HC Deb 26 April 1811 vol 19 cc769-76
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

, in pursuance of his previous notice, rose, and addressed the Speaker to the following effect: Mr. Speaker; It is the misfortune of a person holding the official situation which I have now the honour to fill, not unfrequently to find himself under the necessity of submitting to the consideration of this House, various measures which it is as unpleasant for him to propose, as it is for the House to adopt. In a state of war such propositions are multiplied in proportion to the duration and extent of the contest, and to the burthens which it becomes necessary in consequence of its continuance to impose on the country. But the same state of war is not unfrequently also productive of propositions of a very different nature, of propositions the most pleasing that any man can be called upon to make to such an assembly. It is in the situation, Sir, to which I have last alluded, that I now conceive myself to stand. When an opportunity occurs to recommend to the approbation and gratitude of parliament the distinguished exertions of our naval or military forces, to point out brilliant instances of individual or collective merit, and to dwell with equal pride and exultation on the advantageous results which may fairly be expected from such gallant achievements, all are prepared to sympathize with the individual on whom the delightful task devolves, and to share with him in the general feeling of gratification.

Sir, the case to which it is now my duty to call the attention of the House in bringing forward the motion of which I have in a former night given notice, is one which furnishes as many circumstances of pleasing and animating contemplation, as can well be conceived to be united in a single instance. I am not aware that the merits of any previous campaign recorded in the page of history, can be said to have exceeded the merits of the late compaign in Portugal. Whether we contemplate the wisdom with which the plan of that campaign was conceived, the success which has attended its execution, the glorious prospect which the result opens to the world, or above all, the; little loss which remains to be set against so great a gain, I believe that there' has scarcely ever occurred an event which; warranted such unqualified applause, or excited such just and well founded exultation. I am induced to particularize the comparatively small loss with which this great gain has been accomplished; be- cause I am persuaded we all feel that there have been many occasions—occasions on which the approbation of parliament has been justly bestowed—in, which the splendour of victory has been darkened by the melancholy resulting from the contemplation of attending sacrifices and afflicting losses. In the recent instances at Talavera and Barrosa, glorious as were those battles, the mind was compelled to dwell with pain on the number of valuable lives by which the glory redounding from them was purchased. This is a sentiment, Sir, which does not in the least abate our sense of the merit of those gallant achievements, although it prevents us from considering them as happily as we can the instance before us, with a feeling of unmingled and un-assayed satisfaction. I will call to the recollection of the House one of the most distinguished victories on our naval annals, the battle of Trafalgar.—I will appeal to gentlemen, if they do not well remember, that, on the receipt of the intelligence of that most glorious victory, there was not a suspension in the public mind whether to consider it as an event of joy or of grief—a doubt whether the extraordinary advantages which the country derived from the occurrence were not counterbalanced by the loss of Nelson and the brave men who fell with him! I am satisfied, that if the question had been put to the nation, whether they would agree to efface that day from our history, on the condition of recovering those to whom the glory of it was attributable, many voices would have declared for relinquishing the victory, if by so doing the victors could be redeemed. I do not mean to contend that such a sentiment is politically correct, however it may be honourable to those who entertain it. All I contend is, that such a sentiment does exist, and that it will continue to exist; and I will add that it is a sentiment so connected with the best feelings of our nature, that I should hesitate long before I ventured decidedly to condemn it. Little of this sentiment, however, can mingle with our feelings on the present occasion, free as it almost entirely is from every circumstance which could damp our joy or restrain our gratulation.

I trust, Sir, the House will do me the justice to belive ethat it is not my intention to attempt to enter into any detailed statement of the campaign; but I conceive that it is due to my lord Wellington distinctly to recollect, that while we attribute to his skill, activity, and unexampled exertion, the extent of the success which we have gained, we must do justice to the caution, moderation, forbearance, regard for the lives of his soldiers—and above all, to that enlightened foresight by which, at the commencement of the campaign, he anticipated its close. I say, Sir, we must to all these great qualities ascribe the comparatively small loss by which that success has been purchased, I repeat that it is not my intention to enter into a detail of the campaign. Such a task is perfectly out of the reach of my powers, and indeed of the powers of any one at present. It must be left to the future historian, by whom alone can that full justice be done to lord Wellington which his merits demand. At the same time the objects which lord Wellington had it in view to accomplish, and the means confided to him for the accomplishment of those objects, it may very naturally be expected I should briefly describe to the House, in order to enable them in some degree, however imperfectly, to appreciate the importance and the value of recent events. It is not for us now to consider the wisdom of defending the Peninsula in one way or in another. We are not to inquire whether it was expedient that we should apply our military force for that purpose, in the aggregate, rather than in separate bodies—or whether it was wise to chuse Portugal as the spot on which to contend with France. All these considerations are unconnected with the present question. The defence of Portugal having been confided to lord Wellington, his merits must be estimated by the way in which he has executed the trust reposed in him, and can depend in no degree upon the expediency or inexpediency of the original plans at home. From this observation, however, I must make a simple exception, namely, that I have a right to call on those who formerly declared that the measures of government in this respect were most unwise and against all rational calculations of a successful result, most readily and warmly to applaud my lord Wellington for having overcome difficulties which they proclaimed to be insuperable.

Sir; it was well known to lord Wellington, when he took the command of the army in Portugal, that it was the object and the wish of the government in this country that he should consider the immediate liberation and eventual defence of Portugal as the great and primary object of his attention. He knew that for that purpose there was confided to him a large portion of the military force of this country—a portion, indeed, too large to be lightly hazarded. He knew, also, that as additional means of effecting his object he had the population of Portugal, which, however, it was necessary to organize, train and discipline, before it could be available in a common effort. Lord Wellington had therefore maturely and deliberately considered the best mode by which Portugal could be defended. I think it right, Sir, to state, that it never entered into his contemplation to imagine that if Portugal were attacked by a large and imposing force, he should be able to effect any thing like a complete defence of that country on the frontier: but that he always contended, as he always thought, that in such a case Portugal must be defended, where it actually was defended, in the lines and fastnesses of Lisbon. I may be asked, however, why then all the trouble and expence of carrying the British army to the frontier? The reason is obvious. To gain time for disciplining the Portuguese army—to gain time for the purpose of obtaining reinforcements from this country, and from other parts of the world. Lord Wellington had also in this view the importance by delay, of increasing the difficulties under which the enemy most labour in maintaining a great number of troops in the seat of war. By waiting on the frontier, he secured the certainty that no attack could be made on Portugal, but by an army so numerous, as, on that account, speedily and sensibly to operate on its own resources; and such was the event. While, however, lord Wellington was defending Portugal on the banks of the Coa, he was fortifying Lisbon on the banks of the Tagus. While keeping the enemy off the frontiers, he was strengthening the heart of Portugal. At length, finding it necessary to retire, he did retire to Lisbon. I say this, Sir, to obviate a most unfair criticism which has been made on the campaign, namely, that the result was accidental that although it was a subject of congratulation, it was an occurrence which could never have been reasonably expected.

Now, Sir, nothing can be more unjust. If there be any thing certain in the whole history of the campaign, it is that my, lord Wellington distinctly calculated on the difficulty which the French would feel in maintaining there large army before Lisbon for such a length of time a would enable them to force his works their. Whatever may be said of other military opinions, that of lord Wellington has been completely justified by the event. I will read to the House extracts from two dispatches written by lord Wellington, after he retired from the frontiers, in order that they may judge of the accuracy of my statement:—In the first dispatch, dated Cartaxo, Dec. 1, his lordship says," I do not propose making any movement by which I may incur the risk of bringing on an action on less advantageous ground than that which I at present possess.—The enemy can be relieved from their difficulties only by the occurrence of some misfortune to the allied army, and I should therefore facilitate their object, were I, instead of remaining on the ground which I have selected, to move to that which has been selected by them." The other dispatch is dated Dec. 29. After describing the relative situation of the armies, lord Wellington goes on to observe," Under these circumstances, having such an enemy to contend with, knowing that there is no army; in Portugal capable of contending with that enemy but my own, and feeling that even success in an attack, if accompanied with great loss, would occasion the ruin of the cause of the allies, I shall presevere in the system which I have hither to pursued, and which I hope will end in the defeat of the enemy's object. Part of Portugal will unquestionably suffer: but much as this is to be lamented, it is better that a part should suffer than that all should be lost. On the whole, I entertain no doubt of the final success of the measures I am carrying on; and I' am" certain that they are the only means' which can be entirely successful."—(Hear, hear, hear!)

Such, Sir, were the sentiments at that period, entertained by lord Wellington as to the existing circumstances and, anticipated issue of the campaign. When, therefore, Sir, it is said, "that we ought to bless our stars and hold our tongue, I cannot follow the advice. I thank my God, but I cannot hold my tongue. I must proclaim to this House, to the country, and to the world, the merits of that illustrious man who has been the, instrument under Providence of effecting this great good.—I abstain from dwelling particularly on the succession of gallant actions, which have been fought by our brave troops, from the battle of Barrosa to the last brilliant achievement on the banks of the Coa, by colonel Beckwith, lest, in my attempt at enumerating those which ought to be distinguished (fought as they have been, day after day), I should omit many justly intitled to applause. But I must beg the indulgence of a few minutes, for the purpose of adverting to the actual advantages which we may consider as derived from the campaign in Portugal. I shall consider those advantages as they affect our allies, ourselves, the enemy, and the rest of the world.

And first, with respect to our allies, there can be no doubt that the direct effect of the campaign, in having employed so large a force originally intended for their subjugation, has been materially beneficial. It has, at least, given them an additional year in which to struggle for their independence, and it has afforded them an example of what they may effect by a strict attention to discipline. The advantages derived to ourselves by the result of the campaign are by no means inconsiderable. This country, Sir, may be considered as divided into two opinions with respect to its own power and prosperity. Those who have thought that Great Britain never stood higher in those points, are gratified at seeing their opinion confirmed. Those, on the contrary, who have entertained the desponding idea that the sun of British glory was for ever set, must now congratulate themselves and the country on the proof that our military character never stood so high as at the present moment. To them the recent occurrences must be infinitely more gratifying than to us, who were more sanguine on the subject. No longer can any fears remain, that should the French seek our shores, we should not be able to meet them. We have a British army, composed of a general who has out-generalled theirs, and troops by whom their troops have been subdued.

As to the effect of this campaign on the enemy, what his feelings must be, after all his boasts and threats against the British army, may be easily conceived. What the effects may be internally on France, I will not pretend to predict. How far their discomfiture in Portugal may put an end to the delusion, that extent of dominion is extent of strength—how far it may open the eyes of the French to the intolerable and disgraceful tyranny by which they are at present oppressed, future events will disclose. With regard to the rest of the world—to Europe it will be an useful lesson, pointing out the only road to security. I avoid saying any thing on the probable effect which our success may have in another part of the world, but I cannot close my mind to the expectation of an impression being made by it in the highest degree favourable to the interests of this country. Sir, it was impossible to suppose that it could be the divine intention of Providence long to permit the continuance of that system of oppression and usurpation under which Europe has so long groaned. It may, perhaps, not be presumptuous in us to hope that we may be the instruments of delivering the world from its thraldom. It is not impossible in the dispensations of Providence, but that in that very peninsula in which the tyranny of France has been so cruelly manifested, she may receive her death-wound if not her grave.—But to revert to that which is our present business, namely, to give our thanks and applause to those who have put us in such a situation to talk this language. All we can do on this occasion is only the commencement of my lord Wellington's glory. For, as long as a vestige of the present eventful times remain on record—as long as it shall be congenial to the heart of man to be gratified with military glory acquired not in ex tending the ambitious projects of a tyrant but in resisting tyranny and defending the oppressed—as long as execration shall follow the contemplation of violence and injustice—as long as praise shall be deemed due to the most zealous and patriotic exertions in a righteous cause—so long shall The character of lord Wellington be venerated by posterity, and be embalmed in The memory and gratitude of mankind. I move, Sir," That the Thanks of this, House be given to lieutenant-general lord viscount Wellington, for the consummate ability, fortitude, and perseverance, displayed by him in the command of the British and Portuguese forces, by which The kingdom of Portugal has been successfully defended, and the most signal and important services rendered to his King and country."

Mr. Canning and lord Milton rose together, but Mr. Canning having first caught the Speaker's eye lord milton gave way.

Mr. Canning

then said, that, in rising to second the motion of his right hon. friend, he felt some difficulty in deciding whether he should content himself with merely seconding the motion, leaving to the House the impression which the speech of his right hon. friend had made, and which indeed the contemplation of the question was calculated to produce, or preface the declaration of such intention by the expression of his sentiment upon the subject to which the motion referred. In the situation in which he was placed, he felt it equally difficult to decide whether to speak, or to be silent. To speak, because he could but imperfectly echo the sentiments which the House had just heard, and in which all must concur; to be silent, because strongly as he felt those sentiments in his own breast it was almost impossible to repress the declaration of them. There was one consideration independent of general impulse, which, however, induced him to trouble the House. This was the advantage alluded to in the latter part of his right hon. friend's speech, which this country must derive from a just contemplation of its situation, as well as of the means by which it had been brought into that situation, and of the benefits that were likely to result from it. One of the main consequences of that situation was, that, in deciding upon the question then under their consideration, they were relieved from all the difficulties which usually attended such votes. Engaged as the country was in a contest of such' magnitude and extent, it seldom happened that unanimity was to be expected—that the merits of the service to be remunerated appeared to all persons in the same light—or that it was felt unnecessary, more or less, to compare the means with the end—the exertion with the effect. Whenever upon any occasion a failure unfortunately took place, every particular was uniformly inquired into, every action examined, every measure weighed, every probability canvassed, and the absolute necessity of failure finally and clearly demonstrated. All this usually took place after the result was known, and when the test of experience removed every difficulty of judgment, and the event itself furnished, the means of an unerring decision upon the measures which may have been resorted to. Whenever, on the contrary, success was brought-under the consideration, of parliament, the debate was gent-rally ushered in by deprecating, all discus-ions of the events or measures which may have preceded the particular service to which the attention of parliament may be called, and by insulating the object, to which the Vote of Thanks called for applied; whilst those even who acquiesced in the vote, felt it necessary to keep out of sight every thing which might have preceded the particular service. This was quite a natural practice. There were many actions which, whatever may have been the character of the system of measures that led to them, could best be made a subject of discussion upon the splendour of their own intrinsic merits.

But was the question then under consideration the case of insulated action in a series of operations, or even of a single campaign of a war brilliantly terminated! Notwithstanding all that his right hon. friend had said, of forbearance as to the introduction of other topics into the discussion, he must be permitted to say, that this was not the case of a single signal action, or of an isolated or occasional acquisition of glory: it was, he should contend, the fruit of two years exertion—of the application, during that period, of an understanding of the first order, combined with military talents scarcely ever equalled in history, to a state of difficulty unparalleled, and crowned with exemplary success. He considered this state of things, therefore, which they were about to honour with their thanks, not as the consequence of one campaign, but as the result of the labour of two years. He looked upon lord Wellington, in the accomplishment of the success he had achieved, as the instrument in the hands of Providence for the deliverance of Portugal. But when contemplating the merits of lord Wellington's services in Portugal, he could not look to the evacuation of that country by the French as a military act, without reference to the means by which that desirable event had been effected; and while the end was so well deserving of the applause of that House, and the approbation of the country, he must contend, that the means employed for bringing it about were no less entitled to credit and commemoration.

His right hon. friend had adverted to the effect which this state of affairs would have upon ourselves, upon our allies, upon our enemies, and upon the rest of Europe; and with his right hon. friend, he was ready to concur that the effect must be considerable with respect to all. To look, first, to the effect it would have upon ourselves, he would ask, whether, when two years ago we had taken the resolution to make our stand in Portugal, when we determined to make that country the theatre of our struggle with France—the question was not considered doubtful, how far we might be able to maintain the contest? Whether those, even, who thought success attainable, did not feel that it was still a question of doubt? But, when the determination was formed, those who looked to the contest with confidence, took the most effectual means of realizing their sanguine hopes, by the selection of a man to conduct the operations, whose natural genius and military experience insured the accomplishment of all that was attainable by human sagacity—who, wisely calculating his means, and deliberately comparing them with the end he was to accomplish, would take every necessary measure to insure it.

How could the House sufficiently appreciate his merits, when they followed him from the fatigues of the day to repose in his lent; and contemplated his feeling whilst looking for consolation from home under his laborious duties—when instead of consolation, he found accusation—instead of encouragement, misrepresentation and obloquy—when he found all his dangers magnified, and all the means of the enemy uniformly exaggerated—when every one of his measures was traced to temerity or compulsion, and all the movements of the enemy to wisdom and military skill? When they took all this into their consideration, it was impossible not to conceive what his feelings must necessarily have been, and not to ascribe his steady and unaltered perseverance in the plan he had previously laid to its final and glorious accomplishment, to real magnanimity and true valour. Whilst exposed to such misrepresentations, he never deigned to notice any of the unfounded statements he saw published upon the Subject: he determined not to reply to them in words, but to let the result put the calumnies and calumniators to shame. During this time he saw all his plans ripening into maturity; and steadily prosecuting his purpose, he forbore, throughout the whole of his correspondence, from introducing one word expressive of discontent. If there was any thing which could not be contemplated without admiration, it was the case of a man exposed to such misrepresentation, and yet disdaining to indulge in any expressions of his feelings; deliberately and successively charged with the two most opposite feelings of a general temerity and procrastination, and yet calmly and steadily, pursuing that wise and salutary course which had brought his country to that happy state, when parliament could look back without regret or look forward with hope, and when consequently gentlemen were at length enabled to discuss the question with very considerable advantages.

His right hon. friend had in his mind very justly adverted to opinions, which had divided, and fairly divided, the country, as to whether the strength and resources of this country, were equal to maintain the contest in the Peninsula against France—whether we could bring our military means, with any prospect of success, into competition with those of the enemy—whether our strength was not necessarily confined to one element—in short whether some eternal fate by some fixed and irrevocable decree had not separated the trident from the sword? He did not think with those who inclined to distrust the military means of this country; but rather leaned to those who thought that this country should either become a great military power, or a vassal of France. She had then become at length a great military power, not against the hopes certainly, but against the fears of those, who had doubted of her sufficiency. Others were of opinion, that we ought not to engage as principals in a war on the continent, but the vote of that day would, be trusted, bring that question home to the House: a question from which they could not escape. With all the right, which we had, to demand the confidence of Portugal, to require her co-operation, and to control her military resources, would it have been proper in us to incite Portugal to war, and to decline sharing in its difficulties or dangers? Those who thought that we should not act as principals, were as it appeared of opinion that our assistance should have been given by desultory expeditions; by supplies of arms, provisions, and ammunition. But expeditions for making descents included re-embarkations; and thus, as often as our expeditions re-embarked, we should leave as many victims behind as we should induce to co-operate with us; and should expose to destruction all those whom we should drive to an unavailing resistance to that overwhelming power which we should not think we could ourselves meet in safety. Could any man think that we ought to desert those who implored our protection, who might be stretching forth their arms to grasp our swords, and anxious to place themselves under the shelter of our power?

But this country had acted upon no such opinion; we became principals in the War, and what had been the result? We carried on our war in Portugal, we had brought our army to a state of efficiency competent to meet the enemy if he should invade us, and enabling us to daunt him to the attempt: this alone was sufficient to entitle lord Wellington to the thanks of the House and of the country. As to the effect the result of the campaign would have upon our present or any future allies, he could not suppose it inconsiderable. His right hon. friend had adverted to the effect it might have upon the other nations of Europe: he hoped, that any such effect would not operate too Soon, and that we should still be left to contend with the French—the world the prize, and the witness of our exertions. He trusted that no attempt would be made to urge any part of Europe to a premature effort, such as had too often been the case; and he would own, he had not heard with unmixed satisfaction the rumours respecting probable convulsions on the continent which were afloat, but which be hoped were not authorised. If any resistance were to be given to France, he wished it to be upon a conviction that the nations rose in their own cause—because their oppression was intolerable—because they preferred the risk of annihilation to the certainty and severity of subjection. He feared another Wagram or Auerstadt; and, in his' opinion, too sudden a rising would be easily put down, and only tend ultimately to Confirm the subjugation of the continent. He wished the nations of Europe to abstain from resistance till France should be more humbled, and their own sufferings should urge them to a last great desperate effort. With respect to the other part of the Peninsula, he hoped the result would be, that it would place itself under the same guidance; but that nothing ought to be said, either here or in Spain, to precipitate the measure. Lord Wellington he was sure, by the Same Wise, temperate, sage, and conciliating counsels, would achieve the same successes; whenever he should carry the arms or the glories of his country. Having two years ago taken upon himself the respon- sibility for the rashness or the wisdom of the measures which led to this deliverance of Portugal, he should not now do his duty, if he had omitted to express his approbation of the manner in which they had been followed up; if he had not paid the tribute of his applause to those who had persevered in that system. This tribute was not extorted from him by success; he had stated the same opinions whilst the issue was yet doubtful, and no failure could have induced him to alter them. The right hon. gent. concluded by seconding the motion.

General Tarleton

observed, that a great part of the speech of the right hon. gent, who had just sat down, would apply to the question upon the army extraordinaries, which was to come on after this discussion, but did not apply to the question then before the House. With respect to the motion of the right hon. gent., no man in the army, or in England he should say, could rejoice more heartily than he did, in the success of his Majesty's arms. He concurred most cordially in this vote of thanks. He had on a former occasion opposed a vote of thanks for the battle of Talavera; but to this vote he should give his entire assent. He was not surprised at any thing that could be achieved by English courage, Irish spirit, and Scotch intrepidity. An army composed of such materials must be irresistible. He could have wished that this vote of thanks had been reserved till after the fall of Almeida; but that should not make him object to the vote. Still he entertained the opinions he formerly expressed, and considered the system as not judicious. If Buonaparté should not make some great efforts to retrieve his losses, his imperial throne would be shaken; his iron crown would, with its weight, gall his own head, and the king of. Italy be an outcast from his cradle. But the affairs of the war were not yet finished. He trusted that lord Wellington Would he successful in making the Peninsula rally round him, and Europe make an effort for her deliverance. No honours that the crown could bestow would be too great for him.

General Ferguson

observed, there appeared but one sentiment in the House, with respect to the merits of lord Wellington and his gallant army. He could not for a moment think that any praise of his would add to the fame of that noble lord Of Lord Wellington, he had never Had but: one opinion, and the consequence was, though his brilliant actions gave pleasure, they were not with him a matter of surprise. With such feelings, he could only say, that he most heartily concurred in the motion.

Lord G. Grenville

said that he should have regretted the subject of this night's discussion having gone to a vote without his having had an opportunity of declaring how heartily he concurred both in the vote of thanks proposed from the other side of the House, and in every expression of admiration for the conduct of lord Wellington and the army under his command, which had characterised the speeches of the gentlemen who had preceded him. It was not, he trusted, alone from the individual attachment he bore to the character of the gallant and distinguished officer in question that he was anxious to give the motion his warm support, but from a general conviction that the vote of the House, as now proposed to pass, is the reward of all others the fittest perhaps to be paid to an officer, placed in such a situation as that noble lord, with a mind and feelings calculated like his to appreciate its value, and for services which like his had so splendidly warranted its application. It was from a conviction, that by withholding from officers who had deserved well of the State, so proud a testimony of praise and gratitude, they were depriving them of the purest incentive to ambition, the most honourable meed of merit, the applause of their country! It is, said the noble lord, with pleasure that I turn to the contemplation of lord Wellington's claims upon the gratitude of this House: and to discover the validity of those claims, we need, I think, only look to the state of the. Peninsula, at the opening of the Portuguese campaign of 1810, and compare it with its state at this moment, at what I trust we may date the conclusion of that campaign. Let us look to that campaign itself, lord Wellington's claims are to be traced through every movement of the allied army; let us look to the present moment, his eulogy is pronounced in its event. In the beginning of last year, we find lord Wellington holding the frontier line of Portugal, with his advance upon the Agueda, with a British army from many circumstances weakened in numbers and in health, and with a considerable part of his operations depending on the exertions of a Portuguese force, of which he then knew nothing, but their want of discipline, of which he complains in his dispatches of that date. Opposed with such a force, to an enemy high in spirits and superior in numbers, do we find him left to those resources which an ardent mind, an unconquerable firmness, and a versatility of genius peculiar to himself could alone supply. He was left, too, entrusted with the defence of an extensive country, whose fidelity towards us was then very doubtful, and to whose fate the enemy had in a most unqualified manner pledged himself. And how have the objects and hopes of the enemy been realized? For from their lips lord Wellington's praises are best told. It is not, added the noble lord, my intention, by any attempt at a review of the late campaign, to weaken what has been so ably stated and commented upon on the other side of the House. Passing over, therefore, the whole of his retreat through a difficult country, and before a superior force, I turn with pleasure to a characteristic part of lord Wellington's policy as exemplified in the whole of his conduct subsequent to the sitting down of the French before his lines protecting Lisbon. I mean that system which enabled him to abstain from offensive operations, from the period of the appearance of the French before the lines, to the moment of their breaking up from Santarem. A system also peculiarly difficult and trying to the actively enthusiastic mind we know that gallant officer to possess. And what is the effect of that policy? The French army, broken in spirit and in resources, wasted by its own exertions, and unable to maintain the con-test itself had begun; abandoning its, high blown hopes of the possession and plunder of Lisbon, its boastful pledge, that, the English should be driven, at the point of the bayonet, into the waves of the Tagus. But it is not to lord Wellington, as the asserter of the character so often before asserted, of the British soldier, it is not to lord Wellington as the man who has saved Portugal and has put to flight her invaders, alone that our thanks are due on other, and perhaps, higher grounds, he is entitled to the gratitude of this House, of his country, and of Europe. Taught to look to the co-operation of a large national Portuguese force, as the only means by which the extensive scale of warfare on which he was entering, could be successfully maintained, lord Wellington found himself obliged instantly to organize an army. I believe I shall to be con- tradicted, if I say of the worst materials that could be selected of a peasantry, debased by long subjection to a weak and tyrannical government, and weighed down by constitutional indolence; of an aristocracy long deservedly become the jest and bye-word of all Europe. And how were these materials applied? On this perhaps no comment may be necessary when we see these very men not two years after opposed, and successfully opposed, to that force before which the well disciplined troops of Austria, of Russia, and of Prussia had been humbled to the dust.

Nor should we look to the general conduct of the last year's campaign, without observing that by the exertions of lord Wellington a point d'appui was afforded to the gallant but harrassed Spanish army at that time on the Guadiana. And would that it were still in our power to look to the operations of that force as conducted by the gallantry, as animated by the example, as connected with the name, of that deserving and lamented officer under whose command it was then found—I mean the Marquis de la Romana. That great man, however, is now no more! He closed his career in the active and virtuous discharge of those duties towards Spain, to which, as a politician and soldier, and as a patriot, the best exertions of his valuable life had been dedicated. And the affections and interests of that country, Whose arms he had rescued abroad from prostitution to a foreign power, to whose public welfare he had sacrificed at home his private fortunes, and in whose service he has died; the affections and interests of that country, of the peninsula, and of Europe, join in mourning over his grave.—And how, 'Sir, allow me for a moment to consider another point, and, leaving the peninsula, to look to our own domestic security as promoted by the conduct of the late campaign under' lord Wellington. It is well known that from the prevailing winds along the coasts of Gallicia and of Biscay, and in that part of the Atlantic, the ports of Lisbon, Oporto, Corunna, and Cadiz, become very much objects of attention, from being capable of furnishing at any moment means of attack upon, perhaps, our most vital and vulnerable point, Ireland. The force Which might, and in all probability would, have been employed for that purpose in the course of last year, has been amply employed by lord Wellington, and the ports themselves rendered inapplicable to the purpose.—Upon all these grounds then, upon the advantages we have reaped from, and the gratitude we one to lord Wellington for the conduct of the last campaign, let not, I conjure the House, its thanks be bestowed with a reluctant and niggardly consent. Let them be, as they should be, unanimous. Let it not be imputable to us, that, when the tongne of Buonaparte himself is stripped of half its rancour, and when he even bears his un-willing testimony to lord Wellington's military fame, that his country, that the British House of Commons is the last organ to pronounce his praise. Let him not on his return to his native country; after the malignancy of those who ate continually his enemies, because the enemies of his country, is silenced; let him not find his fair fame tarnished by a contested and half-willing Vote of Thanks.

Mr. Ponsonby

observed, that in the vote proposed he most cordially concurred. He thought that lord Wellington deserved the thanks of that House, and of the nation. He was of opinion that the campaign was judiciously planned, and ably executed; and that the result had not tended more to exalt the glory, than to insure the safety of the country.

The question was then put, and carried nem. con. It was then resolved, nem. con. "That this House doth highly approve of and acknowledge, the eminent and meritorious services uniformly performed by the general officers, officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the British army, under the command of lieutenant-general lord viscount Wellington, during the late arduous and memorable operations in Portugal, by which additional lustre has been reflected on the reputation of the British arms.

"That this House doth highly acknowledge the zeal, discipline, and intrepidity, so conspicuously displayed by the general officers, officers, non commissioned officers and soldiers of the Portuguese army under the immediate command of field marshal Sir William Beresford, which have essentially contributed to the successful result of the late military operations."

Ordered," That Mr. Speaker do communicate the said resolutions to lieut.-gen. lord viscount Wellington; and that lord viscount Wellington be desired; to signify the same to the British and Portuguese armies, and thank them for their exemplary and gallant behaviour."