HC Deb 29 March 1821 vol 4 cc1495-7
Mr. Hume

rose to move for an account of the expenses of the detention of Buonapaté at St. Helena. If it were right to detain Napoleon at all, he would contend, that, in the present financial contend, that, in the present financial difficulties of the country, he might be safely detained at one-tenth of the present expense. He had an estimate of those expenses for 1819, and he was not aware of any reduction since. It amounted to considerably more than 400,000l. He understood that government had lately engaged with the India Company, that the Company: should pay all expenses, and that they should be paid by government a sum equal to the amount of the average expense for the last three or four years. He thought that the other powers of Europe ought in fairness to bear a part of the expenses of detaining Napoleon. Seven years had expired since the termination of the war. It was too severe to see England, immersed in financial difficulties, obliged single-handed to pay the entire expenses attending the confinement of the date emperor. He concluded by moving, for Copies of all Correspondence between the government and the East India Company, respecting the expenses attending the detention of Napoleon Buonaparté also an Account of the Expenses of the Staff the Troops, the Ships of War, and Transports stationed at St. Helena.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

did not mean t object to the motion; and when the House had the papers before them, they would see if the detention of Buonaparté could be attained by any more economical plan.

Sir R. Wilson

said, that as this was the first opportunity Which presented itself since he had been in that House, for alluding to the subject of Buonaparté's confinement, he wished to avail himself of it for entering his most solemn protest against that act [A laugh]. Hon. gentlemen might laugh, but he was speaking the sentiments of every generous man in Europe. His detention was contrary to every feeling of generosity and humanity, if they considered how he was separated from his family, and even from his infant child. It was the more ungenerous, when we considered that he had put himself voluntarily under our protection. He (sir R. Wilson) had it from an individual who made him the offer of taking him to America, that he refused, because he preferred throwing himself upon the good faith of England. If he had not done this, he might have escaped, for the vessel in which he was offered to be conveyed afterwards, arrived safe in America. The conduct which had. been subsequently pursued towards him was a national dishonour: and if ever France should regain her freedom, although she would never receive him as her sovereign, yet he was convinced that she would not suffer him to be detained in his present situation.

Mr. Croker

denied that this country had been guilty of the slightest breach of faith. It was a well-known fact, that the night before Napoleon surrendered himself, he held a council of war, or rather of safety, in which the question was discussed, whether Napoleon had any possible chance of escape? It was decided that he had not. Napoleon, who judged with caution, saw no means of safety but in surrendering himself to a British officer. He surrendered himself with reluctance. When he came on board the English vessel, he was told that no treaty could be made with him, and that he must wait the final determination of the English government. If the hon. member should bring the question before the House in.-a more formal shape, he would prove, to the satisfaction of the House, that Napoleon had been fairly hunted into the toils, and that the honour of the country throughout the whole of the transaction was free from reproach.

Mr. Hume

said, that he thought the conduct which had been shown towards that individual more blameable than the policy which dictated his original detention. He thought there had been a degree of severity exercised towards him which the House would never sanction.

Mr. Hutchinson

expressed his decided disapprobation of the detention of Buonaparté. It was disgraceful to this country? that she should be made the gaoler of the allied powers; not for any object having the security of the state in view, but evidently in furtherance of those despotic principles which were avowed by the Holy Alliance.

The motion was agreed to.