rose, and addressed the House as follows:—
In presuming, Sir, to offer myself to the House upon this occasion, I am fully aware that I have need of all, and much more than all, the usual indulgence bestowed upon its members—that usual indulgence which, I feel proud to say, while with gratitude I avow it, has been often and freely bestowed upon me. I say I have need of all its indulgence; for, however often the same vote which I now mean to propose has passed this House—however often the representatives of the country have been called upon to express their gratitude and the gratitude of the nation for services performed, and for victories achieved, by their gallant countrymen in arms, by land or by sea—never, except on one occasion, when the late Mr. Sheridan moved the Thanks of this House to the English Volunteers—an occasion which, as far as respects the highly-distinguished individual who moved those thanks, can form no precedent or apology for any ordinary man to undertake the same task—never, I repeat, has the proposition for such a Vote of Thanks, on such 361 an occasion, been submitted to the approbation of this House, unless by a member belonging to his majesty's councils. At the same time, I cannot help thinking, and the idea has often occurred to me when deliberating upon these matters on other occasions, and long before I had reason to apply my mind to the case now before the House, that it would be a preferable arrangement, and one calculated to throw a greater degree of lustre upon the event, if a Vote of Thanks for meritorious services were occasionally seen to emanate from some member of the House not immediately connected with the government. If a vote of this description has any value at all, it is because we suppose it to be the unbiassed and unaffected expression of national gratitude; and though it is true, that propositions of this nature have ever found a responsive feeling in the bosom of every man, yet it seems equally clear that a minister of the Crown, when bringing such matters under the consideration of the House, necessarily stands upon an eminence of power and of influence which no member opposed to the government can hope to command, and from which, he must, in some degree, be able to sway the opinions and direct the judgment, of parliament. Let me also add that, if this duty is never to devolve upon any but a person connected with the government, it appears plain, that those who may be called upon by a sense of their constitutional duty to oppose that government, are condemned to all that is irksome and painful in that duty—the necessity of constantly finding fault; while they are wholly deprived of the more pleasing task of offering their homage to merit, or returning the thanks of a grateful country to those who labour in its service. I cannot help thinking still further, that even for the sake of those whose services may place them in a condition to receive those thanks, it would be highly desirable that the usage in these cases should be occasionally departed from. For is it not obvious, that under the present practice, those who may be called upon to command our fleets, or our armies, must be in a great measure dependent upon accidental circumstances, and private or political views, for much of their final renown, rather than upon any of those chances and dangers to which they are subjected by their profession? If the fame and the fortunes of those who fight our battles on the ocean, or in the 362 field, are to be subject to all the intrigues of parties, and the wiles of cabinets, it is impossible to say whether the hero of the one day may not become the adventurer of the next, and whether the parliament which, under the influence of one minister, might be prepared to praise, may not, when controlled by his successor, be ready for reproof, perhaps, for punishment. To such a dependence upon accidents, an officer devoting his life and labours to his country should not be subject. He should, on the contrary, be safe from all political storms, and from all the vicissitudes which, chequer the lives of statesmen. He should feel sure that no change of administration could affect his character, and that having once deserved the thanks of his country, those thanks would be inevitably conferred. It is clear that, so long as proposals such as I am about to make, proceed invariably from ministers, the commanders of our fleets and armies can feel no such security. They must, to a certain degree, be involved in the fate of those political servants of the Crown who called for their services. Their honour may be the plaything, perhaps the victim, of a courtier. Nothing can be more unfair—nothing more unjust—nothing more detrimental—to the public service. A practice involving such consequences should be abandoned; and it appears to me that the late achievement at Navarin, affords an opportunity which should not be suffered to pass by unimproved [hear, hear!].
When, Sir, I make use of these reflections, I beg it to be understood that I disclaim any intention of introducing party politics on this occasion. I think that such an attempt would be as inappropriate to the subject as it would be unfair to the character and fortune of that gallant admiral and his brave companions, whose services I am anxious to reward. I must suppose, in speaking upon this subject, that it is the intention of his majesty's government not to leave that gallant officer and his companions without the usual reward; and I therefore think it right to say further, that I wish wholly to separate the merit of their achievements from the propriety of the policy which sent them to the scene of their triumph. It is my decided intention not to use a single phrase which can provoke political discussion, or even to drop a single expression which may be construed, into an attempt to in- 363 troduce party dissentions; and in the examinations and inquiries I have felt it necessary to make as to precedents, I am happy to say I have found that line always adopted when there was a chance of any difference as to the policy which sent our victorious armies into the field of action.
On a late occasion, when this subject, was mentioned, I took the liberty of observing to the noble lord opposite (lord Palmerston), that there was a precedent which tallied, in my opinion, with the case now under consideration. Since that evening, I have discovered that the precedent of the Copenhagen expedition applies even more closely than I supposed, and particularly as to the distinction drawn between the policy which sent out the force, and the action for which the commander and his followers entitled themselves to the gratitude of their country. I find that lord Liverpool, in proposing a vote of thanks to those who served at Copenhagen, expresses himself thus—" Were that expedition as unjust and unnecessary as he thought it just and necessary, or as impolitic and unwise as he thought it politic and wise, still he would contend, that that would be no ground of opposition to a Vote of Thanks to those who had so ably and skilfully executed the services which that expedition required." These were the sentiments of lord Liverpool upon a case almost precisely in point, and to them I now earnestly request the attention of the House. Besides the opinion of lord Liverpool in favour of the Vote of Thanks for the expedition to Copenhagen, Mr. Perceval strongly supported that vote, and supported it on the ground of the manner of its execution by the army and navy, apart from the policy of the measure. His language on that occasion was, "he hoped the House would not refuse their thanks to the officers engaged in this expedition, because they had executed a painful and heart-rending duty." Such was the language of Mr. Perceval; and to the same effect also was the language of lord Castlereagh. In introducing the Vote of Thanks to the army and navy for the expedition at Copenhagen, that noble lord made use of this language:—"Whatever difference of opinion there might be as to the political character of the expedition in this House, he flattered himself that no difference would exist on the proposition he was about to submit. It had always been the 364 custom to consider the services rendered by his majesty's army and navy, in carrying into effect the orders with which they were intrusted, distinctly and separately from the merits of the policy, by which his majesty's ministers were actuated in issuing those orders "[hear, hear!]. If, then, this was admitted to be the practice of the House of Commons in former times, surely there can be no just grounds for deviating from it on the present. Lord Castlereagh went on to remark, that the Vote of Thanks "was a justice due to the army and the navy, who were never called upon to decide as to the propriety or impropriety, nor to mix their conduct with that of those by whose impulse they acted, and who alone were responsible for the prudence, justice, wisdom, and policy of the plans they directed to be carried into execution" [hear, hear!]. It was therefore due to the army and navy to look only to the execution; which was the distinct service that fell to their charge. But it was not to the army and navy alone that this distinct consideration now was a point of justice, but also to the gentlemen of the House who might differ from his majesty's ministers as to the propriety of the plans that might be carried into effect.—These gentlemen would naturally wish to bear testimony as warmly as any other, to the meritorious conduct of his majesty's army and navy; but they would find difficulty in so doing, with satisfaction, if the merits of the army and, navy were not submitted in a shape wholly distinct from the conduct of ministers [cheers].
If such a course, Sir, was adopted towards the army and navy, for the skill and ability in the execution of the expedition to Copenhagen; if on that occasion all party politics were to be deprecated—the conduct of ministers left out of sight—how much higher grounds are there in the present instance for following a similar line of conduct towards our brave countrymen, for the skill and courage displayed by them at Navarin. Let the House bear in mind how the expedition to Copenhagen was spoken of by some of the most distinguished members of parliament at that period. Lord Sidmouth designated it" an outrage." Lord Grenville and lord Ellenborough denounced it as an "indelible disgrace to this country." Mr. Windham and doctor Laurence both termed it "a lasting monument of disgrace." Mr. Whitbread branded it as "a treacherous and base aggression" 365 on our part. Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Tierney, and other distinguished members of parliament spoke of it in corresponding language of obloquy and condemnation. Yet all this, Sir, did not prevent a Vote of Thanks from being passed in this House to the army and navy who were engaged in the execution of that expedition. In the House of Lords, no division took place on the vote. There was, indeed, an objection taken to that vote by lords Holland and Grey, the principal ground of which was, that thanks were not only voted to the army who were engaged, but also to the navy who had no opportunity of displaying their skill on that occasion. Indeed I believe that there was not a single shot fired from any of our large ships during that expedition, and that whatever naval warfare took place was confined to gun-boats and bomb-vessels. Nevertheless, this objection was overruled by lord Moira, who had signed the protest against the expedition; and who contended, "that it was not I for officers sent upon an expedition to judge of its policy; their only duty was to execute the service intrusted to them, and if they did it with skill, success, and ability, they were fairly entitled to thanks." In any of those objections which were made on that occasion, or in any of the protests which were entered into, there was no attempt made to make the troops engaged in the expedition responsible for any thing more than for the faithful performance of the duty assigned them. In the division which took place in this House, on the Vote of Thanks, and in the minority on that division, I observe the names of the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and my hon. colleague. Their opposition rested on the fact of there being no naval action to justify a Vote of Thanks to the navy, This consideration, together with the overwhelming superiority of our force; the imbecile resistance made to it, and the whole exploit, in which, after four days' fighting there were not more than three hundred killed and wounded, did not, in the estimation of those who opposed that vote, constitute an achievement of that character which entitled troops engaged in it to the express approbation of parliament. But the ministry of that day took care to set their seal upon the victory. When the news first arrived, the Park and Tower guns were fired. Lord Gambier, who commanded the naval forces, was made a peer. The strongest possible congratula- 366 tion on the event was inserted in the king's Speech, and re-echoed by the addresses in both Houses. Finally, thanks were voted to the officers without a moment's delay; and so persevering was the government to justify the whole exploit and to support their officers in every department, that the very Ordnance and Transport Boards were included in the general commendation.
How different, Sir, has been the fate of those who have now performed this great deed of arms! I find no congratulation in the Royal Speech on this extraordinary achievement—Anachievement which, as far as relates to the glory of the British arms, and to the interests of civilization and humanity, is far more calculated than the expedition to Copenhagen to warrant the expression of national congratulation, and to call forth the expression of national gratitude [cheers]. It is on account of this omission of congratulatory expression in the Royal Speech, and because no member of his majesty's government has proposed a suitable acknowledgment to our brave countrymen, that I, Sir—an independent member of parliament—may, I trust, be excused and justified in calling forth such an acknowledgment of the sense which this House entertains of their meritorious conduct. Pursuing this line of argument as to the propriety which I feel of bringing this subject under the consideration of the House, in the omission to do so in those quarters in which the mention of it might have been expected to originate, I would remind the House, that the action of Navarin was the consequence of instructions which emanated from the lamented Mr. Canning; who, if no unfortunate accident had befallen the country in his spirit being withdrawn from the councils of the nation—if he had not been removed between the period of issuing his instructions and the glorious execution of them—would not have permitted the services of those, by whom those instructions were executed, to pass unacknowledged and unrewarded. That same minister was in office when the Copenhagen expedition was performed. It was planned—at least it has always been so understood—by Mr. Canning, who was Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the time; and if he had not continued in office from its commencement to its close, it is not improbable that the Vote of Thanks which were passed to lord Cathcart and admiral 367 Gambier would not have been carried in the manner in which it had been through both Houses of the legislature. Thus it is that, if any minister issues instructions, and remains in power until those instructions are fulfilled, then the admirals and officers employed in the public service receive the public thanks of parliament. But if, between the issuing of the instructions and the fulfilment of them, the minister is put out of power—if he is unfortunately removed by death, then it is not, it would seem, deemed necessary or advisable, by those who succeed him, to convey the expression of the public thanks for the execution of orders emanating from their predecessors in power. This, Sir, renders it doubly incumbent on independent members of parliament to call the attention of the House to those services, respecting which—as in the present instance—his majesty's government may not be disposed to originate a motion expressive of the national sentiment. Whatever may have been the claims of those who were engaged in the Copenhagen expedition—the merits of which expedition were a thousand times more doubtful than those of this battle—their claims, it would be contended by no person, were superior to those of our navy in the late achievement at Navarin. If Mr. Canning had still been spared—if he had remained to stand by those who conquered at Navarin, as he stood by those who were engaged in the Copenhagen expedition—their services would not have been permitted to pass without suitable and customary acknowledgment. Whilst, indeed, his spirit, though departed, seemed to animate the king's councils, and whilst his sun had not sunk so long to rest, but that some faint reflection of his light was still seen above the horizon, justice was done to our brave countrymen by the speedy and unequivocal expression of the king's approbation of their conduct.
Indeed, even now I am not without hope, that they who have succeeded him will carry into complete and faithful execution the provisions of the treaty of London, by which they, too, have declared themselves to be bound. As a part of that fulfilment, it is necessary to acknowledge suitably the skill and bravery of those to whom the execution of its provisions has been intrusted. And let the House consider, that the motion to which I now call for their assent, is in strict conformity with 368 what has already been in part done. It only requires of them to follow up the expression of approbation of the conduct of our navy which all concurrent testimonies from different quarters fully show that it eminently merits. Let us see what took place on the first news in this country of the victory at Navarin. The intelligence of the victory reached London on the 10th of November; and on the 13th a proof was given in the Gazette of the full approbation of the Admiralty and ministers of that day, of the conduct of admiral Codrington. There appeared in the Gazette the following notice:—"The King has been pleased to nominate and appoint vice-admiral sir Edward Codrington, Knight-commander of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, to be a Knight Grand Cross of the said Most Honourable Order; and the King has been also pleased to appoint the undermentioned officers in the Royal Navy to be companions of the said Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath." This honorary distinction was extended to four captains and seven commanders. This was an unequivocal testimony of the royal approbation, and of that of the ministers then in office, of his conduct. After this cordial expression of the royal approbation of the officers which has already been given, what objection can there be now to follow it up by the thanks of this House? Is it to the instructions of ministers that objection is now taken? If it will not be contended (as I presume it will not), that the officers fulfilled their instructions faithfully, the only other opposition that can be taken is to the original instructions, from which admiral Codrington did not depart, and according to the tenor of which he strictly acted. After the expression of the royal approbation which has already been given, there is strong reason to doubt that the instructions, of which the victory was the consequence, can be called into question. If, then, the instructions were proper to be given, and if the victory was a faithful execution of them, where can he the opposition to the present motion? It is indeed to be regretted, that that approbation which our gracious sovereign expressed in the first instance was not followed by corresponding sentiments in the royal Speech at the beginning of the session. This would have been conformable to the testimonies which have poured into England from all quarters, and which it 369 might have been imagined, would more than counterbalance the forgeries and fallacies of the "Austrian Observer." Such, however, by some accident, was the authority attached to those malicious rumours, that an investigation was, we know, instituted into the circumstances of this great action. Sir John Gore was sent out to inquire into the circumstances that led to the battle. The report of that gallant officer, it is to be assumed, confirmed, in every respect, the propriety of the course adopted by admiral Codrington. That the report of sir John Gore contained such a confirmation is borne out by the answer given to me on a former night; and of which answer the present motion is the consequence. The noble Secretary at War replied to a question from me, that it was not intended to publish the report brought to this country by sir John Gore; and the noble lord gave as a reason, that "as no blame whatever attached to admiral Codrington, it was not necessary to volunteer his exculpation." This, therefore, justifies me in the position, that he is free from blame. But, besides the subsequent investigation instituted by sir John Gore, and the authority of the noble lord, of the gallant admiral's exemption from all blame, I have the additional fact, that he is still retained in the chief command of the Mediterranean. The noble duke at the head of the Administration is an excellent judge in what consists the carrying of military orders into effect; and sure I am, that if this gallant admiral exceeded his strict orders, the noble duke would not retain him in his present command [hear, hear!]. Besides the noble duke, there is the right hon. Secretary for the Colonial Department, and other members who sit near him, who were parties to the issuing of these orders, and they can declare whether the gallant officer did more than fairly carry the orders that were given him into effect. The testimony of the noble duke is so strongly corroborative of the merit of admiral Codrington, that the House, I am sure, will grant me its indulgence, while I repeat what he stated in his place in parliament, as the head of the Administration: "I did not make the slightest charge, nor cast the most distant imputation upon the gallant officer who commanded at Navarin. Certainly not. That gallant officer, in doing as he has done, discharged what he felt to be his duty to his country. It should be recollected, 370 that the gallant admiral was placed in a situation of great delicacy as well as difficulty. He was placed in the command of a combined squadron in conjunction with two foreign admirals, and his conduct was such, that they placed the most implicit confidence in him, and allowed him to lead them on to victory. I should feel myself unworthy of the situation which I hold in his majesty's councils, if I thought myself capable of uttering a single syllable against that gallant admiral—admiring as I do the intrepid bravery with which he conducted himself in a moment of much difficulty and danger" [hear, hear!]. Such is the testimony of the first minister of the Crown—a minister, too, it should be recollected, than whom there is no man living who better knows how far an officer may go in intrepidity with safety to his country [hear, hear!]—than whom no person can more appropriately measure out the due proportion of courage, or of skill, which a commander may display, without being subjected to the imputation of injurious rashness. To the testimony of the duke of Wellington, let me add that of the noble lord (Dudley), the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to whose department the consideration of this subject properly belonged. "My noble friend (Carnarvon) states," said the noble Secretary, "that the documents are necessary for the vindication of the character of the gallant admiral who commanded at the battle of Navarin, and of the officers who served under him. My answer to that is—that it has not been attacked—that sir Edward Codrington does not stand in need of vindication. He was engaged in a most important service, and he has received the high reward consequent upon a meritorious discharge of his duties; therefore, as far as regards his sovereign and the government, he stands in no need of vindication." In addition to the testimonies of the duke of Wellington and lord Dudley, I will add that of lord Goderich, the head of the late administration. What was his testimony as to the conduct of admiral Codrington? "The gallant admiral," said lord Goderich, "had been placed in circumstances of no ordinary difficulty—he had performed his duty like a man. In his opinion he had exercised a sound discretion, and had ably supported his own character, as well as the honour and glory of his country." Such were the testimonies borne to the character and conduct 371 of this gallant officer, by those who had official opportunities of forming the best judgment of it. The marquis of Lansdowne—than whom there is not a more upright or truer spoken man in the country—united his opinion to those already cited, in approbation of sir Edward Codrington "He felt it his duty to declare, that if any blame attached any where, most assuredly it was not on the gallant officer who commanded the fleet. When all the documents connected with this transaction were known, the House would be convinced with him, that the gallant officer wisely understood, and fairly exercised his discretion under the circumstances in which he was placed."
Relying on these testimonies—each of them sufficient authority for my object—each of them proceeding from a minister of the Crown, capable of forming a correct judgment on this important point—I have ventured to come forward on this trying occasion—unconnected with government—acting as an independent member of parliament, without concert with any party, I might almost add, uncertain of the support of any member in the House, and throwing myself, for whatever support my motion may receive, on the just principles and generous feelings which dwell in the bosoms of an assembly of English gentlemen [cheers]. It is in the full reliance on these principle sand feelings, and in the absence of all imputation upon the gallant officer, either for rashness, for a departure from, or want of discretion, and in the presence of all concurrent and confirming testimony, which establishes the reverse of such an imputation, that I rest my motion for Congratulation and Thanks for an exploit, which is alike honourable for the arms of the country, which by it were preserved untarnished, and glorious to humanity, for the sake of whose interests it was achieved. It is a source of regret, that the authentic public documents connected with this exploit are not made public; but from such public documents—the common and ordinary sources of intelligence—as we do possess, there has been, without a single difference of opinion, an expression, of full and entire confidence in the skill and merits of our officer. There never was an action fought, where, if any blame could attach to the commander-in-chief, his conduct was so open to scrutiny or so liable to misinterpretation: but we have yet to learn, that 372 any criticism whatever has proceeded from either of the officers commanding the rival, but friendly, squadrons of Russia and of France. On the contrary, it is perhaps the most pleasing feature of this great achievement, that not a murmur of jealousy, of envy, or of discontent, was heard in the united fleets of nations that never before, in the history of the world, had been led to victory by the British flag; and one of whom has so often contended with us for the empire of the seas. What a subject for honest pride—pride that would have wounded none, and gratified all!—How well might it have been a topic of congratulation in that part of his majesty's Speech, in which he told us of the friendly disposition of his allies!—How came so natural, so pleasing, so irresistible a tribute to our mighty co-operation in this holy work, to be altogether omitted? Surely this was a victory—unlike other warlike successes—which left no regrets, caused no tears, excited no jealousies, and afforded the noblest occasion for true heroism, by promoting the general interests of humanity, without the discomfiture or disgrace of any portion of the civilized community of Europe. Nevertheless, this great exploit is, in the king's Speech, alluded to only as a source of lamentation and regret; nor is there a single phrase to denote the satisfaction which must have arisen in the royal bosom at the noble emulation, the cordial obedience, with which the admirals of France and Russia supported the honour, and seconded the efforts of the British arms.
And this it is, that constitutes one of the principal features of my case, that that notice and that commendation have not been bestowed upon the victory of Navarin, which, on former occasions, victories, certainly not of superior or equal importance, called forth. Sir, it is a very peculiar, and a very felicitous circumstance of this case, that we find high and distinguished persons of other countries, placed in a situation which rendered them excellent judges of sir Edward Codrington's conduct on this memorable occasion, concur in expressing their admiration of that conduct in terms of the most unqualified character. I am not aware whether or not it is a usage on the part of kings to write personally to private individuals; but, undoubtedly, his majesty the emperor of Russia did not consider it as derogatory from his dignity to address to our gallant 373 admiral a letter, which is so eloquent and feeling an effusion, that I am sore the House will pardon me if I now read it to them. The letter, which was written a few days after the emperor received an account of the battle, is as follows:—St. Petersburgh, Nov. 8.,"Vice-Admiral Codrington—You have, achieved a victory for which civilized Europe ought to be doubly grateful to you. The memorable battle of Navarin, and the bold manœuvres which preceded it, evince to the world not only the extent of the zeal of three great powers in favour of a cause, the noble character of which is still more heightened by their own disinterestedness; but also prove what can be effected by firmness, though opposed to numbers; and what a well-directed valour can accomplish against blind courage, with whatever force that courage may be supported. Your name, from this time forward, belongs to posterity. By praise I should but weaken the glory which surrounds it. But I must offer to you a brilliant mark of the gratitude and esteem with which you have inspired all Russia. With this view I send to you herewith the military order of St. George. The Russian navy is proud of having obtained your commendation at Navarin; and, on my own part, I feel the most lively pleasure in thus assuring you of the sentiments of consideration which I entertain towards you.(Signed)NICHOLAS.Sir, besides this decisive and unequivocal proof of the approbation of the emperor of Russia, of admiral Codrington's conduct, a letter was written a day or two after by count de Nesselrode to count de Heiden, which goes still further; for in that letter count de Nesselrode informs count de Heiden, that his majesty the emperor of Russia has charged him to address to the prince de Lieven a despatch, "by which that ambassador is directed to declare to the government of his Britannic majesty, that in the opinion of the emperor, the measures resorted to on the part of sir E. Codrington were as just and beneficial as his conduct was admirable." In a subsequent passage of the letter, count de Nesselrode says to count de Heiden, "Should there be no ship for the moment adapted to the command of sir E. Codrington, and he consent to hoist his flag on board a ship of the line belonging to his imperial majesty, you will 374 place at his disposal all those composing our squadron, and assure him that the emperor would consider his presence on board one of our vessels as a distinguished honour conferred on the Russian navy" Nor, Sir, was this all. His majesty the emperor of Russia, with a condescension, which I understand, is not usually shown in such a manner, gave directions to count de Nesselrode to inquire of count de Heiden in what possible way his majesty could confer a mark of honour and distinction on the son of sir E. Codrington, who was wounded on that "glorious day." Sir, I cannot help thinking that all these letters and messages must be considered as affording an undeniable proof of what was the opinion upon this subject of a personage who must be as rigorous a judge in such matters, and as capable of forming a sound opinion respecting them, as any human being living. What was the case with the French court? That his majesty the king of France lost no time in conferring on sir E. Codrington one of the highest dignities in his power to bestow. This was followed by another circumstance, which I am told by some friends who are acquainted with the etiquette generally observed in such cases, is far from being a usual occurrence; namely, that when an officer, captain Fellowes of the Dartmouth, deputed by sir E. Codrington, waited upon the king of France, to convey our gallant admiral's thanks for the honour which he had received, his majesty conferred an Order of a less distinguished character on the gentleman who had been so deputed. But, let us also look at the king of France's Speech in opening his Chambers. What is his mention of the battle? "The affairs of the East," says he, "alone present some difficulties; but the treaty which I have signed with the king of England and the emperor of Russia, has laid the groundwork for the pacification of Greece; and, I have reason to hope, that the combined efforts of myself and my allies will triumph over the resistance of the Ottoman Porte, without having recourse to force. The unexpected battle of Navarin has been at the same time an occasion of glory to our arms, and the most distinguished proof of the union of the three flags." Here we have the deserved praise given to the treaty of London—the Turks threatened with force if they continue to resist—the glory of the great battle manfully asserted—and, 375 lastly, a suitable congratulation for the generous cordiality which graced and secured the victory of the combined squadrons. No tears for untoward successes—no sighs for separation from his bloodstained eastern bride—nothing but what is worthy of a Christian king!
Sir, why do I mention all these particulars? I mention them to show, that if we are backward in expressing our admiration of the gallant conduct of sir E. Codrington, we are the sole party of the different parties interested, by whom the slightest approach to any such feeling is entertained. If we do not by our vote of this night, confer on air E. Codrington the honour of our grateful acknowledgments for his gallant and spirited conduct at Navarin, it will be said that this country alone, of all the countries of Europe, is insensible to the splendor of the achievement. Our ingratitude will be the marvel and wonder of the world. It will begin to be suspected that we have some particular reason for our neglect. It will begin to be suspected that we are aware of some circumstances connected with, the battle, not known to others, which induce us, interested as we naturally must be in every thing which relates to the honour of our country, to withhold that approbation and that expression of gratitude, the refusal of which, under any other supposition, is wholly unaccountable. Sir, with respect to the battle itself, every man who hears me is so well acquainted with all the particulars relating to it, that I shall not think it necessary to trouble the House by going into any minute details on the subject. I am quite aware, that on former occasions, when any of his majesty's ministers have proposed votes of a similar nature, they have always accompanied the proposition by taking a short view of the circumstances attending the achievement in question. But I see around me so many individuals, much more qualified than I can be to speak on such topics—and among them several old and gallant admirals, themselves of high renown in their profession, and whose knowledge will enable them to describe the various events of the battle much more satisfactorily than I can pretend to do—that I shall consider it sufficient merely to say, that the House must be aware that, shortly after sir E. Codrington was sent to the Levant, he succeeded in establishing the armistice between the Greeks and the Turks. Supposing, very 376 naturally, that the terms of the armistice would be kept with good faith on both sides, sir Edward sent most of the king's ships under his command to Malta to refit. Shortly afterwards, however, he found that the Pacha Ibrahim, who commanded the Turkish fleet, did not entertain the same notions of the nature of the armistice that he himself did. The pacha despatched a squadron to relieve the Turks, who were at that time besieged at Patras by a Greek force. Although sir E. Codrington had with him only a single ship of the line, a frigate, and two corvettes, he immediately sailed in pursuit of the Turkish squadron, and, in the most undaunted manner, placed himself between the Turks and the shore, in order to prevent them from carrying their object into effect. In pursuance of the same determination, and finding that it was not the intention of the Turks to adhere to the conditions of the armistice, sir E. Codrington immediately sent orders to the British ships at Malta to complete their re-fitting with, all possible speed. These orders were obeyed with an alacrity highly creditable to all parties; and in the course of six days, the whole proceeded to join their gallant admiral.
I ought now, perhaps, Sir, to mention the comparative force of the contending parties previous to the battle. The Ottoman fleet consisted of three sail of the line, four double-banked frigates, seventeen frigates, forty-nine corvettes, and eight fire-ships; being in all eighty-one vessels of war, besides forty transports. Those who are acquainted with the place know, and those who are not may observe on examining the map, that in the bay of Navarin there are many very formidable batteries. By those of New Navarin many lives were unfortunately lost in the event. The Allied fleet consisted of ten sail of the line, ten frigates, and six corvettes; making twenty-six vessels of war. The number of guns in the Turkish squadron was two thousand two hundred and forty, the number in the combined squadron one thousand three hundred and fifty-four. There were the Turkish batteries in addition. Without any exaggeration, therefore, I may fairly say, that the victory which followed was, in proportion to the extent of the force engaged, one of the most splendid on record. Let us now see what was the loss of the Combined squadrons;— 377
It appears, Sir, that the Asia, forming the van of the fleet, and commanded by the gallant British admiral, almost with her own broadsides destroyed two of the hostile line-of-battle ships. And here I beg leave to mention, on undoubted testimony, a fact which I believe has already appeared in the public prints—that twice during the action the quarter deck of the Asia was cleared, with the exception of sir E. Codrington himself, who was left upon it alone [hear, hear!]. But what is there of wonderful in heroic achievement which. British seamen have not exhibited? Perhaps the House will forgive me if I mention another anecdote, which shows in the clearest point of view the cordial union that existed among the three flags. It will be recollected, that a twenty-eight gun frigate, the Talbot, captain Spencer, bore down, and engaged for nearly an hour two Turkish ships, of heavy metal, carrying each sixty-four guns; and whose fire was consequently very destructive to the British frigate. It is also to be recollected, that captain Hugon of the French frigate, the Armide, seeing the condition of the Talbot, nobly placed his ship between her and one of the Turkish vessels, which he soon captured. What I wish to add to these well-known facts is this: when captain Hugon pulled down the Turkish flag, such were the generosity and delicacy of the gallant Frenchman, that he did not hoist the French flag alone, but hoisted the French and British flags united; thereby intimating, that he had only terminated the contest which our brave countrymen had begun [cries of "hear, hear, hear!" from all parts of the House.] I mention this, Sir, as a proof of the complete union that existed among the squadrons; a union which was not confined to the action itself, but which evinced itself in all the subsequent occurrences.
Killed. Wounded. The English 79 197 The French 43 144 The Russian 53 137 Total 175 478
Sir, I think that what I have said on this part of the subject is quite sufficient for the purpose of showing the character of this brilliant achievement; which, indeed, was thus justly described in the general orders issued by sir E. Codrington on leaving the bay of Navarin, on the 24th of October;—" Out of a fleet composed 378 of eighty-one ships of war, only one frigate and fifteen smaller vessels are in a condition which will ever allow them again to go to sea." I repeat, that I am perfectly justified in contending that, considering the amount of force engaged, there is no naval action in our annals, the result of which was so completely decisive, and on the merits of which it is utterly impossible that there can be any difference of opinion [hear, hear!]. I have also a right to say, that we have the best proof of the merit and value of this action, not only in the destruction of the fleet to which the allied squadrons were opposed, but also in the present condition of things. Since the action there has been an almost total cessation of warlike and hostile proceedings. I understand from the latest accounts, that, in those parts where but recently nothing but piracy and the most flagrant acts of violence were perpetrated, the state of affairs is such, both on land and at sea, as to afford every prospect, that no serious obstacle will interpose itself to the complete execution of the treaty of London, to the pacification of the Greeks, and to the settlement of those questions by which that country has been so long agitated [hear, hear!].
After all this, Sir, I hope that I shall not find any person inclined to deny that the individual to whom so much of public benefit is attributable is entitled to public gratitude. It is true that I heard something dropped the other evening of its only having been a "barbarous" force that sir Edward Codrington had to contend with. A barbarous force! Look at the number of killed and wounded in the contest with this barbarous force! If these objectors talk of a barbarous force, what, pray, are the Algerines, for chastising whom lord Exmouth received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament? If they talk of a barbarous force, what, pray, are the Indians; victories over whom have repeatedly been rewarded with the thanks of both Houses of Parliament; although it will hardly be contended, that the Indian native armies can be compared to the naval forces of Turkey.
I contend, Sir, and with justice, that the recent struggle was a great one; but I can mention various cases from which it is evident that the greatness of the struggle has not been usually considered as the criterion by which to determine the propriety of voting parliamentary approbation. 379 For example, there was the affair of Copenhagen. The Danish fleet made no resistance. Not a shot was fired by our navy; yet our admiral received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. There have been many similar cases. Admiral Bertie and admiral Stopford were thanked by parliament, merely for their cordial cooperation with the army in India, although the navy was not actually engaged in hostilities. Admiral Keith was thanked for his assistance in landing troops id Egypt; admirals De Courcy and Hood for their conduct in the embarkation of the British army at Corunna. Admiral Hotham received the thanks of parliament for an engagement in which only two Sail of the line were taken; but by which he prevented the recapture of Corsica. Being a man whose modesty was equal to his courage, in expressing his gratitude for the honour which he had received, he qualified the service which he had performed with the word "advantage." It is true that, in the case of sir George Byng, in 1718, no parliamentary thanks were voted; but, Sir, I find, upon examining the public records of those times, that thanks were hardly ever voted to the navy by parliament. From the time of admiral Blake, in the period of the Commonwealth, to the time of admiral Osborne, in 1758, there does not appear—at least, I have Hot been able to find a notice of it in the Journals—to have been any vote of thanks to the navy. The thanks of parliament were confined to Marlborough, to the duke of Ormond, and to the achievements of our land-forces. But since the days of Osborne, the names of Vernon, Rodney, Pocock, Cornish, Hood, Howe, Duncan, Nelson, Keith, Saumarez, Cochrane, Strahan, and Exmouth, attest, that no British admiral has failed to obtain, when deserved, this great national reward.
I now wish to apply myself to the observations which fell, the other evening, from the noble Secretary at War on this subject. The noble lord said, he should object to this vote, because there was no precedent of thanks having been voted, when the country over whose forces the victory had been achieved was a neutral state. The instance of Copenhagen appears to me to be a complete answer to the noble lord's observation. It is acknowledged by all parties, that at the time of the Copenhagen affair a perfect neutrality existed towards this country on the part 380 of the Danes. The justification of our conduct, which was set up, upon that occasion, was not that the Danes were not neutral, but that they were too weak to resist any attempt by France to avail itself of their naval means. The best proof that Denmark was considered neutral, appears in the fact, that the Owners of no fewer than three hundred and fifty Danish merchantmen having applied to the Crown Prince to ascertain if their ships would be safe in the ports of this country, were told by him, that they would of course be safe, as the neutrality of Denmark had been acknowledged by Great Britain. If the relations of Turkey with this country justify the refusal to thank sir Edward Codrington for the victory of Navarin, the relations of Denmark with this country would have justified a refusal to thank our commanders for the affair at Copenhagen. But that is not the only instance of this nature. There is another, as complete. I allude to the attack on Algiers by lord Exmouth. There are many points of strong resemblance between the circumstances of the attack on Algiers, and those of the attack on the Turkish fleet at Navarin. The former was preceded by a league formed among the Christian Sovereigns of Europe, for the purpose of putting down the outrages of the African powers, and tranquillizing the Mediterranean. The late occurrence was also preceded by a league to tranquillize the Mediterranean. In fulfilment of the conditions of the former league, the British admiral sailed into the Mediterranean with a united squadron, and appeared before Tunis and Tripoli, where he amicably adjusted all matters in dispute. He then proceeded to Algiers. In the first instance, the Dey seemed disposed to agree to the propositions which were made to him. Lord Exmouth was induced to believe that it would be unnecessary to resort to any violent measure. In the intermediate time, however, came news of the massacre of a number of Christians in the territories of the Dey. Lord Exmouth hesitated no longer: he entered the harbour of Algiers, and completed the object of his mission. And, what said his majesty's ministers, and what said the king himself, on the subject? On the meeting of parliament, the Session was opened by a Speech from the Throne. The prince regent, acting in the name and on behalf of his majesty, uttered these remarkable words:— 381 "The splendid achievment of his majesty's fleet, in conjunction with a squadron of the king of the Netherlands, under the gallant and able conduct of admiral viscount Exmouth, led to the immediate and unconditional liberation of all Christian captives then within the territory of Algiers, and to the renunciation by its government of the practice of Christian slavery. I am persuaded that you will be duly sensible of the importance of an arrangement so interesting to humanity, and reflecting, from the manner in which it has been accomplished, such signal honour on the British nation." These words, Sir, with a very trifling alteration, would apply exactly to the victory of Navarin. And when lord Castlereagh moved the thanks of the House of Commons to lord Exmouth for his gallant conduct, he said that "he was sure the House would feel a peculiar gratification in seeing the arms of Holland united with ours for the general liberties of mankind." So in the attack on the Turks at Navarin. Was not its object the general liberties of mankind? Was not its purpose that of reading a severe lesson to those who were showing themselves the enemies of those liberties? In speaking of the attack on Algiers, lord Castlereagh said, "There never was a military transaction, the character of which, in all its bearings, redounded more to the honour of every individual concerned in it; for though the enemy might be inferior in scientific excellence, and in the knowledge of modern warfare, yet sufficient proof was given during the battle that the arm of this country was never turned against a foe more capable of opposing an obstinate and fierce resistance." What can be more true than this passage of lord Castlereagh's speech, as applied to the foe with whom sir Edward Codrington had to contend? The motion made by lord Castlereagh was seconded by an ingenious young gentleman of great talent and eloquence, Mr. Law. What has since become of that young gentleman, whether in his maturer years he has realised the promise of his more youthful days, it does not become me to inquire [a laugh]. Mr. Law, in the course of his observations on the occasion to which I have alluded, made use of this appropriate phrase:—"It was a noble enterprise, brilliantly achieved, in a great cause." Sir, I beg to say that these words of that eloquent young gentleman, Mr. Law, are 382 strictly applicable to the battle of Navarin; it was "a noble enterprise, brilliantly achieved, in a great cause." The number of men killed in the attack on Algiers was less than the number killed in the battle of Navarin; although the number of wounded was greater in the former than in the latter affair. But, as I have already remarked, the question before us is not a question of loss or resistance (Although, in both those respects, the battle of Navarin may challenge comparison with any other conflict of a similar character); the question is, whether or not the achievement reflects honour upon those by whom it was performed; perfectly leaving alone the question as to the policy of the measure. I say that it did reflect the highest honour upon those by whom it was performed; I say, that after the high testimony which has been borne to that fact, parliament cannot refuse to express its gratitude, unless something hitherto unknown can be brought forward to justify us in passing over what, I repeat, in the words of that ingenious and eloquent young gentleman, Mr. Law, was "a noble enterprise, brilliantly achieved, in a good cause" [hear, hear!].
Sir, I have been endeavouring to discover what can be the objection of those persons who oppose my present proposition; and I declare, with the utmost sincerity, that I cannot understand or conjecture what that objection can possibly be. It may perhaps hinge upon something which fell from a right hon. gentleman the other night who intimated, that while negotiations were pending, it would not be wise or justifiable to enter upon the discussion of the subject, in the absence of that knowledge which the papers connected with it could alone furnish. Why, Sir, that may be a very good argument against the discussion of the policy which led to the battle of Navarin; but as it respects the conduct of the admiral in that battle, it is no argument at all. For with respect to that conduct, we know all that we ever can know. That conduct has been examined and criticised by the parties the most interested, and they concur in approving it, and in declaring that in every thing that sir Edward Codrington did, he was borne out by his instructions. As far, therefore, as relates to the conduct of the British admiral, we want no further information, we want no further documents. If we do it is the fault of his majesty's government 383 for not having produced them; and it would be monstrous indeed, if they were to adduce their own neglect as a bar to the reward to which valour and skill are entitled. Sir Edward Codrington's conduct deserves either great praise or great blame. There can be no medium. If I thought the admiral acted contrary to his instructions, I would propose to censure him; but, knowing as I know, and as we all know, that he did not do so, I must persevere in maintaining, that he has most richly earned our applause.
Another argument it is just possible may be used. I really cannot believe it will; but in the vague, indefinite search for reasons, on which an objection to my motion may be founded, it has occurred to me as just possible, that somebody may say that the House of Commons ought not to thank sir Edward Codrington, because, by so doing, we should exasperate Turkey. It is possible, that there may be two or three worthy old gentlemen in this country, who imagine that the Reis Effendi sits every morning sipping his coffee with "The Times" newspaper in his hand, reading the debates in the English House of Commons with the most sensitive attention to their tenor. It is possible that these worthy persons may fancy, that of all people who have pursued a mad policy, the Turks are the most mad; that they might overlook the sound beating they received at Navarin, that they might be unaffected by the loss of their navy, but that they would be urged into all the fury of a desperate revenge by a vote of the English House of Commons. Sir, in my younger days I spent some time in Turkey; and if the apprehension of these worthy persons be true, then the "march of intellect" has made a greater progress in that country than it ever did at any period in any other part of the world [a laugh]. Why, Sir, while I was in habits of intercourse with a number, of very respectable Mussulmans, I never met with more than one man who had even ever heard of the English House of Commons [a laugh]. That individual, a man of elevated rank, had a distinguished English officer and a distinguished French gentleman residing with him; and from them he might, perhaps, obtain information as to what was passing at the various courts of Europe. I remember that when this individual asked me if I belonged to the English House of Commons, I was as 384 much astonished as I should have been if he had asked me some profound mathematical question; and I can assure any one who may be alarmed lest by any vote of ours we may chance to exasperate the Turks, that it would require a great deal of ingenuity to make a Turk understand what the word "vote" means; and that he would be apt to think a great part of the explanation necessary for that purpose what in this country is commonly called "hoaxing." We need have no fear, therefore, of exasperating the Turks by any vote of the English parliament.
But, Sir, I will tell you how we may perhaps have already exasperated them. To me it seems very likely, that the Grand Signior will be greatly exasperated when he finds himself called by the king of England "his ancient ally." What! the brother of the Sun and Moon! the Lord of the Black and White Seas the Vicar of Mahomet! To class him with a mere lord of merchants! With the master of infidel slaves, who are permitted to sell scissors, and to buy raisins in the Levant! That is indeed calculated to make the grand Turk angry. All those, Sir, who know as I know, the way in which our ambassador at Turkey is treated, will feel how impossible it is that the grand Turk can for a moment condescend to consider any Christian sovereign as his ally or his friend. Any one who has witnessed the painful ceremonial to which I allude, will allow that it is impossible to express a greater assumption of unmeasurable superiority, than that which the Turks evince towards our ambassador at a public audience at Constantinople. The fact is, Sir, that as to any fear of exasperating the Turks by our vote, such fear there can be none. If we wish to carry into effect the treaty of London, we need not be under any apprehension, that the negotiation will be broken off by the House of Commons passing a vote of thanks to sir Edward Codrington. There is only one thing of which we have reason to be afraid;—not of exasperating the Grand Signior, but of giving to prince Metternich and the Austrian cabinet any reason to hope or expect, that we are disposed in the least to flinch from our determination [hear, hear!]. If there be the least danger of our negotiation being disturbed, that danger will proceed not from a vote of the House of Commons, but from a courier from Vienna 385 [hear, hear!]. If, however, the right hon. gentlemen opposite and their colleagues concur in opinion, that there is only one way of carrying the policy hitherto pursued by this country into effect; namely, by determined perseverance, I have no doubt that they will be able fully to accomplish the desirable object in view.
Sir, I shall take the liberty of including, in my proposed Vote of Thanks, the admirals commanding the French and Russian squadrons [hear, hear!]. In doing this, I follow the precedents of former times; when the British parliament voted their thanks to the admiral of the Netherlands for his conduct before Algiers. It is no doubt a great and glorious distinction for us, that we are able to confer such honours as are esteemed not only by our fellow-subjects, but by the subjects of other countries. This is the great and glorious privilege of freemen. Their praise is valued not only by their fellow-citizens, but by all nations, and in all times. They assume, and are allowed to possess, that moral influence over human conduct, which the mightiest of despotic monarchs would in vain attempt to acquire. No one has described the true value of these national honours in language more appropriate, more eloquent, than the present chief of the administration. When he stood on this floor to receive the thanks of parliament for his services at Copenhagen, he used these striking expressions:—" This honour thus bestowed is an object of high and ardent ambition to every officer of the army and navy, and the principal motive of those acts of valour and heroic courage, which have raised the glory of the British arms, and swelled the reputation of British prowess to its present imposing grandeur."
It is impossible, Sir, for me to add any thing to this eloquent expression on the part of the noble duke. Since that day the duke of Wellington has received the thanks of parliament no less than eleven times; and I may be permitted to name the glorious occasions—for the triumphs were not only his but yours. They were the triumphs of England, of Europe, I may say of" the whole civilized world. He was thanked for Vimiera, for the defence of Portugal, for the battle of Talavera, for the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, for the taking of Badajos, for the battle of Salamanca, for the battle of Vittoria, for entering France, for the battle of Orthes, for his general services up to the peace of 1814, 386 for the great battle of Waterloo, and lastly, for the whole of his wonderful career up to the day of the peace in 1815. Will this hero, then, bending as it were under the weight of his laurels—will he refuse a solitary hard-won wreath to the brows of a gallant officer, who has more than the ordinary claim to his generosity; because, belonging to a rival service—a service, however, whose rivalry with our armies has consisted only in the noble strife which of the two should render most essential service to the interests, and best promote the glory of the country? And yet I have heard it whispered, that the administration, with this great captain at their head, have exerted themselves to oppose this motion; and that the usual means have been resorted to, in order to obtain a muster of their friends. I have even heard, that the note from the office at which the duke himself presides addresses his adherents in the strongest terms: "You are earnestly and particularly requested," "earnestly and particularly requested"!! to do what? to prevent one of the most gallant of your countrymen from reaping the due reward of his heroic exertions. Impossible! if we do so forget ourselves, the shame will not be his, it will be ours. But I will not, I cannot, anticipate the rejection of this proposal. When I recollect whom I am addressing—when I see so many distinguished officers of both services, and amongst them the gallant representative of the Navy-board—himself an ornament to his profession—when I behold on these benches so many of those ministers who framed the Treaty of London, and who sent the gallant officer to carry it into effect—when I see around me the representatives of a nation resembling, in many glorious distinctions, the free states of antiquity, but guiltless of the vice which disgraced the old republican communities—when on every side of me I behold those who, differing on other points, have always united to honour their brave countrymen in arms; it is impossible that I should contemplate, that on this so fair an occasion, we should afford so shameful an exception to our former generous practice, and that the Commons of England should, for the first time, in the history of our country, seem indifferent to, and neglect the upholders of our national renown. If this is to be so, then, indeed, the day of Navarin will be the glory and the shame of England; and history, recording the 387 name of the undaunted seaman, to whom it is due, will make this mournful confession:—" His merits were acknowledged by his own sovereign, foreign potentates made haste to honour him, rival nations conspired to praise him, but his fellow-subjects were unmindful of his prowess, and would contribute nothing to his fame, domestic jealousies had mastered their better feelings; they gloried in the triumph of a party; they forgot the interests of Christendom, and the champion of civilization" [loud cheers from both sides of the House]. The hon. member then moved, "That the Thanks of this House be given to Vice Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, Commander-in-chief of his Majesty's Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, for his able and gallant conduct in the successful and decisive action with the Turkish Fleet in the Bay of Navarin, on the 20th day of October fast; to the officers, seamen and marines of the British squadron; and to the Russian and French admirals, officers, and seamen, who so gallantly supported the English admiral on that occasion."
addressed the House, in a tone of voice nearly inaudible, he said, he thought that, until the House were in possession of all the instructions sent out to sir E. Codrington, they could not be competent to come to a rational decision as to the battle. By agreeing to the motion, the House would not only be doing honour to the gallant admiral, but would also sanction the treaty that had been alluded to; which, in his opinion, they ought not to do. The hon. mover had expressed a hope, that government would carry that treaty into effect. Did he mean that government was to carry it into effect by a war? The British admiral had no right to demand an armistice. That, however, he did do, and threatened, that if it was not agreed to, ulterior measures would be resorted to. What measures were referred to, might be imagined from the sanguinary and disastrous victory of Navarino. He regretted the manner in which our old ally had been treated: and he had a right to call Turkey our "old ally," for a treaty was framed between this country and Turkey in 1675, which recited other previously existing relations between them. He feared that England would have cause 388 to regret that she had lent herself to the views of Russia. Upon this point, he would quote a line of admonition:—" Who helps a powerful friend 'fore arms a foe."
§ Mr. Huskisson
declared himself disappointed with the speech of the hon member who spoke last. He was at all times unwilling to address the House unnecessarily, and he had therefore fondly anticipated, that the result of the hon. member's speech would be the giving of a conclusive argument against the motion, and that it would not be necessary for him to trespass on their patience. But he was sorry to say that he had not heard from the hon. member one word which appeared to him to bear upon the question before the House. The hon. member had been pleased, in a manner not, he thought, altogether consistent with the usual courtesy of parliamentary proceedings, to enter into a discussion upon the merits of our intercourse with France and Russia, and the different steps taken at different periods, with a view to the pacification of Greece. Now, he really thought, that after the House had been told by the ministers of the Crown the reasons which precluded them—very reluctantly—from giving to the House the information which could alone enable parliament to come to a just conclusion on the subject, it would have been more fair and consistent to have adhered to the line very properly chalked out by the hon. member for Westminster—to have waved the consideration of the policy of the treaty, and to have confined his attention strictly to the motion which, he could not avoid saying, had been so indiscreetly brought before them. His hon. friend had said, that the object of the treaty, as he read it, was totally different from that of the protocol signed at St. Petersburgh in April, 1826. Now, he utterly denied that position. It was necessary to look both to the treaty and the protocol for the objects of the parties to them, and the motives which influenced the proceedings they had adopted. In both documents the objects which the contracting parties professed to have in view, and which they pledged themselves to effect, was the reconciliation of the Porte with Greece, and the pacification of the Levant. That was the object which was brought prominently forward.—His hon. friend had talked of fraud, conspiracy, trick, and violence; but he certainly could not have 389 read the treaty of the 6th of July attentively, if he had not found, that it was framed with the view of re-establishing peace between the contending parties, by means of an arrangement which was called for, as much by humanity as by the interest of the repose of Europe. The first article stated "The contracting powers will offer to the Ottoman Porte their mediation, with the view of bringing about a reconciliation between it and the Greeks." It could not, it appeared to him, be doubted, that the object of the contracting powers throughout was the preservation of the tranquillity of Europe, and the reconciliation of the Porte with Greece. His hon. friend might quarrel with the means adopted to carry the treaty into effect. That point he would not now discuss; but to the assertion, that the object of the treaty was not one of conciliation he gave a most unqualified denial. He would not attempt to follow his hon. friend through the arguments which he had raised on this most complicated question. It was sufficient for him to state, that for seven years the peace of Europe had been placed in jeopardy by a war which, if continued, could end in nothing but the extermination of one of the parties, and a state of things which, if not put down would interrupt the tranquillity of Europe, which it was the object of this country particularly to preserve, and which, if once broken, might lead to the most fearful and extensive consequences. His hon. friend had expressed his surprise, how those who pretended to be the disciples of Mr. Pitt, could suppose that they were promoting the interests of England, by venturing upon such an interference with the internal concerns of an independent nation, as the world had seen in the treaty of the 6th of July. Now, he professed himself to be one of those individuals who took a pride in adopting the policy of that great man, Mr. Pitt; and he said, that the policy of this country, not only during the time of Mr. Pitt, but of Mr. Fox, and indeed of all the distinguished statesmen who had directed its councils, was not to interfere unnecessarily with the domestic concerns of other nations, but certainly not to withhold our interference, whenever it became necessary, to re-establish the peace and harmony of the world, and to restore a good understanding among contending powers. It was no departure from the law of nations, but a sound application of their 390 principles, to interpose under such circumstances. His hon. friend had quoted the example of Holland in the year 1787, and had admitted that Mr. Pitt received the approbation of his great rival Mr. Fox, for his interposition on that occasion. Under what circumstances did that interposition take place? The king of Prussia thought that an insult had been offered by the States of Holland to his sister, the wife of the Stadtholder. Was that, it was asked, a fit object for British interference? Certainly not. But then there was a French faction in the country, which was obtaining a preponderating influence. If that were so, then what became of his hon. friend's principle, that we were not to interfere in the domestic concerns of another, even for the preservation of that balance of power, without which it was impossible to hope for the continuance of peace? Such had never been either the doctrine or the practice of those who had hitherto directed the destinies of England. We had endeavoured never to interfere gratuitously in the internal concerns of independent nations; but whenever we had interposed, our interposition had always been directed to effect the preservation of the peace of Europe. He was quite sure that his hon. friend, when he should hereafter peruse all the documents connected with the treaty of the 6th of July, would be convinced, that a war in the east of Europe, which would have placed the tranquillity of the whole of Europe in jeopardy, had been completely prevented by the interposition of England. He must repeat, that he could by no means agree with the conclusion to which his hon. friend wished to bring the House; namely, that the county had been guilty of gross injustice, in acceding to the treaty of the 6th of July. The object of that treaty, the only end it was intended to attain, was the same which we had in view, when we signed the protocol of St. Petersburgh—was the same which we had in view during the time of lord Strangford's residence at Constantinople; namely, the general pacification of Europe without going to war, and the prevention of that state of things, which, if it once came into existence, must necessarily lead, at one day or other, to a general war throughout! Europe. No one, he thought, would expect him to state, on the present occasion, what measures the government was adopting to give effect to that treaty. The 391 reasons why he should not enter upon such a statement were too obvious to require repetition. He was certain it would be enough for him to state, that the government was proceeding fully, fairly, and faithfully, to execute the treaty, in the same spirit in which it had entered into it, in concert with our august allies.—He had stated already, and he would repeat the statement, that he regretted extremely that the hon. member for Westminster had brought forward his motion at this particular time. The hon. member seemed to think that there was considerable advantage to the public service, in motions for giving the thanks of parliament to officers and men who had distinguished themselves in the battles of the country—originated by individuals who were unconnected with the government, and unfettered by party. The hon. member had stated, that there were occasions when such honours would be rendered more gratifying to the individuals on whom they were bestowed, by the circumstance of their having been proposed by the party which was in opposition to the government, and which, therefore, could have no share in planning the expedition which they had carried to a successful termination. He would not deny the abstract proposition, that there might be such occasions, but sure he was, that the present was not an occasion on which it would be either prudent or politic to make such an experiment, as the hon. member had recommended. It was impossible for the hon. member to be acquainted with all the circumstances which had reference to this transaction. The hon. member thought himself much better informed respecting them, than he really was; for he had stated, among other things, that he knew that the report, which had been made by a gallant friend of his, who had been sent into the Mediterranean to inquire into the circumstances preceding the battle of Navarino, had been perfectly satisfactory upon all points.
§ Mr. Huskisson
.—I can only say, that if the hon. member has that knowledge, his knowledge far exceeds mine. I do not mean by this to say, that there is any thing deficient in the explanation of the transaction, which has been sent home by the gallant admiral who commands in the Mediterranean. But I do say this, that no report has come to my knowledge, or, 392 as far as I am informed, to the knowledge of any member of his majesty's government, conveying any opinion of my gallant friend to the effect stated by the hon. member. The hon. member assumes, that his case is completely established, on the report of the gallant officer to whom I alluded. Now, it so happens, that the gallant officer in question was not called on to make a report, and that he has not, as far as I know, made any.—Before I proceed further, I cannot help noticing the fact, that the hon. member has more than once insinuated, that the great honour which he considers to be due to sir E. Codrington, and the gallant men who served under his command, is refused, owing to the changes which have recently taken place in the cabinet, owing to some paltry intrigue which he conceives to have been going forward, or, to use his own words, owing to the better passions having been absorbed by domestic jealousy.
,—The right hon. gentleman is labouring under a gross mistake. I did not utter the sentiment he has attributed to me. I did not speak positively but hypothetically. I said—if ministers act so and so towards sir E. Codrington, people will say so and so of them, and the conclusions to which future historians will come, will be, that the better passions were absorbed by domestic jealousies.
§ Mr. Huskisson
said, he was happy to hear the explanation of the hon. member. He asserted, however, that there never had existed on the part of any cabinet which had been formed since the battle of Navarino, the smallest intention to propose the thanks of parliament to the officers and men who were engaged in that affair. He would tell the hon. member the reason why such an intention could not enter into the mind of any prudent and sensible minister. It was this:—we voted the thanks of parliament for triumphs over our enemies—we voted them to mark our satisfaction, that in a conflict which we had foreseen and directed, with a power against which we had declared war, the skill and gallantry and zeal of our officers had triumphed over the skill and gallantry and zeal of our enemies, and that they had maintained, by that skill, gallantry, and zeal, the ancient superiority of our country above all others. But, could any reasonable man think of passing a similar vote on the present occasion, unless a precedent were quoted in justifica- 393 tion of it from the records of parliament? He was ready to maintain that no precedent could be found which would justify the House in giving a vote of thanks to any officer for a catastrophe which ended in a lamentable effusion of blood which we had never intended to shed, and in the total destruction of the naval force of an ally whom we never intended to injure. Would it be right to mark our sense of such an accident, and he might say of such a misfortune—for being an accident, it was also a misfortune—by voting the thanks of parliament to the authors of it-he said it not invidiously—as we should vote them for a victory obtained in time of open and declared war? —The hon. member seemed to think he had found a case which ran completely parallel with the present, in the vote of thanks which was given to the officers and soldiers employed in the expedition sent to Copenhagen in 1807. The hon. member felt how weak his argument was on this point; for he laboured exceedingly, in endeavouring to draw a distinction between approving the conduct and approving the policy of the war. Now, with all due deference to the hon. member, it appeared quite unnecessary to draw any such distinction. How many gentlemen were there who disapproved altogether of the policy of the war, from its commencement to its close; and who yet whilst we were engaged in the war, never when a case arose which called upon parliament to acknowledge, by its thanks, the gallantry of our soldiers and sailors, thought of mixing up the question of their gallantry with that of the policy which rendered the display of it necessary. He would now ask the House to consider what was the case at Copenhagen. Instructions were distinctly given to our commanders by sea and land to attack and capture that capital, and to use their best exertions for the attainment of that object. They were likewise told, that they were to consider eight days as the utmost extent of the period during which they were to abstain from hostilities. It so happened that, before one of those eight days had expired the king of Denmark issued a declaration of war against England. He would not now speak of the policy of the expedition to Copenhagen, as the hon. member did not pretend to dispute its wisdom, being now more enlightened as to the grounds on which it was sent out, than the individuals were who attacked the 394 justice of it at the time, without knowing any thing of the causes which led to it. It was sufficient for him to say, that what was done at Copenhagen was done in consequence of direct and positive orders from the government at home; and that we were, moreover, placed in a state of war with Denmark by the declaration of the Danish government. But was this or any thing like this, the state of affairs between the English and the Turkish governments in the Mediterranean? No such thing. We were bound by the treaty of the 6th of July to interpose our forces between the contending parties, in order to bring about an armistice de facto, in case it could not be otherwise obtained. He would not enter into the question, whether Ibrahim Pacha had or had not broken the terms of the armistice which had been first made between him and the gallant officer who commanded our squadron. He believed that he had. He would only say, that the gallant admiral did not enter the bay of Navarino with a view of attacking the Turkish fleet, but with a view of obtaining, by his position, a compliance with the terms of the armistice which he had settled with its commander Ibrahim Pacha. Upon entering that bay, there ensued a scene in which the greatest skill, seamanship, and gallantry, were evinced by sir E. Codrington and every officer and man under his command. It was no small addition to the praise which the gallant admiral had obtained by his valour and skill, that he had effected that, which it was not always easy to effect, when the forces of rival powers were employed together for a joint object, that he had conciliated them by his conduct, and had thereby produced a unity of purpose and a harmony of design, which could not have been exceeded, if the force employed had been entirely British, and under the command of a British officer, as much beloved, as sir E. Codrington had the happiness of being by every man who sailed under his orders.—Having made this statement, he hoped he should, not hereafter be accused of underrating the skill or valour of sir E. Codrington, because he could not accede to the present motion. The affair in which he had so eminently distinguished himself, was not a battle between enemies, it was an accident—a misfortune—which could not be foreseen, nor perhaps, under the circumstances, avoided: it was an event which, in private life, would be styled a 395 chance-medley. He was convinced it would be so called in the verdict, if a coroner's jury could examine into the merits of it. But it did not follow that, because it was chance-medley, there might not have been exhibited in it as much gallantry and skill as was ever exhibited by the bravest men in the noblest exploits of ancient or modern warfare.—The hon. member for Westminster had made another groundless assumption. He had assumed, that sir John Gore had been sent to make inquiries in the Mediterranean, because a foreign newspaper, the "Austrian Observer," had circulated sundry calumnies, detrimental to the character of the British admiral. This was the first time he had ever heard such a reason assigned for sending out his gallant friend. Certainly, no such reason had influenced his majesty's government. The government certainly felt it was incumbent upon it to make further inquiries, as to the character of the armistice which had been established in the Morea, between the officer in command of the British squadron and the officer in command of the Turkish forces. The queries which had been sent out had received distinct and explicit answers; proving beyond a question, that there had been nothing precipitate or rash in the conduct of the officer commanding the British fleet. He Stated this the more willingly, because he was sincerely anxious that sir E. Codrington should stand clear of all blame in a transaction which, under the circumstances, was perhaps unavoidable. It was, however, the duty of government to ascertain that such was the character of the transaction. The hon. member must be convinced that it was an affair in which the country found much to lament, and that its issue was such as men of all parties could not fail to deprecate, so far as it regarded England: for he would not inquire whether it was, as the hon. member said it was, a good issue, as terminating hostilities between Greece and Turkey. It might or might not have that effect: time alone would show. But what was most likely to have been its immediate effect upon British interests? It might have led to the massacre of all the British subjects in the Turkish dominions, and to the confiscation of their property by the Porte. Fortunately it had not produced that result; but one of its negative effects was undeniable. It had not produced 396 the execution of the objects of the treaty of the 6th of July, as contemplated by those who signed it, and wished it to be executed without the effusion of human blood. The hon. member for Westminster had next referred to what had taken place when we sent an expedition to Algiers.—He could tell the hon. member, that the gross ignorance which prevailed at Algiers respecting the extent of our resources and power, did not exist at Constantinople. Though the brother to the Sun and Moon, the lord of the Black, White, and Yellow Seas, the master of Millions, as the hon. member told us the sultan styled himself—though he might look upon us as a set of traders, who did nothing but sell razors and buy raisins in the Levant, and might call our king the chief of a set of scissor-grinders, he could tell him, that the Reis Effendi was very well informed of every thing which passed in Europe, and was by no means deficient in the knowledge of European politics.—The right hon. gentleman then proceeded to examine into the history of the expedition sent to Algiers under lord Exmouth. The hon. member for Westminster said, that our fleet went to Tunis and Tripoli and elsewhere, demanding and obtaining, from the governors of those places assurances that they would cease from cruising against all Christian flags; that our fleet next went to Algiers, where its demands were met, not with compliance but with refusal; that lord Exmouth waited a few days before the port, and then proceeded to attack and bombard it. Now, as far as he recollected it, the true version was this.—Lord Exmouth returned from Algiers to England, and reported to the government, that he had not been able to make the same agreement with the Dey of Algiers as he had made with the other Barbary powers; for the Dey declared that he would persevere in cruising against the Christian powers, and in holding their subjects in captivity. What, then, took place? Lord Exmouth was sent back to Algiers with a greater number of ships, and with instructions to compel the Dey to submission. The analogy, therefore, between that case and the present completely failed. In the first case, there was an expedition sent out for a specific purpose—of a hostile nature; that purpose was executed, and parliament was consequently called upon to praise the skill and gallantry which distinguished those 397 who took an active part in it. In the present case, the expedition was sent out for a pacific purpose; and out of an unexpected collision with the Turkish fleet arose that victory, which though it was honourable to our arms, was still not a subject for parliamentary congratulation. He was not to be deterred from the strict line of public duty by any appeals that might be made to his feelings on the nature of the contest between the Greeks and the Turks. Though, as a private, individual, he might have a strong opinion as to the character of the contest, and might sympathize with a population which had been ground down by the most intolerable slavery, as a public man, he could not yield to the influence of such feelings. He would say at once that such feelings were not sufficient of themselves to warrant the interference of any foreign state in the contest for the interests of the Greeks alone. If British interests were not endangered by the continuance of the conflict, we were not called upon to interfere—nay, we were not justified in interfering—on account of the cruel slavery to which the Greeks had been so long exposed. He was not to be deterred by the hon. member's saying, that if we did not bestow a vote of thanks on sir E. Codrington, we should be unjust not only to him, but to ourselves. He contended, that the present was an exception from the general rule established in the cases to which the hon. member had referred. He thought that he had demolished all the precedents which the hon. member had brought forward in support of his motion; but even if he had not, still there was a wide difference between this case and all such precedents. It would be a bad proceeding to proclaim a triumph and to indulge in the feelings of victory, where there had been neither an enemy, a triumph, nor a victory. He did not doubt the gallantry, nor dispute the discretion, of sir E. Codrington; but he must say to the House, "Be cautions before you create a precedent of thanks for an event which grew out of an accident, lest officers, looking at the signal benefit conferred on them by receiving such thanks, should cherish too easy a disposition to create such accidents, and lest such accidents so created should lead to consequences, which the country may long have reasons to regret."—It surprised him more than all that the hon. member, who seemed aware that he should not receive 398 general support to his motion, and who knew well that if no change had taken place in the councils of his majesty, no such a proposal as was then before the House would have been made to it—it surprised him more than all, that the hon. member, who had searched the records of parliament to find precedents in which thanks were conferred for brilliant actions like those at Navarino, should have overlooked one slight precedent which made completely against him. The hon. member had referred to the great exploits of the illustrious warrior who was now at the head of the government, and who had received the thanks of parliament no less than eleven times, for his distinguished services. He believed there was no man who heard him, who did not rejoice that they had so often had an opportunity of thanking that able chieftain. He believed that to the exploits which elicited those thanks we were indebted for the peace of Europe; and he further believed, that it was the intention of that unrivalled captain, to maintain that peace, undisturbed by his counsels in the cabinet, which he had been so instrumental in obtaining by his sword in the field. Did the hon. member ever hear of that most distinguished victory, which the British forces achieved at Toulouse? It was one of the most brilliant feats of arms in which the noble duke was ever engaged. He defeated marshal Soult; he drove him from an entrenched position, which even his own officers conceived too hazardous to attack; and he displayed, during the whole conflict, a combination of valour, skill, and coolness, which had never been excelled before. Though this was one of the most gallant achievements of the whole war, it was not noticed by parliament, because a cessation of arms had taken place before the intelligence of it reached England. In consequence of such omission, the late duke of Norfolk had asked, whether it was not intended to thank the duke of Wellington for that his last and greatest battle. Unquestionably his noble friend then at the: head of the government felt the importance of that battle; but what was the statement which his noble friend made in his place in parliament? It was this—that as the war had ceased, he did not intend to propose a vote, which might tend to keep up a spirit of exasperation between the two nations.—Having stated that fact, he would sit down, leaving it to the good 399 sense of the House to decide, whether it would in this case create a precedent which, if created, would be attended with inconvenience to the best interests of the country. Had the conflict which gave rise to this proposed vote of thanks taken place with a power with whom we were at war, he should not have had any reluctance, to confer the honour of their thanks upon sir E. Codrington and his brave followers; but, under present circumstances, he was obliged to withhold it, not from any wish to impute the slightest blame to that gallant officer, but from a wish to guard the country from future difficulty and inconvenience. He would not move a negative to the present motion, lest it should be supposed that he meant to deny the gallantry and skill of sir E. Codrington; but for the reasons which he had stated to the House, he would move the previous question.
§ Sir J. Mackintosh
said, that it had been so seldom his good fortune, during his parliamentary career, to coincide in opinion with the hon. member for Dorsetshire, that he embraced this opportunity of publicly declaring, that he did coincide, for once, with that hon. member. He entirely agreed with him in deploring the silence which was imposed upon hon. members, relative to this great question, by the alleged situation of the negotiations at Constantinople, and by the state of parties in the two Houses of parliament. He lamented the circumstances which prevented those who approved of the treaty of the 6th of July—among whom he was proud to rank himself—from stating the reasons on which their approbation was grounded. He agreed with the hon. member for Westminster—who had delivered a speech, admirable in its kind, and which, so far from being ill-advised, or indiscreet, appeared to him to be a model of discretion—that, with respect to the Treaty of London, there could be no medium: it was either one of the grossest infractions of the law of nations, or one of the most just, wise, generous, and disinterested compacts that ever was formed. After the general rumour that was abroad, that several persons had concurred in condemning the policy of that treaty, he could not refrain from entering his protest against being supposed to concur in their opinions. He believed the treaty of the 6th of July to be a just, a wise, a generous, and a disinterested compact. He 400 was prepared to contend, against any antagonist, that that treaty was not only founded upon principles of reason and justice, but that it was also conformable to the recognized principles of the law of nations. The question was not whether the interference could be justified by any positive rule of the law of nations—for he was ready to admit that it was not—but whether, considering the nature and state of the hostilities between Greece and Turkey, and their bearings on the condition of all Europe, it did not form an exception to the general rule. If he could not make this out—and he confessed the onus was upon him to do so—then he was ready to admit, that the hostile acts which had taken place were an infraction of the law of nations. But, could it be denied that there were cases in which to bring about an armed mediation was known to the law of nations? Was it not authorized by the best writers, by the most renowned jurists? Were there not precedents of such acts in the best times? And if there were no precedents—if no public authority existed—was the principle not obvious, that such an intervention as this country had practised on behalf of the Greeks was enjoined by the dictates of common humanity, by the paramount necessity of preserving the peace of Christendom, and by an unquestionably wise policy? On the one hand, it secured the peace and safety of all Europe, and on the other hand, instead of impairing, it tended to prop up and support the Ottoman power, as long as the vices and absurdities of that barbarous constitution would allow of. He was prepared to maintain, that the treaty of the 6th of July was the direct and inevitable consequence of that of the 5th of April; that the protocol of April, 1826, made the intervention necessary; and that, by the treaty of the 6th of July, it became a duty. He was prepared also to contend, in contradiction to a slander, which could have originated only in gross ignorance, that, instead of the interference which had been resorted to being a surprise on the Ottoman Porte, that government had been treated with extraordinary long suffering, with most exemplary patience, and with most unexpected forbearance. It was bare justice to Russia to say, that her dealings with the Ottoman power, for the last seven years, had been marked with as great forbearance, as the conduct 401 of that power had been distinguished by continued insolence and incorrigible contumacy. If any one was disposed to deny this, let them look to the history of the Servian deputies, and they must admit, that, if Russia were to be blamed at all, it was rather for the long patience she had exercised, than for any premature interference. By the treaty of Bucharest it was provided, that the people of Servia, amounting to about a million of Christians, should be governed by their own laws and magistrates, and that they should be exempt from all Turkish interference. A body of Servian deputies, appointed to carry the provisions of that treaty into effect, went to Constantinople for that purpose. What did our ancient allies, the Turks, do on that occasion? In what way did they evince their respect for the law of nations—that rigid observance of treaties, for which they had, of late, been so much praised? They sent these deputies to the Seven Towers; and they justified this flagrant violation of justice by a pretence, that they did it to protect the persons of the deputies from the attacks of the populace. How did they prove the truth of this pretext? By keeping them in confinement for the period of seven years. And all this Russia endured. At the treaty of Ackermann they procured the release of those unfortunate deputies; but, even then, not until a Russian army had made its appearance on the Pruth. He addressed these observations particularly to the hon. member for Dorsetshire, who, he was free to confess, was a fair and candid opponent; and who had professed his desire to view the question divested of all the interests and opinions which might be attached to it by parties in this country. For himself, he looked upon it as a great question of national justice, and one which would attract the attention of posterity, when all that now appeared important would have become insignificant. It appeared, from the nature of the opposition which had been offered, that the grounds of that opposition were two-fold; for it would be impossible, if the treaty were justified, that the attack could be condemned. In order to be consistent in refusing the thanks of the House to the officers who had distinguished themselves, with a gallantry so honourable to themselves and to the country, it must be insisted, that their laurels had been gained in the performance 402 of an act of injustice. If that ground were maintained, then the admiral was entitled to the thanks of the House; for it would then be admitted, that he had not gone beyond his instructions; and no one attempted to deny that his exertions had been most gallant and successful. If he took the second objection, that, indeed, made the propriety of the admiral's conduct doubtful, in the sense which that objection would put upon it. It would imply, that it was questionable whether he had judged properly of the emergency in which he was placed; whether he had estimated the danger properly; and whether the case had happened in which he was authorized to resort to the force with which he was intrusted. This latter objection of necessity recognized and justified the treaty, and in the impossibility of reconciling these two points, he discovered the inconsistency of the argument of those who opposed this vote. It was clear that, by the last article of the Treaty, the high contracting powers bound themselves, in the event of the Turks refusing to acquiesce in the manner which was deemed necessary to secure the tranquillity of Europe, to bring about an armistice de facto. How did the hon. member think this was to be effected? —by sprinkling the Turks and the Greeks with rosewater at the moment when they were most fiercely engaged? No; but by giving instructions to the admirals of the allied squadrons to exert such power as they possessed, to carry the object of the Treaty into execution. What, then, were the admirals to do? Were they to negociate? If they were, they were to negociate as admirals usually did, and as they could only do effectually—that was, with their great guns. That was the only kind of representation that could have any effect upon the understandings of our ancient allies the Turks.—He would not trouble the House with reading the last article of the Treaty, but he would request them to compare, from recollection, that article with the arrangement made by the admirals of the allied squadron off Navarino. They would see that it was evident, at the time the arrangement was formed, it was influenced wholly by the Treaty, and that the admirals must have concluded that they had received sufficient instructions to negociate in the only way in which men of their profession could negociate between contending parties. It was 403 impossible to conclude otherwise, and he was therefore convinced—he thought every man in the House must be convinced—that sir E. Codrington was fully authorized in doing what he had done, and in believing that the only effectual way of carrying into effect the Treaty of London, and of compelling the cessation of hostilities, was that to which he had resorted. If, then, he should convince the House that the admiral was authorized (without insisting that he was positively instructed) to act in a contemplated emergency as his judgment should direct, he should cut away from under the feet of the right hon. gentleman who spoke last the argument oh which he had relied. As to the observation, that we were not at war with the Turks, that he held to be quite inconclusive as to the present question. The true question here was, not whether we were actually at war, but whether an officer of signal skill, of extraordinary valour, and who had achieved a most splendid success, should be rewarded with the thanks which he had entitled himself to. This officer was not in the same situation as those who were engaged in the attack upon Copenhagen. Would the right hon. gentleman, whose mind was better qualified to study principles than to be bound by precedents, say, that the same public object was contemplated in that attack, and in the hostilities which were now under discussion? He did not attempt to deny that the naval services displayed in the attack on Copenhagen were as great, that the officers were as brave and as skilful as at Navarino. But, admitting all this, it formed no reasonable opposition to the present vote. It was beside the mark to inquire, whether we were in a state of actual warfare with the Turks; or whether we were in that state which jurists call a bellum imperfectum; or whether we were called upon by circumstances to exercise a species of magistracy which was known to the law of nations, and which was perfectly just in its principle, and humane in its object. It had been said, indeed, that the attack upon Copenhagen was justifiable, because Denmark had declared war against England. War was declared, it was true; but it was after the attack. It was after we had claimed of that country the surrender of its navy—a demand which was justified upon the same principle as that which would justify one in taking out of the hands of a child a weapon that 404 might be turned against one's self. For this reason, the declaration of war, by Denmark, whether made before or after the attack, made no difference; for this was made upon grounds of mere self-defence, to prevent the possibility of our being injured by the means of which that country was in possession. There could be no doubt that according to the dictates of natural justice, and consistently with the doctrines of national law, any country had a right to provide for its safety, by preventing any possible attack from whoever and whatever had the means of endangering it. The only question that arose respecting Copenhagen was, whether the danger actually existed. In other times, it had been the custom to publish declarations of war by heralds; but now of what consequence was it whether a herald did or did not parade from Charing-cross to Temple-bar, and there proclaim that twenty-four hours afterwards war would commence, and letters of marque be issued to privateers and so forth? Would it be, at the best, any other than a ridiculous formality? The custom of the present day differed from that of former times. We declared war no longer by heralds, but by ambassadors. When danger existed, war was justified, and was begun. Upon this principle hostilities had been commenced against Denmark. Upon the same principle the hostilities which had been practised against the Turkish fleet were justified, if they had been begun for the purpose of effecting that armed mediation which the Treaty of London had recognized, and which, in his opinion, and in opposition to that of the right hon. gentleman, he maintained was perfectly just.—But the hon. member for Dorsetshire said that that treaty was not to be enforced by war. He might as well say it was not to be enforced at all. By what other means could it be enforced? What but the strong hand of power—such power as could be immediately felt, and the effects of which followed its first operation—could be opposed to that war of extermination, as sir E. Codrington very properly called it, which our "ancient" allies the Turks carried on against the Greeks? And how could that power be exerted in a way more gallant, or more just, than it had been by that distinguished commander? He was astonished to hear a person of the right hon. gentleman's mind refer to the victory of Toulouse, and compare it to that of 405 Navarino. He would appeal from his ear to his intellect, from his voice to his understanding. If he thought there was no object in die armistice which by the treaty it was arranged should be enforced between the Turks and the Greeks, then indeed his comparison might be understood; but if he deemed it justifiable to do acts which necessarily led to the employment of arms under that treaty of the 6th of July, which, as a responsible minister of the Crown, he had advised the king to ratify, then it was impossible to establish any similarity between the battle of Navarino and that of Toulouse. The latter engagement took place in utter ignorance, by both of the contending parties, that peace had been concluded between the king of England and Louis 18th. He could not sufficiently express his astonishment, that knowing these facts, being perfectly cognizant of all the circumstances attending both the events to which he had referred, the right hon. gentleman should have confounded that accidental conflict which had no object in view, with one which had been undertaken with the most just and reasonable instructions, and which had been distinguished by the valour, skill, and success of those who had been intrusted with the conduct of it. It was the first time since the practice of thanking officers had prevailed, that the king of England had opened parliament with a speech deploring such a victory. It was the first time that the House of Commons had ever hesitated, had ever thought of doubting, whether they should thank men who had achieved so signal, so honourable, so important a victory. It would be the first time that ministers, who, by the contradiction between their language on a former occasion, and their resistance to the present vote, would give the nation and the world to suppose that their opinions were hostile to the treaty which they were pledged to execute. He would not say that where a matter was doubtful it was not expedient, in some cases, to hesitate before a full concurrence in its results should be yielded. There might be circumstances in which statesmen would be compelled to act differently from the ordinary principles of municipal law; the interests of a nation were sometimes at variance with the ordinary principles that regulated ordinary transactions; but there were no circumstances that could justify statesmen, who had volunteered certain opinions, in expressing 406 doubts as to the justice of a treaty which they had pledged themselves and the nation to carry into effect. He did not call upon the House to pass any judgment at this moment upon the Treaty of the 6th of July. That, he admitted, would require some evidence and some investigation; but as to the propriety of voting thanks to sir E. Codrington, neither the one nor the other were necessary. He begged the attention of the House to this—that to refuse their thanks to one of the most meritorious officers that the service of the country could boast, would be to condemn the treaty unheard. By granting these thanks, they did not express their approval of the treaty; but they would feel that to give thanks for such services was the common and universal rule, and that to with hold them in this case would be to set up an exception to that rule. No attempt had ever been made to withhold thanks, in cases which could justly be called similar to this. To depart from the common course would be to do away with all the merit of the treaty, and at once, if not to condemn it, at least to hang it up as doubtful. It was to do more; it was to confess, in the face of all Europe that they were ashamed of having gained a victory. He would not enter, at present, into an inquiry as to the learning of the Reis Effendi, of whom he knew nothing, nor of any other of the members of the council of the Grand Seignor, whom he nevertheless did not doubt were very respectable people. He imagined, however, it would be understood, that the acts of the king of England at least were perfectly right. This depended upon principles which it could not be difficult to explain, even to a Reis Effendi. The king of England, then, had given the highest marks of his approbation to sir E. Codrington and the gallant officers who had served with him, by bestowing upon them all some reward or promotion. How would the right hon. gentleman justify his own conduct, who, after having advised his majesty to this step, now disputed the propriety of the House voting their thanks to the officers whom he had recommended to preferment? All the objections which he had made this evening were, at least, just as applicable on the occasion to which he (sir J. M.) alluded; and yet, after having then concurred in the measure of bestowing the red riband, or order, on sir E. Codrington, he now re- 407 fused the thanks, which on grounds wholly independent of the political merit of the treaty, he (sir J. M.) claimed for the same gallant officer. Did any body say to his majesty, that the principles of the British nation would not permit us to reward a meritorious officer who had carried into effect the directions of a treaty founded on justice and humanity, because there had been no formal declaration of war? He apprehended that no such objections had been made; otherwise, among the many reasons which had been given for certain recent resignations which had been much talked of, this would have filled a prominent place. No longer ago, indeed, than yesterday while ministers were concerting the opposition which they should to-day offer to the present question—while they were concocting the scholastic and specious arguments which they now submitted to the House, his majesty's more powerful and generous mind had bestowed upon one of the officers engaged in the battle of Navarino, captain Fellowes, a distinguished mark of his approbation. The House of Commons alone was able to convey to the bosom of the admiral and his companions the thanks of the people of England; and this was all that was wanting to complete those testimonies to their valour and good conduct which they had so amply deserved. He was at a loss to understand the true grounds upon which this was to be withheld. It was said, that by so doing we might offend the Turks—that it might be an impediment in the way of negotiation. Even if there were any weight (which he denied) in these objections, they were not sufficient; because, however injurious it might be to give the thanks which were required, it would be infinitely more so to the honour of this country to withhold it. It was a point of national honour, a paramount duty, to teach the jurists of Constantinople, that we had a right, and that we would execute it unchecked, of expressing our approbation of officers whom we thought had deserved it. What said the king of France as to the battle of Navarino? He called it no collision, he did not think it was an untoward event. He called it "the glorious battle of Navarino;" said it added to the glory of the French arms; and hailed it as a happy proof of the cordiality which existed among the allied forces, and believed that it would tend much towards the pacification of the east of Europe. And yet, after this, after 408 these testimonies at home and abroad, we hesitated, whether, for such exertions, we should thank the gallant officers by whom they had been made, and proclaim to all the world our doubts of the justice of the treaty, and of the merit of the admiral!—Before he closed, he wished to call the attention of the House to the conduct of the emperor of Russia. He wrote immediately to sir E. Codrington, and congratulated him on a victory, which he said had conferred the greatest honour on the civilized world; and that it was not only a triumph of the principles of morality, humanity, and justice, but achieved with admirable valour and skill. The disinterestedness of the sympathy which was evinced by the allies, in favour of the Greek Christians, was honourable in itself, and was so fraught with ingredients, of the greatest importance to Europe, that if they could now be gone into, they would silence the greater part of the objections that could be brought against the treaty. The event had been considered by the emperor of Russia as one highly honourable to this country and to its arms. For his own part, he believed that the peace of Europe depended mainly on the effect of the treaty, and the measures that were connected with it; and he could not sufficiently deprecate the attempts which, under the pretence of nibbling at the victory, struck at the root of that treaty. By their refusal the ministers only showed that they bore unwillingly, and because they were forced, the burthen of that engagement, which their predecessors had imposed upon them. The effect of that treaty was too clear, however, to admit of cavil or mistake. The question was not if it should be executed by peace or by war, because it was clear that it must be executed—by peace if possible; by war if necessary. He deprecated war as much as any man could do; but as far as his information and reflection had enabled him to form an opinion, he must say, that a strenuous resistance to the power of Turkey was the only means of preventing dissatisfaction amongst the allied powers, and that any manifestation of weakness, or feebleness, or distrust, in the justice of the treaty or in the merit of the officers by whom it had been carried into execution, would be the probable cause of a general war throughout Europe. That treaty he took to be the key-stone on which the safety of Europe depended, and to which no approach 409 could be made without endangering the general safety. Let them observe how exactly true his observation was: there were not alone three parties to this treaty, for Austria (notwithstanding whatever secret machinations she had in concert with Russia), in a public pledge, given by baron Ottenfells in his note to the Porte last December, referred to the means of interference resorted to by the three contracting parties, and might thereby be said to have involved herself with them in the same line of policy. Heaven grant that, in the event of the principle linked to the present motion being disregarded, no reaction may take place in the affairs of the East! There was nothing so important at this crisis, as to avoid every step which might tend to re-animate the blind, the senseless, the remorseless opposition of the Turks—every thing which was calculated to revive their unhappy spirit of rushing on to their own destruction, in recklessly pursuing a horrid and murderous war, waged, as captain Hamilton expressively described it, against defenceless women and children, with the superadded aggravation of the burning of villages, the rooting up of trees, the destruction, not only of the works of art, but of the very productions of nature herself, as well as those of men. Captain Hamilton described, that he could trace the progress of the Turkish army by the smoke of the villages which they consumed and reduced to ashes in their line of march.—He had listened with much attention to what had fallen from the right hon. gentleman opposite but still remained unshaken in favour of this motion. But when he considered the strong and full avowal of the government of their perfect intention to carry the treaty of July into effect—not coldly, faintly, and literally, but honestly, honourably, and warmly,—he owned he felt a strong disposition not to press this matter forward by a motion of which he nevertheless approved. His hon. friend (Mr. Hob-house) was, of course, master of his own motion, and knew best how to dispose of it; but he confessed he felt a strong desire to suggest to him the delicacy of any further proceeding, considering the way in which the gallant admiral might be placed by any misconstruction of the result. He was sure his hon. friend must feel that strongly; and more particularly as the gallant admiral was at a distance, and might be disposed, instead of having 410 had, as was on both sides admitted, a full acquittal, to feel some pang at the previous question being carried by a large majority, upon the proposition of a vote of thanks for his achievement. He had no fear of any thing else than a misconstruction; and as he wished to have some share in guarding a brave man's susceptibility of feeling from the least liability to pain, he should feel reluctance in pressing this motion to a division. While he said this, he wished to be understood as saying, that this discussion had been useful; for it had brought out these strong assertions of the intended perfect fulfilment of the treaty. This consideration he submitted to the better judgment of his hon. friend, and begged pardon of the House for having so long trespassed upon their attention.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that differing so entirely as he did from the views entertained upon this subject by the hon. mover and the right hon. gentleman who spoke last, respecting either the principles upon which this motion was founded, or the impression to be apprehended from giving to it a qualified negative—differing so far from them in opinion upon these points, yet he cordially concurred in the propriety of the right hon. gentleman's concluding recommendation, as the best mode of disposing of such a motion, with delicacy to the gallant individuals to whom it referred, and proper consideration for all the circumstances of the case. In rising to address the House on this occasion, he could assure them, that he wished most studiously to avoid every expression which could, in the slightest degree, tend to interpose any obstacle to the carrying of that recommendation into effect. Had he been called upon to argue this question in detail, he assured the hon. gentleman opposite, that he should have been disposed steadily to adhere to that prudent and judicious course which they had described; namely, of considering this subject abstractedly from the question of the policy or justice of the treaty itself. It was not, he knew, expedient to mix up together subjects which were so disconnected; and he admitted that it was better to consider how far this vote could be asked for, consistently with the usage of parliament, or whether a refusal of it could be supposed to imply a withdrawal of praise from the gallant admiral who had so bravely commanded at Navarino. He was sure his hon. friend, the member for Dorsetshire, 411 would not consider him deficient in that public and private respect which he so unfeignedly bore towards him, if, on the present occasion, he declined following him, in the larger consideration of the protocol, and the treaty which had arisen out of it. In alluding to these topics, he wished to say—lest a total silence might be supposed to convey an equivocal impression—that he had no hesitation to state, that he had no duty, as a minister of the Crown, which did not prompt him unhesitatingly to avow, that he was prepared to concur in the strictest execution of the treaty of July. His majesty having pledged his faith to its due fulfilment, he (Mr. Peel) was prepared to see it strictly redeemed. In adhering to that treaty, there were three great objects confessedly to be kept in view—the termination of the contest between the actually contending parties, its termination upon a basis fixing the future regulation of these states, and the maintenance of the security and repose of Europe, on the accepted basis of the general treaty of peace, which had happily provided for that tranquillity. Under the circumstances in which this country was placed, he thought these declarations in the treaty of July were prudent and wise; and being so, it was hardly necessary for him to add, that their provisions ought to be honestly executed. He was, then, prepared to argue the subject precisely on the grounds described by the hon. gentleman opposite. If the hon. mover could show that upon which, indeed, his whole argument was founded, then he (Mr. Peel) would at once coincide with him in the conclusions to which he had arrived. The hon. member's whole argument was founded on this—that this was the first instance in which, under similar circumstances, a vote of thanks had been denied by parliament. Now, he at once denied that proposition; nay, he would go further, and say, that if this motion were granted, it would be the first time that the thanks of parliament had been granted under such circumstances. He begged, at the outset, to disclaim that the government had the least intention to question the naval skill and valour which had distinguished the conduct of the officers engaged in the late action. He did not, therefore, withdraw his approval of the hon. member's motion, upon the least doubt of the skill and valour of the naval commanders, and the brilliancy of their achievement; but simply, 412 because it was in direct contravention of parliamentary usage, and, what was more important still, because it was contrary to the principle on which parliament were accustomed to give thanks for great victories.—He would endeavour to follow, as closely as he could, the line of argument pursued by the hon. gentleman opposite. They had said, that ever since it was the practice of parliament to vote thanks for brilliant achievements, there was not a single instance in which a great naval action had been overlooked, or that the question of the declaration of war, as connected with the exploit, had been deemed of the slightest importance. The hon. mover had, it was true, touched lightly upon what he called the occurrence of sir George Byng's case in the year 1718; for he knew well enough how weak his point was upon that example. But, said the hon. member, it was not usual at that time to vote thanks for naval victories, because, in fact, these actions were then extremely rare. It was really singular that both the hon. gentlemen opposite should be so incorrect upon a matter of history. It was not the fact, that thanks were not then usual for naval victories, or that they were of such rare occurrence. Not very long before sir George Byng's action, there were many instances of these victories. In 1692, admiral Russell was thanked for a victory which he gained in the summer of that year. In 1702, the duke of Ormond and sir George Rooke (who were together on foreign service) received the thanks of parliament for their naval action. The next great victory obtained at sea was certainly by sir George Byng over the fleet of Spain on the coast of Sicily; but mark the circumstances under which that victory was obtained. England was then acting in pursuance of the stipulations of the Treaty of Utrecht, and of the arrangements made for the security of the German empire. In the year 1716, this country had undertaken to guarantee the neutrality of Italy; and at this time Sicily was threatened by Spain though in peace. England sent at first, he believed, twenty sail of the line to the coast of Spain, to give notice to cardinal Alberoni, that she would interfere to prevent any aggression of Spain upon Sicily. Admiral Byng received for answer, from the court of Madrid, that he might execute his orders if he pleased, but that the king of Spain protested against the justice of his interference. Admiral Byng (and here the 413 coincidence was very striking) sailed after the Spanish fleet to the Sicilian coast, and insisted upon an armistice. The Spaniards refused; he attacked them and gained a signal victory over the fleet of the king of Spain. In this attack the admiral had acted in exact accordance with his instructions, and his conduct was entirely approved of by George 1st, who wrote him a letter with his own hand; the emperor of Germany did the same, and, in transmitting his entire approval of his conduct, added another mark of his approbation. In parliament, not a question had been raised as to the policy of his conduct; nevertheless, in that instance, no thanks were voted. There was, indeed, a question attempted to be raised at the opening of the then parliament—not (as he had heard insinuated) by the Tories, the high Tories, but by the Whig opposition of those times. The address was opposed by Mr. Robert Walpole, sir J. JekyI, Mr. Spencer Cooper, and other men of similar politics; but, notwithstanding the signal failure of their attempt to oppose the address to the throne, the government never thought proper to propose the thanks of parliament to admiral Byng? And why? Simply because England was not then at war with Spain: there had been no declaration of war between the two countries; so that this very case utterly destroyed the kind of assumption which had been built Upon it. If Byng's case was not in point, was, he would ask, the battle of Toulouse in point? Thanks were not voted for that battle, though fought with so much brilliancy and such complete success. Not because the government and the parliament did not then feel the highest admiration for the duke of Wellington's victory; but because this country was not at that identical time in a state of war with the restored government of France. It was the same in the case of Spain with admiral Byng; and it was exactly the same in the present case with the Ottoman Porte.—But the hon. gentlemen opposite had said, this case of Navarino is peculiarly entitled to the thanks of parliament, because the Crown has already interfered to mark its admiration of the valour and skill of the admiral, by conferring upon him honours, and it follows that parliament ought to do the same. Why, the Crown took exactly a similar course after the battle of Toulouse, and yet parliament never voted thanks for that event. The Crown conferred medals 414 upon the officers, as a mark of the grateful acknowledgment of the sovereign for the signal valour they had shown on the occasion, and on these medals was inscribed the name of the particular victory. With respect to Copenhagen, in which the hon. member professed himself unable to find a shadow of difference, he (Mr. Peel) saw a palpable distinction. Why, in the case of Copenhagen that very fact existed, the non-existence of which was the reason of the forbearance from voting parliamentary thanks in the cases of admiral Byng and the battle of Toulouse—there was a declaration of war issued by Denmark against Great Britain. At the time of the military occupation of the Danish arsenals, Denmark declared herself at war with England; and that war raged when the thanks of parliament were voted for the victory in the Sound. It was astonishing that the right hon. gentleman's (sir J. Mackintosh's) acuteness did not point out to him the great difference between the two cases. When the occupation of Denmark occurred, war was declared against England; when the thanks were voted that war continued; when the attack took place at Navarino, England was at peace with Turkey; she was still in peace with the Ottoman power; and it was at such a time that a vote of thanks was asked for a victory gained over her fleet.—There was, then, this obvious distinction between the two cases—in the one, there was a declaration of war, in the other, there was nothing but peace. Independent of these strong considerations, there was this difference—the object of the attack on Copenhagen was entirely different from that at Navarino. In the former, the object was the seizure of the Danish fleet; in the other, the object was not the seizure, nor the destruction of the Turkish armament. And to show this he would found an argument entirely upon sir E. Codrington's own account of the matter. From the terms of that gallant officer's despatch, he would show, that it was impossible to vote the thanks in the form now called for; conceding as he willingly did, at the same time, his greatest praise for the admiral's skill and valour in the action. At Copenhagen there was a seizure, and a bringing away, of the Danish fleet. At Navarino not a single ship was seized or brought away. At Copenhagen the application was made to the supreme power of the state.—At Navarino only to the officers of the Porte, who had 415 not the means of immediately communicating with the heads of their government. Surely, then, there was a plain and obvious distinction between the two cases.—Turning to the gallant admiral's despatch, and overlooking those considerations of sympathy for Greece, and prophetic apprehensions of re-action in Turkey, to which-allusion had been made, he would, he repeated, found another argument. Before he did so, however, he was anxious to allude to an insinuation which had crept into this discussion, as if there was any thing connected with the late changes in his majesty's government, that had had any tendency to withhold from the admiral on this occasion the fair need to which he was entitled. To such an insinuation he gave the most positive disclaimer. Indeed, the right hon. gentleman, who spoke last, who was himself connected with the government, ought to have been the last to have thrown out such an insinuation; for his right hon. friend (Mr. Tierney) the late master of the Mint, could, as one of his majesty's ministers at the time alluded to, have removed all doubt upon that point. If that right hon. gentleman felt that deep interest which, as a member of the late government, he ought to feel, were the intentions of his colleagues frustrated by subsequent ministerial arrangements, he would, in the present debate, have, instead of being absent, sat at the side of his right hon. friend who had last spoken, and supported his opinions and conclusions. From that right hon. gentleman's absence, he necessarily inferred that this never had been a question with the late government.—Reverting to the allusion to the admiral's despatch, he there found that gallant officer's own account of his intentions and mode of proceeding. Sir E. Codrington had transmitted the protocol of what took place in conjunction with the two other admirals, two days before the battle. In that protocol the admirals state, "that there only remains to the commanders of the allied squadrons, the choice between three modes of fulfilling the intentions of their respective courts." And they then described the three; namely, the blockade, the securing by their permanent presence the inaction of the Turkish fleet, and the taking up a position in Navarino; and they finally adopt the last as the least likely to be vexatious, and at the same time to be efficacious. It was thus stated in the protocol;—" The proceeding to take a position 416 with the squadrons in Navarino, in order to renew to Ibrahim propositions, which, entering into the spirit of the treaty, were evidently to the advantage of the Porte itself;" and they add, "that they have unanimously agreed that this third mode may, without effusion of blood, and without hostilities, but simply by the imposing presence of the sovereigns, produce a determination leading to the desired object." This was their view of the state of things; and he agreed with them that they had a right to found upon it all reasonable presumptions of a pacific result. Accident had, however, determined it otherwise, by the collision which had so unfortunately followed, and into the origin of which he would not, at that moment, more particularly inquire; and respecting which, he hoped he might be permitted to mix up with his highest admiration of the gallantry and skill of the admirals, his deepest regret at the occurrence of so lamentable an accident—so "untoward "an event, to use the description which had been so much complained of in the King's speech. It had been said, with reference to this description, that the king of France had not resorted to words of that import, but had described the action as having been merely "unforeseen;" which the government of this country, without the slightest intention of imputing blame to the British admiral, had called an "untoward event." Now, let the House hear what was the description given of the occurrence by the admiral himself. Why, he had characterised it as "a disastrous extremity." His words are—" But it was my duty to refrain, and refrain I did; and I can assure his royal highness, that I would still have avoided this disastrous extremity, if other means had been open to me." In another part, he said, in allusion to the commander of the Egyptian ships, he sent a message that "he would not fire at all." Was not that conclusive proof that the admirals did not contemplate general hostilities in their efforts to pursue the objects of the treaty. Then, again, as expressive of the admiral's meaning and object, was the following message, which he sent to the Turkish authorities, on the next day after the battle:—" As the squadrons of the allied powers did not enter Navarino with an hostile intention, but only to renew to the commanders of the Turkish fleet propositions which were to the advantage of the Grand Seignor himself, it is not our inten- 417 tion to destroy what ships of the Ottoman navy may yet remain, now that so signal a vengeance has been taken for the first cannon-shot which has been ventured to be fired on the allied flags." And he afterwards proceeded to say, that if the Turks abstain from committing any act of hostility, "We shall resume those terms of good understanding which they have themselves interrupted." Could any terms have been employed more descriptive of the fact that this action had arisen from a casualty, and was not to be characterised, with whatever skill and valour the exploit had been conducted, as a warlike proceeding? Why, then, hesitate to mix up with their praise of the heroism of individuals, that kind of regret which ought to accompany such an action, and divest it of that attribute of war which alone could sustain the present motion? There was an authority to which he might refer upon the present occasion, and towards which he was persuaded the House would feel the strongest; sentiments of respect. He alluded to the late Mr. Windham, who, in speaking of the Copenhagen expedition, had expressed himself, in a speech, which, if not strictly applicable in all its principles to the question before the House, was, nevertheless, in its general spirit, and in many of its points and principles, capable of affording a just view, without reflecting in the slightest degree upon the conduct of the gallant officer. Mr. Windham had expressed his regret at the part which he felt himself bound to take, because there was an idea that where praise was withheld, blame was intended to be cast. But nothing could be further from his intention than to visit with the slightest reproach or indifference the conduct of the gallant men who were engaged. On the contrary, he subscribed most cheerfully to all that had been said in favour of the navy and army; they had acquitted themselves to the admiration of all, not merely by doing their duty, but by displaying that humanity for which they were equally remarkable in mitigating the horrors of war. But still it was necessary that their conduct should be kept distinct from the nature and character of the service in which they were employed, and from the conduct of his majesty's ministers who were responsible for that service. Mr. Windham had said, and truly said, that actions of that description were not selected by nations for rejoicing. It was upon that principle that he felt pain 418 at hearing the Tower guns fire, when a feeling at least of common sympathy might be expected from the mouths and hearts of those who contemplated the loss of human life, and the extent of human suffering. It was upon these principles, laid down by a man who was as much alive to the military and naval glory of his country, as any member of that House, that he was prepared to justify the expression of regret; and the more so, as that expression implied in it no imputation against the conduct of sir E. Codrington, or those who acted under his command. Such were the principles avowed by a man who was so careful of the fame of naval and military men, that even in the case of a single frigate, commanded by sir E. Pellew, he had manifested his anxiety, that it should not pass without distinction, measuring that distinction, not by the extent, but by the nature of the service,—For the reasons he had already stated, he could reconcile his mind to the part which his majesty's government had acted; satisfied as he was, that no inference could be drawn from thence to the injury of sir E. Codrington. In fact, the present was not an occasion which it was customary to signalize by a vote of thanks; and it would be injurious to establish such a precedent as that of voting the thanks of parliament, without reference to the nature of the service for which they were awarded. It would be a departure from the practice of parliament, to regard valour, however signal, and skill, however unquestionable and undisputed, as constituting in themselves a sufficient title to the distinction. He admired the skill and bravery displayed, as much as any man; and if, in conformity with the practice of the House, he could agree to the motion of the hon. gentleman, he would most willingly have done so. God knew he did not oppose the motion upon private grounds! He acknowledged the merits of sir E. Codrington; but the hon. gentleman was bound to acknowledge to him, on the other hand, that it was not customary to vote the thanks of the House, under the circumstances in which they were called for that night. The hon. gentleman, in the progress of his speech, had objected to the introduction of the term, "ancient ally," which ha seemed to think that Turkey herself would be disposed to disclaim, as altogether inapplicable to our former relations with that power. He even seemed to infer, that some peculiar 419 favour was intended to be paid to Turkey at the expense of Russia. As to the probability of Turkey declining the epithet, he must say, that it did not strike him to be very clearly made out when he looked to some of the state documents which had passed between the Porte and this country in the reign of queen Elizabeth. He had not brought those papers with him for the purpose of making extracts, but he could assure the House, that so far from betraying any coldness of style, they were lavish in the use of those magnificent and high-toned compliments for which the inhabitants of the east have been always remarkable. Again, after the restoration of Charles 2nd, when, as the House knew, the knowledge of the Turks in geography was not very far advanced, the same spirit pervaded their style, and the opinion that England had been a dependency of France was put forward as an apology for some differences which had taken place, but were reconciled. To deny that the Turks were our ancient allies, seemed to be rather a fastidious nicety, after the lapse of three hundred years, during which we had been concerned with them in the interchange of treaties of amity, and after having preserved with them those relations, from the year 1589, when they first commenced, down to the present period, with only the temporary interruptions which took place in 1799 and 1806. It was assuming rather too much to say, that they would fling back the expressions alluded to, when in the Treaty of Amiens, a treaty so remarkable for its importance, the Ottoman Porte adopted the language which described England as her ally: when, in the treaty of 1799, the good understanding which had always existed between the courts and the Sublime Porte was distinctly stated on the part of Turkey, and the propriety of renewing their ancient friendship admitted by the contracting parties. Was it not, then, a quarrel upon words alone, to dispute the use of the term "ancient ally;" when we had always been in the habit of calling her our ancient friend.? But, what were the terms in which Mr. Canning-spoke of the Turkish government—and that, not when he was addressing the government of Turkey, or could be suspected of using terms for the purpose of conciliating that power, but when he was addressing another party, with whom they could not be expected to communicate. The document to which he alluded was a letter 420 addressed by Mr. Canning to Mr. Rodio, the agent of the Greek government, in answer to an application for assistance. That letter, which was dated the 1st of September, 1824, stated that, connected as England had been with the Ottoman Porte by ancient obligations and treaties, which the Porte had not violated, England could not surely be expected to engage in a war against her. Let it not be supposed for a moment, that the words objected to in the king's speech had been used with a lurking desire to cast a reflection on the conduct of sir E. Codrington, and the other gallant officers and men who were engaged at Navarino. Nothing could be further from the fact. Neither let it be supposed, that they were not prepared to fulfil to the utmost those engagements to which the faith of the country was pledged. His majesty's government were as willing as those who might be inclined to support the motion of the hon. gentleman, to do justice to the gallantry of all who were engaged in the late affair; and therefore he was not without a hope that the hon. mover, instead of pressing the question to a division, would adopt the suggestion of his right hon. and learned friend, and take that course which would, under all the circumstances of the case, be most satisfactory to the feelings of the gallant officer, most agreeable to the consistency of parliament, and, as he believed, to the wishes of the country at large.
Sir F. Burdett
said, that, after the liberal speech which had fallen from the right hon. gentleman, he had very little to say; and he had no doubt that it would be the means of prompting his hon. colleague, who, he was sure, felt the same candour that the right hon. gentleman had expressed, to come to the conclusion which would be most satisfactory to the House, and to his gallant friends, whose characters he had so ably vindicated. It appeared to be admitted on all hands, that sir E. Codrington had performed the service on which he had been engaged, and under whatever circumstances it might have been imposed upon him, in a way that redounded highly to his character—in a way too, he might add, which was calculated, in a very eminent degree, to exalt the naval character of the country and to reflect honour on himself. It was not, however, his intention to take up the time of the House, by repeating those panegyrics which had already been bestowed 421 by so many members; but when he considered the difficult situation in which the gallant admiral had been placed—when he considered the heavy responsibility which attached to the conduct he had that day adopted—when he considered not only the valour, but the eminent discretion and prudence, which he had evinced, he thought it impossible for the House not to agree—as, indeed, he might say, it had agreed—that no military or naval commander had ever executed a service under more trying: circumstances, or had ever come out of the difficulties of his situation with more claim to praise. He regarded it as one of not the least fortunate circumstances of the affair, that that day had been the means of placing the names of the greatest states in Europe side by side in alliance, and had thus made the gallant admiral the means of uniting the combined powers in a bond, founded on a reciprocity of interests, existing between Russia, France, and England; and he congratulated himself, as an English member of parliament, that it had been an admiral of his own country who had had the happiness of uniting in valour the admirals of the other allied powers; that it was under his guidance they had placed themselves, and united in a feeling even more splendid than that of victory. There had been between them an emulation, not only of glory, but of generosity; and while each had striven to outdo the other in deeds of bravery and brilliancy it appeared as if they had done so, less for the sake of individual praise than for general emulation—not an emulation which founded its birth in envy, and which turned pale at the voice of approbation, but an emulation of great deeds, and of all those generous feelings which, displayed before the world, proved the union of the men, and that their great object was each other's success.—Though there were one or two points on which he intended to have replied to the right hon. gentleman, he would not enter further upon any part of the subject, as he was content to leave it, as far as testimony was concerned, to the candour and fairness with which the right hon. gentleman had met it. He should therefore content himself with merely expressing his satisfaction at the justice which had been done to the naval officers who had commanded on that occasion; and though there was not room for a particular panegyric on all those persons who had distinguished themselves in the action, 422 yet, in the general applause which had fallen from every one who had spoken might be found the true feeling that was entertained of their conduct.
said, that after the attention which the House had already paid to what he had to say on the subject, he would not take up their time in reply. There was only one term in the right hon. gentleman's speech with which he had to quarrel, and it was that in which he charged him with not having shown his discretion in bringing forward this motion. If there was nothing else to prove the discretion of his having done so, he thought that the mere fact of its having elicited the general praise that it had done with respect to the conduct of sir E. Codring-ton, was sufficient evidence; and he thought that the gallant admiral might himself dwell with satisfaction on what had taken place in the House that night. It had been said, that there would have been no objection to the motion, if we had been at war, and these words certainly proved to him, that what had likewise been observed that night—that the gallant admiral stood as high for valour and discretion as any man in his majesty's service—was strictly true. Under these circumstances, and believing that the conduct of the gallant admiral needed no further explanation, he should consent to the withdrawing of the motion.
§ The motion was accordingly withdrawn.