The Chancellor of the Exchequer
moved, that the House should form itself into a committee, for the purpose of taking into consideration the Message of his royal highness the Prince Regent, relative to the grant to the duke of Wellington.
§ The House baaing accordingly formed itself into a committee, and the Message of the Prince Regent having been read,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, in rising to call the attention of the House to the distinguished services of the duke of Wellington, which had been attended with such glorious and beneficial results to this country and Europe at large, it would be unnecessary for him to eater into any detail of what was already so well known to 826 every member of the House. That illustrious general had gained immortal honour to himself by his splendid achievements, and raised the military renown of this country. It ill became him to ready a military lecture on the different campaign in which that great general had been engaged. By a succession of achievements, on the consideration of which the mind was lost in admiration, he had rescued a great empire from a powerful usurer, and finally restored it to its legitimate sovereign; and the praise which his own countrymen so zealously bestowed on him, was hailed by the acclamation of alt Europe. He trusted, therefore, that the House would warmly second the wishes of his Royal Highness, and enable that illustrious general to retire, whenever he chose, from the public service, and to enjoy the comforts of life in a peaceful old age, amidst the blessings of his countrymen. It was now more than a century since another British general had performed services of so distinguished a nature as to bear to come into comparison with those of the duke of Wellington. It was far, however, from his intention to institute a comparison between the merits of these two great men, as such comparisons were seldom accurate; for the different situations in which generals happened to be placed, were not often of a nature to afford any thing like grounds of accurate comparison. In several respects, however, the situations of the duke of Marlborough and the duke of Wellington would be found to coincide. Both were leaders of combined armies; and both, from their distinguished talents, possessed that ascendancy over the minds of all those entrusted to their command, which led in so eminent a degree to their success. But it must be owned, that the task of the duke of Wellington was much more difficult than that of the duke of Marlborough; inasmuch as the people who were assembled together under the duke of Wellington were much more dissimilar in their manners, their habits, and their religions, than were the German, Dutch, and English troops under the command of the duke of Marlborough. It was to the honour of the duke of Wellington, that he had always stood superior to every thing like pecuniary considerations, and that the most distant suspicion in this respect had never attached to his name. He was sure the House would feel, that the high station to which he had been raised should not be rendered displeasing 827 to him from any circumstances in his situation. He was, indeed, confident that it was the wish of the House to add every convenience to that rank which it might be thought to require. He should therefore propose to the committee, that an annuity of 10,000l. a year, in addition to the grants already bestowed on him, be secured to him on the Consolidated Fund. As it would be advisable that the grant should be settled on a territorial basis, provision should be made that this annuity might be redeemed at 30 years purchase—that is, for the sum of 300,000l. It was hoped, that by leaving the investment of the grant to the discretion of the duke of Wellington, he would, speedily, be able to carry into effect the purchase of a suitable estate, which the commissioners, in, the case of a former grant (earl Nelson's), had not yet been able to accomplish. With respect to a public monument, which he had heard suggested, he was not prepared at present to give his opinion. In a purchase of an estate of the value of 3 or 400,000l., it was by no means improbable that a very sumptuous mansion might be got along with the estate; and 50 or 60,000l. might be taken out of the grant in making necessary repairs and additions. If an estate should be purchased, in all other respects satisfactory, but not provided with a suitable mansion, it would be for the liberality of parliament to supply this deficiency at some future period.
He should wish to bring before the committee at present, thought the subject was not strictly before them, what little he had to say of the other noble persons, the subjects of the remaining Messages from the Prince Regent, who enjoyed the merit and the distinction of being his companions in arms. He wished to present him to the House as he appeared in the field of battle, surrounded by those his gallant companions—The first whom he should name was lord Lynedock, a singular instance, of great proficiency attained in a profession not embraced in early life. He first distinguished himself at the siege of Toulon. He afterwards joined the Austrian army in Italy, and shared in all the dangers of that army. He threw himself into a blockaded fort in Mantua, upon which occasion he distinguished himself in a very eminent degree. He was afterwards engaged in the long blockade of Oporto, and he accompanied sir John Moore in Spain. The battle of Barrosa, fought by him during 828 the blockade of Cadiz, and his conduct at Ciudad Rodrigo and San Sebastian, was fresh in the recollection of every one. The want of health compelled him, as soon as he could do so without injury to the public service, to return to this country; but the want of health could not prevent him from again taking the command in Holland, when his country called for his exertions. He wished to call the attention of the House in a particular manner to a measure which had not, it is true, been attended with the favourable result which it merited; he meant the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom. One of the greatest judges of military merit, however, Buonaparté, was reported to have spoken of it as one of the best combined and best judged military enterprises that had ever been formed. This place held out long against Louis 14th at the head of 100,000 men; and it was therefore highly honourable to the military skill of lord Lynedock, that he should obtain possession of it in the manner he did; though, from circumstances which it was impossible to guard against, the design was ultimately rendered abortive. He should next call their attention to a no less distinguished individual, lord Hill, who at the battle of Vittoria, and on many other occasions, had performed the most eminent services; and who on the 13th of December last defeated the largest portion of the army of Soult before Bayonne. He came lastly to speak of lord Beresford. He commenced his military career at the Cape of Good Hope. He brought a nation, which had generally been considered as enfeebled and incapable of military exertion, to the highest state of discipline; and at the battles of Busaco, Albuera, and Salamanca, he had stood foremost in the career of glory. But he should think himself unjustifiable, if upon this occasion he passed over the two noble lords who from the most honourable motives had declined to partake of the royal bounty; lord Niddry and lord Combermere. These noble persons had no views of superfluous wealth, and had afforded an instance of self-denial very seldom to be met with. [Hear, hear!] It was gratifying to him to bear that in this short tribute he was speaking the sentiments of the House. Before he sat down, he wished to mention that this annuity of 10,000l. to be exchanged for an estate of 300,000l. with the former grants of 100,000l. and of 4,000l. per annum, would make the total sum payable 829 to the duke of Wellington amount to between 18 and 19,000l. a year.
A Resolution was then moved, "That the sum of 10,000l. be paid annually out of the Consolidated Fund, for the use of the duke of Wellington; to be at any time commuted for the sum of 300,000l. to be laid out in the purchase of an estate."—On the question being put,
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, that he had but one objection to the motion. As to the achievements of the great man whom they were now called upon to reward, they might well say that they spoke for themselves. It was not unbecoming, however, to observe, that lord Wellington had fallen on times in which the spirit of detraction had not dared to attack him; and in this respect he was not like the duke of Marlborough; for there was no man so wicked, so stupid, or so envious, as to venture to detract from the glory of the duke of Wellington. It has often been said, that the merit of great men was seldom allowed in their own day; and that they must trust to posterity for that fame which their contemporaries denied them; but to the distinguished individual of whom he was speaking, they might well say:—Præsenti tibi maturos largimur honores.When they all agreed that the crown had acted properly in conferring the dukedom, it was the business of the House of Commons to provide that the successors to the dukedom should never look to the crown for an addition to the original grant, to enable them properly to support their dignity. Nor did he think it dignified, that at any future period recurrence should be had to the future bounty of the crown, in the way stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said that it would be open hereafter to the House to make a farther grant, if they found the present insufficient for all the requisite purposes. The House and the public must have in their contemplation, that the duke of Wellington was now established in the rank of the highest landed property of the country. It was proper that a splendid mansion should be either built or bought for him. When the right hon. gentleman spoke of 50,000l. as adequate to this purpose, every body knew that a fit mansion for the duke of Wellington could not be built for 50,000l. nor for less than 100,000l. Out of the money proposed this night, if so large a portion were to be sunk, what remained would not be 830 adequate to the intended purpose. It did not become him to propose a larger grant, but he should be pleased if the grant were to be enlarged, and if the whole of the purpose of parliament should be accomplished that day. With regard to the other splendid characters, he joined most cordially in the tribute to their well-earned fame; and he was glad to see this war wound up with an act of public munificence. He thought that the gallant members of another service, who had never failed to distinguish themselves, ought not to be forgotten on such an occasion. He did not deny that the country had been sensible of their worth when any great victory was achieved by them; but at the close of the war, there was, in his opinion, a debt of gratitude due to the profession. He hoped, therefore, that a similar message from the Prince Regent would soon afford them an opportunity for again displaying their liberality. He wished this also, because the co-operation of the two services, which in former times had never been so cordial, had mainly contributed to our late success; and because he was convinced the army would feel that the whole was not done if the navy was left out.
said, though it was unusual for those sitting on his side to interfere in cases like the present, he could not but think the grant too small. The Prince Regent had raised the great commander to the highest rank in this country; and was any gentleman in that House prepared to say, that 18 or 19,000l. a year was sufficient to support the dignity of that rank? He knew it might be said, that he was also in the enjoyment of grants from the Spanish and Portuguese governments; but the House would not be acting wisely if it took these grants into consideration. It was true, he might long continue to enjoy them; but there was no saying when this country might be in a state of hostility with both those countries. Would it be proper then, that he, or any of his descendants, should look to these countries for any part of his revenue? This grant ought, in his opinion, to be enlarged, and in the speediest manner converted into land. He did not wish to see him possessed of a revenue arising from the interest of a sum of money; he wished to see him in possession of a great landed estate, which descend to the remotest posterity. If the right hon. gentleman was not disposed to amend the mo- 831 tion, by proposing a larger sum, he would himself move for something additional. Should any person have proposed 500,000l. he would have voted for it without the least reluctance. He should, however, vote for 400,000l.; and if he imagined that there was any probability of success, he would even propose 500,000l.
was inclined to give the largest sum which had been mentioned. At the same time, he thought it but fair to say, that government, in coming down with a proposition of this nature, most keep in view other consideration, by which the generosity of individual gentleman was not restrained. He should wish, therefore, any proposal of increase to come from that quarter, rather than from any other. If his right hon. friend was not prepared to come forward with any augmentation, or to give at once a negative answer, he thought it would be better for him to take time for the consideration of the matter. He agreed with an hon. gentleman, that what was to be done ought to be finally done now. The duke of Wellington ought not to be subjected to the remotest suspicion of shaping his conduct with the view of either conciliating the favour of government, or flattering the popular feeling. Every thing should be done, before his presence amongst us should run away with our judgments: on a sober estimate of those services that live on record, the remuneration of them ought to be awarded. Neither did he wish to see that grèat man hesitating whether the investment of the grant in funds or land would be most advantageous for him. Every thing mechanical ought to be taken off his shoulders.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
did not conceive 50,000l. adequate to build a fit mansion for the duke of Wellington; he merely thought it likely that a manor would accompany such a considerable property as was proposed to be purchased, and that this sum might be sufficient to repair and enlarge it. He fell in with the suggestions of the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Ponsonby) and would move for an additional 100,000l. making in all the sum of half a million now and formerly granted to the duke of Wellington by the nation. The annuity would be increased in consequence to 13,000l.
§ The House having resumed, the Report was ordered to be received to-morrow.