rose, pursuant to the notice he had given on a former day, to call the attention of the House to the services rendered to their country by that gallant officer, general the marquis of Wellington, and the brave army under his command during the last campaign in Spain, and particularly to those by which they had signalised themselves in the glorious and ever-memorable battle of Salamanca. He was sure he should forget his duty to the House, the country, and to that illustrious officer and his army, if on this occasion he were to introduce into the discussion any matter that might cause a controversial feeling respecting the policy of the war in the peninsula, and more especially if he were to offer any thing respecting the conduct of his Majesty's ministers in connection with the subject of the motion he was about to submit to the House. Any charges that might be preferred against them for the mode in which that war had been conducted, they would be happy to meet on a future day. On this, they hoped it would not be necessary, as it was their wish to bring forward nothing that might divide the feelings of the House and the public, and abstract them from that subject, on which all delighted 151 to dwell with admiration and gratitude. At the same time, however, while he wished to guard against the introduction of any matter on which a difference of opinion might exist; he thought it would not be just to the army, and more particularly, he thought, it would not be just to the marquis of Wellington, if he were to confine himself to the feelings excited by that great transaction, considered as an insulated affair, brilliant as it was in itself, and great and glorious as it was,—and a more glorious action had never adorned the annals of this or any other great military power: for he was proud to say, this country had become a great military power, though formerly looked to principally as a naval one by the other nations of Europe. But still he contended, it would be to let down and to undervalue the victory of Salamanca, if it were to be brought before the House unconnected with other considerations, and not as it stood, connected on the grand scale of the military operations of which it formed so pre-eminent a part. This was not a victory which had been thrown in the way of lord Wellington, which he had been able to accomplish, and gloriously accomplish, on the instant; but it was a transaction which wound up a military object, the result of long preparation and of foresight, in which the application of just principles was so interwoven with various circumstances, that he should fail in his duty to the army, and to the marquis of Wellington, if he were not shortly and generally to describe the causes which had led to the Victory of Salamanca, and its consequent advantages. The House would recollect, that at the close of the former, and at the commencement of the present campaign, lord Wellington, after dispossessing Massena of Portugal, had made himself master of Almeida, but Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz were still in the hands of the enemy. Both armies had retired into winter quarters, and remained for some time in inactivity on account of the season; but such vigorous preparations for renewing hostilities were made by the marquis of Wellington so early as January, (a period at which, even in that clime, armies have seldom been occupied in preparing to take the field) that in that month he was enabled to lay siege to Ciudad Rodrigo. Nothing higher to the praise of the marquis of Wellington could be said, than that he had completed his preparations for this operation with such activity and secrecy, 152 that he was enabled to reduce this fortress (which was one of a most respectable decription) before marshal Marmont was able to call his troops from their winter cantonments, and advance further than Salamanca. Lord Wellington having got possession of Ciudad Rodrigo, meditated an advance on Badajoz, and his arrangements consequent on this design were made with so much expedition and secrecy, that marshal Marmont believed the English army to be still at Ciudad Rodrigo, when seven of eight divisions had arrived at Badajoz. He attacked this fortress, which was stronger and of more importance than that of Ciudad Rodrigo, early in the month of March, and carried on the works with such vigour and alacrity, that the French armies of the north and of Portugal, under Soult and Marmont, were unable to relieve it, and it was even confessed by Soult, an officer of great ability, in explaining to the war minister of France the causes of the loss of Badajoz—it was admitted in his dispatches to Berthier, which were intercepted, that lord Wellington had taken Badajoz in the face of two armies, each of which in strength was equal to his own. It was stated by Soult that the army under lord Wellington was not superior to that under his command, nor to that commanded by Marmont; but he stated the difficulty of assembling troops to be so great, and the rapidity of lord Wellington's movements to be so extraordinary (an admission most honourable to the gallant marquis, more particularly as it came from an enemy), his operations carried on with such celerity, the siege pressed with such vigour, and the assault made with such gallantry, as to exceed all his calculations: so that he had only reached Albuera with his army, on his way to relieve the fortress, when he received intelligence that it had fallen. These services then, it would be seen, lord Wellington had accomplished under circumstances of great difficulty. He had taken two important fortresses, in the presence of two armies, respectively equal in numbers to his own, and in such a way as to extort from the French commanders an acknowledgment, that all their preparations were rendered useless, and all their efforts foiled. Lord Wellington having done these services, which of themselves would have appeared most splendid in the career of an individual less illustrious than himself, and completed that task which had been the glorious object 153 of a former campaign, and expelled the enemy from the country of an ally always wound up in the interest and affections of England—Portugal. After this he had still a great object before him; it was for him to direct his force so as to effect what he might be capable of doing for the interest of Spain, with a view to repel the invading army. Lord Wellington had now to compare his army with that of the enemy, and to deliberate on what would be the probable result of the campaign. Though the army under him was certainly both respectable and important, yet when he compared it with the means of the enemy, a very grave prospect appeared before him, and he certainly could not flatter himself with a result like that which had crowned his measures. The French armies were so strong, though the successes of lord Wellington had caused their strength to be frequently under-rated in this country, and indeed by the world at large; that the gallant marquis did not expect to be enabled with his means to drive them out of Spain, (as many sanguine persons did), but he felt that he might force them to abandon the military hold they had at that time; that grasp of the country, on which alone the French must ground their hopes of ultimate success. These, unless they could now retain, he would venture to say they were farther off the consummation of their hopes, than at any period of the four years during which the war had been continued in the peninsula. He would repeat it, unless the moral subjugation of the people could be effected, which the military possession of the country could alone secure, the French were further from the end they had in view than at any period of the last four years. The noble lord did not look at that time to the complete expulsion of the enemy from Spain, and this he distinctly stated in his communications with his government; he (lord Castlereagh) did not speak of what he might have written to individuals; but to those under whom he served, the language of lord Wellington was this: "If I can reduce the two fortresses (Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz), and place Portugal under their protection, my next operation shall be directed to the south of Spain, to deprive the enemy of the resources they possess in Seville; or if I oblige them to collect an army to defend them, I shall then compel them to raise the siege of Cadiz. If from Badajoz I can advance 154 into Andalusia, this will be my object. "When lord Wellington had reduced Badajos, in consequence, certainly, of a circumstance for which he was not responsible, the delay on the part of the Spaniards to revictual Cindad Rodrigo, he was obliged to march to protect that fortress, and secure that interesting frontier of Portugal. The noble lord afterwards stated, that he did not altogether regret that circumstances had caused him to direct an operation in the north instead of the south, as he had intended; and he hoped, as he found himself at the head of an army to which he could look with confidence for success in an action with Marmont, he might in that quarter, more particularly if Castile were thrown open, be able to do that which would deliver Andalusia more completely than if, as he had first intended after the capture of Badajoz, he had advanced against the French in that province itself. The climate also he found more favourable to his soldiers, and he advanced with a perfect confidence in the moral qualities and physical force of his army. He (lord C.) begged the House to bear this in mind. Lord Wellington did make an irruption into Castile. He drove the French from Salamanca, and advanced upon the line of the Douro. Though at the commencement of these operations, his army was such that he could court a general action with Marmont, when he arrived upon the line of the Douro, this was no longer the case. The French, as was their practice, sacrificed all the hold they had of the country, by withdrawing their troops from the several fortresses they had previously occupied, to make head against lord Wellington. Before the battle of Salamanca, Marmont was reinforced from Leon and Estremadura, from the army of Caffarelli, and from the army of Madrid. From that moment lord Wellington said, "I am not prepared to risk a general battle, unless I find that upon military grounds I engage you with a prospect of success." This lord Wellington laid down as the principle on which he would act—a principle in every respect correct, and consistent with his genius. It was not for us to court general engagements in the abstract. The French might wish to do so; but lord Wellington felt, that while he remained in Spain with such an army, the country never could be conquered; and it was his object to make the French abandon all but the ground on which they 155 stood, till he found them in such a situation as would enable him to turn it to their discomfiture and defeat. Upon these principles he acted up to the battle of Salamanca, and when the French crossed the Douro, (an opportunity of which lord Wellington could not deprive them from being in possession of the fords and bridges, so that it was impossible for him, with an inferior army, to make the Douro a military position,) he then retreated; but his retreat was made on this principle—"If you give me an advantage, I will attack you, but otherwise I will not put to the risk of a single battle the cause of the peninsula, which may ultimately triumph without such a sacrifice." And what was the result of this determination? It led to that great action, which not only filled the nation with gratitude, but inspirited other countries to oppose the aggressions of France—an action, of which it was justly said, on a former evening, that, in the history of all the battles which the campaign in Spain, or in any other country, presented, there was none which could be less imputed to chance than the battle of Salamanca. It was not one, the armies engaged in which met but the hour before they engaged, and decided the struggle by force of arms unaided by policy; but it was a battle fought between two great armies (for they both were great) nearly equal in numbers, though a superiority was certainly on the side of the enemy, after looking at each other, and not only looking at each other, but watching, manœuvring in each others presence for an advantageous opportunity of attack, from the 16th of July to the 22d of that month, the day on which the glorious and ever-memorable battle of Salamanca was fought.—Without going into the detail, which he thought unnecessary, as every Englishman must be familiar with it, from having read the Gazette with the highest interest and delight over and over again; he would repeat that this was a victory achieved after manœuvres the most complicated, where two armies were long in sight of each other, each observing what the other did, and trying, by every effort of military skill, to take advantage of any errors that might occur. The greatness of his mind was the admiration of all Europe. In him was seen a general not tenacious of what might be said by his enemies, not putting to risk his army to maintain a particular position, but saying to himself and to his government, "I will 156 even do that which must at all times be painful to a commander, I will retreat before the enemy. I will even retreat to Ciudad Rodrigo, rather than give any advantage to the enemy; but if, in the course of my retreat, I can take any opportunity of attacking him with a prospect of success;—if his weakness, or my address, should enable me to take any advantage of him, without committing my own army, without committing my country, and above all without commuting that great interest entrusted to my care, then will I revenge the crimes by which France has disgraced herself; and attacking the enemy with that spirit and firmness which belongs to my nature, make him feel what my countrymen are capable of effecting in such a cause."—Such had been the object, and such was the language of our illustrious commander; and the proud and ever-memorable victory of Salamanca grew out of this resolution. He asked the House, whether he had not faithfully performed the promised object, by a battle, than which there was never one fought more nobly, or with more advantage to the common cause? Twenty thousand men had been put hors de combat; and the advantage would have been still greater, had not night, and the force of nature, interfered to prevent all those results which were aspired after. The loss of the French army in the fight, and through the consequences which naturally resulted from it, could not be estimated at less than the above number. He contended, that the plan of campaign, as originally conceived by lord Wellington, (which did not aspire to effect the total expulsion of the enemy, whose expulsion, on military principles, was not to be expected, even from a victory glorious as that of Salamanca) had been perfectly realized. The object of lord Wellington's operations in the north was to force the enemy to quit his hold of the country in the south, and to do that which the French officers were instructed by their government never to do, if it could by possibility be avoided, namely, to raise the siege of Cadiz. The French government was afraid of the moral effects of their raising the siege of Cadiz, and hence these orders; as they believed that while they appeared in strength before Cadiz, the world would give them credit for being strong in Spain. He put it to the House, then, if the operations of lord Wellington had not compelled the enemy to abandon the siege of Cadiz, 157 the whole of Andalusia, and left them without any force to the westward of Alicant. What was the situation of Spain at present? Lord Wellington had said, that but for one unfortunate circumstance the success of the campaign would have been certain. Success would have been certain, had not the French collected the whole of their disposable force, amounting to not less than 70 or 80,000 men, upon the Tormes, and compelled lord Wellington prudentially to make a retreat, a retreat which was more like the prelude to a victory than a proof of disaster. The enemy had only been enabled to compel him to retreat by an abdication of every military principle which had regulated their conduct before. If Madrid had been a position of military importance, which it was not, the case would have been materially different from what it at present appeared. Lord Wellington had not taken possession of it as a military position, nor had he advanced upon it for the vain glory of taking the enemy's capital, he did nothing for mere parade—he went there on this principle; he knew that unless by advancing he threw a large force on the flank of Soult, he could not make that general do what was really the object of his operations—raise the siege of Cadiz, while Andalusia and the southern provinces of Spain were delivered from the enemy. What, too, was the result of these operations? The French, in consequence, did abandon Cadiz; they had since abandoned Madrid, and thus had lost the moral conquest of Spain. They were obliged to evacuate the capital in their turns as well as us, and were now only in possession of the ground on which they stood, and as far as ever from effecting the military or moral subjugation of the country. And, he should be glad to know a position in which a French army could be placed, less useful to themselves or less prejudicial to the interests of Europe? But if they were to measure the influence of the victory of Salamanca only by what it had produced in Spain, he would say, their estimate of its value would be most unfair, most unwise, most untrue, in the circumstances in which Europe was at present placed. Did the House imagine that that spirit of resistance which grew out of that House, or rather out of that people they represented in that House, (for he should like to know what ministers could have retained their situations in this country, who at such a period had not obeyed the universal impulse 158 and turned their backs on the exertions of Spain) did they think that that spirit had nothing to do with that which had recently manifested itself in another part of the world? Even the retreat of lord Wellington to Torres Vedras had been of service to that power which now, awakened to a sense of its own strength, had resisted and chastised the power of France, and from which so much might be augured for Europe. But with Russia/the hopes excited by the Spanish resistance did not end: beginning at the extremity, it was to be hoped its influence would extend further into Europe—to those powers which now, indeed, appeared to form a part of the strength of France, but which, in fact, were only unnaturally connected with her, he meant the whole power of Germany. Such were the effects resulting from this battle; and which the House might justly trace to itself, as well as to its brave army, and its distinguished general. Did the House know that the character of the great battle of Borodino, for it was a great battle, was partly caused by lord Wellington; a battle greater than that of Eylau, greater than that of Aspern, and that in which the power of France had received one of the severest checks it had ever received. In that great battle, in which 70 or 80,000 men laid down their lives, it was consoling to know that prince Kutusoff had it in his power, on the morning of that day, to animate his troops by telling them of the glory gained by the English on the plains of Salamanca.—Did not the House feel that it must be most animating to the Russian army to know that the marquis of Wellington had at Salamanca completely routed the French army? To be told, that if they stood to the enemy like Englishmen, they would achieve as great a triumph, and as great a triumph they did achieve? For, though from various circumstances it was found impossible to follow up that victory, still it was a victory, than which a prouder triumph never was obtained by the forces of any country.—In that action, that distinguished general prince Bagration, whose loss we had since to deplore, with 30,000 men, repelled the whole military power of France directed to one point. But it was not at Borodino only that lord Wellington had served the cause of Russia by the influence of his actions, and where the moral effects of his victory were found—they pervaded the whole Russian empire. Russia had been assisted by his military 159 councils. The principle on which Russia had acted on the opening of the campaign was that which was recommended by the marquis of Wellington. He had said, if Russia adopted that system she was safe. It was on that principle that he had formerly defended Portugal; so that Russia might be supposed to have derived equal benefit from his councils and example. At the moment the French had taken Moscow, it was some consolation to our allies to know that lord Wellington, by pursuing a plan similar to that on which they were acting, hid taken Madrid; and what was more, that he had forced the enemy to give up that which, for more than two years, they bad anxiously carried on—the siege of Cadiz. It was immediately subsequent to their receiving intelligence of this, that Murat met with that defeat which sealed the necessity of Buonaparté's retreat from Moscow. The effects, then, of the battle of Salamanca were to be traced not only in Spain, but in Russia; and not only in Russia, but through all the world; its ramifications were felt to excite those who suffered under the tyrant of France to rise to resistance. There was yet one other extraordinary and most important result seen proceeding from the battle of Salamanca, in the conquest it gave lord Wellington over Spain herself; for he would put it to the House, with their knowledge of the pride of the Spaniards, their distinguished pride, their honourable pride, and, in many instances, their useful pride, for he did not know but that their pride opposed a more effectual bar to foreign conquest than almost any other nation could oppose to it—he put it, then, to the House, what must be the effect of lord Wellington's exploits on the Spanish mind, what the ascendancy of character which he had gained, when the united voice of the whole nation gave him the command of their whole military means. If a proof were wanting of the universality of this feeling in the Spanish people; if a proof were wanting that that honour was not conferred on him merely by the majority of the Spanish councils, the Cortes or the Regency, they could bring it to no better test, than was furnished by the conduct of that unfortunate officer general Ballasteros, to whose neglect and disobedience of the orders he received was in no small degree attributable the speedy advance of the enemy. What, however, was the result of this test? It appeared in his case, that 160 so far from finding any support in the population of the country, or in the army which he commanded, which was warmly attached to him, and which he had often led to victory, he found no one to stand by him. Even that particular division of his army, which had till then considered its fame as bound up in him, did not furnish a man to stand by him on the principles he avowed respecting the appointment of lord Wellington. He was made a prisoner by his own soldiers, and delivered up in obedience to the orders received from Cadiz. This was a conquest over national feeling most glorious to lord Wellington, and he trusted he would now induce the Spaniards to surrender all their prejudices. This was a triumph for the gallant marquis greater than had ever been obtained by any other man, and perhaps it was the proudest trophy of lord Wellington's greatness, that he had not merely defeated the French armies, but that he had conquered the moral feeling of Spain, however laudable and useful that feeling might be on other occasions. It must be admired for the sake of the common cause, that his conduct had occasioned the surrender of old national prejudices. The general conduct of Spain was a point on which some controversy might arise, and therefore it was one which he wished to reserve for another day. He hoped however the House would not feel disposed to decide at once against them. There might be much to regret, some things to complain of—not as to a disposition to cross our interests, but on account of their reluctance; to put it more early in our power to do them as much service as we might. Still, however, when it was recollected what was the situation in which that country had been placed, brought into an extraordinary and unparalleled conjuncture; betrayed by her own government, and surprised by an enemy, at a time when she was without an army, without magazines, without officers, or any thing on which to begin a determined resistance, collected against the breaking out of the war, as in Russia. Under all these difficulties, however, her spirit had so far borne her successfully through the contest; and taking the question, not as it stood between us and Spain, but as it stood between Spain and France, and seeing that the chances were more against the enemy now than at any period of the long contest in which she had 161 been engaged, he hoped the House would look at her difficulties as well as her defalcations. If she had not been able to equal our wishes, she had more than equalled our hopes. If she had not been able to bring large regular armies into the field, her irregular forces had risen in such strength, that at one time they actually so completely divided the French armies from each other, that each was ignorant of the way in which the other was occupied. Spain had laboured under greater difficulties than any other country, and had done more. With respect to the assistance given her by England, though he would hereafter challenge any man to show that ministers had withheld from her any assistance they had it in their power to give; he did not wish to bring this point into discussion. We had assisted her as promptly as we could, with all we could spare from ourselves, and when it was considered that this for a time was all the means of resistance she had to work upon; when, too, it was recollected, that all her resources from South America, which had always supported her, were cut off for a considerable period, the wonder was that she had done so much, rather than that she had done no more. All the claim that he meant to prefer this night was this, that the services of lord Wellington, and the battle of Salamanca, were not to be considered merely as important in themselves, but as productive of great military consequences in Spain, and great moral consequences throughout Europe. With respect to the original plan of the campaign, on the principles of which he acted, and still more with the aid of the original documents in the possession of government, he (lord Castlereagh) begged to say that lord Wellington had not only accomplished all he expected, but more than all he had hoped to perform, and retired to the frontier having raised the siege of Cadiz, freed Andalusia, triumphed over danger, and gained immortal glory. If they watched his advance and retreat, it would be found that no disasters had occurred to damp our satisfaction. Only observe the skilfulness with which our great commander executed that retreat. We heard of no rearguards surprised; no guns or stores taken by the enemy, except two or three in one place, which did not belong to his equipment, and which he could have carried off with little trouble, had they come within the scope of his main object so as to 162 induce him to encumber himself with them. He sustained no loss but what might be expected in the ordinary course of service. After having accomplished every military object which he had in view, he had retired with glory. His character never appeared more glorious. Our credit and our hopes were never higher in Spain than at the present time; and if we could not now drive the enemy over the Pyrenees, it was evident the enemy could not conquer Spain, and might be said to have little more hold of the country than they would have, if, having been forced to recross the Pyrenees, they were accumulating strength, and waiting an opportunity to return.—He would now conclude, hoping, that though he had gone at greater length into the subject than he thought of doing, that he had not wearied the patience of the House, that he had not introduced any question of military policy that would awaken a controversial feeling, and above all, that he had not appeared desirous of screening ministers from censure under the great and illustrious name of the marquis of Wellington. Any charges as to the means they had afforded, or ought to have afforded lord Wellington, they were anxious to meet on a future day. They had no wish to hang the conduct of government on the neck of lord Wellington, but were content to stand or fall on their own merits. He then moved, "That the thanks of this House be given to general the marquis of Wellington, for the many and great services which he has rendered to this kingdom, and to his Majesty's allies, during the late campaign; and more particularly for the glorious and decisive victory obtained near Salamanca, by the allied army under his lordship's command, upon the 22d of July last, whereby the French power in Spain has been essentially diminished, the siege of Cadiz has been raised, and the southern provinces of the peninsula have been rescued from the hands of the enemy."
Sir Francis Burdett
professed himself to be incompetent to follow the details of military operations, so as to be able to offer an opinion upon them; indeed, he did not much like the agitation of such subjects in that House: but the noble lord had entered into a variety of subjects, and seemed disposed to call upon the House to sanction the whole conduct of the government respecting the conduct of the campaign, and to endeavour to shew that they had not been wanting in affording supplies 163 to lord Wellington. (No! no! from the other side.) As far as he understood the noble lord, what he had said went to shew, that government had supplied every thing that had been essential to the success of the marquis of Wellington.—["Lord Castlereagh disavowed having made any such statement, and said, he had particularly guarded himself against such a construction.]—He begged the noble lord's pardon if he had misunderstood him, but he could not upon all occasions comprehend the course of his arguments. It often fell to his lot to be totally incapable of collecting the meaning of the noble lord; and now, amidst his many tropes and figures, and words about circumstances and details, he felt that there was in many instances no distinct idea conveyed to his mind. He yet did imagine that some excuse was indirectly intended for the conduct of his Majesty's ministers. He was not very much disposed on any occasion, when a vote of Thanks was proposed for services performed by the British army, whether those services had been attended with success or defeat, to give such a vote any opposition. Far was he from wishing invidiously to detract from the merits of men who had devoted their exertions to the service of their country, or to withhold from them any recompence which it was in the power of the Mouse to bestow. But when he heard it stated that the victory gained over the French forces in Spain was more important in its consequences than any which had been gained in former time", and that the victory of Salamanca was equal to that of the duke of Marlborough at the battle of Blenheim, in which the enemy lost 20,000 men, had their general, marshal Tallard, taken, and 30 or 40 squadrons driven into the Rhine, and other great battles, which had completely changed the aspect of the whole affairs of Europe—though not desirous of undervaluing the merits of the great general whose achievements were meant to be extolled, and whose character and ability no man could more sincerely admire than he did; yet he could not suffer such delusions to go forth uncontradieted, the more especially, when he considered that they were calculated to plunge the country, under the direction of the same persons, still deeper in a destructive and ruinous war. He contended that, after these boasted and overpraised victories, we were still as far from our object as 164 ever. Until he had heard it from the noble lord that evening, he had never understood that it was totally out of the contemplation of government to expel the French out of Spain. What the noble lord called success, he called defeat; for he never could have imagined that an expenditure of one million a month had taken place in the military department of this country for the last eleven months, for no other purpose than raising the siege of Cadiz. As to the Andalusias, they must fall again, as a matter of course, into the hands of France. Under all the circumstances of the contest, it appeared to him, even upon the ministers' own shewing, that we were unable to find sufficient means to support the campaign; and that after lord Wellington's retreat, he had only the two fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, left to him as the fruits of his campaign in Spain. What! were we to be satisfied after all the splendid victories which had been gained in the course of the present campaign—after the exhausted state to which the French troops had been reduced by their incursion into Russia, and more particularly after the glorious, important, and unparalleled victory of Salamanca, so highly advantageous in its consequences to the general affairs of the peninsula, were we to be satisfied by a retreat? Were we not to take advantage of all those gratifying and cheering circumstances? Were we to suffer the French troops to recover from the effects of their discomfiture and exhaustion, and to wait until the tide of good fortune which had attended us had flowed back upon its source? It seemed to him, that such propositions were totally inconsistent with the obvious rules of common sense and reason. And yet, where now was the marquis of Wellington? In what direction were we to look for the glorious results of the campaign? In what manner was the diminution of the French power in Spain evinced? The noble lord had slightly touched upon the most important feature of the war, the failure of the siege of Burgos. If the word of the noble lord was to be taken, nothing on this occasion was to be imputed to the commander of the forces. Lord Wellington did all that a great commander could do, and all that his means rendered him capable of performing. If this was the case, then either the government had not supplied lord Wellington with the means adequate to accomplish his purpose, or, possessed of 165 those means, he had totally failed. There must be blame somewhere, and some defect existed which called loudly for enquiry. It was somewhat extraordinary, as well as mortifying, that, after all the means which had been placed in the hands of his Majesty's ministers, and the liberality with which those means had been dispensed in the course of the Spanish war, that the country had not yet reaped some of the fruits of the great victories; some of the benefits of the exertions which had been detailed. Nothing, however, seemed to have resulted from all these advantages, but calamity and distress, which gave rise to the natural proposition, that either lord Wellington was not entitled to the praise which the House was called upon to bestow, or the fault of our failure was attributable to the gross negligence and imbecility of the ministers of the crown. He could not see how they could get rid of this dilemma. It was not, however, for the purpose of going at length into these topics, that he now rose; all he wished to do was, to protest against the system of delusion which had been observed by his Majesty's government for the last 19 years, 16 of them under his own observation, and to which the noble lord's speech formed a sequel. In every speech which had been delivered on occasions similar to the present, the same prospects of success were held out; the same panegyrics were passed upon commanders; the same panegyrics upon ministers themselves, ending always in disappointment, and calculated to engage them deeper in expence and war. Other and more fit opportunities would occur for the discussion of these subjects, which he now wished to avoid, as he was very unwilling to dissent from any vote of thanks or gratitude which might be proposed to the present commander in the peninsula. He could not help thinking, however, that it would have been better, if the question had not been brought forward quite so early, and that time might have been allowed to go into some inquiry on the general conduct of the campaign, before the House was called upon to give their vote. The noble lord, in the plenitude of his satisfaction, had not merely confined himself to Spain, but had travelled out of his course, and had taken the House to Russia, where, in the destruction of from two to three hundred thousand human beings, in the burning of Moscow, and in the devastation of an immense tract of Russian 166 territory, he found new causes of congratulation, new sources of national pride and gratitude. He had called the attention of the House to the difficulties with which the emperor of the French was surrounded in his endeavours to reach winter quarters; and that he had considered as a matter of great triumph on the part of the emperor of Russia. Would he be equally inclined to consider it a matter of triumph, if Buonaparté should extricate himself from these perils which, in his opinion, was more than probable, and after having found good winter quarters, return to the contest with renovated ardour in the spring? Could he believe it possible that Russia could continue such a contest, and undergo a repetition of similar dreadful experiments and sacrifices? Supposing he marched to Petersburgh, which seemed to be his ultimate intention, would the same mode of defence, as at Moscow be adopted? Could Russia burn another Moscow to prevent its occupation by the enemy? Would she burn Petersburgh too? The Russian general Kutusow, speaking of the battle of Borodino, said, that he did not follow up the results of the battle, because he should in that case risk both his own army and the safely of Moscow. The event of the capture of Moscow did, notwithstanding, take place. He, for one, could not greatly admire the magnanimity of burning that, the preservation of which ought to have been fought for; nor could he see the shining character of the emperor Alexander, who was not, like the emperor of the French, personally sharing in the danger of the war. He could not subdue the conviction which arose in his mind, on viewing all there things, of the utter impossibility of the emperor of Russia feeling any exultation whatever: on the contrary, he thought that unfortunate individual must be oppressed by a view of the irreparable calamities to which himself and his people had been, and were likely, still further, to be exposed. The noble lord, in his almost incomprehensible speech, had next adverted to that which he was pleased to call a victory over the moral feelings of the Spaniards. This was an expression which he felt himself wholly at a loss to understand. Where was the proof of this victory? Was it to be found in the support which had been given to the Inquisition? Could it be said that our conduct in treating as traitors the Spaniards who had adhered to the French at Madrid, was the cause of this 167 desirable end? He should like to know by what right these persons had been thus treated? Had not their country been betrayed and abandoned, and had not every Spaniard a right to decide whether he would join the French or the English? In his opinion, to treat them as traitors not only exposed our own partizans to a similar fate, but an act of gross despotism, and an abandonment of all humanity and justice—a species of conduct which would tend more to defeat the moral conquest of Spain, than to the attainment of any other object. But as he said before, where were the proofs of this victory, which had been claimed by the noble lord, to be found? How many Spaniards had signalized themselves for valour in the field of battle? It was true that our troops had maintained their ancient character for spirit and heroism, and on this head he felt as proud as any man; but when he heard all this vaunting and bragging, he should like to hear what the Spaniards had done, or where they had evinced a disposition to support their own cause? Far different was the opinion of the marquis Wellesley—he had taken a very different view of the war in Spain, and had told us we must look to ourselves for exertion, for from the Spaniards none was to be expected. Under all these circumstances, he was of opinion, if the war was to be carried on, that efforts should be made of a different description to those which had hitherto been witnessed. The same miserable and contemptible state of vacillation ought no longer to be suffered. According to the opinion of marquis Wellesley, who had been in Spain, the noble lord (Castlereagh) had no right to attribute any failure to the conduct of Ballasteros alone. The noble lord had brought a charge against that general, for not preventing the junction of the two French armies, and to this neglect were the failures of lord Wellington ascribed. Lord Wellesley, however, was of opinion that these failures were not merely owing to the conduct of one individual, but to the apathy of the whole Spanish nation, as well as to the strength and energy of the French army, who did not, as the noble lord would have it understood, melt like butter before the sun. He would ask any man, whether it was a fair mode of measuring the merits of the war, by saying, at any particular period, Here let us strike a balance, and see how we stand, and from thence draw deductions as to the general 168 results? The fallacy of such a course was manifest, from the fact of lord Wellington having gone half way in effecting the object he had in view, and being then obliged to retrace his steps. In conclusion, the hon. baronet said, lie felt it incumbent on him to take this opportunity of delivering his sentiments, lest he might be considered as pledged, in the vote he should give, to any approbation of the conduct of his Majesty's ministers, than which nothing could be further from his intentions.
§ Sir Frederick Flood
said, he could not deny himself the opportunity which was now afforded him of expressing his admiration of the truly splendid victory of Salamanca—a victory which, while it placed the bravery of the British troops in a most prominent point of view, exhibited the transcendent military talents of their commander, the most noble the marquis of Wellington, in their true colours. Never was more consummate generalship evinced—never did the conduct of any man excite more deservedly the approbation of his countrymen. It was not his intention to go into the history of the campaign, which had already been so ably detailed by the noble lord; he would content himself, therefore, by declaring his hearty assent to the Vote of Thanks to the marquis of Wellington, for the brilliant victory gained by him over the French forces on the 22d of July last, to which he believed there was no man, either within or without those walls, would object.—"Thank God," said the hon. baronet, "we have committed our army to the care of a man of cool and deliberate judgment, one who is not fool-hardy, and who knows when he ought to go forward, and when he ought to go backward. He is not a rash man, who for the sake of a momentary advantage would sacrifice his army, but who, with that wisdom indicative of a great mind, waits but for an opportunity to annihilate the whole body of the enemy. After all the actions that have taken place—after all the blood that has been spilt, it would be degrading to the name of Great Britain and of Ireland, to solicit peace. Suppose a bully attacked a Briton or an Irishman, and that he was repelled by their bravery, would it become them, after they had gloriously beaten him off, to sue for peace? The thought was ridiculous—and equally ridiculous would it be to think of suing for peace, at this time, from that tyrant, that 169 scourge of Europe, whose fate I am satisfied is now fast approaching. Let us all but unite; let the feelings of the whole United Kingdom be conciliated, and there is no doubt but all ranks of society, whether Irish or British, will join with one heart and one hand to drive that scourge of mankind, (I was going to say,) to the devil. He must be resisted, as well as those erroneous people of America; but if you divide the country you cannot go on. As courage and virtue are alike common to all his Majesty's subjects, they ought equally to enjoy the advantages of the constitution. These are my sentiments, and these are the sentiments of a great and loyal county, consisting of eleven thousand electors, who did me the honour of sending me here, and of giving me the opportunity of expressing my sentiments. I have now to express my thanks for the indulgence which has been granted me by the House, whose pardon I beg for having so long trespassed on their attention. I cannot, however, conclude, without expressing my accordance with the feeling expressed by the hon. baronet who spoke last—I mean, with regard to the necessity of investigation hereafter. To that investigation I think it highly necessary the attention of the House should be seriously devoted. Let the time come when it will, I shall form my judgment as an independent man; I will look to measures and not to men, and if I find my best friend adopt measures, of the utility of which I am not theroughly convinced, I will vote against him.—I will invariably act according to the dictates of my conscience; I will not be led away by party; I will ride my own horse, and will not be made the stalking-horse of others.—If ministers are able to prove that they have furnished the marquis of Wellington with all the adequate means in their power for pursuing his military career, I will vote in their favour; but if, on the contrary, I find they have failed in their duty, I will oppose them. As I said before, I will support measures, not men."
§ Mr. Cochrane Johnstone
thought it would be no more than proper that some further pecuniary provision should be made for the marquis of Wellington. If any delicacy was felt in these times of distress to apply to the public for this remuneration for the brilliant services which had been achieved, the purpose might be answered, as in the case of the duke of Marlborough, by the grant of some royal manor. He 170 was aware that this step must, of necessity, emanate from his royal highness the Prince Regent, but when the services performed by the illustrious person to whom he alluded were considered, he apprehended no opposition whatever would be given to such a proposal.
remarked, that the observations of the hon. gentleman were not strictly applicable to the question before the House. It was not improbable, however, that he might hereafter be charged with some proposition of the sort.
was disposed fully to agree with the House in returning Thanks to the marquis of Wellington for the services he had performed. As the noble mover had gone into many other subjects, however, the merits of which he was not disposed to admit, he rose for the purpose of expressing a hope, that, in according with the present vote, he might not be supposed at all to agree with many of the things which the noble lord had thrown out. These he considered perfectly open to the House to examine hereafter.
The Resolution was then put and carried nem. con.—As were also the following:
"That the Thanks of this House be given to lieut. gen. sir Stapleton Cotton, lieut. gen. James Leith, lieut. gen. the hon. Galbraith Lowry Cole; and to major generals Henry Clinton, Henry Frederick Campbell, baron Bock, Victor baron Alten, baron Low, Charles baron Alten, John Hope, George Anson, William Anson, John Ormsby Vandeleur, J. H. C. de Bernewitz, the hon. Edward Pakenham, and W. Henry Pringle; and to the several other officers; for their distinguished exertions in the battle of Salamanca, upon the 22d of July last, which terminated in a glorious and decisive victory over the enemy's army.
"That this House doth acknowledge and highly approve of the distinguished valour and discipline displayed by the non-commissioned officers and private soldiers of the forces serving under the command of general the marquis of Wellington, in the glorious victory obtained, upon the 22d of July last, near Salamanca; and that the same be signified to them by the commanding officers of the several corps, who are desired to thank them for their gallant and exemplary behaviour.
"That this House doth highly acknowledge the zeal, courage, and discipline, 171 displayed by the officers, non-commissioned officers, and private soldiers, of the Portuguese forces serving under the command of general the marquis of Wellington, in the glorious victory obtained upon the 22d of July last, near Salamanca.
"That an humble Address be presented to his royal highness the Prince Regent, that he will be graciously pleased to give directions that a Monument be erected in the cathedral church of St. Paul, London, to the memory of major general John Gaspard le Marchant, who fell gloriously on the 22d of July last in the battle fought near Salamanca, when a decisive victory over the enemy was obtained by the allied army commanded by general the marquis of Wellington; and to assure his Royal Highness that this House will make good the expence attending the same."