rose and spoke to the following effect:—Sir, when at the close of a former night's debate, I gave notice of the motion, which I shall this night have the honour to submit to the House, it was my intention to propose the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the conduct of the whole campaign. Upon reflection, however, I am persuaded that it will he much more conducive to the object I have in view, namely, to prove the incapacity and total want of system, that pervade all the military measures of his Majesty's ministers, to separate the different branches of the campaign, and institute a distinct inquiry into each; after which particular investigation, the several results may he more clearly summed up, and a general conclusion drawn with greater accuracy, justice and truth. I shall, therefore, in what I have to address to the House and in the motion with which I mean to conclude, confine myself exclusively to the policy and conduct of the late disastrous Expedition to the Scheldt; and when the House considers that, neither in the Speech from the throne nor in the Address to his Majesty upon it, is any thing contained, that holds out a promise or a pledge, that any inquiry will be instituted, I am persuaded, that gentlemen must feel not alone the propriety but the necessity of agreeing to my motion. The House has heard a noble lord (Castlereagh) who is so much concerned in these transactions, express his readiness, nay, his solicitude, to meet inquiry. I will call then, upon that noble lord and upon others, implicated equally with him in this transaction, who are heard to speak with an equal tone of confidence, as to their means of justification, to support me upon this occasion, in my endeavour to afford them an opportunity of redeeming their character—of rescuing themselves from a most severe imputation, by voting for that inquiry, which they have so boldly courted. It is due to that noble lord, therefore, it is in justice due to the administration and to the country at large, that inquiry should be instituted accordingly; and, as mercy has been disdained, and even penal visitation boldly challenged, that the scrutiny should not be denied nor deferred.—Before I proceed however, to state the grounds upon which this inquiry appears to me indispensibly necessary to answer the ends of justice—to comply with the wishes, and to vindicate the ho- 162 hour of the country, I think it right to anticipate some of the objections usually made to a proposition of this nature, and which are, of course, likely to be brought forward in this instance. I never, indeed, recollect any proposition made in this House, for inquiry, in which something evasive has not been urged on the part of ministers, and I am inclined to apprehend that the desire for inquiry, on this occasion, professed by those, who were ministers—those who are now in office will Contrive, if possible, to elude and to thwart. The objections likely to be made to my motion will, I suppose, apply to the time and the form in which it is submitted. To the latter I will first direct my attention.—My object is, that the inquiry shall be conducted by a Committee of the whole House, because that appears to me the most eligible mode of proceeding ill the investigation of a question of such magnitude and importance. That magnitude and that importance are, indeed, such as to demand the exercise of the highest inquisitorial powers belonging to this House. Considering the sentiment, that universally prevails respecting the conduct and result of this Expedition—considering how loud and strong is the demand of our constituents upon this subject—and let us hope that they will not by any disappointment of their just expectations be urged to address us with mote energy—I cannot consent to delegate the right of inquiry on this occasion to any select or secret Committee, by whom the course of investigation might be misdirected, or its bounds limited—before whom, possibly, garbled extracts, called documents, might be laid by ministers themselves, in order to produce a partial discussion. But I will not expose the case to such a risk. It is in a Committee of the whole House alone, we can have a fair case, because if necessary we can examine oral evidence at the Bar.—As to the objection respecting time, it may be said, that my motion ought not to be entertained until the papers promised by ministers shall be laid before the House. But there is no validity in that objection. It is indeed a delusive and shallow subterfuge, as my view is simply to establish the tribunal before I open my case—that before the papers and documents applicable to the case shall be brought forward, it should be known before what tribunal that case is to be tried.—The only end I have in view is to pledge the House to the institution of an inquiry. I do not propose 163 to prejudge any measure or any man, but to satisfy the country and to justify the House, which we ought to do as early as possible, by shewing, that it is our resolution to bring to a fair trial and judgment those, against whom the strongest grounds of suspicion exist—those against whom the most serious charges are generally entertained and are universally made. I trust and hope, that, in such an object, I shall have the support of all the real friends of inquiry. Sure I am, that the country will concur with me; that I shall be opposed by those only who wish to evade inquiry altogether. It is not my wish at this time to discuss the merits of the investigation. I do not wish now to put the inquiry upon its trial but to put his Majesty's ministers upon their trial. But I do not desire to put ministers upon their trial before they have had full opportunity of preparing their evidence and their defence; yet can the country endure to remain in doubt, whether such ministers shall be tried at all. To remove that doubt, to give assurance to the public, that the causes of the disaster and disgrace which have lately be fallen us, shall be fully inquired into—that a transaction which has entailed such misfortunes upon England, while it has entirely closed the prospect of benefiting the continent, shall not pass without due investigation—that we will trace it to its source—that we will follow it throughout its progress—that we will endeavour to derive from that review all the means of instruction which experience can furnish to assist us in extricating the country from its present difficulties:—These are the important and salutary effects to be derived from the adoption of my motion: and these I trust will appear of sufficient magnitude to induce the House to accede to it.—If we examine any, or all the campaigns which have recently taken place, we shall find in each the same characteristics of ignorance and imbecility, the same departure from all the established principles of sound practice and military policy. Look at which you please, you perceive the same features of weakness and deficiency. The farther we advance the more we see of tardiness of preparation, of ignorance in conduct, of imbecility in combination, and of consequent failure in result. In fact, every operation was marred and rendered inefficient by the gross mismanagement of those to whom unfortunately the super-intendance of our affairs is committed. 164 The whole course of their policy and proceedings served only to waste our strength, to exhaust our resources, and to expose and degrade our national character. In the Expedition to which my motion refers, the calamities which attended it, are, in fact, to be equalled only by the magnitude of its extensive and expensive preparation. When I charge ministers and their agents with having departed from every military principle, with having acted contrary to all acknowledged usage, particularly according to the practice of modern warfare, I feel the charge is strong; but, if I am able to prove its justice, is it possible to find in language, terms sufficiently strong to express the reprobation which ought to attach to then character and conduct who, with such evident incapacity, could have the presumption to undertake the government of a great nation?—When they were found to deviate from all established rules—to discard all the lessons of experience, and to take a singular and eccentric course, they might, if they happened to be successful throw a veil over their errors by their triumph and obtain a character for peculiar superiority—they might in such a case, be supposed to sour above the ordinary conceptions, by travelling with safety and success out of the ordinary track of mankind; they might indeed be regarded as prodigies, born to enlighten and elevate the human powers. But when their eccentricity has been only demonstrative of ignorance, and productive of inevitable disgrace—when they appear mere shallow-brained projectors, they must excite the scorn and derision of every thinking man, if it were not for the extent of the mischief to which their projects have led, which serve to produce against them a mingled sentiment of indignation and contempt. It is impossible indeed to look at the total want of capacity of these men, and consider the pre-eminent station they occupy, without surprise and indignation. Of the nature of their capacity I think the Expedition to Walcheren and the manner in which it was planned and conducted, quite a sufficient evidence. That Expedition the country has long been in the habit of considering as ruinous and disgraceful. For myself, I must say, that I have been always at a loss to account for the objects of this Expedition, until ministers themselves afforded some explanation. Notwithstanding the general impression, we are now told that this Expe- 165 dition really furnished matter for gratulation—that it presented a theme of joy, because we had demolished the basin of Flushing, and did such injury to the fortress as cannot be repaired in haste, and then only at considerable expence. This we had upon the authority of the minister: but we have lately heard rather a different story from an equally impartial authority. We hear it from the enemy, that the basin and fortifications of Flushing can be completely repaired without any material loss of time or extent of expence, but this statement is accompanied by the expression of a doubt, whether it would be politic in France to incur such expence or make these repairs? Our enemies had the unparalleled insolence, thus to tell his Majesty's ministers, that their conquests are good for nothing or profitable only to France. Is it then seriously to be maintained, that the idle flourish which the minister has thought proper in this case to introduce into the king's Speech is a result deserving the name of success upon an Expedition which has been attended with so much waste of human life, and with the expenditure of five millions of money? But was not the fall of Austria, under the foot of the conqueror, without an effort upon the part of this country to avert her fate, sufficient to outweigh the advantages arising from the destruction of an inferior arsenal, which the enemy did not think worth the trouble of repairing? But as to the real objects of this Expedition, they were according to the statement of ministers twofold.—The first, in order and importance, is said to be a diversion in favour of Austria; the second, the attainment of something solely British, or national, advantageous only to our own interest. Now how did ministers proceed towards either of these objects? As to the first, Austria, it will be recollected commenced the war on the 8th of April last; ministers were aware of her intentions to do so long before, and why, then, were they not prepared to give her prompt and effectual aid? Why, as usual, waste in slow and tedious preparation; that time which was necessary for vigorous and decisive action? Why were we not forward to aid Austria after the battle of Esling, when a happy change of circumstances might have rendered that aid of the most important consequence? But no, ministers became active only when activity must be unavailing. They sent out these Expeditions after Austria had fallen, never 166 to rise again. On the 6th of July, the conqueror of the world was obliged to act on the defensive; but the battle of Wagram extinguished all the hopes and expectations which Europe began to feel. On the 12th of July the news of the armistice reached us, and on the 13th sailed the Expedition.—Here was judgment; here was consideration; setting all experience at defiance; when the minister, consistently with his invariable rule of acting, and contrary to all general principles and established practice, offered to administer medicine to the dead. But the minister was not only injudicious in the time, but in the place which he had chosen to create a diversion in favour of Austria. If he had sent in due season an adequate force to any of the ports, or vulnerable points on the coast of France, Buonaparté might have been somewhat more alarmed than he was likely to be for the fate of the island of Walcheren. But, why not send an Expedition to a point convenient to the scene of actual operations, why not rather send it to Italy than to Holland? It has been said, that we had not money nor troops, nor transports, to send out an Expedition so early as could be wished. But when we found these supplies for Holland, why could they not have been found for an Expedition to Germany or to Italy? Is it pretended that we were more liable to encounter difficulties in the one place than in the other—that we could not deal with the Italians or Germans because they were all like so many Jews, on as easy terms as we could with the Dutch—that we could not make paper currency as available among the one as among the other? Are such miserable pretences to be listened to? But, if ministers really experienced the want of money, troops and transports, how can they offer such circumstances as pleas of justification for their actual conduct? Why, I would ask, were they exposed or subject to such wants? They had time enough to prepare and signs enough to warn them of the necessity for preparation. The state of Spain was calculated to excite and keep alive the attention and energy of any set of men capable of feeling and activity, and they had besides, early notice of the intended movement of Austria. How, then, are they to account for not having on foot and in readiness an adequate disposable army?—But, it is alledged that the army commanded by sir John Moore, which necessarily formed the basis of the 167 force sent to Walcheren, was not in a state to move earlier. Let us, however, examine this allegation; sir John Moore's army embarked at Corunna upon the 18th of January, and is it to be maintained that that force could not be put in a state fit for active service until June or July following? I recollect that according to the reports laid before this House, sir John Moore's army was represented to have lost in this retreat and the action of Corunna, only about one-sixth of his original force. At least, such was the statement of ministers, and it was also affirmed, that this army brought away all its artillery, all its cavalry, with the exception of the loss of a few horses and some stores. Yet after such a report to parliament, it is now said, that the army whose condition had been so represented could not for six months afterwards be put in a state fit for action.—Is this to be taken as a specimen of the capacity of ministers to recruit an army; of their ability after reverses to repair the casualties and calamities of war? I am sorry to draw comparisons between them and the enemy, because those comparisons must be painful, where the result is so unfavourable to one's own country. But, we can hardly help consisting on this occasion the fate of the army of Soult with that of the army of sir John Moore.—According to the published dispatches, Soult was completely routed in Portugal at the close of May—not a gun was left to him; no, nor even any baggage to cheer his melancholy retreat; and whither was he obliged to retreat—into Gallicia, a hostile country, where, so far from looking for aid, he had to calculate upon resistance and embarrassment. Yet this discomfited general did not require six months to recruit his troops and prepare them for action. No, for on the 2d of August, after a circuitous and harrassing march, we find him fully qualified and able to conquer his conqueror, and compel him to a precipitate and sudden retreat. But to recruit an army after defeat, to repair the consequences of military reverses, has uniformly been the characteristic of great commanders, from Frederic the Great down to Buonaparte.—With regard to the next want of the minister, respecting transports, we are told, that it was necessary to wait for the arrival of the transports, from Lisbon, before the troops could he sent to Holland. But why were these transports at Libson? Was it thought necessary to detain them there for sir Arthur Welles- 168 ley's army in case it should be defeated and obliged finally to retreat.—In that case, we could not have had any transports to send to Holland, so that our ministers combined their plan with such peculiar judgment and felicity of arrangement that a defeat in Portugal would have prevented the Expedition to Holland. But I would ask why the minister had not a sufficiency of transports ready for any operation that might be deemed necessary?—Will the House accept the answer or excuse which ministers have made upon this subject? Would Buonaparté, do you suppose, listen to such an answer from any of his ministers?—or would any of his ministers attempt to offer such an excuse to him? Certainly not, because such an excuse is but an aggravation of the misconduct which our ministers intend it to extenuate. It was the duty of ministers to be provided with an ample supply of transports for the public service, and if they did not attend to that duty, it was not admissible in them to plead their neglect as a reason for not sending out an Expedition which, if proper to have been sent out at all, ought to have been sent in due time. I am speaking of what means they had provided, in order to act upon their own plan, and pointed out the inefficacy of these means to their own ends. My remarks apply to their arrangements for the execution of a plan, which plan was I contend in itself highly exceptionable. For if it was really meant to assist Austria by making a diversion in her favour, could any thing be more preposterous, than to choose a place for an Expedition, where there was no possible point of contact or communication with the power we professed a desire to support. The barriers between us in that situation and Austria were immense. We had it not in our power to advance a step without meeting a fortress, which, when captured, we must reduce our force to garrison, before we advanced farther. But lord Chatham found it impossible to advance at all. Antwerp, which according to the original plan, was first, to be taken by a coup de main, stopped his career. But there was in the whole plan such a manifest proof of folly—such a disregard of all the precepts derivable from experience and established usage, that the result was such as might reasonably be looked for. If gentlemen will examine the history of military transactions—If they will only reflect upon the experience of their own times, 169 they must see that there are two principles which uniformly regulate all wise military arrangement:—the first is, to direct your main force to your main object, which, once attained, all minor objects will naturally follow;—the second, to divide and distract the enemy as much as possible. It is by attending closely to these two principles that France has been aggrandized, and her enemies destroyed—it is through our neglect of these principles that we have been uniformly defeated and disgraced. Does not the marked disregard of these principles strike the commonest observer in the conduct of the Expedition to which my motion refers? What was the main object of this Expedition?—the French fleet and Antwerp. Do they go at once to Antwerp?—No. The Expedition sailed for Walcheren on the 28th of July. It was accompanied by heavy cavalry, which, in fact, never landed, and other descriptions of force which was appropriate to service different to that entered upon. Upon the 28th of August, it was decided by our commander, that Antwerp was not assailable, and that our troops must retreat. Now, how was the long interval employed from the arrival of our force at Walcheren, until it was deemed advisable to come to this decision? Why, instead of proceeding at once to Antwerp, and leaving some of our shipping to blockade Flushing, such blockade would have rendered the force in that garrison, and all Walcheren, quite useless, Flushing was regularly besieged. Thus the force which might have been kept as it were in a cage, and not available to the enemy, was, by our laying down before Flushing, with double the number, rendered completely effective against us. But this was not all; before Flushing was reduced, a formidable force was collected at Antwerp; we had then to advance against a population armed and adverse, and this advance was to be made according to the admirable plan in order to take these people by surprise, to capture a fortress by a coup de main, after a month's preliminary notice. These, however, are not the only egregious blunders and faults belonging to this extraordinary transaction. It was obviously incumbent upon ministers to collect some information as to the nature and defensive state of the points of attack, before our army was sent out. Surely they ought to have known, whether Antwerp was a fortress or a town, whether it possessed the means of vigor- 170 ous resistance, or was assailable by a coup de main? These things ought to have been previously ascertained by ministers, without sending out their general, lord Chatham, with 40,000 men to reconnoitre the place or rather to act the part of spies.—Now we come to another point, upon which I think ministers have incurred a very serious responsibility, in which I can hardly suppose it possible for them satisfactorily to account for their conduct. I should wish to know why, when they determined to abandon the attack upon Antwerp as impracticable, they did not abandon Flushing as untenable? Common powers of observation were enough to convince them of the necessity of the one, as well a of the other. History, indeed, would have informed them, that Walcheren was not tenable without imminent and certain danger to the health of our brave troops. Why not, then, when the main objects of the Expedition were found to be unattainable, destroy Flushing at once, abandon the island, and rescue our army from that pestilence which had so dreadfully desolated its ranks? It is said, no doubt, that Walcheren was retained in consequence of a requisition from Austria, in the hope that by our continuing in possession of that island, Buonaparté might be influenced in his negotiations with that power. But is there any rational man who would believe this? The fallacy of the pretence was indeed obvious, from the conduct of ministers themselves. If it was meant to retain Walcheren as a feint, why proceed to fortify the works of Flushing? why construct new works elsewhere in Walcheren, and expend a considerable sum on such fortifications? But supposing the only object of keeping it were, as stated, a demonstration to aid the views of Austria, is it not absurd to imagine, that such a demonstration could have any effect upon the mind of Buonaparté, or that in order to get possession of that island, or to avoid the delaying for two or three weeks his attack upon it, he would be induced to lower his tone or modify or moderate his terms with Austria. Yet this notion, so glaringly absurd, is offered as an apology for detaining our troops in this horribly pestilential island, where "nature sickened, and every gale was death."—The effect of disease upon our army in this unfortunate Expedition is not to be ascertained or decided upon merely from the report of actual deaths. For, according to the information I have received, the 171 greater part of the survivors is for life unfitted for any active service. What then, is a measure so productive of calamity, so pregnant with disasters, to escape inquiry; or are its authors to escape punishment?—Having gone through all the points which occur to me as connected with the policy or progress of this Expedition, I now proceed to consider the choice which ministers thought proper to make of a commander to direct its operations. I do not intend to complain of the selection. Although he was not one of those officers whom tame had noticed among her list of heroes—although he was not one of those who "in camps and tented fields had bled"—although he was much more familiar with the gaieties of London or the business of office, than with the annals of military experience or glory—yet I do not complain of the appointment of such an officer to command such an Expedition. He was, in fact, the most appropriate person that could be chosen. But if it were a wisely-planned Expedition, I should say, that it ought to be entrusted to an intelligent commander—to one who possessed the confidence of the army—to one experienced in modern warfare, as this was not the time for making hazardous experiments.—But, abortive and impracticable as the plan was, I should have thought it a pity to have the character of an officer of that description exposed to sacrifice, by rendering him responsible for the success of a measure which it would be impossible for such a man to comprehend or execute. No, lord Chatham was the fittest man for the station. This ill-fated Expedition was the favorite bantling of ministers. It required to be fostered by parental partiality, for it could have no claim to rational attachment. Such an Expedition could, in fact, be understood by themselves alone, and one of themselves alone was fit to command it.—Many other proofs of neglect and inattention have been mentioned to me with regard to the conduct of this Expedition, upon which I do not think it necessary to dwell at present. Among others, I have to state, that transports were sent out to Walcheren even after the order for its evacuation had actually reached the island. I have also heard of the sick and dying soldiers being most severely distressed for bedding, for clothing; and even necessary provisions and medicines. These things, I hope and trust, are not true. But yet they rest upon the statement of such au- 172 thorities, as to furnish an additional argument for inquiry. Indeed, the arguments for inquiry are numerous and irresistible; and unless you accede to these arguments, you cannot hope to have credit with the country for acting under the influence of reason or argument. In fact, it is necessary to your own character, and to establish some security against the repetition of similar blunders and the uncontrouled sway of incapacity, to vote an inquiry upon this occasion. Unless you do, imbecility may rule on—all military principles may be disregarded—and all the precepts of statesman-like judgment may be set at nought with impunity. Ministers may fancy themselves able, if they can only contrive to be active—Expeditions may be multiplied, only to multiply disgrace—our armies may continue to be exposed to danger, without any just necessity, or rational object, to squander their blood for mere fame, for barren laurels which blossom on the brow, but never fructify. But what a series of folly and presumption have we witnessed under the direction of a minister, who tells the world that our sovereign can be safe only with his aid and guidance; under him who has degraded the reputation of our sovereign's army, who has scattered dismay through every part of his country, and destroyed the last hope of his allies. Do not such results furnish good grounds for inquiry? Is it possible I that you ought to go on confiding in such a minister? What, let me ask you, has he done to deserve confidence, or rather, what has he not done to provoke distrust? If ever there was a time when inquiry was necessary to satisfy the wishes of the public, to consult the safety of the country, surely it is at present; at this moment, which may be well considered the most awful crisis that ever suspended the destinies of a mighty empire—a crisis rendered more alarming by the sentiment that universally and justly prevails, with regard to those to whom the administration of our government is committed. In these men, I have no hesitation in stating, that which must be admitted by every candid man, that the country has no confidence whatever: that the country can have no confidence whatever. They are, in fact, fallen to the lowest ebb in public estimation. The eyes and expectations of the country are fixed upon us [cries of hear! hear! upon the ministerial benches.] If gentlemen on the other 173 side think that I allude to a body of which I never was a member, they are extremely mistaken. I speak of this House, to which I am addressing myself, and while I have the honour to be a member of it, it shall be my study to maintain its consequence in the public estimation, as well as my anxious ambition to do my duty with fidelity. When I exhort you to comply, with the wishes of the country in this instance, I am certain I consult the best means of supporting your consequence. I say again, that the expectations of the public look to us, and let me hope that they do not look in vain. If by your conduct on this occasion you should disappoint their expectations, you ought not to be surprised if those who wish to degrade you should find their wishes completely gratified. If you desire to be the champions of your King and country—if you desire to be the champions of your own character, it behoves you to consider the nature of the present, occasion, and the consequences of disregarding the universal wish of that country which at present hopes, which won Id be willing to confide in you. But if you disappoint your constituents you may cease to be respected; you may be as little depended upon as the ministers you support by your votes. You cannot, believe me, impart strength to their weakness, but you may become sharers in their disgrace, involving your country and yourselves in their downfall. Let me hope that you will not only revolt at such a course of proceeding, but that consulting your own character and interest you will contribute by your vote this night to maintain the security and honour of England, and to revive the expiring spark which may yet serve to animate the hopes of a distressed people.—As I am among those who think that our country, if wisely governed, is in possession of ample means still to repel and overcome all the difficulty and danger by which it is menaced, I look for your vote with peculiar eagerness, as a means of contributing to the introduction of that wise system of government.—With respect to my motion for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the policy and conduct of the late Expedition to Walcheren, I shall not mention a time for the sitting of that Committee, until I learn from the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he thinks he will be able to lay before this House the promised documents upon this sub- 174 ject. I shall now conclude with moving "That a Committee be appointed to inquire into the policy and conduct of the late Expedition to the Scheldt."
§ Mr. Windham Quin
in seconding the motion of his noble friend, wished to take that opportunity of making a few observations upon the conduct of the Expedition, which appeared to him remarkable only for ignorance, imbecility and mismanagement. The first instance of neglect that struck him, on perusing the papers on the table, was the deficiency of means to carry into effect the attack upon Cadsand, there having been provided no more boats than would be sufficient to land 600 troops, and that at a time when 2,000 men were drawn up on the beach; so that it appeared, that there had been transports provided by the wise planners of the Expedition without boats, and soldiers sent without provisions. The consequence was, that though the batteries had commenced on the 5th, the enemy had been able, without molestation to throw a body of 3 or 4,000 men into Flushing across the Scheldt, before the communication with Cadsand was cut off. Upon the 15th of August, Flushing capitulated, but between the 15th and 24th, when the head quarters were established at Bathz, he lost sight of the commander in chief. There was no evidence of any active exertion, or indeed, of any adequate preparation for the accomplishment of the ulterior objects of the Expedition during that most important and critical period. He begged here to observe upon the ignorance in which the commander in chief had gone forth; for on the map he was supplied with, Bathz was laid many miles west of its actual position. As to the general policy of the Expedition, he had but few observations to make. It had two objects according to the views of its framers: one solely British, the destruction of the basin at Flushing, and the capture of some sail of the line. In that, however, it had failed. We had ransacked some stores, it was true, thrown in the basin, and destroyed a sea-wall; but we had also entombed one half of our gallant army. It had been said that the capture of Antwerp was an object of the Expedition, but he would ask any one who had considered the conduct of Buonaparté, since he had been under the view of the world, whether he thought it likely that he would have left Antwerp, the object of so much of his solicitude and care, in an unprepared state? The next 175 professed object of the Expedition was co-operation with Austria. Such co-operation he did not condemn, but that appeared to him to have been impracticable by such an Expedition; as it appeared even from lord Chatham's dispatches that Antwerp was in a state of complete defence, and covered by 35,000 men. Of that force he might safely assert, that not one man had been withdrawn from the armies contending against Austria. It was made up altogether of the artificers and population of the country, which had been trained to the use of arms. But supposing that Antwerp had been taken, whither was the army then to proceed? Was it to advance into a country bristled with fortifications? It was altogether unnecessary for them to enter into details to prove the extravagance of such a course. Every gentleman must be convinced of the absolute impossibility of carrying such a plan of the campaign into execution; and without that what was to become of the effectual co-operation with Austria? When he looked to all the circumstances of the case, the unfortunate weakness of the original plan, and the calamitous result of its ultimate failure, he could not conceive what possible objection could be made to the motion of his noble friend. It prejudged no question; it decided no case; it barely called upon the House to give a pledge to the country that they should inquire into the causes of those disgraceful and disastrous failures, which spread grief and indignation throughout every class of the community. The right hon. gentlemen opposite could not complain of surprise, because they could not be cut off from their defence. They would have ample opportunity of laying the papers upon which they meant to rest their justification, on the table before the House should go into the Committee proposed by his noble friend. From what had taken place, however, in the early part of the speech of his noble friend, by the cheers of the gentlemen opposite, he was induced to suppose that the want of the papers would be urged as an objection against the inquiry. But it must be allowed, on all hands, that some inquiry was necessary and if so, why should it not be conducted in the best, and most constitutional and comprehensive manner? He would call upon that House, therefore, by the sense of its dignity, by the magnitude and importance of the case, and by the obligations of the duty they 176 owed to their constituents and the country, to call for inquiry. He well remembered the answer which had been given to the city of London, that no inquiry was necessary into the conduct of the commanders, by sea or land, in the Expedition. But if no enquiry was necessary into the conduct of these officers, to whom was entrusted the execution of the objects of the Expedition, he must contend that it was the duty of that House to institute an inquiry into the conduct of those who had concerted it.
§ The question was called for, and strangers were withdrawing, when,
§ Mr. Croker
rose and expressed a wish that the duty of replying to the noble mover, and the hon. seconder of this motion, had fallen into abler hands; but feeling at the same time, that in the course of the evening he should have to call upon the House to vote against the motion, he thought that he could at no time do it with less appearance of presumption, than when the House was on the point of going to a division. The speeches of the noble lord and hon. gent. though materially at variance in several parts, yet coincided in one particular, as both the speakers thought it would become that House to give a pledge that it would institute an inquiry into the circumstances attending the late Expedition. He had listened to the splendid oratory of the noble lord and the hon. gent. who followed him, with much attention, and with great personal pleasure. But good oratory, like good poetry, might not be the worse for fiction. Ministers had been spoken of as if they wished to elude enquiry and to shelter certain individuals from public justice. Which of his Majesty's ministers, he would ask, could it be the object of government to screen? Could it be the object of the present administration to screen those from inquiry who were no longer members of it? If that were the case, if ministers were so disposed towards those individuals, what became of the taunts and sarcasms respecting that disunion which had been so loudly complained of?—What became of those animosities, and of that hatred which had been spoken of as existing in the late cabinet? The noble lord had asked, why was not the late Expedition sent to the north of Germany instead of Walcheren? If ministers, said that noble lord, had money to throw away on a Dutchman, 177 why could not that money have been expended in an Expedition to the north of Germany? To this he would reply, that there was an immense difference between sending an Expedition to a place not more than twenty-four hours sail from our coast, and dispatching one by a circuitous way to the north of Germany, a distance of many hundred miles. That, however, was a subject not then to be discussed, and he felt he trespassed on the House by replying so fully to that which be would say had been so unfairly and uncandidly brought forward. When those papers and documents were before the House, which had been promised by his Majesty, he would prove that the detail into which the noble lord had entered had been greatly exaggerated in some parts, and wholly unfounded in others. He had spoken of the circumstances under which the Expedition sailed from this country, uncandidly stating the dates of the battles in Germany, without at the same time ingenuously stating to the House the periods at which those events became known in England. The noble lord had taken the same unfair advantage of the unfavourable state of the weather, and while he spoke of the battles of Aspern and Wagram in Germany as having been known earlier than it was possible for the information to reach this country, he had spoken of the Expedition as having been delayed by a want of promptitude on the part of government a fortnight after it was ready to sail. It was true, that the actions the hon. gen. had spoken of had taken place on the days he had particularized. It was true, that the battle of Aspern by which the victorious career of the enemy was suspended, was fought on the 21st and 22d of May; but it was also true that the news of that victory did not reach this country before the 8th of June, and on the very next day, en the 9th of June, the Expedition was undertaken. He supposed the noble lord would have had him, from his national propensity to blundering, have advised the Expedition to the Scheldt on the ground of the battle of Aspern, before the result of that battle had been heard of in this country. It might be asked, why was not the Expedition sent before the battle of Aspern? To this he would reply, that as his Majesty had not incited Austria to hostilities, as he ever was unwilling Austria should precipitate her- 178 self into a war with France, and had cautioned Austria against taking such a step, unless grounds existed for entertaining rational hopes of a successful issue: it would not have been prudent or politic to have lavished our means and wasted our resources, to prepare to aid Austria in case of an event which it was hoped would not take place. He assented, that nothing had been done by this country to encourage such a struggle, till Austria had declared war against France, and committed herself; till the war had actually begun; till the die was cast and the fate of Austria was in her own hands. That done, then, and not till then, England made common cause with her, and gave her all the aid she could afford. Had ministers encouraged Austria previously, and been the cause of her entering into that disastrous war, they would have had a much heavier responsibility to bear than for all the failures that had taken place, even could those failures be proved to have originated with government. The noble lord had said he would confine himself to Walcheren; but far from doing this he had travelled into Spain whenever it suited his purpose or his argument to do so. They would hear as much said against rashness as they had heard against caution. The present was an age in which no military officer could hope to escape censure. He looked upon it as being one of the strongest symptoms of the decline; of military feelings and spirit in the nation, and it was much to be lamented that no virtues, no talents, could expatiate that original sin of receiving an office or a command from an hostile administration. Whether they managed so as to preserve their armies, or nobly advanced without regarding minor considerations, to risk every thing where the stake was worth risking, such officers were alike subjects of calumny and detraction. In the good old times when an officer went abroad on a dangerous service, he was generously upheld by the country; and even his errors were overlooked instead of being vindictively exposed to universal reprobation. The public wished to keep up the spirit of their armies—"Go," they cried, "go fight our battles, use your own discretion, but be brave!" Valour was then thought sufficient to atone even for misconduct. What general had ever lived who had not made some mistakes? Had any of the gallant officers who heard him been uniformly free from 179 the commission of errors? In the days of the great Marlborough a spirit existed in the country which put down such calumnious and illiberal attacks. With a view of contrasting the conduct of our generals with the good fortune of Buonaparté, the noble lord had asserted that the army beaten by us one day, and according to our accounts totally routed, appeared the next in greater number than before. Thus the force of Soult, which had been defeated by lord Wellington, afterwards appeared more formidable than ever, being 50,000 strong. He believed the noble lord gained his information on that subject from the Moniteur, a paper which he seemed to have perused with great attention. He had, however, to state, that the army which had appeared at Placentia was not that that had been defeated by lord Wellington. Soult's force, it was well known, had Consisted of two divisions of the French army distinct from his own; Soult was a senior commander, and was consequently placed at the head of that force commanded by Ney and Mortier.—Some of the facts stated by the noble lord however, were at variance with those advanced by the hon. gent. who had given him his support. He did not ask the House to give credence either to the one or to the other, as he thought both equally unworthy their belief. Nor was he more anxious that they should give credit to himself implicitly. He only wished them to wait till they had an opportunity of inspecting the documents which were to be laid before them, and which would supply irrefragable evidence upon the subject. Had the noble lord confined himself to Walcheren, as he at first intended, he might have saved himself the trouble of making so long a speech, and ii shorter answer would then have been necessary. He had complained of many circumstances connected with the Expedition, of the delay before it sailed, and the time which elapsed before the evacuation of Walcheren, &c. Might not those circumstances be satisfactorily explained by the papers which were to be produced? The whole of the noble lord's arguments were founded upon details which he could not possibly be yet fully acquainted with. Did the noble lord mean to say that the papers when produced would not shew that the measures he condemned were justifiable? For himself he should not even contend that no inquiry should take place, but that before the House should come to 180 any determination on the subject, they should at least know what it was they were to inquire into. After thanking his Majesty for the information he had been pleased to promise them, would it be consistent with their dignity, or respectful to their sovereign, to pledge themselves to institute an inquiry before the promised information was received? He did not say the promised documents ought not to be inspected or an inquiry instituted upon them; but it might be that the criminality, if criminality there should be attached to those concerned in the late Expedition, would fall on persons, who could not with propriety be examined upon an inquiry at their bar. If, for instance, the fault should appear to rest on the general officers, would the members of that House form themselves into a court-martial, or would they send those officers to answer for their conduct before a proper tribunal? Why should the House pledge itself to go into such an inquiry? It was inconvenient, and not only was it inconvenient, but was absolutely injurious to the public service and destructive of public justice. He never knew such an inquiry prove satisfactory—(Hear, hear, hear!) By gentlemen's cheering he supposed he was to understand that they admitted that to be a fact. If so, it was odd that they should be so anxious for a mode of inquiry, which they appeared so much to deprecate. The noble lord had in no small degree weakened his own arguments (if he did not compliment him too much in calling what had fallen from him arguments,) as, after speaking for an hour and a half, after exhausting every term of reproach that it was in his power to bestow, he had at last said he could not form a proper judgment on the subject without seeing the promised documents. This was evidently done with a view of reserving to himself a voice on another occasion. This he might find very convenient. The noble lord, indeed, had said with a gentle air, a mild voice, and a subdued accent, that he would not prejudge the case; but with his loud voice and impassioned tone he had told them, with appropriate gesticulation, that the facts he had stated to them spoke for themselves, and carried condemnation on the face of them.—Having thus far addressed himself to the noble lord, he would now take some notice of the hon. gent. by whom he had been seconded. A speech more against that which it was intended to support he had never heard. 181 The bon. gent. had complained of a want of boats to land a sufficient force on Cadsand and to prevent supplies being conveyed from Cadsand to Flushing. But he would take upon him to assert that no such inconvenience had been experienced. He felt, no hesitation in contradicting the hon. gent. upon this point. (Hear, hear, hear!) He would repeat that the statement of the hon. gent. was unfounded in fact, and that single circumstance was enough to prove the propriety of waiting till all the documents should be produced. He had means of knowing more on that subject than the hon. gent. and when assertion went against assertion, in what manner would the House think it necessary to pledge itself to institute such an inquiry as had been called for? He would ask the House whether it would be respectful to the King, whether it would be to deal fairly by his Majesty's ministers, or candidly towards the gallant officers employed, after the vote recently given, to agree to that inquiry for which they were now called on, before the papers were produced, before they knew whether ministers or generals were likely to be the subject of that inquiry? It was not candid to take the opinion of the House twice on the same subject, and the present question differed only in words from that which they had so lately discussed. He wished the House distinctly to understand that he did not oppose inquiry, but that he only wished it deferred till they were in possession of those papers, which alone could enable them to decide whether or not it would be necessary. He concluded by moving the previous question.
could not help admiring the lively manner and animated oratory of the hon. gent. who had just sat down: but doubted much whether his Majesty's ministers had in selecting him, chosen the best general to conduct their defence, or that of the Expedition. That hon. gent. had thought proper to charge upon the noble lord who brought forward this motion, and for so doing was intitled to the thanks of the country, with having acted in an un-candid manner; but that hon. member was not an old member of that House, and that might account for the manner in which he had animadverted upon the conduct and speech of that noble lord. He had himself risen principally in consequence of the hon. gent.'s attempt to hamper the discussions in that House, by the unguarded and unparliamentary manner in which he had introduced the 182 sacred name of his Majesty. He was on his part prepared to contend, that the adoption of the motion would not be disrespectful to his Majesty, and that it was the undoubted right of that House to discuss the conduct of Ministers, as well as the propriety of every measure of their administration. The hon. gent. had inadvertently perhaps, in this instance, endeavoured to impose a restriction upon the discretion of the House, which he felt it his duty to resist. Though he had voted on the former night with the majority, he did not look upon himself as thereby fettered as to his vote on this occasion. As he had been misunderstood with respect to the grounds of that vote which appeared not to have given, satisfaction to the gentlemen on either side, he begged to state the reasons that induced him to vote as he had done. It was his opinion that the words of the Amendment then moved and which proposed inquiry went farther than that object, in anticipating the result of the inquiry, and therefore, he could not vote for it.—The hon. gent. had also observed, that it was not competent for them to vote now for a question which had been otherwise decided by a majority on a former occasion. He could not subscribe to this doctrine; and, though he had been misunderstood by gentlemen on both sides, he considered himself as free to give his vote, this night, as he had been on the former. He then gave his vote for the reasons he had stated, which appeared to him to be sound and sufficient. Yet a gentleman on this side (the Opposition,) had afterwards told him, that his vote was in opposition to one he had given in a former session, and that he was not acquainted with "Parliamentary tactics." He did not wish to be acquainted with any tactics; he voted on all occasions as his conscience dictated. He voted for the Address, but not against inquiry; and he opposed the Amendment, because it not only courted inquiry, but anticipated the result. The only difference of opinion now was, whether they should at this moment pledge themselves to enter into an inquiry, or should wait till the promised papers should be produced. There was then an end of all the objections against the speech of the noble lord, which went to establish evidence to prove the necessity for coming to the resolution now. The noble lord was placed in an awkward predicament; for if he had merely stated his object, he would have been answered. 183 "You have shewn no grounds why we should come to this decision;" and when he did state his grounds, he was accused by the hon. gent. of going into unfounded detail. The question, as it really stood, was a very fair one, and proper for discussion. By moving the previous question the hon. gent. admitted that a prima facie case for inquiry existed. There was a precedent in the case of the Spanish papers, on which occasion he had agreed, that it was proper to wait for their production before they voted inquiry necessary. But they were not to look for precedents, every question must stand on its own ground; and he thought if ever there was a time when inquiry was called for, it was now, when so much of the fortune, the interests and the fame of the country depended upon the issue. The noble lord, instead of being blamed for over-stating his case, ought to be thanked for his candour and moderation. He agreed with the noble lord, that it was not necessary to press the mode of inquiry upon the House, but they owed it to the country to give a distinct pledge that inquiry of some kind should take place. It could take place in no way but in a Committee, either of the whole House, or select: and all that was asked was that, be the manner what it may, the matter should at all events be investigated. It was of no consequence what the papers were, as the Committee need not go further if they were satisfactory; but, at all events, it was necessary to pledge themselves to the inquiry. It was necessary to satisfy the just, and not unreasonable, expectations of the country. The papers might state what was thought proper with respect to the number of the boats or the means of debarkation on Cadsand, but admiralty returns would not satisfy him; he must have viva voce evidence on this, and on every other important point connected with the Expedition. It was impossible for any papers to prove that a sufficient number of boats had been provided. It was alike impossible for papers to shew what the probability was that Antwerp, on a coup de main, would be found in a different state from that in which it afterwards appeared to be. He wished to know what were the probabilities of the success of the Expedition; what the calculations upon which they were founded, and also upon what grounds it was expected that the Expedition would arrive, in a given time, at a given point. Those 184 were subjects which no papers could explain, and which could only be learned from viva voce examinations. So also, with respect to the continuance of the British troops in Walcheren so long, and the grounds upon which that island was afterwards evacuated. There was another point also which he wished to have ascertained by inquiry, upon what ground it was thought that this Expedition would be a diversion in favour of Austria? This was not a military but a political subject, upon which the members of that House were as competent to judge as professional men. The House ought to pledge itself to the inquiry, and to constitute the tribunal.—The right hon. gent. then adverted to what had fallen from his right hon. friend (Mr. Yorke) last night, with respect to the disposition in the country, to examine closely into the conduct of general officers. His right hon. friend was well acquainted with history and the free constitution of this country, and he would find, that whenever important Expeditions had failed, the conductors of them had been subjected sometimes to unjust obloquy, but always 10 jealousy and inquiry. From the time of the Revolution to the present moment it had been so, and a remarkable instance presented itself to him at this moment, in the case of lord Howe, who was as much abused as ever commander was, till he wiped off all calumnies by the glorious first of June. He would not take upon himself to blame either the government or the officers; but when a great Expedition had failed, on which so much of our resources had been expended at a time when they ought to have been husbanded with such care, inquiry was necessary, and they ought to pledge themselves to it this night. The hon. gent. had said something about the altered state of the cabinet, but every minister belonging to it, whether divided or united, was answerable in his own person to the country. He hoped they would come out of the trial with credit, and wished the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had in this instance adopted the language of the Ex-Secretaries of State, who said, "inquiry is necessary to satisfy the people—it must be had, and the sooner it is had the better." He concluded by again defending the vote he would this night give, as consistent with that he had given on a former occasion.
§ Mr. Fuller
declared himself of the same opinion with the right hon. gent. who had 185 just sat down; but really that gentleman generally spoke so long, that he was almost tempted to leave the room, (a buz of murmur, and Order! order!) However, as there were so many of them in the House, if they would but shorten their speeches, ii would afford an opportunity to hear the sentiments of many able gentlemen, who would be prevented by long winded harangues from addressing the House at all. With respect to the question before the House, he must remark, that if ministers were really disposed to inquiry they would have produced the papers to the House on that very day. They would, in that case, not have given an opportunity to any gentlemen to move for a Committee of inquiry; an inquiry, which in his view was absolutely necessary. The whole country, from one end to the other, was loudly calling for it; and the country, he must say, had a right to be informed where the fault lay whether the Expedition had been badly planned, or badly executed. The inquiry, therefore, was indispensably necessary; and the sooner that House should decide upon it, the sooner they would prove themselves to be the real representatives of the people who sent them there.—As to what had been said respecting the language of the King's Speech, and the Address, that was of little signification, because they all knew, that these were always drawn up in a complimentary form, (a laugh). But it would have a bad effect, that it should go to the enemy, that on such a subject any difference of opinion existed; or that when the necessity for it was universally felt and known, no inquiry was to take place. An hon. member opposite (sir J. Sebright), had on a former night talked of his not having confidence in the existing government; but he would ask that hon. member, what confidence he could repose in him, who had done him all the disservice in his power, in order to turn him out of that House (loud laughter.) Another hon. gent. had used language towards his majesty's ministers, which was even still more severe. That right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney), forsooth, did not mean to affront them, whilst he was, at the same time, applying to them the most pointed invectives. But he did not think it necessary to say more on the occasion, than that he should vote for the question for the inquiry. This was no time for shuffling; and if they wished to set aside the distrust which had been industriously ex- 186 cited against that House, nothing could remove it more effectually than to agree to the inquiry. If they should not he would tell them that something worse might come. The prosperity of this country, which contained more wealth, comforts and happiness, than any other in the world, was an object worth securing by inquiry. He was not for any new-fangled doctrines for altering or reforming the state of the representation in that House; but he thought that parliament should go further than the present inquiry, and appoint a Committee to examine into sinecure offices. They ought to take care that no man should hold a sinecure place without doing the duties of the office. They should ascertain what every man did for the money he received It was more particularly necessary now, when the tax-gatherers were at every man's door threatening to proceed to extremities, unless they were paid; and when the orders for such rigour were given by persons holding sinecure offices of 10 or20,000l. a year. He should, therefore, support the motion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer declared, in rising to state a few observations on the question, that it was not his intention to trespass at much length upon the time or attention of the House. But before he should apply himself more immediately to the subject in discussion, he hoped he should be allowed the liberty to express some surprize at the line which had been taken by his right hon. friend opposite (Mr. Bathurst) after what had passed on a former night. Nothing could be more fair than the manner, in which his hon. friend (Mr. Croker) had stated the question to the House. He had no difficulty in agreeing with his hon. friend that the real question then before the House was, whether without any information they should in the present instance decide upon inquiry, or whether they should wait till the papers promised in his Majesty's Speech should be laid upon their table, and they should thereby have the means of judging whether any or what particular species of inquiry was necessary. That was simply the question, and he besought the House not to suffer itself to be led away by any supposition that in agreeing to the previous question it would decide upon the point of inquiry or no inquiry. The only effect of the vote of that night would be to decide whether the inquiry should be then voted, or not till after the documents should be 187 produced to the House. The noble lord, as he understood him, intended to put two questions to him after the present motion was disposed of. He thought it would have been as well had he put, before the debate, one of them, which went to inquire how soon the papers could be produced; and to that he would reply, that he should be much disappointed indeed, if he were not able to lay them before the House on Monday. And still more to shew that ministers were anxious that the questions depending on them might be agitated as early as possible, while the office clerks were employed in copying some of them, others were actually in the course of being printed. He hoped not only to be able to bring them before the House on Monday, but by Tuesday he expected to be able to put into the hands of each member a printed copy of them. The question was therefore, whether they should then pledge themselves to go into a Committee of the whole House on the subject, or wait till they were in possession of that information which his Majesty thought would prove satisfactory. Gentlemen said that as the country had already called for an inquiry, therefore it was necessary to give a pledge that night. Inquiry was generally made to obtain information; but in the present instance, it was obvious, that gentlemen wanted not information, but a vote before the documents were before the House. If they should not be satisfied with that information which the King was of opinion would prove satisfactory, and which government could have no motive for advising him to lay before them, did they not think so too; he would ask if there would be any advantage lost by abstaining giving the pledge required that night? He wondered his hon. friend did not see the preposterous and extraordinary part the House would act, in voting for going into a Committee, without previously gaining that information of which it was so necessary it should be previously possessed, and then, after preparing to institute such an inquiry, to dissolve itself on the production of papers which might as well have been perused prior to the formation of the Committee, when, by waiting for the information promised, they would not lose a single day; nay not a single hour, if eventually it should be thought necessary to institute an inquiry. Of what real importance could it be whether the inquiry 188 was to be made after or before the production of those papers? He had heard of parliamentary tactics; but he did not think they had shewn themselves good tacticians on the other side.—They had proved that they were not, by their conduct on the first night, or they would then have proposed an Amendment something like the question of this night; but in the pride of their strength, they had come down to that House, to propose such an Amendment to the Address as was perhaps never heard of before. Perhaps, indeed, there never was such an occasion; but he defied them to shew that ever such an Amendment was proposed before; that ever one was submitted to that House, which carried with it an expression condemning in unqualified terms those measures into which it professed a wish to inquire. And why was this to be done? Because it was their determination first to condemn, and they cared not what took place afterwards. Provided parliament adopted their condemnation they regarded not inquiry. Some, indeed, had asserted that inquiry was not necessary, as the measures they censured carried with them the evidence of their own condemnation. They did feel an awkwardness in moving for an inquiry into measures which they hesitated not to condemn. The course they had taken plainly demonstrated that it was not inquiry into the conduct but removal from office of ministers, for which they contended. They thought it idle to condescend to observe any thing like forms or even decency in their proceedings. On such an occasion they thought they might venture to overleap all forms. They were confident of victory, they brought forward all their strength, and never were they more completely disappointed than they were by the result of that night's discussion. The noble lord had found out at length that there was some error in the proceeding of that night, and thought, by bringing forward the present motion, they might yet stand some chance of eventual success. Why was it necessary to give the pledge required? Why institute an inquiry, when they might have the necessary information before such an inquiry could possibly be set on foot? When the proffered papers were set before them, they could then judge to what extent they were satisfactory, and then, and then only would be time to decide whether or not they ought to go 189 farther. They might then, indeed, without impropriety and with justice, decide whether it should be gone into by a select Committee, or by a Committee of the whole House. There might be some points contained in the documents that they might wish communicated to the whole House, or there might be some which they would wish confined to a select Committee. Would it be well therefore to decide which mode of inquiry they should adopt before they could tell which ought to have the preference? Gentlemen spoke of going into a Committee as if they had a tribunal to erect in Westminster-hall, which it would take some time to prepare for them. He thought it needless to give the pledge contained in the motion of the noble lord, and should, therefore, support the previous question, which would leave them perfectly at liberty to act as circumstances may require, or justice should render most expedient. His hon. friend, in speaking of the disrespect shewn to the King, had said nothing that merited reproof. It was hardly decent not to wait twenty four hours for the promised information: To decide, knowing nothing about the merits of the case;—to say we know better than you, though we know nothing at all about the matter;—to tell the Sovereign in effect, though you have promised us satisfactory information, we anticipate that the information you have promised cannot be satisfactory. Whatever the facts might be, no public inconvenience could result from so trifling a delay; and whatever gentlemen on the opposite side of the House might say, he felt assured that the people would not think the worse of that House for acting with becoming deliberation. They would appear to be less directed by party feelings or spirit if they agreed to wait for satisfactory information when it would be afforded to them in so short a time. But to gain information was not their object, a vote against ministers was all they wanted. They wanted them to be removed. It might be very fair for them to pursue that object, but he thought it was equally fair for him to unmask their intentions, and shew that they contended not for satisfactory information, not for the public interests, but for the possession of office and power. If they had the object in view, for which they affected to feel so much solicitude, they must know, that the line of conduct they pursued would not 190 lead to its attainment, or facilitate the production of the information they had a right to require, and the government, so far from wishing to withhold, was anxious in the extreme to produce to that House.
§ Mr. Windham
said he was disposed, notwithstanding the triumphant tone of the right hon. gent. to retain, in common with his friends, that confidence which they had entertained in their strength the first night of the session. He believed that the feeling of disappointment, mortification and anguish, which the right hon. gent. had attributed to his opponents had a firmer existence in his own mind and situation than in theirs. However, he should still continue to support the motion of his noble friend on the ground of duty. It was the duty of the House also to shew the country, that they were not to be biassed by the seemingly candid declarations of the minister. If ever there was a case which called for the unanimous vote of parliament, the late disastrous campaign was that case. Indeed, in his opinion, the vote ought to be carried by acclamation. It was not necessary to wait for papers in order to determine that inquiry was necessary. The information on which to ground opinion was already before parliament and the country. To be sure, the papers might have furnished an aggravated proof of guilt in some quarter or other, and might shew that the right hon. gentlemen were not chargeable with the whole blame of the failure, but it was unnecessary to wait for documents or proofs to ascertain whether there was calamity and failure. The House did not want them. If, indeed, after it had declared inquiry necessary, the House should proceed to ask for the production of papers, it could not be in order to ascertain whether there was blame, but it would be to know the aggravations of their conduct, or to judge how the instruments employed in the execution were committed, with those, who advised the plans, in the responsibility. To satisfy the House that inquiry was necessary, it had only to look to Walcheren, to consider of the termination of the Expedition, and to contemplate the present state of the army that was sent there. Search the military annals of Great Britain, and there was no precedent of such extensive, complete, and unqualified failure. The greatest possible failure might take place, and still no blame attach any where; but here was an Expedition terminating in great disgrace and 191 unparalleled disaster, and with numerous presumptions of misconduct. It was not that the Expedition failed, but that it could not succeed, that the House and the country had to complain of. It was generated in calamity, and your troops were marched from their own shore direct to destruction. There were none of those extraordinary obstructions encountered which have often been so fatal to the best arranged operations nothing in the conduct of the officers—no impediment from wind and weather, and the events proved, that where our troops came in contact with the enemy, success was the uniform consequence. In neither could there be traced any interruption to our eventful success through the fortune of war—a cause too frequently decisive upon some of its greatest and most extensive operations. It was demonstrable that this Expedition had failed and solely failed from pre-existing causes. Why ministers did not know of them, was a part of his accusation and their misconduct. They should have been aware of the nature of the climate, of the poisonous air of Walcheren. But the event proved, that they either did not know of them, or knowing that, they disregarded them. They marched the British army to its grave, to be extinguished amidst the pestilential air of Walcheren, to go out like a candle in a vault. In every view the House could take of the question, it must appear evident upon their own shewing, that ministers had completely failed. If it was taken up as a foreign object, with a hope of affecting the state of even's at that time in Germany, its object was wholly frustrated, and if it was considered solely as a British object, the calamitous result, in that case, completely contradicted its purpose. The great and uncontrollable cause of the failure, arose from the utter impossibility that it could succeed. It would be a reproach for ever to the character of parliament, if it suffered its attention to be diverted for one single day, from taking steps of inquiry, by any vain delusive hope held out from the production of papers. By the way, he must be permitted to observe, that those papers, had ministers been sincere in their professions, should have been delivered the first day the House assembled. Let it not be said that they were not prepared. They who could foresee nothing else, must have, at least, foreseen that parliament was to be assembled. With so many months to 192 prepare they could have no excuse for not having all the documents on the first day of the session. The right hon. gent. I concluded by observing, that he could not admit the explanation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, relative to the introduction of the King's name by the hon. gent. near him (Mr. Croker.) Such an introduction of it into the debates of that House ever had been and ever ought to be reprobated as a gross impropriety. Certainly it had on the present occasion proceeded from a very young member, and was probably to be ascribed to his want of sufficient parliamentary usage and experience.
then rose and said;—The right hon. gent. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been pleased to tell this House, that the question they are now called upon to decide is, merely whether it shall proceed to the institution of an inquiry on Friday next, or on the succeeding Monday. That the point for which my noble friend contends, is nothing more than a difference of two days. That however, is not the question. It is far more important; it is, whether this House shall this night do its duty to the people of Great Britain, or wave it altogether through deferential indulgence to ministers. If the right hon. gent. should possess the power to prevail upon this House to adopt this unbecoming course, then, indeed, it is idle to hope, that what the country so loudly demands from one end of it to the other, will ever be effectually carried into practice. Who can hope it? Upon what foundation can rest your confidence? The minister of England, who is himself to be put upon his trial, whose conduct and whose policy are to become the serious objects of that investigation—he it is, who rises up in this House and desires us to suspend our course of proceeding, until he shall have furnished us with the stinted information which he may think proper to impart. Do not inquire, says he, as I myself will lay before you, will tell you all that, in my opinion, you ought to know upon this subject. What, I ask, would be thought of the application, if you, Sir, or any other man in the country, having a violater of the laws to punish for his transgressions, were about to appeal to the courts of justice for redress, but were suddenly called upon to desist from your legitimate course, under the promise, that the man whose guilt constituted the subject of your appeal, had declared his rea- 193 diness to tell his own story? Would credulity itself be imposed upon by such a puny contrivance? And shall this House, upon the assertion of an accused minister, desist from discharging that great obligation which public justice requires? But, forsooth, the right hon. gent. would this night appear not only not the enemy, but almost the advocate for inquiry. How long since has he become a convert to this doctrine? Was this the determination with which he advised his sovereign to give the well known answer to the petition of the corporation of London? Did he not in that answer declare, that he did not intend to institute any such proceeding; leaving it to parliament to take that course which in its wisdom it should think fit? Parliament has met, and is called upon by that very man who resigned to it the choice of its own conduct, to suspend its duties at his pleasure and caprice. He would wish us, whose duty it is, to probe these calamitous transactions throughout all their branches, to surrender our understanding to his direction, and rest satisfied with documents which he pleases to produce—documents no doubt calculated not to afford information to parliament, but to operate as a defence of the ministry. He has charged myself and my friends with having submitted to the consideration of this House an amendment incompatible with the principles of common justice, and which went to prejudge this question, I deny that the imputation is in any degree warranted by any part of our conduct. Was it prejudging to say, that Expeditions of mighty promise and most prodigal expenditure had terminated in failure and calamity? Did we want to wait for the production of his promised documents to ascertain that a brave and gallant army had been ingloriously sacrificed and wantonly slaughtered? If the grounds upon which we acted justified our opinion, I challenge him and his colleagues to prove that we went one step further. We limited ourselves to what was undeniable, and in calling for promised inquiry, we did not even insinuate who the persons were that were guilty and ought to be punished. This night the right hon. gent. unable to oppose the propriety of the course we have pursued, ventures to attribute certain motives to gentlemen on this side of the House. He tells us that inquiry is not our aim, but that we are endavouring to procure a vote of this House against ministers:—in order to procure 194 their removal from office, and pave the way for our own elevation to power. And in the very breath in which he makes this charge, he laughs us to scorn for our unjustified confidence and signal disappointment. We know that the enemy has said that it was the genius of France conducted the British armies to Walcheren in the late Expedition. But no!!! It was not the genius of France, it was the demon of England, nurtured into malignant influence by the base dissensions and unprincipled cabals of a weak, divided, insincere, and incapable administration—an administration ill thought of by all, suspected by themselves, and despised by the country—an administration, a constituent member of which was engaged in a low and unmanly conspiracy to expel from station another constituent member of it; an administration, at the head of which now stands this minister, who, though an intrigue of this base, ungenerous and unmixed quality, was in progress for months, has been obliged in this House to offer up in his own defence, that he was innocent, because he was ignorant? (Hear, hear!)—This is the picture which he and his colleagues have drawn of themselves. What need was there that genius should confound what unequalled ignorance had devised? What needed our enemy to interpose his great power or his greater abilities when he had our ministers for auxiliaries? Why array the highest talents, to oppose the efforts of incapacity the most evident—to frustrate the councils of insincerity the most degrading? Behold at the head of the nation's councils a minister who knowing that, after this intrigue for months had terminated in an agreement to remove a colleague from an active and efficient situation in the cabinet, under the alledged imputation of his incapacity to discharge the functions of office, yet still suffered him, though thus pronounced incapable, to retain for months his office of war secretary, upon no other ground save that he could not reconcile the communication to his feelings. Where were his feelings for the people of England? Where were they for the liberties of Europe, whilst he suffered an incapable minister to remain in office? Where did the feelings of the right honourable gentleman slumber, when the best blood of the empire was shed to purtify in the poisonous air of Walcheren, there, amidst pestilence and death to linger, and to perish, in order to afford a colourable pretext to the noble 195 lord for retaining office until the minister of England could reconcile to his feelings the communication of the noble lord's (Castlereagh) acknowledged incapacity? There has indeed been much of failure and disgrace to deplore; already have we drawn almost to satiety from that polluted source; but if this House shall abstain from the exercise of its duties, it will give plausible and powerful pretexts to malignant men, hostile to the character of parliament. It will entitle them to say, that though such failures have occurred, and such if is grace been cast upon the country, yet there was no disgrace more signal, no disaster more aggravated, than that Great-Britain should, have the curse of being ever represented by such a House of Commons as this.
§ Mr. Stephen
said, that if the object of the previous question had been to preclude enquiry, it should not hove had his support, for he thought that an enquiry was proper and necessary to satisfy the country, but that, as the papers would be produced in two days, he should vote for postponing the inquiry for that time. He was surprised to hear a right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham) talk of carrying the motion immediately by acclamation. The greater part of those who had suffered by the guillotine had been sent to it by acclamation.—That right hon. gent. he was sure would never be a convert to Jacobinism, and he should disdain to recommend its practice or to use its language. That right hon. gent. professed to think that because the motion, only implied, that there was ground to put ministers on their trial, there was no need to wait for the promised papers; but he should be sorry to see that hon. gent. on a grand jury, if he thought it right to send a man to take his trial before he heard the evidence, offered in support of the bill of indictment. The livery of London in common hall assembled might with less injustice vote censure against ministers by acclamation or upon newspaper reports; because they had no power to call for better and more satisfactory evidence; but what mighty evil could arise from a delay of two days, such as would justify that House in precipitating a vote without hearing such evidence as was offered for their consideration? If not material to the question whether the inquiry was proper, it might at feast assist them in deciding what mode of inquiry and to what extent they ought to adopt—He could not admit that the 196 mere failure of the Expedition to the Scheldt, or the ill success of our arms in Spain and Portugal, were sufficient grounds from which to infer criminal misconduct or incapacity on the part of government. When a country was placed in a situation in which there was perfect freedom of choice, whether to abstain from or prosecute military enterprizes, there ill success might indeed furnish a reasonable presumption of misconduct in their authors or conductors. But a country might be, and he conceived England how was, in a situation similar to that of a town besieged by a powerful army, which the garrison was too feeble to encounter in the open field. In that case the best means of defence might be frequent sallies to delay the enemies ultimate success, and take the chance of contingencies which might bring final relief, although there were no hope of succeeding by such sallies, so as to raise the siege. He thought our continental efforts at present against our too formidable enemy were of this kind; Overmatched as we were by him in the field, the most we could hope in any quarter, was to delay his general operations, and even as to this partial and temporary success, the chances might be greatly against us every where; yet might it be unwise not to take them. If so, then it could not truly be argued; that failure and repulse were necessarily grounds of presumption against the wisdom of such attempts. It must depend upon the evidence of the particular nature of the enterprizes, or of the particular causes of failure whether they deserved praise or blame.—As to the charge that our troops had been marched to their graves, it certainly had so far a foundation, that a great mortality had afterwards broken out amongst them.—But the delay of our operations and other unforeseen causes, and perhaps unavoidable ones, might have produced this calamitous result. He feared that wherever our armies had been employed in foreign service, the same evil had in a great degree been felt. In our West Indian campaigns he was sure that such had been the case, to an extent as dreadful; or more so, than any thing we had heard of in Walcheren. In the Expedition, for instance, against the French windward islands, in 1794, whole regiments, with few exceptions, were swept away by disease; and yet who thought of blaming the ministers of that day for embarking in that enterprises? The com- 197 manders received the thanks of parliament, and instead of being deterred by the fatal consequences of that campaign, oar ministers entered on another and on a larger scale the next year, against St. Domingo and other colonies where the same dreadful mortality ensued. He deplored such effects of war as much as any man; and thought they formed a strong objection to the employing our armies in foreign service where it could be avoided, but it was not fair to state the mischief as peculiar to the present case or as forming a conclusion presumptive against the government, unless we were prepared to condemn all former Expeditions where the same melancholy effects were felt, and Vo renounce the employment of our army in future, in continental or colonial service.—It ill became the right hon. gent. to condemn administration on this ground, for he himself was in office when the West Indian Expeditions of last war were undertaken. He was surprised also to hear that the hon. gent. argued from the failure of Expeditions to the criminality of their authors. What! had he forgot Buenos Ayres? Or had he forgot Quiberon, there it might truly be said in his own terms, that thousands of brave men had been marched to their graves; aye and consigned to them by acclamation.—The hon. and learned gent. concluded by remarking on the party spirit with which gentlemen on the other side attempted to turn the failure of the Expedition to their own political purpose of getting into power by the dismissal of their opponents. The public was led to expect a redress of grievances, and punishment of delinquents; but the gentlemen on the opposition bench had the more substantial game in view of obtaining possession of the government; and this was the true cause of their impatience. They reminded him of the squire of the valourous knight of LaMancha. The knight, like the people of England in this case, was intent on generous purposes, though with mistaken views; but the squire had always his eye to the main chance; and as soon as an adventure was atchieved by his master, he conceived like the right hon. gent. that his own end was attained; and said, "I do beseech you, sir, give me immediately that same government."
Sir Samuel Romilly
said that if ever there was a case to be decided on its own merits, independant of all collateral considerations and circumstances it was the 198 present question. It was a most fallacious representation of it, which had been made by his learned friend, who stated, that the question only was whether an inquiry should be voted now or on Monday. It was obvious, however, that if the papers were laid on the table on Monday, some time must be taken to consider them. If further papers should be judged necessary (as would in all probability be the case,) time must also be allowed for such additional papers to be prepared and printed. It was not therefore fair to state the delay would only be for a day or two, as it was extremely probable that a good deal of time must elapse before the inquiry founded on such papers could take place. But if the question really were whether, the inquiry should be voted on that day or on Monday he should decidedly prefer the earlier day. This was the first time in his life that he had heard the doctrine, that we should be certain of criminality before we proceeded to inquiry. They all knew that a great calamity had befallen the country and could any doubt be seriously entertained whether an inquiry into the cause or causes of that heavy calamity ought not to take place. In cases respecting individuals in private life, it was enough to know that a great calamity had happened, or that the death of an individual had taken place, and the inquiry followed of course. They did not then wait until the person suspected or accused should think proper to tell his story—It had been said that the object of the motion was to turn out the present ministers. How could inquiry turn out ministers, unless the result of the inquiry should shew them to be criminal? Why should his learned friend be apprehensive that the result of inquiry, would be so fatal to an administration of which he was disposed to think so well? If, on the contrary, the inquiry should prove that no blame attached to them, they would only be more firmly established in their places in consequence of it. When it was argued that it was of very little importance whether inquiry should be voted this night or on Monday; he would then ask why, if it were of so little importance, ministers thought it worth while to give a serious opposition? He would ask, was there an individual present who had heard his majesty's ministers, and was not perfectly convinced that it was their intention, if they could by any means 199 evade it, that there should be no inquiry? Was not the course they were taking precisely the course which was the best calculated to evade inquiry? Was there any man of those who knew what the papers were that ministers intended to produce, who had the boldness to say, that even in his judgment, those papers would be satisfactory to the House and the public? If, in fact, it were only a question of 24 hours, he would say, that it was better to vote for enquiry now, and not to delay such a vote even for 24 hours. The House was then on its trial before the world, and should lose no time in acquitting itself in the eyes of the country. By giving impunity to ministers in cases of former failures, they had given them confidence to bring fresh disasters on the country. It Was on the heads of the members of that House therefore that those calamities should rest: it was against them that the cries and reproaches of the widows and orphans of those who were sent through inglorious perils to an inglorious death in Walcheren should be directed, if they did not take the most prompt and effectual means of visiting those calamities on the heads of the guilty authors, whoever they might be. It was said, that any thing that would prevent the Chancellor of the Exchequer from being the minister of the country would leave the King without a defender. What could it be said that in a country where his Majesty had not one personal enemy it was absolutely necessary that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer should be his defender? He thought there was no symptom more alarming, than to find that the vote of that House was often in opposition to the decided opinion of the public at large; and more especially, when it was known that many members professed out of doors opinions directly contrary to what was expressed by their votes in that House. When they were in the country among their neighbours, they were almost all for inquiry; but when they came up to town, they too often voted for the ministers.
Mr. Leslie Foster
said he conceived, that, though there was strong presumption of misconduct in some quarter, it would be too much to vote for inquiry without the information which the papers might give. As the production of these papers would lake place very shortly, he saw no objection to accede to the wishes of his 200 right hon. friend. He thought there was no question which ought less to be judged of by the disastrous event than the Expedition to Walcheren; and that they could not be led to the fair consideration of the subject, if guided only by the compass of the melancholy catastrophe by which it had been terminated. The mode most proper for carrying on the inquiry was also a matter that required much deliberation. It was the glory of that House to be the grand inquest of the nation, and yet there were many cases in which the exercise of its inquisitorial powers was productive of inconveniencies that could not be too cautiously avoided. He confessed himself anxious for inquiry; but not thinking that information could render him less fit for prosecuting it, he would agree to postpone, for so very inconsiderable a period, that investigation which he thought ultimately necessary.
§ General Grosvenor
declared that upon such a question and under such circumstances he could not reconcile it to himself to give a silent vote. He was ready to confess that he felt the most anxious wish to support the motion of the noble lord. He was little disposed to dispute about, forms, and as inquiry was his sole object, the sooner that inquiry should be decided upon, the more satisfactory it would be to his mind. He owed it also to the army, officers, and men—he owed it to the commander in chief, lord Chatham—he owed it to himself, as having a command in that army, to declare that he could not gratify them more than by voting for the speediest and most summary effectual inquiry, and he earnestly hoped that that inquiry would be conducted in the most open manner, and on the broadest grounds.
§ Sir Home Popham.
—It is impossible for me, Sir, to give a silent vote upon this question, after the declaration of the hon. general who has just presented himself to your notice. He very confidently assures you, that he is obliged for his own sake, for the sake of the army and the noble lord who commanded it, to vote for inquiry. The same motives demand of me that I should, in the strongest and most explicit manner, press the House to go into the most minute inquiry into the conduct of the navy; and I am perfectly convinced, that such a course would be very congenial to the feelings of the gallant admiral who commanded that fleet, whose whole life has been tissued with 201 the most active and enterprizing services, whose achievements have been equalled By few, excelled by none. I can assure this House, that many officers of the highest character and most eminent excellence were employed upon this service, and I am quite confident, that there is not a person in the profession who would not be happy to meet inquiry: the mode of inquiry, however, must depend on the wisdom of this House; and I am sure, Sir, it will take into its consideration how much more difficult it is to inquire into the conduct of naval officers than of those of the army; the first must be an examination into winds, tides, narrow channels, and a variety of other technical circumstances, which none but a sailor, and a sailor from his infancy, can understand. On the other hand, from peculiar circumstances, and the fashion of the times, half the kingdom are soldiers, and I now may have the honour of addressing myself to 300 field officers. But, Sir, as my object is inquiry into the execution of the Expedition, and not the policy, which must rest exclusively with the House, I can only say, that it is impossible to institute an inquiry too rigorous in its examination, or too early in its commencement, to meet the wishes of the whole navy.
§ Mr. Eyre
could not, on the present occasion, vote en the side of administration, but as to their general conduct, he Was convinced they possessed great merit, though the nature of that merit was not sufficiently understood by the country (a laugh:) under their auspices, our military and naval glory had greatly increased.
§ Mr. H. Smith
was of opinion, that the House was bound to institute an inquiry; but he thought the consideration of the subject should be postponed to Monday.
Mr. D. Brown
wished to postpone the question till Monday, when the papers would be laid on the table.
§ Mr. Harvey
was of opinion, that there was a ground of complaint somewhere, and the truth would be obtained by inquiry. He could not, however, think of funning a Committee at that laid hour. (A cry of No! no!) As that was not intended, he would vote for inquiry generally. It was due to the officers both of the army and navy.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
said, he was surprised his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have made any oppo- 202 sition to the present motion. He had for thirty years that he had been in parliament, observed, that ministers had generally been hostile to inquiries, though he did not impute any improper motive to his right hon. friend in the present case. He wished however, that he would cheerfully accede to the feelings of the navy and army, which were so deeply implicated, when on an Expedition of such extraordinary magnitude, disgrace had been so generally thought to attach. He did not, for his own party join in those epithets of folly and incapacity, Which, many gentlemen on the other side of the House had thought proper to apply to his Majesty's present ministers who had planned the Expedition; for his right hon. friend below him (Mr. Canning) and the noble lord near him, were not men of that description; and they both, though no longer ministers, acknowledged their responsibility. His right hon. friend, however, argued in opposition to the present motion, why not defer it till Monday? He would, for his own part, answer that question by saying he wished to obtain the point now, this very evening, for he had been too long in parliament not to know, that if deferred till Monday, he could not but fear it would never be attained at all. Yet though he agreed that inquiry should take place, he was in doubt whether an enquiry at the bar of the House, or a Committee above stairs would be the better mode. It had been said, that many circumstances might occur which it would be improper to bring forward in so public a manner as at the bar of the House; he thought, however, on further consideration, that if the House determined on a public inquiry, the chairman might in particular cases report progress, and be instructed to move for a Committee above stairs, to examine into those particular matters, and to report their opinion to the Committee of the whole House. He should therefore vote for the motion of the noble lord.
§ Sir W. Curtis
said, he rose to give his assent and support to the motion. (A laugh from the opposition side.) He did not know what gentlemen meant by that; but he would have them to know, that he gave his vote on all occasions, in as independent a manner, and with as free and 203 unbiassed a mind, as any member of that House. He believed the noble lord who commanded the Expedition, wished for an inquiry, and he thought for his own part, it was absolutely necessary, and would, therefore, vote for the motion made by the noble lord.
said, he could not vote for the motion till information had been laid before the House. He did not, however, like to vote for the previous question; for though the previous, question was very well understood in that House, he believed it was not out of it; and he would not wish it to be supposed that by voting against the motion, he was against an enquiry. He could wish that an adjournment of the debate might take place till Monday se'nnight.
said he felt, from the general anxiety spread throughout the country, that an enquiry was expedient; but he thought it was only fair to wait till they had some information on the subject; and so short a delay as that required, certainly could not make much difference. He should therefore vote for the previous question.
§ Mr. Henry Martin
, it was the mere trick of the minister to get rid of the question, by moving the previous one; and what confidence could there be in a man who would resort to such means to keep himself in place for a few days? It was like a tree which was withered, and a particle of vegetation remained in the roots and throughout a sucker, but the moment it came in contact with the wholesome air, it decayed, expired, never to rise again; so would be the machinations of the right hon. gent, that night; for they would not be allowed to bud, but would be cut off by the, wholesome determination and vote of that House on the division. If they were to get rid of it that night, what pledge did they give, that they would bring it to an ultimatum on Monday?
§ Mr. W. Smith
rose to mark the essential difference between the motion itself and the mode proposed for getting rid of it. Every mail in the House, and he believed nineteen-twentieths of the people out of doors, who thought inquiry necessary, did not want those papers to form their opinion on the subject Which, he asked, would be the most important pledge, that of coming to an immediate resolution in favour of an enquiry at the bar of the House, or agreeing to the previous ques- 204 tion which was only moved for the purpose of putting it off indefinitely. He hoped therefore, that every gentleman who said he thought inquiry necessary, would evince his sincerity that night, by joining him in voting for the motion of the noble lord.
§ Mr. Tierney
observed with great severity and point upon the manner in which the right hon. gent. had treated the two propositions that had come from that side of the House. The right hon. gent. had said a great deal of their confidence in their own strength, and, of their disappointment on the first night, but he believed that the surprise was with the right hon. gent. at finding himself not in a minority, and the effects of that surprise appeared in the altered manner of the right hon. gent. since. He was now upon his stilts, self-assured, and quite changed from that humble and subdued tone, in which he had on the first night thrown; himself upon the House, and told them that he must stand by his sovereign, where as now he called upon the House to, stand by him. One gentleman under the gallery, in dealing out his compliments on the present administration, had forgot that he was applying to what is, the encomiums he had intended for what had been. The noble lord alluded to was no longer at the head of the war department; and notwithstanding that versatile, variety of powers that had enabled lord Liverpool to take the circuit of all the different offices of the state, yet it remained to be proved that he was as efficient for his present situation as his predecessor. The case of Buenos Ayres that had been cited was not in point; for in that case there had been inquiry; and the unfortunate officer who had had the command of that Expedition had been broke. It had been said that the public, notwithstanding the nature of the previous question, might form wrong notions of it. The public do not technically understand it, but practically they understood it as well as they did in that House, and would think it merely a trick to defeat inquiry. There was no, need of further inquiry before the present motion—the calamity was notorious. What would be the feeling of any man, if upon seeing a man dead with twenty-gashes in his head, and when it was proposed that they should go before the coroner (just what was proposed in the present case), some one should object, "No, no, never mind the coroner—but 205 here is a gentleman who will tell us his story about it"?—aye—but he may be the murderer himself. (A laugh.) With respect to the promise of inquiry contained in his Majesty's Speech, it was all very good, and he had great respect for it, and so forth, but considering it the promise of his Majesty's ministers he did not believe one word of it. For the House must remember that often before they had had promises of a similar nature, nay much stronger; and they all knew what had become of them. He wanted not papers, he wanted evidence, viva voce evidence at their bar; and nothing short of that would satisfy him. No gentleman had the boldness to suggest a secret committee or a select committee,—the inquiry must be carried on in a committee of the whole House. It had been frequently asserted that the object of the motion was to turn out ministers, and it was whimsical enough too that the right hon. gent. himself (the chancellor of the exchequer) had, gravely stated that as an objection to the motion, as, if' even that event should take place, it would be so deplorable a calamity. He for his own part had no hesitation openly to avow, that he was anxious to get them out, and most sincerely and ardently hoped, that the present motion might he attended with that very desirable effect. The right hon. gent. concluded by stating, that the confidence of the country in that House had been shaken, and that it seriously behoved them to endeavour to retrieve it. He did not blame the noble lord (Castlereagh) nor the right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning) for the silence observed by them; but he would confess that he felt very anxious to know, whether they meant to oppose the original motion for inquiry.
was of opinion, that under the circumstances that had been stated, it would be better to postpone any direct motion for Inquiry until the House was in possession of the information promised. This was a deference which, he conceived due to the government. But whatever due to the these papers might be, they would not supersede the necessity of an Inquiry of some kind. Inquiry could not be avoided, it must take place sooner 206 or later. Inconveniencies, however, would be in the mode of inquiry that would result from the adoption of the motion. These he would state before he sat down. One of the most cogent arguments that he had heard in favour of an investigation, had fallen from two members, whom he might call the representatives of the army and navy, employed in the Expedition; and who, he presumed, spoke from authority, or at least from an authority higher than their own.—He agreed fully with both these gentlemen. But, if it should appear from the papers to be laid on the table, that blame was imputable to the commanders of the Expedition, an investigation at the bar of the House would certainly not be the most advisable or constitutional way to ascertain what portion of misconduct fell to each. The same objections would be to an examination before a committee of that House. The most constitutional mode of proceeding in that case would be for the House to address his Majesty to cause the facts to be submitted to the regular and ordinary tribunal for deciding on military inculpation. It was to him a, subject of considerable regret, that, when his Majesty was addressed, to cause an inquiry to be instituted into the failure of the Expedition to Walcheren, government did not deem it expedient to yield to the application, and come prepared to lay before parliament the result of that inquiry. He regretted that the precedent established on the occasion of the Convention of Cintra was not followed, and that the conduct of the officers inculpated was not submitted for investigation to the proper military tribunal. And here he would take the opportunity of repelling an accusation made against him, that he had ever entertained any wish or desire that all the facts connected with that most disgraceful and inglorious business should not undergo the fullest investigation. No inquiry before that House, or any selection from it, he feared, would be competent to embrace the misconduct, supposing any imputable to them, of the commanders of the Expedition. The case was different, however, with regard to the share that ministers had in the transaction. If blame was imputable to the plan or policy of the Expedition to Walcheren, he had nothing to say against the proposition of the noble lord, putting in, at the same time, his claim to a full share of the responsibility which the government that set
forward might have incurred. He 207 foresaw one inconvenience from the adoption of the motion, namely, that it would pledge parliament to a particular mode of inquiry; a mode not the best calculated, in his opinion, to attain the ends which it proposed. Upon these grounds he thought it would be best to wait for the information that was promised. The practical delay would be but small. At the same time he thought that papers which were mentioned in the Speech from the throne, should have been sooner ready, and that not a moment should be lost in preparing the way for that public and impartial investigation, which no man in the House was more desirous than himself to see instituted. He would give his vote against the motion of the noble lord, but not in the hope of defeating inquiry, which could not, and must not be avoided. The country called for it; the country was entitled to it.
§ Sir Home Popham
declared, that in what he said, he spoke under the influence of no authority, as the right hon. gent. insinuated, but from his own feeling?
said he used the word authority not in an invidious, but in an ordinary sense; or, in other words, that his hon. friend, if he would allow him to call him so, spoke on the behalf of that part of the service to which he was engaged.
wished that the debate on the previous question should be adjourned to Monday se'nnight, and moved to that effect.
warmly denounced this proposition, as another attempt to do the same twick under a different form, seeing, as the right hon. gent. had seen, that, from the temper of the House, the previous question would have been lost.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
replied, that, as a proof the present motion was not of his instigation, he meant to vote against it. The gallery was then cleared for a division, when Mr. Pattison's motion of adjournment was negatived without a division. The House then divided on the previous Question.
|For Lord Porchester's Motion||195|
§ The Committee of the whole House, to inquire into the causes of the failure of the Walcheren Expedition, was then fixed for Friday next.—Adjourned.
|List of the Majority.|
|Abercromby, Hon. J.||Grosvenor, gen.|
|Adam, W.||Hall, sir J.|
|Adams, Ch.||Halsey, Jos.|
|Allan, A.||Hamilton, Id A.|
|Althorp, viscount||Hammett, J.|
|Anstruther, sir J.||Hibbert, G.|
|Anionic, W. L.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Astell, W.||Hobhouse, B.|
|Aubrey, sir J.||Holford, G.|
|Babington, Th.||Horner, F.|
|Banks, H.||Howard, hon. Wm.|
|Baring, N.||Howard, H.|
|Baring, T.||Howord, H.|
|Bathurst, rt. hon. C.||Hume, W. H.|
|Bernard, S.||Hurst, R.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Hussey, T.|
|Blachford, B. P.||Hutchinson, hon. C.|
|Bradshaw, hon. A. C.||Jekyll, Joseph|
|Brand, hon. T.||Johnstone, G.|
|Brogden, J.||Keck, G. A. L.|
|Browne, N.||Kemp, T.|
|Burdett, sir F.||Kensington, Id.|
|Burrell, sir C. M.||Knox, hon. T.|
|Byng, G.||Lamb, hon. W.|
|Calcraft, J.||Lambton, H.|
|Calvert, N.||Leach, J.|
|Castlereagh, viscount||Lemon, sir W.|
|Cavendish, Id. G.||Lemon, John|
|Cavendish, Wm.||Lemon, Charles|
|Cocks, J.||Lester, T. L.|
|Codrington, C.||Lethbridge, T. B.|
|Coke, T. W.||Lloyd, J. M.|
|Coke, Ed.||Lloyd, sir E.|
|Colborne, N. W. R.||Lockhart, J. J.|
|Combe, H. C.||Longman, G.|
|Cooke, B.||Lubbock, sir J.|
|Cowper, hon. E. S.||Lygon. hon. W.|
|Craig, J.||Lyttleton, hon. W.|
|Creevey, T.||Macdonald, J.|
|Cripps, Jos.||Mahon, visc.|
|Curtis, sir W.||Maitland, E. F.|
|Cuthbert, J. R.||Manning, W.|
|Daly, rt. hon. D. B.||Markham, J.|
|Dickinson, W.||Martin, H.|
|Dundas, C.||Mathew, hon. M.|
|Egerton, J.||Maxwell, W.|
|Elliott, rt. hon. W.||Mexborough, earl|
|Ellice, W.||Milbank, sir R.|
|Estcourt, T.||Mildmay, sir H.|
|Evelyn, L.||Mills, C.|
|Euston, earl||Milner, sir W.|
|Eyre, A. H.||Moore, P.|
|Fellowes, hon. N.||Morpeth, visc.|
|Ferguson, gen.||Morris, E.|
|Fitzgerald, Id. H.||Mosley, sir O.|
|Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M.||Mostyn, sir T.|
|Fitzpatrick, rt. hon. R.||Neville, hon. R.|
|Fitzroy, ld. W.||Newark, visc.|
|Folkestone, visc.||Newport, sir J.|
|Frankland, W.||Northey, W.|
|Freemantle, W.||North, D.|
|Fuller, J.||Nugent, sir G.|
|Gascoigne, J.||O'Callaghan, J.|
|Gell, P.||O'Hara, C.|
|Giddy, D.||Ord, W.|
|Giles, D.||Ossulston, ld.|
|Gower, earl||Owen, T. L.|
|Grant, J. M.||Parnell, H.|
|Grattan, rt. hon. H.||Pelham, hon. C.|
|Greenhill, R.||Percy, earl|
|Grenfell, P.||pigott, sir A.|
|Pollington, visc.||Tarleton, gen.|
|Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.||Tavistock, marquis|
|Ponsonby, hon. G.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Popham, sir H.||Temple, earl|
|Porchester, ld. (Teller)||Templetown, visc.|
|Power, R.||Thompson, T.|
|Prittie, hon. F. A.||Thornton, H.|
|Pym, F.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Quin, hon. W.||Townsend, ld.|
|Robinson, hon. F.||Turton, sir T.|
|Romilly, sir S.||Vernon, G.|
|Saville, A.||Walpole, hon. G.|
|Scudamore, R.||Walpole, ld.|
|Sebright, sir J.||Ward, hon. J. W.|
|Sharp, R.||Wardle, Col.|
|Shaw, sir J.||Warrender, sir G.|
|Shelley, T.||Western, C. C.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Wharton, J.|
|Shipley, W.||Whitbread, S.|
|Smith, G.||Wilberforce, W.|
|Smith, J.||Williams, sir R.|
|Smith, S.||Williams, O.|
|Smith, W.||Windham, rt hon. W.|
|Somerville, sir M.||Winnington, sir E.|
|Stanley, ld.||Wood, T.|
|Staniforth, J.||Wynn, C. W.|
|Talbot, R. W.|
|List of the Minority.|
|Adams, W.||Dufferin, ld.|
|Arbuthnot, rt. hon. W.||Dugdale, D. S.|
|Bagwell, rt. hon. W.||Duigenan, rt. hon. P.|
|Baker, P. W.||Ellis, C. R.|
|Barry, J. M.||Everett, T.|
|Beaumont, col.||Farmer, W. M.|
|Benyon, R.||Farquhar, J.|
|Beresford, J. C.||Fellowes, W. H.|
|Beresford, lord G.||Finch, hon. E.|
|Beresford, P.||Fitzgerald, A.|
|Bickerton, sir R,||Fitzharris, visc.|
|Binning, ld.||Fitzhugh, W.|
|Bourne, S.||Foster, rt. hon. J.|
|Bowyer, T.||Foster, hon. T.|
|Boyle, D.||Foster, J. L.|
|Broderick, hon. W.||Foulkes, E.|
|Brooke, ld.||Gibbs, sir V.|
|Browne, rt. hon. D.||Gipps, G.|
|Browne, J. H.||Glasford, H.|
|Buller, J.||Gooch, T. S.|
|Burton, F.||Gordon, J.|
|Calvert, J.||Gower, ld. G. L.|
|Campbell, A.||Graham, sir J.|
|Canning, rt. hon. G.||Grant, F. W.|
|Canning, G.||Grant, sir W.|
|Chaplin, C.||Guernsey, ld.|
|Chute, W.||Hall, B.|
|Clements, hon. J.||Hamilton, H.|
|Clinton, H.||Harbord, hon. J. W.|
|Clive, visc.||Harvey, E.|
|Clive, W.||Henniker, lord|
|Clive, H.||Hill, sir G.|
|Clonmel, earl||Hinchinbrooke, visc.|
|Cockrel, sir Ch.||Holmes, W.|
|Colquhoun, A.||Hope, hon. A.|
|Cooper, hon. A.||Houston, A.|
|Cotterell, sir J.||Howard, hon. T. G.|
|Croker, J. W. (Teller)||Hughan, T.|
|Curzon, hon. R.||Hume, sir A.|
|Daly, J.||Jenkinson, hon. C.|
|Davies, R. H.||Joddrell, H.|
|Dawkins, J.||Jones, G.|
|Desbrowe, E.||Irvine, J.|
|Duckett, G.||Kenrick, W.|
|Kingston, J.||Pcndergrast, M. G.|
|Lascelles, hon. E.||Pulteney, sir J.|
|Lascelles, hon. H.||Richardson, W.|
|Lesley, C. P.||Robinson, J.|
|Leicester, Hugh||Rochfort, G.|
|Lockhart, sir A.||Rose, rt. hon. G.|
|Lockart, W. E.||Rose, G. H.|
|Loftus, gen.||Russel, M.|
|Long, rt. hon. C.||Scott, rt. hon. sir W.|
|Lonvaine, lord||Scott, C.|
|Lowther, James||Sheldon. R.|
|Lowther, J.||Simeon, R.|
|Lushington, S. R.||Sinclair, sir J.|
|Luttrell, J.F.||Singleton, M.|
|Macleod, R. B.||Smith, H.|
|Magens, M. T.||Smith, T. A.|
|Mahon, hon. S.||Sneyd, N.|
|Maitland, J.||Somerset, ld. A.|
|Manners, lord C.||Somerset, ld. Ch.|
|Manners, lord R.||Stanhope, W. S.|
|Marriott, J.||Stephen, J.|
|Maxwell, W.||Steward, G.|
|Mellish, W.||Stirling, sir W.|
|Montague, M.||Strahan, A.|
|Montgomery, sir H.||Strutt, J. H.|
|Montgomery, sir J.||Sumner. G. H.|
|Moore, lord H.||Swann, H.|
|Morris, R.||Sykes, sir M.|
|Muncaster, ld.||Taylor, W.|
|Murray, ld. J.||Thompson, sir T.|
|Murray, sir P.||Thornton, S.|
|Murray, John||Thynne, ld. G.|
|Needham, hon. F.||Thynne, ld. J.|
|Nepean, sir E.||Townshend, hon. W.|
|Neville, R.||Townshend, hon. F.|
|Nicholl, sir J.||Tremayne, J. H.|
|Norton, hon. J. C.||Vander Heyden—|
|O'Neal, hon. J.||Vyse, R. W. H.|
|Ord, sir J.||Wallace, rt. hon.—|
|Pakenham, hon. H.||Ward, R.|
|Pattison, J.||Wedderburn, sir D.|
|Peele, R.||Wemys, W.|
|Perceval, rt. hon. S.||Wharton, R.|
|Phipps, hon. E.||Williams, R.|
|Pitt, W. M.||Wilson, G.|
|Piomer, sir T.||Wood, sir M.|
|Pochin, C.||Wyndham, Ch.|
|Pocock, G.||Yorke, rt. hon. C.|
|Portman, E. B.|