to the intention which the right hon. gent. had intimated of bringing forward for separate discussion all the topics upon which he had touched, nothing could be more gratifying to his feelings, than that those subjects should have the fullest discussion in parliament. This was necessary, not only for the justification of ministers, but that the country should feel the confidence which it was necessary that they should have, in the present critical situation of affairs. He therefore congratulated the country that parliament was now met, and that those subjects which were so interesting to the feelings of the nation, and to its honour, would soon be fully and fairly discussed.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said it was not his intention to go into a general view of the subject which was before the house, upon the Speech from the throne, nor into all the topics that had been brought forward by the noble lord who had just preceded him, a great part of whose speech had been taken up in planning imaginary campaigns, in order to shew how ridiculous they would be. But there were some points to which he could not help adverting; and, first, as to the Convention of Portugal. He wished the house to be quite sure it understood what it was called upon to do in voting this Address; because, from the speech of the noble lord, it appeared, that we were congratulating the throne for that Convention; and as far as it embraced the consideration of the valour and the skill of the gallant officer who commanded and the steadiness and courage of the men who fought at the battle of Vimiera, the house had indeed good reason and ample matter for rejoicing— it was in that view it, an event which filled every heart 64 with joy; but when the terms and conditions of that Convention were considered, it presented another side of the picture, in which there was nothing to be seen but humiliation and disgrace. The noble lord had asked, what, shall we not rejoice at the event of the battle of Vimiera, which caused the evacuation of Portugal by the French? Yes, he was as ready as the noble lord was to rejoice at that event, and to agree to an Address expressive of that feeling; but he could not agree to that in an unqualified sense, nor indeed did that seem to be expected from the throne, from the manner in which the Speech of his majesty, delivered by the commissioners this day, by the royal command, was worded: for by that speech his majesty himself regrets the termination of the campaign in Portugal, and states that some of the articles are of a nature, of which his majesty has expressed his formal disapprobation. Then, he wished the house to consider the state in which it stood at the present moment. It was called upon to rejoice at the termination of a campaign which had been preceded by a Convention, some of the articles of which had met his majesty's disapprobation; and this was the more perplexing, since these articles which had thus, and no doubt justly, met the royal disapprobation, were not laid before the house.— The noble lord had said, that the city of London had been mildly and moderately reproved for condemning, without information, the terms of the Convention. Not to speak of the mildness or moderation of the reproof, he must say, that it was extraordinary, that precisely the thing for which the city of London was reproved, parliament was now called upon to do. [Cries of hear! hear!] They were then called upon to concur in that part of his majesty's speech, which expressed disapprobation of some of the articles of the Armistice and the Convention, without any information at all upon the subject being before the house. It appeared to him, that no inconsistency could be greater than that. He should not go into a discussion of the details of the equipment of the expedition; but common rumour reported that there was a difference of opinion between the government and the commander in chief upon that subject, and that the latter asked in vain for cavalry horses and horses to draw his artillery, and was finally obliged to buy many of them at his own expence. He could' not help noticing and 65 condemning the light and fanciful manner in which the noble lord spoke of our campaign in Spain. When it was considered that one of the greatest armies which this country had ever sent into the field was now in Spain; that it was under an officer of the first merit in his profession, possessing the confidence of the government and the country, and that, nevertheless, it was under the necessity of retreating; when it was considered, that news had arrived this very day of Buonaparté, with an army three times superior, hovering near it and threatening its right wing; and when it was also considered, that perhaps before the house should break up that night it was not improbable, that intelligence might arrive of still greater calamities, he did not conceive the noble lord was justified in talking so lightly of our operations in Spain.— He must declare, that the country was now coming to that state, whether by the mismanagement of ministers, or by the force of events, that party-considerations must cease [cries of hear! hear!] The hour would, however, come, when the house should call on ministers to render an account of the use which they had made of the immense power which had been put into their hands,—power, which, perhaps, if wisely used, might have had the most glorious events. He should rejoice much to find that ministers could clear themselves from any charge of mismanaging the resources of the country, and prove that all the disasters which had recently happened, had proceeded only from that course of events, which was beyond their control. If, however, these disasters should appear to proceed from the misconduct of ministers, he thought the house should demand condign punishment on their heads. He could not blame the ministers for sending a British force, in the first instance, to co-operate with the Spaniards; but since then they had had time enough to consider, whether the sending of a British army into Spain was likely to be of any service; or whether, on the contrary, the retreat of it would not do a positive mischief, by disheartening the Spanish Patriots. It was now doubtful whether we had not been proceeding on false information all along, both with respect to Spain and Portugal. Were our troops agreeable to the people of Portugal, or were we not obliged to keep a certain force there, for the purpose of keeping the people quiet, that is, to strike terror into our friends instead of the enemy? Were our troops, or 66 were they not, welcome to the people of Spain? He had reason to doubt also that fact. It was fit that the country should know it, and he was fearful that a multitude of Spaniards wished success to Buonaparté, rather than to us. We were not now so sure as we formerly thought ourselves, of the feelings of Spain; we were not perfectly content with the reception which we had met with in the different provinces of that country. The marquis de Romana complained of the reception which the inhabitants of the north gave to the French troops, which made it seem as if they would be well content that the French should conquer. Although we must condemn the ambition and injustice of Buonaparté in his attack upon Spain, yet the means which he pursued for the attainment of his object were extremely judicious. He abolished the Inquisition, feudal rights, and unequal taxation. This was certainly holding out some temptation to the people to acquiesce in the changes which he wished to introduce. Buonaparté's promise of amelioration had unquestionably produced a great temporary effect, although he might do as he pleased hereafter, and was likely enough to be faithless to his promise: in the mean time, the promise had the same effect as if he were sincere in it, since the people believed that he would ameliorate their condition; whereas, the government of England was not connected with any thing like a promise of the reform of any of the evils of the old government, nor with any thing like an amelioration of the condition of the people of Spain. He knew he might be accused of a feeling which he did not feel most assuredly, that of a wish to aid the cause of the enemy by these observations, by raising a clamour against the war, but he must take upon himself all the inconveniences of that risk by stating these things; he felt it to be his duty to state them on the first day of the session, and to speak out as he felt.— As to the Address, there were some parts which had his concurrence, and some which had not, although he did not mean to move any amendment. He had no objection to that part of the Address which pledged the house to support his majesty in persevering in a vigorous prosecution of the war, although he thought that unnecessary, because every war must be prosecuted with vigour until there was an end of it. No man was more desirous that himself to prosecute it with vigour, and therefore that part of the Address had his cordial 67 concurrence, not only in contemplation of war, but on the eve of a negotiation for the purpose of obtaining a just and honourable peace. But, if it was to be understood, that, by such an approval of the Address he was to be pledged to any thing like a bellum ad internecionem, he must not only dissent from, but protest against, it. God forbid that we should abandon the Spanish cause while it was possible for us to support it with any prospect of success; but he was far from being sure that the time might not come when we shall have to treat with France after she shall totally have subdued Spain. He, by no means, condemned ministers for not accepting the propositions sent from Erfurth, as there was no man in the country who could admit of the abandonment of Spain as a preliminary to peace; but what he found fault with was, that the country was apt to run wild with every gleam of good success. When the Spanish Patriots were successful last summer, nothing was spoken of, or thought of, in this country, but the utter ruin of Buonaparté and many politicans of the old school were thinking even of the divisions into which France was to be cut up. It was miserable for the country to be led so far by every tide of good success. He was tired of the vaunting expressions which he had been used to hear in that house for the last sixteen years, about the destruction, followed as they uniformly had been by the aggrandisement, of France. Even if the Spaniards had driven the French out of their country, they could have done but little more against the overgrown power of France. He recollected, that at different periods of the war, it had been said that England would never make peace unless this thing and the other was given up by France, and yet we afterwards were ready to treat with her, allowing her to retain her acquisitions. A few weeks after a negociation failed, we were always ready to call the man, with whom we had been content to negociate, an atrocious usurper. He thought that ministers were not only justifiable in refusing to treat on the terms offered at Erfurth, but that they would have been the basest of mankind if they had accepted such a preliminary. He could not, however, avoid regretting that the country had lost so many fair opportunities of negociating a peace, and that it had at length been reduced to such a foul opportunity, that it could not have accepted without eternal disgrace. The reason that 68 he did not approve of the treaty with Spain was, that England was bound by the engagement she had entered into to do all she could to assist Spain if there had been no treaty, and she could not do any more after the treaty. She would, however, appear somewhat disgraced in the eyes of the world by entering into a solemn treaty which she had no means of fulfilling. As to Sweden, whatever we might feel of advantage from the trade we have through that country, he was sure it would be much better for the poor inhabitants of Sweden and Finland that our subsidy of £100,000 per month was removed, and that they were allowed to make such a peace as was suitable to their interests. As to the firmness and magnanimity of the king of Sweden, they were qualities fruitless to us, fruitless to the cause of Spain, and perhaps ruinous to his own subjects. This last consideration detracted considerably from their merit. He would, however agree that it was necessary for us to furnish the succours stipulated in the treaty. With respect to the manner in which sir John Moore was under the necessity of retiring from Sweden, he had no doubt that gallant officer had reasons which would fully justify him in the eyes of all the world, but there was about that transaction a mystery, which it would at some time or other, he should hope, be convenient to reveal.— Upon the improving state of our revenue he could not but feel satisfaction; yet whilst expressing that satisfaction he must be permitted to observe, that the improve merit of the revenue was always attended with an increase of the influence of the crown, and with an increasing corruption of the country.— He could have wished, that in the speech some intimation had been given that the Report of the Finance Committee would have been taken up, and if so, whether some retrenchments might not be made. If this were done, the country would pay with more satisfaction what was absolutely necessary. He should wish to hear from some minister that that committee was to be revived, and who were the men that were to compose it. At least, he should hope, that a set of men would not be placed in it for the purpose of counteracting the labours of the others. If this were done, it would gratify the people, if it could not relieve them. He hoped and trusted that this session of parliament would be distinguished by a vigilant attention to the expenditure of the public money; and that if new burthens 69 were to be imposed, the people might at least have the consolation of knowing that abuses were corrected.—He did regret that nothing had been mentioned respecting our relations with America. The same infatuation seemed now to prevail with respect to that country, that existed in the time of the late American war. There were the same taunts, the same sarcasms, and the same assertions, that America could not do without us. He must deprecate a war with America, as being likely to be much more injurious to us than to them. The right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning) had to a proposition most just and reasonable (as appeared to him), returned such an answer, that accommodation seemed at an end, and the American legislature almost unanimously resolved upon shutting all their rivers and ports against our trade. He most forcibly deprecated the idea which some thoughtless persons were but too forward to propagate.—which none, indeed, but thoughtless persons could entertain—namely, of a war with that country. Here the hon. gent. ridiculed with great severity the orders in council, and the effects which that measure was expected to produce. In spite of the want of colonial produce, notwithstanding the want of sugar, coffee, and Jesuit's bark, the French armies had marched without leaving a single straggler, and the ruler of France had 200,000 men in arms beyond the Pyrenees, while ministers thought to break up his power, by depriving his subjects of the produce of the West Indies! He reviews his troops at Madrid, and they are found amply provided with every necessary. At a period so awful as the present, our relations with America were not even alluded to. Let us heal the hostile feelings of the two countries before it be too late. Turkey also was quite left out of his majesty's speech; a country at present in great commotion, and always in a state of turbulent imbecility. It was surely of importance to know whether that country was to maintain its shadow of independence, or destined speedily to fall into the hands of France. He regretted that no information had been given on the points which he had mentioned, and concluded a very able and argumentative speech by observing, that though there were several parts of the Address of which he disapproved, yet having specified these, he did not think it necessary to divide the house on the subject of that Address.
Mr. Secretary Cunning,
in reply, re- 70 marked, that the hon. gent. in the same breath in which he told the house, that the present crisis ought to he peculiarly exempt from political party feeling, intimated that ministers should be put upon their trial, and that they probably deserved condign punishment. For his part, he was not aware that this was the light in which he and his coadjutors stood. Certainly his majesty's ministers stood in a situation of responsibility, but not of culpability. They had done their duty in following up the feelings of the country, and in using the means intrusted to them in support of that great cause which had excited those feelings; if there should be failure, that failure would not be the result of accidental or intentional omission on their part; and the hon. gent. had shewn that he and his friends had not agreed on the principle of their accusation. He had heard only two of the Committee of Accusers, and he confessed, that if before the rising of parliament last session he had had the advantage of hearing the opinion of those two, and of reading the pamphlet attributed to one of them, instead of an increase of light, he should have experienced an increase of perplexity.—The hon. gent. who had just spoken, echoing his published opinion, (if it actually was his, of which he sometimes doubted,) seemed to consider the course to be pursued by government so plain that they could scarcely do ill by going wrong. The other hon. gent. on the contrary appeared to think that no step ought to be taken without the most mature deliberation; that whatever was done in haste must be done erroneously, and that it was the duty of ministers to hesitate and resist the impulse of popular feeling, as unequivocally and consentaneously expressed by every class of the community. But ministers had adopted a line of conduct, which, though not consonant exactly to the recommendation of either of these gentlemen, would, he trusted, be found preferable to the plans of both. Keeping in view the consentaneous and ardent feeling of the nation in favour of Spain, his majesty's ministers reserved to themselves the consideration of the most eligible means of applying the national resources to the object in view, taking care to proportion the aid to the necessity.— As to the propriety of deliberation, so much insisted upon by the right hon. gent. on the other side, the position was undeniable. The right hon. gent. was right in his principle; but he 71 seemed resolved to atone for that rectitude by being exceedingly wrong in its application. The state of the case called for prompt exertion, and with that call ministers thought it their duty to comply. The right hon. gent. had stated that lie collected the facts upon which he argued, from the newspaper. But here he was under a mistake. For it appeared that wherever he found his facts, it was only his arguments that were collected from the newspapers, in which they were to be seen, and pretty nearly too in the same order in which the right hon. gent. had just delivered them. The right hon. gent. was under another mistake also, for he confounded the system of precautions issued by the Junta of Seville, in July, with the arrangements made by the Central Junta, which was not established until the last week in September. Here the right hon. gent. would, in fact, have had his majesty's ministers to act upon the recommendations of an Assembly possessing by no means a paramount authority, and in pursuance of such a principle to send a British army to another province where such authority was not recognized. It would he recollected that, although the whole Spanish nation simultaneously rose in the same cause— that, although unanimous in favour of the same object, they formed themselves into different bodies, under distinct governments, each watching the other, and as it was natural, each retaining its own authority and anxious to draw to itself as much power as possible. From these several Governments communications were made to this country. The first which applied for aid were the provinces of Asturias, Galicia, and from Seville. The question which ministers had to consider upon such applications was this—whether they should promptly grant the aid required, or by delaying until the Central Government (the propriety of establishing which was at once obvious) should be formed, expose those separate bodies, unarmed and unaided, to the attack of the enemy, and thus prevent their union altogether. From this consideration, ministers complied with the requisition of the Spanish Deputies, and every disposition had been manifested to supply all the Juntas with arms, with money, and with every means of military support; though it was not deemed desirable at first to send out an armed force in aid of the separate efforts of the respective Juntas. The policy was obvious of not hazarding a 72 British army in Spain, until the force of the country should have been called forth and organized in such a manner as to cooperate with it, because there could be no oilier chance for the security of such an army from the danger of being overwhelmed by the superior numbers and strength of the enemy. It was from this source, that all the misrepresentations had arisen, which had constantly appeared in the public prints, from which the right hon. gent. had taken all his arguments, upon the subject of the demand of cavalry by Spain. Unquestionably the Juntas of Gallicia and Asturias had applied for reinforcements of British cavalry; but the answer that had been uniformly returned was, that a British army would be sent to their support, but that it was intended that it should act in mass, and under a British commander. It was not thought advisable to send a small detached force of cavalry, to eke out the army of Blake, or of Cuesta, to send to them that which "not enriched "them, and might make us poor indeed." An army was to be sent to their assistance when they should have opened a theatre for it to act in. Was it any thing disheartening or discouraging to the Spaniards to tell them, that when they should have called forth their own forces, or established some general system of government, they should have the support of a British army? From this circumstance also had arisen the various mistatements respecting the delay of the advance of the. British army from Portugal, as if that had arisen out of the circumstances of the Convention. The fact was, however, that the Supreme Central Junta had not been installed till the last week in September, and as soon as intelligence had been received of that event in this country, the expedition under sir David Baird had been ordered to sail, and a communication made thereof to the Junta of Callicia, and the Supreme Junta, requesting an order for permitting the troops to land in Gallicia. This communication had been made in the week, in which the change of government had taken place, and to that circumstance was owing the delay of ten days in the transmission of the order, which had been made the ground of so much accusation here. But if government had waited till the answer to this communication, and a foul wind, which would be favourable for its arrival, but unfavourable for the sailing of the expedition, should in the mean time spring up, 73 to delay the progress of the expedition, then indeed would there have been serious ground of charge against his majesty's government. What animated declamation, or rather what animated quotations, would not the right hon. gent. have produced to the house if the newspapers had taken up, as they certainly would have taken up, the discussion.—It was then unnecessary for him to go into a greater length of detail, as the question would again come under the consideration of the house; but he could not avoid touching upon these points, in addition to what had fallen from his noble friend, and in order to shew that every change of wind had not produced a change of councils, and that if the cause should unfortunately not terminate as all good men wished, it was not the fault of England. The cause was in that hand in which rested the decision of every thing in the progress of human affairs, and however it may please Providence to dispose of it in the end, it was desirable to know that no human means had been omitted to promote a prosperous issue. The right hon. gent. had said, that in affording assistance to the Spaniards, we should have met Buonaparté upon his own terms, but he could not agree in that opinion, because he could not think it right to rule the country, we should go to assist, as a dictator. Though we were blessed with a Constitution justly dear to us from the inestimable rights it conferred upon us, we were not therefore to hold cheap the institutions of other nations, because they had not yet ripened into that maturity of franchise and freedom which we enjoyed; neither should we convert an auxiliary army into a dominating garrison, nor, whilst openly professing to assist the Spaniards, covertly endeavour to impose upon them those blessings, of which they must themselves be the best judges. In the last session they had all appeared to be agreed, that, in any event, (indeed in case of the success of Spain it was not of any consequence,) they should make it impossible to be supposed, that the assistance of this country was given with any sinister view. He had no doubt, if they should succeed, that the Spaniards would certainly be happier, and he trusted freer than they had hitherto been; but that happiness aid freedom should be of their own choice, and not of our dictation By a proclamation, issued by the Supreme Junta, on the day after their installation, calling upon 74 all literary men to contribute their assistance with respect to the best laws to be enacted for the benefit of the state, it appeared, that the Central Junta was not indifferent to the amelioration of their constitution. But, if the suggestion of these good laws was to accompany, or be coupled with, a subsidy, he doubted much whether it would meet with consent, but sure he was, that the Spaniards could not but dislike laws dictated at the point of the bayonet.— As to the question respecting the military principle, whither the first landing ought to have been made in Spain or Portugal, he should only say, that it amounted to this, whether, as the Central Junta had not been established till September, it was prudent or politic to wait from July till September before the expedition should have been sent out. Though his opinion could be no authority upon the subject, his conviction was, upon the pure military consideration of the case, that the course adopted was most expedient. If we looked to Portugal, and considered that country and Spain as one and the same, we should be convinced that the Tagus, and not St. Andero, was the point to which the British army should have been sent; others may be more bold and enterprising in their plans, as well as have more of talents and ability to carry them into execution; and if the right hon. gent. would look to the authorities from which he had drawn his arguments, he would find a very bold plan of operations had been lately suggested in one of them, no less than to land a British force at Bilboa, and to march directly to besiege Pampeluna. If the right hon. gent. should approve of this plan, he was sure he would not have any other support for that opinion in this country, than the file of the newspaper in which it appeared (a laugh).—Another fault had been pointed out by the hon. gent. in the conduct of his majesty's government towards Spain, for having concluded a treaty with the Central Junta, which he considered superfluous and unnecessary, in as much as the previous engagements were to the full as binding upon this country, as any treaty could I possibly be. In this opinion, however, he differed from the right hon. gent. who had spoken earlier in the debate, according to whose doctrine no engagements, contracted upon the bare authority of the government, could possibly be as obligatory, as a treaty sanctioned by the assent and approbation of parliament. Differing as he 75 must from both, as to the policy and propriety of the treaty, he was rather inclined to the opinion of the hon. gent. who spoke last, as to the equivalence of the obligation in both cases. But it would be recollected, that, in the last session, the whole house, as well as the whole of the nation, was agreed, that every effort should be made in support of Spain, and every necessary engagement entered into, that could tend to promote the success of the noble struggle in which that nation was engaged. Yet, whenever it became necessary to add solemnity to such serious engagements, (though a distinction had lately been attempted to be made between a solemn and a serious promise, a distinction of which he could have no conception) that solemnity was only to be imparted to our engagements by the forms of a regular treaty. But though we were bound by our simple engagements, there were other parties who would take advantage of the absence of the sanction of a treaty; and it was the more desirable that we should in any future discussion meet them with, instead of the sympathy of engagements, the solemnity of an obligation. Another ground, upon which the treaty had been concluded, was, that, when one uniform government had been formed in Spain, by entering into a solemn treaty with that government, we might by the sanction of our recognition induce other powers to follow our example. Besides, no man would contend, that the refusal by us to enter into the treaty would not have been taken advantage of by Joseph Buonaparté to forward his designs upon Spain. He hoped, that it was not necessary for him on that occasion to go farther into detail upon these general points; but he must be permitted to add, that as these were the principles, upon which his majesty's servants had acted, and as these principles had received the sanction of parliament, neither he nor his colleagues would be considered as culprits, nor as suffering under an accusation.—There were one or two other points in the speech of the hon. gent. which he thought it necessary to touch upon, the first of which was, the charge of the omission of America in the Speech. He could tell that hon. gent. that the ground of that omission was, that no change had taken place in the relative situation of the two states since the last session of parliament; and he always understood, that unless some change of relations should have taken place, it was not 76 the practice to make particular mention of any state in the Speech at the opening of the session. But he had no objection to give the right hon. gent. every information in his power relative to that question. The right hon. gent. had made it matter of charge, at least so far as he felt himself informed upon the subject, that the late offer of compromise from the American government had not been acceded to. Yet the right hon. gent. seemed to state the case much more ingeniously for America, than the government of the United States did, having stated it as between America and this country, whereas, he should have stated it as between neutral and the belligerents. If the case were to be considered as between the government of this country and America, then the difficulty was an inheritance left to the present by the late ministers; for the complaints of America were derived from the acts of the late as well as of the present ministers; and he wished gentlemen not to suppose that the Orders in Council, issued by the present administration, had been the cause of the embargo. It had been so argued, hypothetically, last session, but it was now a notorious fact that no such ground had been laid for the embargo. The Order in Council of the 7th of Jan. 1806, issued by the late ministers, made a most conspicuous figure in all the remonstrances of America, and as a prominent ground of the embargo. At the time the application for a compromise had been made by the American government, there was an order in force excluding British ships of war from the American ports, whilst French ships of war were admitted into them; and consequently if the terms offered by America had been accepted, our commerce would have been permitted to America without a ship of war to protect it, whilst the French commerce would be excluded, at the same time that French ships of war would be admitted if they could succeed in getting there. The ports of America would thus become so many nests for French privateers against British commerce.—As to the tendency of the measures in agitation in America, he could afford the right hon. gent. some consolation, by assuring him, that they would not have all the ill consequences he seemed to apprehend. A circumstance appeared by the Report of the committee of Congress, though clothed in hostile language, which, if made known to his majesty's government in amicable terms, might have 77 led to the acceptance or the terms proposed. The circumstance he alluded to was the resolution for excluding from American ports the ships of war not of Great Britain alone but of the belligerents. The Americans, in their character of neutrals, had unquestionably a right to exclude the ships of war of both belligerents from their ports, but could not confine their exclusion to those of one of the belligerents without a violation of that impartiality which is the essence of the neutral character. Yet, when that proposition should be disposed of, the whole of the difficulty would not be surmounted; as much would still remain to be accommodated.—Another point, in which fault had been charged upon his conduct with respect to America, was, his having stated, that the system would not be given up whilst the smallest link of the confederation against Great Britain existed. It was somewhat extraordinary to hear such an accusation from those, who last session complained of the orders in council as a grievance affecting America alone. Now, when the belligerents were diminished, it was asked, what was the ground, upon which the orders in council were to be continued; and the right hon. gent. upon a supposition, that the belligerents were reduced to Trance and Holland, triumphantly demanded what would become of these orders in council in that case? To this he had a short answer; if our enemies should be reduced to France and Holland, why let the orders be still continued against these powers. But he would ask, whether, if, when the number of neutrals increased, the orders in council were repealed and taken off, it might not then be charged, that they had been originally issued against America only. There was another country too, in the state of which the right hon. gent. had expressed a considerable interest, Turkey, upon which, however, unfortunately he had no opportunity of communicating any information. He could only say, that in April last, an overture had been received from the Turkish government inviting us to a renewal of the negociation; upon which, instructions had been sent out to a diplomatic gentleman, Mr. Adair, then in the Mediterranean, to proceed to Constantinople. The instructions crossed him on his return, but he was immediately dispatched from this country. Of the effect which the late calamitous events at Constantinople might have upon the sentiments of that govern- 78 ment, he could not speak with any correctness, because no accounts had been received from Mr. Adair, since he sailed from Malta, in September last.—The right hon. gent. had particularly adverted to Sweden. On this point he could assure him and the house, that if ever the period should arrive when Sweden could make peace with her enemies, no consideration for retaining an ally in order that we should not appear to be altogether deserted, no regard to national interests or honour should be suffered to interfere with that desirable object. These were not new opinions with him or his colleagues, but opinions, which they equally entertained last session, though the hon. gent. would be aware of the delicacy which prevented them from making the avowal before. But he could assure the house that neither then, nor now, nor at the time of the overtures from Erfurth, were his majesty's servants inclined to throw any impediments in the way of the monarch of Sweden in making any peace, that would be satisfactory to himself or beneficial to his subjects.—Another point upon which the right hon. and hon. gentlemen had animadverted with severity, was the termination of the campaign in Portugal, which they represented as disgraceful, as if they addressed people who were called upon to answer these charges, or as if his majesty's ministers were obliged to hold any opinion upon this question, other than that avowed by the hon. gentlemen, if such a view of the case appeared to them to be just. They had thought it their duty to take care, that justice should be done to dignified and honourable men, and when the subject should come to be discussed, the gentlemen opposite would find them ready to state, without colour or disguise, the sentiments they entertained upon a transaction that had disappointed the hopes of the nation. The right hon. secretary then congratulated the house upon the temper with which the campaign in that house had commenced, and concluded by observing, that if it should be continued in the same spirit, it would be most conducive to the progress of public business and national interests.
§ Mr. Tierney.
I cannot help doubting the sincerity of that congratulation of the right hon. gentleman on the moderation of his opponents this night, but I hope that will not be any inducement to gentlemen to give up any points which are necessary to be discussed. I totally deny that my right 79 hon, friend (Mr. Ponsonby) said, "that ministers were to-night put upon their trial" but as the right hon. gentleman seems to think that they ought to be put upon their trial, I have no objection so to take it: but he seemed also to be conscious that in that event he was to be brought before a jury of his own packing, or he would not have been so pleasant on many of the topics which he touched, grave and even awful as some of them were. Whenever that right hon. gentleman rises in his place, the muscles of the House relax, and the smiles of the surrounding members attest the expectation they entertain of being amused by the jokes of that right hon. gent. I too might employ some jokes if I could think it decent to treat the grave, awful, and important subject under consideration with such levity; but that, unfortunately, as I have not the reputation of a wag, my jests would be lost on the House. The right hon. gentleman has applied some of his pleasantry upon the sources whence my right hon. friend has taken his arguments; but wherever my right hon. friend has found his information, whether he has taken it from the newspaper or from pamphlets, I trust he will not discontinue the practice whilst he can make it the foundation of such an unanswerable argument. The right hon. gentleman has insisted that the course which the government of this country has taken, with regard to the affairs of Spain, was correct; for that we could not proceed to afford efficient assistance to Spain in the first instance, because there was in Spain no supreme government or authority, with which the government of this country could have any connection. Here the right hon. gentleman found fault with my right hon. friend (Mr. Ponsonby), much more than he was justified in doing; for, although in point of strictness, there might not at that time have been in Spain a Supreme Junta, yet we know that the Junta of Seville had, in conformity with antient usage, assumed the supreme government of Spain; and we also know that the general understanding in Spain is, and always has been, that Seville is the Central or Supreme Government of Spain on all occasions, when Madrid, the capital of the kingdom, is in the power of the enemy, and so I believe it was stated by general Spencer in one of his dispatches. But the right hon. gentleman insists, that it was improper to send troops into Spain until the Spanish nation had formed a central government 80 or Supreme Junta; and, that no army of ours could co-operate with them until a regular government was established; that our army (as he stated to the Spanish deputies) could not be permitted to be frittered away in divisions, but must act in one collective mass, under a commander of its own—that no Central or Supreme Junta was established in Spain until the month of September, and, consequently, that we could send ho force to assist them before that period. But it was thought proper to send money, arms, and military stores to them all. This I look upon as a prodigal waste of the public money. When ministers had sent large sums of money to the different provincial Juntas, they should have taken care, that the money was applied to military purposes only; and Spain could not have taken offence, if, when we were assisting her with our money, persons had been sent out to see that it was applied to the purposes for which it was intended. The right hon. gentleman has stated, that it was the intention of his majesty's ministers to send out a British army to Spain, on the establishment of a Central Government and not before. It would surely be in the recollection of the right hon. gentleman, that this resolution must have been formed so early as July. Now, sir, it so happens, that in the month of July sir Arthur Wellesley tendered to the Spaniards 10,000 men, and I am as much bound to believe sir A. Wellesley, on a military subject, at least, as I am bound to believe the right hon. gentleman. Thus the house will perceive, that what the right hon. gentleman has stated as his defence on this part of the subject, is one of those arguments in which there is unfortunately no proof whatever. It is, indeed, a very good defence, inasmuch as it is very eloquent: but inasmuch as it is deficient in one part of a defence, which the right hon. gentleman's friend (Mr. Perceval), who sits near him, will tell him is considered as an indispensible requisite, namely, truth— it is an unavailing and untenable defence. So much for the fact as to the time of our offering assistance, and also of our refusal to fritter away our force in divisions, or to act upon any other principle than that of a concentrated mass of our disposable force. The right hon. gentleman has had the modesty to confess that he is not a military man, and that he takes his opinions from military men of high authority. Now, sir, as far as matter of opinion goes, I have no difficulty in stating, that I also have conversed 81 with many military men, and those too of no mean authority, on the subject of our entering Portugal, and I do solemnly declare, that I have never met with one military man who ventured to assert, that an expedition to Portugal was, or could be, of the least service to Spain. Now, sir, seeing that the total inconsistency and miscarriage of the military plans of the right hon. gentleman have not been inferior to the futility of his defence this night, I cannot help advising the right hon. gentleman, before he undertakes another expedition, to pursue a different course, and to consult some other high military authorities than those by whose advice the expedition to Portugal was undertaken. The very judicious reference made by my right hon. friend (Mr. Ponsonby) to the prudent conduct of the ministers of out-great Elizabeth, when England assisted the Dutch in their contest for liberty, excited at once the indignation and sarcastic jocularity of the right hon. gentleman. What, said he, would have been the feelings of Spain had we demanded pledges of their sincerity and fidelity r Could there' have been a proposition more insulting to the feelings of the Spanish nation?—But granting (continues he, with triumphant levity) that this argument were good; have we not secured the very object of your accusation? have we not Lisbon? if cautionary towns are deemed requisite—is there not Lisbon on which you can retreat? The inhabitants of that city, impressed with gratitude for their deliverance from the French, will receive you with open arms. On this subject, I hope the right hon. gentleman is well-informed. What is the view of men in office in Lisbon, he necessarily knows better than myself; but what the disposition of the people of Lisbon really is, I think I have as good means of knowing as himself. And from those means I do assert, that the people there do not hesitate to declare that they do not like the English.—But of this argument, as it is termed by the right hon. gentleman, of retreating upon Lisbon, even if it were admitted that the inhabitants would receive our army with open arms and grateful hearts, I will dispose by one single question—Wiil the right hon. gent, assert his credence that any man thinks it now possible for the British army to march to Lisbon? The right hon. gent, has, it seems, with all his military information and acknowledged want of military talents, 82 triumphantly announced the prudent retention of a cautionary town for a point of safe retreat, to which there is only one slight inconvenience attached; namely, the utter impracticability; I perhaps should be justified in saying impossibility, of reaching this same cautionary town—this prudent point of retreat. So much then for the fruitless attempt of the right hon. gent, to shake the sensible and solid argument of my right hon. friend on this point. At length, however, after having secured this safe point of retreat, ministers proceed to the formation of that mass of force, in which alone the Spaniards were told our military power could be exerted in their favour, and a part of this mass, that was not to have been frittered away in divisions, arrived at Corunna, many hundred miles distant from this safe point of retreat, under, the command of sir David Baird. The Spaniards shewed no great alacrity in receiving that army, from what cause I cannot pretend to say, but certain it is, that no arrangement whatever had been made by our government for their reception in Spain, nor was it until the authorities at Corunna had received directions from the Junta of Seville, that our troops, after having been, kept for many days cooped up in the transports, in the harbour of Corunna, were permitted to land; and even then, they were restricted to the daily landing of 2000 men only. Thus, sir, we had, at last, one division of an army in Spain; and I am well assured that I incur no hazard of contradiction in asserting, that a more gallant body of men was never assembled. But, Sir, I will also assert, that of all the armies that have ever taken the field, that of which I am now speaking was provided with the very worst commissariat that ever was attached to any army. But had this commissariat, instead of being the very worst, been composed of a selection of the most experienced, intelligent, and active individuals this empire could produce, it would, nevertheless, have been wholly inefficient, for the commissariat was literally destitute of the means of performing its duty. It did not possess a single sixpence in money, and when the troops arrived at Corunna, they were supplied with those necessaries, which it was the duty and office of the commissariat to have provided, solely at the individual expense and on the individual credit of the officers of that army.—We are told, sir, that the expedition to Portugal was the most judicious disposition that could possibly have been made 83 of our force, with a view to free the Great Peninsula from the armies of Prance;— and we have also been told, that it was the determination of ministers not to divide our force—of the futility of the first, and the inconsistency of the latter of these points, I trust I have already fully satisfied this House. But I very much wish to know, what was the definite object of the expedition to Portugal. Every circumstance connected with that luminously conceived and judiciously executed expedition, induces a conclusion, that the grand military plan of the right hon. gent, was originally acted upon, before it had attained maturity—for it seems to have been dependent wholly on circumstances; and, if sir Arthur Wellesley was not dispatched with a roving commission, he at least was furnished with extensive discretionary powers, as it was not until after his offers had been rejected by the Junta of Gallicia, and that he had declined the invitation of that of Oviedo, to which Junta sir Thomas Dyer, in a letter to sir Arthur Wellesley, says he had held out hopes of his landing at St. Andero, that he determined to land in Portugal. Now, sir, the British army under sir David Baird did not arrive at Villafranca until the middle of November. And when sir John Moore was dispatched into Spain, I should be glad to know what was the condition of things with respect to our army, and whether, when we entered Portugal, it was intended to make from thence a transit into Spain. The fact, sir I believe is, that two whole months were wasted in consequence of the Contention of Cintra—from the 30th of Aug. to the 13th Oct. our army was locked up, and Gould not go to Spain by sea or by land, By sea you could not go, because the French had your transports: and by land you could not go, because the French troops could not be left behind in Lisbon: and thus by this expedition to Portugal you locked up 32,000 men for two months while Bonaparte was hastening with accelerated velocity from the banks of the Vistula to those of the Ebro. I merely touch on this subject, and do not intend to argue it, because the matter must hereafter be fully discussed. There will be, I dare say, many subterfuges attempted by government, but they have now pledged themselves to meet the question fully and fairly, and I hope all the circumstances will be laid open to the public view, so a; to enable the people of this country to judge of their conduct, and until that day 84 arrives, I shall say no more on the subject. As to the treaty with Spain, the right, hon. gent, says, that there ought to be a public bond of union and connection between this country and Spain, and the right hon. gent, thinks it necessary for that purpose that we should enter into a Treaty. Now, I have only to observe that when that Treaty is produced it will require on the face of it some explanation. But there is another matter to be observed, which is that of sending money abroad, and entering into this Treaty without submitting it to parliament. What the ministers had done in July, in August, in September and even, in October, I am not disposed to blame; but in November, when parliament usually assembled, to conclude treaties and send money out of the country without the authority of parliament involves the ministers in a heavy responsibility. Sir, if your opinion were asked on this subject, I think we should have, from the high authority of the Chair, an expression of surprize, if not of indignation, at the money of the people of this country being sent abroad without the knowledge of parliament. And here I cannot help observing at what past in the administration of Mr. Pitt, who had sent money to Austria without consulting parliament on the subject. Even he afterwards felt the impropriety of such an act, and so did the whole House; and one of his most intimate friends. (Mr. Bragge Bathurst) moved, in this House, a Resolution that such a practice was not to be drawn into a precedent, which motion was carried unanimously; therefore, I say, lam entitled to complain even that we are now debating this matter. For we have now little more to do than to pass a bill to sanction the payment of money for the mismanagement of ministers. As to America, the right hon. gent, has referred to the letter of the American ambassador, and to his own answer; and were I to judge from them only, I should say that it was the intention of the right hon. gent, to exasperate and goad America to war, if I had not his authority to the contrary, for he assures us that it was not The right hon. gent, is erroneous as to his facts on this subject, for America says, if you rescind your Orders in Council with regard to us, we will take off our embargo with regard to you. Here is a simple proposition of the American government, made to you the fairest that in the true spirit of conciliation could be made by one nation to another. It is conveyed in 85 a letter from the American ambassador, Mr. pinckney, and is dated on the 23d of August: to which the right hon. gent, gives no answer, good or bad, until the 24th day of Sept. Why did he delay his answer? Was he aware of what he was doing for France by that delay for it afforded time to France to conciliate America? Why did he do this? Because, lie says, time must be given to find whether France will revoke her decree or not. Now it would have been better for us that France should have refused to do so, because it would have secured to us tile benefit of that inestimable blessing to this country—peace with America. We should then have been relieved from all apprehensions of a rupture with the United States. Well, says the right hon. gent, but this must not be done, because then we shall appear to make concessions to France. How so?—Why, the right hon. gent. insists that we cannot agree to any proposition made by America, for rescinding our Orders in Council, unless France shall consent to revoke her decrees. Now, by this principle, and by this doctrine, we are, and must for ever remain, at the mercy of France. We can never rescind our Orders in Council unless France shall consent to revoke her decree! that is, in other words, saying, that while France is perverse we must be obstinate, even though it directly militates against our interest, and against all rational policy and propriety of political conduct. This may suit the sentiments and feelings of the right hon. gent. but will it be an answer to the starving manufacturers of this country? Will he be able to satisfy them for their hardships because he is afraid of making what he calls concessions? Will this be an answer to those who complain of the price of bread, depending so much, as it at this moment does, on the want of importation of flour? The tone and essence of the letter of the right hon. gent, is, in fact, a mere descant on the ability of this country, to persist in whatever she thinks right. That is pretty good nonsense to talk to any body, at any time, but most of all it is nonsensical to talk such nonsense to America, towards whom we have before been in the habit of using our vain boasts and empty threats, although we afterwards felt their lamentable consequences. I well remember when former ministers talked towards America as the right hon. gent, does now. And this is a point on which he will have much 86 to answer to his country—I say he will have to answer—for I am persuaded, that, nothing that ever was written in this country produced such unfavourable effects on the sentiments of America, as the letter of the right hon. gent, to Air. Pinckney Indeed the very style of the letter is such that nobody can read it without feeling that it is calculated to goad an independent mind almost to madness. And here let me intreat the right hon. gent. to reflect on the effect which it has already produced in America: and let us remember too, that the sentiments of such a meeting as the Congress of America, whenever they are expressed, must be taken to be genuine, for in America there is no influence of the crown to give a false colour to majorities. There majorities must be taken to be genuine. Now, the lamentable effect of this letter was to produce a unanimous Vote in Congress, where, on reading it, there was one general expression of indignation throughout the whole assembly. As to what the right hon. gent. has said respecting the distinction which America has made between our ships of war and those of France: and the. complaint on which he dwelt so forcibly, on tile partiality of America towards France, in the instance of admitting her ships of war whilst ours were excluded—he has totally forgotten, that this exclusion is the consequence of the outrage committed on the Chesapeake, and had nothing whatever to do with our Orders in Council. The Americans having no such cause of complaint against France, had no pretext for excluding her ships of war. As neutrals, the Americans could not refuse admission to the ships of war of France. France would naturally demand the reason for the exclusion of her ships, which as none could be assigned, must be construed into an act of hostility. To England America says, until reparation shall have been made for the outrage committed on the Chesapeake, your ships shall find no admission to our waters. This, sir, has nothing to do with the Orders in Council or the question of the Embargo, and is but perplexing the subject unnecessarily. It has been said that the Embargo in America was laid on before our Orders in Council were known in America—this I apprehend to be a mistake; for, in the National Intelligencer, an American Paper of the first respectability and authority, a report of a Committee of Congress, renders it clear that our Orders in Council were known there before the 87 Embargo was laid on, and it will be in the o recollection of the house, that a merchant of the first respectability, who was examined at the bar, stated, that he had transmitted intelligence of the Orders in Council to America the very day that they s were known in this country. The result of the letter of the right hon. gent, to Mr. Pinckney, has been to induce America to t renew her Embargo in a manner which we; could not have thought she would have; done under any circumstances whatever, I for she has not only renewed that Embargo, but reconciled a great majority of her people to the continuance of it. In a word, America has had the courage and the virtue to sacrifice her interest to her honour and independence; she has cut off between this country and America all intercourse whatever. This, sir, is the situation into which England is reduced by the insulting letter of the right hon. gent, and no man living (as it appears to me) ever did or could do by accident— for we have the right hon. gent.'s own authority that he did not design it— so much mischief by one letter as he has done by this. Is it not deplorable, sir, that for the sake of a few pointed periods, and well-turned sentences, any individual, how exalted soever his station, should do such incalculable mischief as the right hon. gent, has done by that letter? He has wounded the mind of America to such a degree that we have made her consent to an act by which she voluntarily sacrifices her commerce; but this she does, rather than submit to the dictation of the right hon. gent. She has in a spirit of resentment, deprived herself of her own trade, by her own deliberate act. By this time, America has shut herself out of communication with the rest of the world; and by that act will be enabled hereafter to choose her own condition. The industry and active powers of her citizens will be directed to fresh pursuits; her maritime habits will be diverted from peaceful commerce to predatory attacks on the ships of England. Then will those Englishmen who now treat the offensive power of America with scornful contempt alter their tone; and especially such of them as may happen to be concerned in that trade which particularly exposes our merchantmen to attack—I mean that to the West Indies. But it seems we have an inexhaustible resource for all our continental disastrous disappointments. What if Bonaparte do conquer Spain, have we not then the whole of South America thrown open to 88 our commerce? Can it be, that the right hon. gent. forgets that war with North America will expose our intercourse with the Spanish colonies in the southern division of that great continent, to dangers so great, so numerous, and so incessant, that the risk will raise the premium of insurance to an amount that will render the trade not worth pursuing. No man could adventure, under such circumstances, with any hope of deriving a competent profit from so precarious a trade. The subject of our situation with America is of the last importance to the country, and deserves the most serious attention of this house. In quarrelling with America we have certainly committed an egregious error, and to endeavour to correct that error, without loss of time, is true wisdom. The opinion of the right hon. gent, however, has, it seems, suffered some relaxation in consequence of a resolution of Congress, which has been made known to him subsequent to the date of his letter—by which resolution the ships of war of belligerents in general are to be excluded from the waters of America. "There is no rational price," says the right hon. gent. that I should not pay for an adjustment of this dispute, consistently with the national honour. The Americans have come to a point, not in the most gracious way certainly, but they have come to it; by which they treat us on a footing of exact equality with France. I cannot say that all difficulties are thereby adjusted; but I do say, that the main difficulty is removed towards our arriving at an adjustment."—I do not wish to ask for any improper information on this or any other subject; but I think, on this occasion, I am entitled to ask the right hon. gent. whether he has made any communication of the alteration of his sentiments to the government of America. I hope he has. But if in that hope I am incorrect, let not a moment be lost in making such communication. If it has not already been made, I think he has been most culpably negligent of his duty. For the temper of the American Congress is manifest, and their resentment at the letter of the right hon. gent. is deeply rooted. As to the common place observations of those who have repealed, until they have established in their own minds the verity of that folly, that England can do without the rest of the world— they are easily disposed of. England has done, can do, and is doing wonders, but she cannot perform impossibilities. It is impossible she can long 89 hold her present rank in the scale of nations without commerce, and if she has the misfortune to be at war with America, her commerce will be greatly endangered. I have thought much and deeply upon these subjects, and it has appeared to me to be my duty to call the attention of the house to them. I recommend them also to the most serious attention of his Majesty's ministers. But above all let me express a hope, that if hereafter any offers should be made by America, they will be received in a more conciliatory manner; and in a better temper than they have hitherto been, and. with prompt and perfect readiness to treat in the sincere and true spirit of peace for a reconciliation of all differences between two Empires, which the identity of customs, language, laws, and religion, ought ever to hold in the strictest bonds of amity. As to the address, I have no wish to oppose any part of it. It has of late been the general practice of ministers, in deference to the general feeling of the house, so to word the speech from the throne, as not to provoke any division on the address. This principle has not perhaps been sufficiently attended to in the present instance. I shall hereafter have occasion to touch on various topics embraced in this address, but for the present I shall rest satisfied with what I have already offered.
Mr. G. H. Rose
had not intended to trouble the house with any observations upon this occasion, and should have contented himself with a silent vote, if it had not been for certain observations, which had been thrown out by the right hon. gent, who had just sat down, with respect to the question between America and this country. That right hon. gent, had stated, that the British Orders in Council of the 11th Nov. 1807 had been the cause of the American embargo; and, in support of that statement, quoted an assertion to that effect, contained in a late report from a committee of the American Congress, and the evidence of a respectable gentleman at the bar of the house last session, shewing, that he had communicated, by letter to America, the intention of the British government, to issue such Orders in Council. As to the first ground of the right hon. gent.'s statement, he had only to observe, that it had been declared, in the American legislature, by one of the most respectable members of that body, eminently distinguished for his eloquence, his attainments, and patriotism, Sir. Randolph, that, 90 in the report alluded to by the right hem gent., a ground totally false had been assigned for the embargo, when it was stated to have been produced by the British Orders in Council. It could not be supposed, that that very distinguished member of the American representative could have forgotten the grounds assigned for a measure, in the discussion of which he had taken a conspicuous part. As to the gentleman whose evidence at the bar had been referred to, he made no doubt dial he was a gentleman of respectability; though he was inclined to question the fact of his having been able to communicate to any person in America any intelligence respecting the Orders in Council, which could have reached America before the passing of the Embargo Act. To this point he could speak with some confidence, because he had proceeded on a mission to America in that year, and when he sailed from this country on the 11th or 12th of Nov. 1807, he had not known of the Orders in Council. He arrived in the American waters on the 27th Dec. and on the 10th Jan. following at Washington. At the time he reached the American waters, no more recent intelligence had been received, than that brought by the vessel in which he sailed, nor had any ship arrived but one from Glasgow that had sailed from that port, two days later than the date of his sailing from England, which, however, did nut bring as recent intelligence a* he had. No letter, consequently, could have been received, communicating the Orders in Council. The statement of the gent, at the bar might be true, but it did not appear whether his letter had reached^ America, or when. lie had also to add, that, from the time when he arrived in America, to the time of his departure in April 1808; he had never heard the Orders in Council assigned as the ground of the Embargo, and he was convinced it had never been so stated in the debates, with closed doors, wherein the Embargo measure was discussed previous to its passing. The first time he had heard such a statement made, was, when on his return to England he learned the proceedings in parliament upon the Orders in Council.
The Hon. Ashley Cooper
stated in justification of the Ordnance Department, that it was not from any neglect in this department, that any deficiency of ordnance appointments had been felt in the expedition to Portugal, as every, necessary supply could have been instantaneously afforded, 91 if it had been thought right to attach equipments of that description to the expedition to Portugal.
in explanation stated that there had been no deficiency of artillery horses in that branch of the public service; and that a sufficiency of artillery horses could have been procured only by signing an order for them, if it had been thought adviseable to send out any with the expedition.
censured the conduct of ministers in not having sent a larger force of cavalry along with sir Arthur Wellesley.
§ Mr. A. Baring
condemned the general system of politics, observed by his majesty's ministers with respect to the dispute with America.
§ Mr. Alderman Combe
animadverted in severe terms upon the Answer returned by his majesty's ministers to the Address of the city of London on the Convention in Portugal.
The question was then put and agreed to nem. con. when a committee was appointed to prepare and draw up the Address. After which the house adjourned.