HC Deb 14 February 1843 vol 66 cc547-74
Lord Stanley

Under ordinary circumstances, Sir, I should have been unwilling, even on a notice-day, to interpose, on the part of the Government, with any motion that might have interfered with the progress of an adjourned debate; but understanding from the noble Lord who originated the debate, and from hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, that there will be no objection to bringing forward, as a substantive motion, the vote of thanks to the officers and troops of the army engaged in the operations in China, and not anticipating that the motion will be likely to lead to any lengthened discussion, I will, with permission of the House, proceed to propose it. But first I must beg to move that so much of her Majesty's gracious Speech as referred to China be read.

The following extract from her Majesty's Speech was then read by the clerk at the Table. The increased exertions which, by the liberality of Parliament, her Majesty was enabled to make for the termination of hostilities with China, have been eminently successful. The skill, valour, and discipline of the naval and military forces employed upon this service have been most conspicious, and have led to the conclusion of peace upon the terms proposed by her Majesty. Her Majesty rejoices in the prospect that, by the free access which will be opened to the principal marts of that populous and extensive empire, encouragement will be given to the commercial enterprise of her people. I trust the motion I am about to submit to the consideration of the House is one that will receive the cordial and unanimous support of the House. The question is one which involves no consideration of party or political interest. I do not propose to enter upon any discussion of those matters which might lead to controversy between different parties in the House as to the policy which led to the acts that ultimately rendered unavoidable the war in which we were engaged. I am not about to claim for this or that Government the particular merit of deciding, conducting, or supporting our naval and military operations in China. I am about to propose a vote of thanks to three gallant officers in particular, who had the chief conduct of those operations—all of whom were selected during the administration of noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen who sit on the opposite side. No party consideration, therefore, can interfere with the subject; and while I feel it almost presumptuous to express the opinion, that a more fitting and judicious selection could not have been made, than that which was made of the officers who conducted our naval and military operations in that country, I trust the time will never arrive when, in discussing such questions as that now brought before the House, either the British House of Commons or the British public will for a moment pause to consider by whom, and by what political party, instruments had been selected to carry out their plans. I mean, Sir, very briefly to recapitulate the events of the late war—those operations upon the successful accomplishment of which I rest the claims of those gallant men to the thanks of their country. I shall date the commencement of the war with China from the early part of the year 1841, and in this I believe the noble Lord, the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, will agree with me. At that period it was that the temporary accommodation agreed to by Captain Elliot with the Chinese authorities was broken through by the latter, and refused to be ratified by the British Government. The operations in 1840 were almost all on a very small and comparatively insignificant scale. But in February, 1841, Captain Elliot concluded an agreement which was not ratified by her Majesty's Government. Before the refusal, however, of the British Government to ratify that agreement had reached China, the Chinese authorities had themselves violated it; and from February, 1841, therefore, I will commence the history of the war, which I will endeavour to make as concise as I can. On February 20, 1841, in consequence of the hostile determination manifested by the Chinese authorities and the Chinese people, it was determined, on the part of the naval authorities, that a certain operation should be undertaken, in which the naval forces were to bear a principal share. It was judged necessary to force the strong position of the Bogue forts, and, in fact, to bring the British fleet into the inner waters of China, close under the walls of the city of Canton. I should be sorry to weary the house with a description of the obstacles to be surmounted, and of the skill with which those obstacles were overcome; but I must call the attention of the House to the description given by Sir Gordon Bremer of two of the principal forts, situated nearly opposite each other, and between which it was necessary for the fleet to press forward. The noble Lord then read the following extract from the despatch of Sir Gordon Bremer:— Partly surrounding the old fort of Anunghoy, and in advance of it to high water mark, was a new and well built battery of granite, forming a segment of about two-thirds of a circle: on it were mounted forty-two guns, some of them of immense weight and large calibre; several strong entrenchments extended to the southward of this battery, and the ridges of the hill were crowed with guns up to a camp calculated for about 1,200 men, and at the north side was a straight work of modern erection, mounting sixty heavy guns; about 150 yards of rocky beach intervenes between the end of this battery and the northern circular battery, on which forty guns were mounted; all the works were protected in the rear by a high wall, extending up to the hill, on which were steps or platforms, for firing musketry, and in the interior were magazines, bar racks, &c. On the east end of the island of North Wangtong is a battery with a double tier of guns, defending the passage on that side, and also partly flanking a number of rafts, constructed of large masses of timber, moored across the river about twelve feet apart, with two anchors each, connected by and supporting four parts of a chain cable, the ends of which were secured under masonry works—one on the South Wangtong, the other on Anunghoy. On the western end of North Wangtong is a strong battery of forty guns, flanked by a field work of seventeen; indeed, the whole island is one continued battery. On the extreme western side of the channel was a battery of twenty-two heavy guns and a field-work of seventeen, protecting an entrenched camp containing l,50o or 2,000 men. It will hardly be credited that obstacles, apparently so insurmountable, should have been overcome by bodies of men comparatively so insignificant. The forts described were by the fire of the vessels of her Majesty, secured, silenced, and captured in the space of a single hour. A succession of operations brought her Majesty's fleet through channels unknown to the Chinese themselves; blocked up in some places by sunken junks, with, in some places, scarcely water enough for the vessels to sail in, and in some instances so narrow that the paddle-wheels of the Nemesis could scarcely go through them. All those difficulties were surmounted by the singular skill of the British navy, and vessels were taken through passages, in many cases unknown to the Chinese themselves, and without the aid of a single Chinese pilot, the English fleet was brought in a few days to the walls of the great and wealthy city of Canton, and that great and wealthy city was placed at the disposal of her Majesty's forces. In consequence of these operations, 500 guns, many of them of a large calibre, were captured. When Canton had thus been placed in the possession of her Majesty's forces, the Plenipotentiary, in the exercise of his discretion, interfered, and the fleet, without the commission of any act of violence, except the destruction of the guns captured, returned to the former anchorage, and remained there undisturbed for two months. Sir Gordon Bremer, in the meantime, proceeded to Calcutta, to give the Governor-General an outline of the state of affairs, and to ask him for a further reinforcement of troops. On this account it was that he was not present when the subsequent operations took place on the 18th of May, when the heights of Canton were stormed, and that city was again placed at the disposal of her Majesty's forces. This operation, which was not, as the former had been, chiefly a naval one, was brought on by the acts of the Chinese government, and by the knowledge of the fact that a very large body of men, amounting, according to some accounts, to 45,000 men, was being collected, composed of the best troops of the empire, and actually occupied Canton. In consequence of this proceeding, and of the attempts which were made to set fire to the ships, it was thought necessary, on the 18th of May, without waiting for further reinforcements, again to advance on the city of Canton, and take possession of all the forts and heights which crowned that city on the north and north-west. The former operation was principally naval, but in the conduct of this enterprise, which was in the greatest part a military operation, the troops were placed under the superintendence and leading of Sir Hugh Gough, but when I say that this was principally a military operation I should do great in- justice to our naval service if I were to leave the House to infer that the operation, though of a military character, was conducted exclusively by military means. On the contrary, as well on this as on every subsequent occasion, there appears to me to have been, among all the troops engaged, of every description, an alacrity to forget all the peculiarities of their respective services, and cordially, sedulously, and willingly to devote themselves to the service of the Crown and of their country, in whatever capacity and under whatever circumstances their services might be called for. Previous to the occupation of the heights, and the storming of the four forts on the north-west of Canton, the troops had been disembarked with the greatest gallantry and skill, at the precise point at which it was intended the debarkation should take place, and the column of attack was divided into four brigades. One of these consisted exclusively of two battalions of officers and men of the navy, and it went therefore under the title of the naval brigade. I should add, that Sir Humphrey Senhouse, the distinguished officer who commanded the naval force on the occasion, and whose loss within a very few days afterwards was the only circumstance which could cause a feeling of regret to intervene in reviewing the success of that memorable day, abandoned the leading of the naval brigade to Captain Bourchier, consenting to forego the pleasure of bringing his men into action, and throughout the whole day attended on Sir Hugh Gough with his counsel and assistance. I am but little competent, Sir, even if it were right to weary the House by such details, to enter into the military narrative of this or any other operation. There are many Members of this House far more competent to speak to their merits; but Gentlemen will find any trouble they may take well repaid by perusing if they have not already done so, the various despatches which were from time to time made public in theGazettes of this country, and which communicated the most interesting information with respect to the details of each of the operations. The result, however, of the operations to which I have alluded was, that with a force amounting to somewhere about 3000 men, and I believe not, including seamen, exceeding 3000, the line of heights was occupied flanking the river for a consider- able distance. The negotiations respecting a truce (for attempts were made to bring matters to a peaceful result, even at the last moment) having been broken off, a simultaneous order to advance was given to the different brigades who were to take possession of the four forts. Perhaps I may be permitted to read to the House the statement made by Sir Hugh Gough as to the manner in which the order was carried into effect:— At about half-past nine o'clock, said the general, the advance was sounded, and it has seldom fallen to my lot to witness a more soldier like and steady advance, or a more animated attack. Every individual, native as well as European, steady and gallantly did his duty. The 18th and 49th were emulous which should first reach their appointed goals; but under the impulse of this feeling they did not lose sight of that discipline which could alone ensure success. The advance of the 37th Madras Native Infantry and Bengal Volunteers in support was equally praiseworthy. The result of this combined movement was, that the two forts were captured with comparatively small loss, and that, in little more than half an hour after the order to advance was given, the British troops looked down on Canton within 100 paces of its walls. The well-directed fire of the artillery in the centre was highly creditable, and did great execution. In co-operation with these attacks I witnessed with no ordinary gratification the noble rush of the brigade of seamen under their gallant leader, Captain Bourchier, exposed to a heavy fire from the whole of the north-western rampart. This right attack was equally successful, and here, also, the British standard proudly waved on the two western forts, while the British tars looked down upon the north-western face of the city and its suburbs I think it would be hardly right to select for especial praise, on an occasion like the present, when we are to consider the results of many successive enterprises, individual names, whether those of particular regiments or of particular officers, other than those who were formally and officially brought under our notice. But I may be permitted to refer to a single incident I have heard connected with the fortunes of the 37th regiment of Madras Native Infantry, which, as well as many others that are related of that gallant regiment during the course of those operations, proved, that for skill, courage, and unflinching discipline, the Sepoys of that brave corps were worthy to take the place they afterwards occupied throughout the operations of the campaign, and fight side by side with the Royal Irish, the 49th and the 57th regiments, which were engaged from first to last in almost all the brilliant actions of the war. The first effect of the capture of these forts was the surrender to the small body of men I have named of a number of Chinese troops, calculated at the very least at 35,000, and by some as high as 45,000, who were permitted to march out of the city they had been sent to defend, and which they surrendered, a large and not disproportionate ransom being fixed for the city of Canton. Subsequently, trifling skirmishes took place, and in the course of one of them, two days after the surrender of this city, a company of the 37th Madras Native Infantry was accidentally separated, after a tremendous thunder storm, from a body of the 26th Regiment of the Queen's forces, with which it had been co-operating. It was towards dusk that this little company was missed, under circumstances which caused great anxiety. The whole day had been a succession of violent thunder storms and extremely heavy rain; and a detachment of the marines was sent out for the purpose of ascertaining the fate of this gallant little company. And in what position does the House think they were found? The singly company was found in the presence of some thousands of Chinese, armed uncouthly, no doubt, but still armed with match locks and long spears. In consequence of continued wet, they were incapacitated from using a single musket of those they possessed, but the men of this gallant company were found formed into a solid square with fixed bayonets, keeping the whole of their assailants at bay, and there they maintained their position until after dusk, at which time they were relieved by a body of marines, who were fortunately armed with percussion muskets. This, Sir, is in itself but a trifling incident, but I mention it for the purpose of doing honour to the Indian army, and also of showing that in a climate and country, and opposed to a people of which previously they had been altogether ignorant, they—separated from all assistance—displayed a coolness, courage, and discipline worthy of the best regiments of the British army; and I am quite sure that there is no officer or man of that army who will consider it invidious, if on that account I have diverged somewhat from the ordinary course, and selected this remarkable incident as one worthy of particular mention. The troops having abandoned possession of Canton, retired down the river, and it was not till August that reinforcements having been sent from the Governor-general of India, an expedition was enabled to proceed to the north under the command of Sir William Parker, who had then recently arrived, and Sir Hugh Gough. On the 21st of August it left Canton, and proceeded to the port of Amoy. The force which set out on this service consisted of eleven ships of various sizes, carrying in all 330 guns, four steamers, and a small laud force of 2,233 men, it being necessary to leave at Hong Kong, for the occupation of the island, a garrison of 1,380 men, which, with the remainder of the troops on the expedition, constituted the whole disposable force in China. With this force, naval and military, the expedition entered the harbour of Amoy, a spacious and ample haven, protected on one hand by works above the town of Amoy itself, and on the other hand by the island of Koo-lang-soo, which forms the mouth of the harbour, and was also strongly fortified. I am afraid I weary the House by reading the detailed account of these operations, but the description of these works is as follows:— The enemy's defences were evidently of great strength, and the country by nature difficult of access. Every island, every projecting headland, from whence guns could bear upon the harbour, were occupied and strongly armed, commencing from the point of entrance into the inner harbour on the Amoy side; the principal sea line of defence, after a succession of batteries and bastions in front of the outer town, extended for upwards of a mile in one continuous battery of stone, with embrasures roofed by large slabs, thickly covered with clods of earth, so as to form a sort of casement, and afford perfect shelter to the men in working their guns. Between some of the embrasures were embankments to protect the masonry; and ninety-six guns were mounted in this work, which terminated in a castellated wall, connecting it with a range of precipitous rocky heights, that run nearly parallel to the beach, at a distance varying from a quarter to half a mile. Several smaller works were apparent at intervals amid the rocks. The entrance into the inner harbour is by a channel about 600 yards across, between Amoy and the island of Koo-lang-soo, upon which several strong batteries were visible, and some of these flanked the sea line and stone battery. It appeared expedient, therefore, to make a simultaneous attack on these two prominent lines of defenec Sir, no time was lost in making preparations for the attack of these formidable defences, which was commenced without delay, a previous close examination having been made under the eyes of Sir H. Gough and Sir W. Parker themselves. And here I may be permitted to say, by way of parenthesis, that there are no features in the character of these gallant officers more worthy of commendation than this—that they seem on every occasion to have determined to judge for themselves, to see with their own eyes, to trust to no reports, whenever there existed the means of satisfying themselves, well questioning before they undertook any enterprise, the probable means of resistence, and the most effectual mode of overcoming them. Thus, in a harbour but very partially known, and consequently where the difficulty of placing ships in a proper position was comparatively great, the ships were all placed in their positions with such precision that not one of them was out of that line in which it had been arranged beforehand, that their fire should be directed to Amoy on the one hand, or Koo-lang-soo on the other. In placing their vessels, I ought not to forget to mention that it appears from the official report that the Blonde, Druid, and Modeste reached their position against the island of Koo-lang-soo a few minutes earlier than the rest; but the others found so much difficulty from the shallowness of the water in taking their places, that they very spiritedly carried them into almost their own draft of water. The ships having been placed, the fire commenced at once on the fortifications of Amoy, and the defences of Koo-lang-soo; and under cover of that fire, the small body of marines, headed by Sir H. Gough in person, carried the fortifications of Amoy, while at the same time, and almost at the same hour, the works of Koo-lang-soo wese stormed and taken by a body of marines, landed under the fire of the ships attacking the batteries. It was necessary to leave a garrison here, and 550 men of the small land force of the expedition were necessarily left behind. From Amoy the troops proceded to re-occupy the island of Chusan, which had been previously occupied by the troops during the present year, but which, on the breaking off of the negotiations with Keshen, in 1841, had been abandoned by the commissioner. On approaching this island no time was lost in making preparations to overcome the obstacles which Chinese art and ingenuity, following the lessons taught by our own engineers, had created, in the construction of fortifications, by which the island was placed in a complete state of defence. Our officers, it was said, were completely struck with the great skill and proficiency in fortification acquired by the Chinese engineers and artificers since the period at which we abandoned the island. The batteries, which presented a most formidable line of defence towards the seaboard, were taken by a gallant operation, in which the assailants were the military force and a body of marines, by which the heights adjoining the shore were carried in the face of a very superior body of men, many of whom stood very gallantly to their arms; and the batteries towards the sea-board being thus turned, an attack was made on the city in the rear, where preparations had not been made to the same extent as in other quarters, and the city fell an easy prey to the gallantry and ability of British troops. From Chusan, the next operations of the combined forces were directed against the very strongly fortified heights of Chin-hae, protecting the large commercial town of Ningpo, which contains a population of above 300,000 inhabitants. The whole forces, naval and military, were engaged in this expedition; and for a description of the difficulties they had to encounter in this enterprise I beg to refer hon. Gentlemen to the official accounts, without troubling the House with a detailed relation of the series of operations. Defences manned by a garrison of from 8,000 to 10,000 men, surrendered to a body not exceeding 2,000, including in that number a body of seamen, who, with their usual spirit of daring and anxiety to be present, operated on one side, while the operations were carried on upon the other side by the military under Sir Hugh Gough. The fruit of this achievement was the almost unresisting surrender of the great and precious city of Ningpo to the British forces. Immense quantities of military stores were found at Chin-hae, of which the General thus speaks:— We found Chin-hae to be, I may almost say, one great arsenal, with a cannon foundry and gun-carriage manufactory in active operation on improved works, together with warlike stores of various descriptions. In a battery upon the river one of the carronades of the Kite was found with an excellent imitation alongside it, and many of the new Chinese brass guns are very efficient.

Sir Hugh Gough

then proceeds to de- scribe their passage to the city of Ningpo with the small force which circumstances alone permitted him to take with him:— It having been determined to push on with the least possible delay to Ningpo, Sir W. Parker proceeded on the 12th, in the Nemesis steamer, to ascertain the practicability of the river, and actually reached, without the slightest attempt at opposition, the bridge of boats which connects this city with the opposite suburb. Upon his returning in the evening, arrangements were made for the attack on the following morning, lest the enemy by his apparent submission, should intend to entrap us. Having left the 55th, with the exception of the light company, 100 of the Royal Marines, with detachments of artillery and sappers, in Chinhae, the rest of the force, about 750 bayonets, exclusive of the artillery and sappers, in steamers, by eight, a.m., on the 13th, and we reached Ningpo at three o'clock. No enemy appeared, and it was evident no ambuscade was intended, as the inhabitants densely thronged the bridge of boats, and collected in clusters along both banks. The troops landed on and near the bridge, and advanced to the city gate which we found barricaded, but the walls were soon escaladed, and the Chinese assisted in removing the obstructions and opening the gate. This little force of soldiers, seamen and marines drew up on the ramparts, the band of the 18th playing 'God save the Queen.' The second city of the province of Che-keang, the walls of which were five miles in circumference, with a population of 300,000 souls, has thus fallen into our hands. The people all appear desirous to throw themselves under British protection, saying publicly that their mandarins had deserted them, and their own soldiers are unable to protect them. I have assembled some of the most respectable and influential of the mercantile class that have remained, and have assured them of my anxiety to afford them all protection consistent with our instructions to press the Chinese government. Proclamations have been issued, calling upon the people to open their shops, which I have engaged shall not be molested. This they have done to some extent, and confidence appears to be increasing. It affords me very great satisfaction to be enabled to report to your Lordship that the orderly conduct of the troops calls for my warmest commendations, evincing the constant attention of the officers, and the true British feeling which exists in this little force. This small force, Sir, remained at Chinhae and in the neighbourhood of Ningpo, the season being now far advanced, and it being impossible without very great reinforcements to undertake important operations. The troops continued in quarters, furnished with provisions by the country people, who made no difficulty whatever in supplying them, until the 10th of March when they were disturbed by a night attack, made shortly before daybreak by a very large body of Tartar troops, which was at once repulsed, with a success that reflects great credit on the promptitude and courage with which an attack so totally unexpected, and of a kind that often proves embarrassing and trying to the best troops, was met and defeated. With the details of this, however, although well worthy of attention, I will not trouble the House. Shortly after this it became necessary to proceed a considerable distance into the country, and 1,500 seamen and marines, under the command of Sir W. Parker, went on this service. These forces, Sir, attacked a large and formidable body of Tartar troops, whom the Chinese had always hitherto considered invincible, routed them without difficulty, and returned in triumph to Chin-hae, without having committed a single outrage or act of violence for the purpose of desolation, and without having been guilty of an act of wrong to a single individual. Sir, the House is, perhaps, weary by this time of listening to details of uninterrupted success, gained over enemies who certainly, from first to last, with few exceptions, offered no very serious obstacles to our arms. But, Sir, they will forgive me if I call their attention to one point, which will, I trust ever continue to characterise British troops, both in the naval and military service of the country, and which is beyond doubt entitled to the highest approbation and favour of this House, and that is the good order and discipline which throughout the war was conspicuous on every occasion. The House will, I hope, not think I am taking up their time unnecessarily if I refer to one or two instances of this quality, which, it appears to me, must have had considerable effect on the ultimate success of the war. At Amoy Sir Hugh Gough describes the conduct of the troops as having been most excellent, and marked throughout with the utmost forbearance to both persons and property. The same highly creditable demeanour was observed by them at our re-occupation of Chusan, and on the capture of Ningpo it is stated to have been, if possible, more signal. Not only Sir Hugh Gough, but other authorities, bear the strongest testimony to this gratifying fact. With reference to what took place at Ningpo, it is said in one passage of the despatches,— Her Majesty's sloops and the steam ves- sels are anchored under the walls of the city, and his Excellency the General is actively exerting himself in securing all the Government property on shore, and endeavouring to establish order, and prevent the pillage of this populous and opulent place, where, I am happy to say, such of the respectable inhabitants as have remained, evince much less apprehension at the presence of the English than was exhibited either at Amoy or Chusan. Sir, not from British officers alone have we strongly expressed testimonies to the good conduct, as well as to the valour of the British troops. Repeatedly letters were intercepted, written by Chinese military authorities, in all of which they state, in various and strong terms:— We have in vain endeavoured," said one, "to impress on the population that those barbarians are the thieves and robbers they have been described They feed the poor—they protect the helpless—they release their prisoners—they heal the wounded; in every case they put themselves forward as the protectors, not the enemies, of the people; and we, the military authorities, tell you, the Government, that against such conduct as this, and against troops so conducting themselves, we find the people lukewarm in our cause; and we cannot make head against an enemy who fights with such weapons. It was in the month of May next that a portion of the reinforcement which had been sent from this country and India having arrived, or being on the point of arrival, the first operation was undertaken in the capture of the town of Chapoo. I will not enter into the details of the occurrences, except to state that for the first time on this occasion British troops found in the city of Chapoo, living in a separate portion occupied by them alone, a party of Tartar troops, who exercised a species of domination over the subject Chinese, holding themselves at once as the guardians and masters of a submissive population. It was by this body of men, the Tartar troops, in these quarters, that the greatest resistence was made, and the bloodshed which ensued is to be ascribed to their unfortunate ignorance of the British character. They were filled with the belief that no quarter would be given by British soldiers. It was here that her Majesty's service sustained a great loss in the death of the gallant Colonel Thomas, who fell at the head of his regiment. But the principal operation of the campaign, and that which reflected greatest credit on the officers and men engaged in it—not alone in a military point of view, but for the science and skill with which it was conducted—was that of carrying a large British fleet and a considerable force 170 miles up the inland waters of the great and hitherto unknown river, in the centre of an empire never hitherto traversed by Europeans, and which had kept itself as free as possible, and more free, than, in this state of the world, we could almost have believed possible, from all intercourse with foreigners. The mouth of the Yang-tse-Keang is beset with numerous shoals, utterly unknown to the officers of the squadron, and enveloped with fogs, which rendered the surveying operations matters of peculiar difficulty—sunken rocks blocking up the immediate channel, on one of which a steamer, in the course of the operations, struck. This, I believe, was the only disaster with which the operations were attended; but, by energy and perseverance, without any assistance except that to be found in British science and British skill, the whole of the fleet, which ultimately amounted to no less than seventy-three sail, was safely carried through the shoals, and over the bar of this mighty river: 170 miles did they sail up its course, the first thirty unexpectedly affording a depth of water about three feet more than was required by the line of-battle ships. Sir, I shall not dwell on the operations connected with the capture of Wosung, where fresh troops of the enemy were defeated by our forces. The credit of this operation is due exclusively to the naval part of the expedition. Neither shall I go at length into the previous reduction of Shang-hae; but I will beg to call the attention of the House to the position in which this country stood on the 22d of July, after the city of Chin-keang-foo had finally fallen before the arms of the naval and military forces of her Majesty. That city was the great stronghold of the Chinese troops. There were, undoubtedly, garrisoned the best of the Tartar troops, covered by defences which they themselves considered impregnable. These Tartars were regarded by the Chinese as invincible; the natural defences of the place were very great, the artificial difficulties interposed were greater still. Such was the burning heat of the climate, that even in the thick of the en counter, after a portion of the city had yielded to a gallant attack of our troops, after the gates were in our possession, and when the citadel was still maintained and defended by the Tartars, the heat being so intense that no less than sixteen men, and among them, I believe, a most gallant officer, Major Uniacke, of the Marines, fell victims to the overwhelming power of the sun. Under these circumstances I say, that contending armies suspended their strife for a while, and threw aside the arms they wielded against each other, from noon-day till seven at night before their returning strength enabled them to renew the contest. Such was the blow by which the great city of Chin-keang-foo, to the astonishment of the Chinese troops and people, fell into our power after one day's assault by the combined strength of the naval and military forces; for on this occasion, as on almost every other during the war, the navy had its full share of honour in the successes we gained. And here I may say that whatever might be the case on other occasions, our troops were met in this action with no slight or weak resistance. The Tartar troops fought with the fury and courage of desperation. The combat on the ramparts was maintained hand to hand, and there was more than one instance of a Tartar soldier grappling with the enemy opposed to him, and precipitating himself and his antagonist over the walls of the city, in order that his foe and himself might undergo a common death. Sir, I am happy to say that little of marauding or disorderly conduct could be laid to the charge of the British soldier on this occasion; but there were circumstances which stamped the capture of Chin-keang-foo with peculiar horror. Ignorance of our mode of warfare, and of the humanity which accompanies—and, I hope, always will accompany—the display of British valour and energy; a large body of the Tartars—whether from desperation or from a mistaken feeling of loyalty and allegiance to their Sovereign I can hardly take upon myself to say—after the city was taken, consigned themselves, their wives, their children, and their households, to indiscriminate slaughter. I shall not pain the House by detailing the circumstances of the scene which met the eyes and shocked the feelings of our officers in the course of their excursions through the streets of this capital. Sir, I turn much more gladly to contemplate the triumphant position in which England and the British forces then stood. A force consisting of 4,500 effective men, under Sir H. Gough; a fleet of seventy-three sail, including one line-of-battle ship, sixteen vessels of war of different descriptions, and ten war steamers, had forced their unassisted way, conquering as they went, up this mighty and unknown stream, and penetrated the Yang-tse-Keang, for a distance of 170 miles, to the centre of the Chinese empire. They had achieved the conquest of towns and fortresses mounting in all above 2,000 guns, which they had captured or destroyed. They had subdued cities containing a population varying from one million down to 60,000 or 70,000. They had continually routed armies four or five, and sometimes ten times their own number; and they had done all this at a great distance from their own resources, and in the heart of an enemy's dominions, half across the globe from their own native country. They now occupied the proud position of having surmounted all the innumerable toils and difficulties of their warfare, and holding with one hand, in their formidable grasp, the main artery of Chinese commerce—the intersection of China's mightiest river, with that great canal which traverses the country, and supplies the upper provinces with the products of the south. Thus they had China and its commerce at their feet; they had made their dispositions, which circumstances fortunately rendered unnecessary, for the capture of Nankin, which they were ready to storm when Sir H. Gough should give the word. They would have captured the second city of the empire with a population of 1,500,000 inhabitants. In the course of all these proceedings they had maintained, not only constant and uninterrupted gallantry, but a soldier-like temperance and discipline which reflected on them a glory of the purest character—on them, and on their leaders, Sir H. Gough and Sir W. Parker; and now at length they enabled her Majesty's plenipotentiary, at the head of a powerful fleet and of a not inconsiderable and highly disciplined army, to dictate peace on the terms prescribed by his sovereign, and they have obtained this peace on terms of entire equality, at the hands of the emperor of China. There may have been operations, Sir, in which more blood was shed, or in which a more obstinate resistance was made, but I will venture to say that, for a combination of all the qualities which the circumstances of various services required from all the officers and men of the force, there never was an army which better deserved, as I am confident they will receive, the expression of the thanks and gratitude of this House and of Parliament. The vote of thanks I now propose is in one respect, perhaps, couched in rather an unusual form. It has been usual separately to thank the officers and men of the naval and military service. It is not from any neglect, or omission to consult former precedents, that her Majesty's Government have adopted the form in which they now offer a vote for the thanks of this House to their consideration. It is because, from the commencement to the end of this war, on every occasion, navy and army concurred in the most thorough co-operation; because there was hardly an action in which their combined efforts were not called for, nor one occasion on which the thanks of Parliament could be voted to the one service, where they would not be justly due to the other. And in speaking of the army and the navy, I desire to include in the expression of the public gratitude, and the proposal of the thanks of Parliament, not only the officers and men of the East India Company's military force, but also the officers and men of the infant navy of the East India Company—that navy which, on every occasion when its exertions have been called into action, has rendered signal service to the public interests of the empire, and has shown all readiness to co operate with the navy of the Crown. Sir, I have perhaps, detained the House longer than I ought to have done. I know how wearisome to the House details of the kind I have gone through necessarily must be, and that, as an unprofessional man, I may have omitted the names of many individuals whom I ought to have mentioned; but I trust, that to the service the circumstance of my being an unprofessional man will be a sufficient apology for that omission. I wish to state, with reference to the individual names included in this vote of thanks, that a regular precedent has been established, from which it would in my judgment be most unwise and inconvenient to depart. That precedent, I believe, has been fixed to be, that, in the naval service no man below the rank of rear-admiral, and, in the military service, below that of major-general, should have his name included in the vote of thanks. [SirCharles Napier: Yes, a commodore has.] I mention this, because I think it wise on this occasion to adhere to precedent and rule; and I think it would do great evil if, in returning the thanks of Parliament to those engaged in military operations, it were left to Parliament to discuss the merits of this or that officer, or of this or that man, or whether this or that individual had a better claim than another to be included in the vote of thanks, while it is very possible that the merits of the one might be quite equal to those of the other. Were it not for this consideration, I should feel it to be an act of injustice to omit the names of those captains in her Majesty's navy who commanded the vessels engaged in this expedition, and who performed their services with the most admirable zeal and ability. It is in consequence of our wish to adhere to the regular rule in these cases that we have inserted no other names than those which appear in the proposed resolution. But had it not been for the precedent, it would have given the Government the greatest pleasure to insert the name of Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, inasmuch as, although he never was engaged in any of the actual operations, he was, by the direction of Sir William Parker, sent to a station of great importance, namely, Hong Kong, where he performed the responsible duties entrusted to him with the greatest skill. It is with great reluctance, therefore, that I have omitted the name of that distinguished officer. Sir, I will not pretend to anticipate what may be the consequences of the peaceful and happy termination of this arduous war. I say arduous, not in consequence of the extraordinary difficulties which our forces had to encounter in the shape of military opposition, but in consequence of the difficulty, in consequence of the peculiar and unknown character of the Chinese, of estimating the nature of the obstacles that would be thrown in their way. I say I do not pretend to anticipate the results of the successful termination of this war. I trust, however, that more intimate and extended relations with the Chinese people may lead to results most advantageous to the trade and commerce of this country, although, perhaps, such results may not come into operation immediately. I heard with great satisfaction the wise and temperate language in which my hon. Friend—as I trust he will allow me to call him, and who I do not see in his place at this moment, I mean the hon. Member for Manchester—adverted to this part of the subject, and warned the manufacturers of this country that the development of this new market, valuable as it was likely to prove, must be a work of time, and that great results must not be looked for immediately as following upon recent events; but that the new market must be regarded as a slow, but sure opening for British commerce, rather than a great present gain, which was to be seized upon with avidity by the manufacturing body, and thus lead, as had been the case in some other instances, to disappointment and loss. Sir, it is not my part, nor the part of this House at the present time, to anticipate the results of the great events which have just transpired. It is our part now to congratulate ourselves and the country at large upon the peaceful and satisfactory termination of this extensive and arduous war—to congratulate ourselves, also, upon the possible opening for British commerce, in a more extended communication with a vast empire which has hitherto stood excluded from the civilised world, but which we hope may hereafter become incorporated with that civilized world. Our simple task is, to pay our tribute of gratitude—a tribute which, I hope, will pass this House without a single dissentient voice—to those gallant men who have so well sustained the honour of the British arms, and to whose noble and intrepid exertions our signal success is to be attributed.

Viscount Palmerston

Concerned as I have been, said the noble Lord, with those transactions which form the subject of the motion of the noble Lord, the House will not be surprised that I should be anxious to second the motion which the noble Lord has just submitted to the House, and to express my most cordial and hearty concurrence in the vote which he has proposed. In doing so, Sir, I shall follow the example so properly set by the noble Lord, by abstaining from anything that could by possibility disturb the unanimity which I trust will prevail in the House, on the present moment, by infusing into the discussion the slightest alloy of party feeling. Of course, Sir, the House must feel that we upon this side of the House, who are peculiarly responsible for the operations, the triumphant termination of which this House is now commemorating, must feel no ordinary gratification at the success which has been achieved; but I feel it would be unworthy on my part to say anything that could excite the slightest shade of difference in the mind of any man here present, or diminish that full and entire feeling of satisfaction with which I trust every one will concur in the motion of the noble Lord. The noble Lord has gone so ably and so fully into the details of those operations, for which it is now proposed that we tender our thanks to those engaged in carrying them out, that I can add nothing to that which has been already said. But when the noble Lord expressed his apprehension that the details he was entering into would be wearisome to the House, I must be permitted to say, that he did not do justice either to the clearness and ability with which he made his statement, or to those feelings of patriotism with which the Members of this House must ever listen to the accounts of those actions by which glory has been shed upon the arms of their country. The noble Lord very justly said, he might take the beginning of the year 1841 as the commencement of the war in China. Up to that period we were in process of negotiation rather than in a state of hostility with China. The negotiations, it is true, were accompanied and supported by a military and naval demonstration, and by the occupation of an island, but still the character of the transactions was that of negotiation rather than of hostility. When the treaty made by her Majesty's plenipotentiary in China was violated and rejected by the Chinese authorities, long before it could be known to them that the treaty was not accepted by the Government of Great Britain, the transactions began to assume the character of war rather than of negotiation. Sir, it is true, as the noble Lord has stated, that there have been other occasions upon which the army and navy of England have had to act upon a larger scale, and to contend with a more formidable enemy; but when we consider the great distance of the scene of operations, the unknown character of the people, and the unexplored nature of the coasts and seas—when we consider the local difficulties to be encountered, I must say, that there has never been an occasion upon which the British army and navy have had more opportunities for displaying that skill and courage, those fertile resources in difficulties, that endurance under privations, and that enterprise in action, which have always more or less distinguished them in every field on which they have been called upon to serve their country. But when I say, that upon other occasions the forces of Great Britain have had to cope with an enemy more formidable, let it not be assumed that the Chinese did not display great personal courage upon many occasions. They were wanting in that skill in the art of war without which courage can do little towards ensuring success; but there were many instances of desperate bravery on the part of individuals and of bodies of troops that were worthy of the most military nations on the earth. It must not be assumed, therefore, that the Chinese were deficient in that physical courage which renders an enemy respectable. I say, then, Sir, that these operations reflect the highest degree of credit both upon the skill of the officers by whom they were conducted, and upon the valour and constancy of the troops who acted under their orders. With regard to the naval commander, Sir W. Parker, the right hon. Baronet now at the head of the Home Department and myself, had ample opportunities, when at the head of the Admiralty, of witnessing the prudence and judgment of that officer when military qualities were not so much called into play—I mean when he commanded in the Tagus; and that officer has now shewn as much ability and enterprize in a more active service. With respect to the other commanders, I have not the honour of the same previous acquaintance with them; but all that they have done on this occasion deserves the gratitude and thanks of this House—not only on account of the skill and enterprise with which they surmounted all those difficulties so well described by the noble Lord, but also for the general tenor of their conduct towards the people against whom their operations were directed. It is perfectly true, that by their original instructions they were directed to abstain from all acts of violence upon the population of China, which were not actually and absolutely necessary for the prosecution of their military operations: but in carrying out their instructions those officers proved that they had in their own breasts the same feelings that had dictated the instructions, and it must be remembered, that it is far easier for a Government to write such instructions in the calmness of the cabinet, than it is for officers in command to cause them to be obeyed by troops flushed with victory, and still heated by the excitement of the conflict. That is a point which ought to be borne in mind by the House when considering the vote of thanks now before them, for there is another and important consideration connected with it—namely, that it was the humanity and forbearance of our troops towards the people of China which essentially contributed to the success of our military operations. That conduct excited in the minds of the people of the country a friendly feeling towards us, and we know that the Chinese expressed the utmost astonishment at the forbearance of our troops. They had been accustomed to give no quarter to their captives, but to practice the utmost barbarity upon all whom they vanquished; and they were surprised that the English should take so much pains, expose themselves to danger and death, and expend so much treasure, for the purpose of inflicting wounds upon the Chinese, which afterwards they took so much trouble to cure. That is an illustration both of the character of the Chinese and of the contrast afforded by the conduct of our troops. I remember Mr. Canning ridiculing the idea of sending out 16,000 bayonetted philosophers to enlighten the people of Sicily; but we have now seen a smaller body of men, philosophers of the same kind, who, instead of exhibiting that ferocity usually displayed by men with arms in their hands, have, by the force of their example, taught their enemy a lasting lesson of mercy to captives, and of humanity towards the conquered. The noble Lord [has dwelt upon those who have not been included in this particular vote. By the practice of Parliament, it is impossible the vote can extend beyond the range it has taken; but perhaps I may be permitted to say, in seconding this motion, that although this House cannot vote their thanks, I trust that the minds of hon. Members will be not the less imbued with feelings of gratitude towards those who, although not included in the vote, have done their country good service. And first, I should say, that that gratitude is eminently due to the late Governor-general of India, Lord Auckland, who, by the zeal and promptness with which he sent reinforcements, so greatly facilitated the military operations. And I would also say, that such feelings are claimed by Sir Henry Pottinger, of whom, upon a late occasion, the right hon. Baronet spoke at once so hand- somely and so justly, and to whose energy, skill, and conduct we are so deeply indebted for the treaty which has been effected. As for the results which may follow that treaty, it is not for me to express any particular expectation; but it is impossible that it should not be attended with the most important and beneficial results. It is perfectly true, as stated by the noble Lord, that the mercantile interests of this country ought not to rush too impetuously into the market thus newly opened to them until the results of the treaty shall be better developed, and if individuals do so it is possible they may meet with temporary and partial disappointment. But when we consider the magnitude of the population with which we are about to open an intercourse, the vast resources and wealth of the empire with which we are about to have an extended commerce, how many wants they have which it is in our power to supply, and how many things they possess which we should be glad to take in return, it is impossible not to see that great and important advantages must result from the successful termination of this war. There is one circumstance which cannot escape the attention of the people of this country, which is, that although, thank heaven, we have lately enjoyed many years of peace, yet our army and navy have not forgotten the art of war in the relaxation of that peace; that although the sword has rested in the scabbard it has not rusted there; and that although the thunder of our navy has now long reposed in slumber, yet when roused into action, it is not less formidable than in former days. It cannot but be satisfactory to the people of England to observe, that whenever events may call for the display of our military or naval power, to maintain the interests, or vindicate the honour of the country, the army and navy of Great Britain will be found as they have ever been, fully equal to the maintenance of those interests or the vindication of that honour. This also is a circumstance worthy of note, that on those occasions, when of late years our army and navy have had to act, great events have been brought about by a comparatively small number of men. The noble Lord has stated the number of the forces employed in China, and that number has proved fully adequate to the service required of them, although far less than those numbers which we have seen employed in ac- tive service in former years. Thus these events must furnish to the people of England the double satisfaction of finding that the army and navy are fully able to sustain the reputation they acquired at any former period, and of observing also that comparatively small portions of those forces are capable of accomplishing important results. I have the greatest possible satisfaction in giving my cordial and hearty concurrence to the motion of the noble Lord.

Question put as follows,— That the thanks of this House be given to Lieutenant-general Sir Hugh Gough, G.C.B., Vice-Admiral Sir W. Parker, G.C.B., and Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, K.C.B., for the distinguished skill, intrepidity, and indefatigable zeal, with which they have conducted the combined operations of her Majesty's naval and military forces on the coast and on the inland waters of China; whereby a series of brilliant and unvaried successes has been concluded by an honourable peace on the terms proposed by her Majesty. That the thanks of this House be given to Major-general Lord Saltoun, K.C.B., Major-general George Burrell, C.B., Major-general Sir Robert Bartley, K.C.B., Major-general Sir James Holmes Schoedde, K.C.B., and the other officers of the navy, army, and Royal Marines, including those in the service of the East-India Company, both European and native, for the energy, ability, and gallantry with which they have executed the various services which they have been called upon to perform. That this House doth acknowledge and highly approve of the gallantry, discipline, and uniform good conduct displayed by the petty officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the navy, army, and Royal Marines, including the troops in the service of the East-India Company's service, both European and native; the cordial good feeling which has subsistsd between all the branches of the united services; and the honourable emulation exhibited by all in the discharge of the various duties required by the peculiar naure of the operations to be performed; and that the same be communicated to them by the commanders of the several ships and corps, who are respectively desired to thank them for their gallant behaviour.

Sir C. Napier

agreed with the noble Lord who had just sat down as to the clearness with which the noble Mover had brought forward the whole matter, and he felt he should not do his duty if he did not bear testimony to the gallant conduct, not only of Sir W. Parker and the naval officers, but of the military officers likewise. He had been accustomed to go up rivers, and storm batteries; and he knew what it was: and he must say, that he thought the skill displayed by Sir W. Parker was unequalled in naval history. He quite agreed too in the eulogium pronounced upon Sir Gordon Bremer, and at the same time he must express his regret that the noble Lord should have omitted to mention Captain Senhouse, who, in the absence of Sir William Parker, had made the first attack upon Canton, and had lost his life in his devotion to the service. There was also another circumstance which the noble Lord had omitted to mention, that, in the first attack upon Canton, at the latter part of the destruction of the batteries, Sir H. Gough arrived in time to avenge the death of his (Sir Charles Napier's) gallant Friend and relative. He would now say no more than express his cordial concurrence in the motion.

Sir G. Staunton

said, that whatever might be the opinion of any person of the original policy and justice of the war; and he was perfectly satisfied both of the abstract justice and practical expediency of our operations in China, it was impossible not to entertain peculiar satisfaction at its brilliant result. It was a great consolation to consider that whatever temporary suffering the Chinese might have experienced, yet the ultimate consequences of the war would be more beneficial to them than to this country. It would, moreover, be the first step towards introducing Christianity into that great empire. He must further express his regret that the name of Sir H. Pottinger could now be included in the present vote of thanks. He was sure, however, that if it could have been done that distinguished officer would have received the unanimous thanks of the House.

Sir R. Inglis

said, that, without entering into the question of the origin of the war, he concurred with the noble Lord who seconded the motion in thanking Heaven that we had been so long at peace, and he would add that he thanked God that the wars in which we had been recently engaged, had been brought to an end. But while by the present motion they thus acknowledged the obligation which they felt to be due to the human instruments of success, they ought, as Christian legislators, also to express their gratitude to that great source from which all blessings were derived. Although he would not yield to any one in his sense of services rendered by the army and navy, and by the plenipotentiary, yet he desired that some one should express that feeling which, although it could not be decorously put to a vote, as if it were a matter which would be negatived, might yet be properly expressed in debate—namely, gratitude to the great cause of the blessings we had received. He trusted, that the Chinese would receive more substantial benefit from the termination of the war, by the example of our moderation and humanity, and by the introduction of the Christian principles which we professed, than we had derived glory from the manner in which the peace had been achieved.

Mr. Hume

concurred in the motion, but wished for an explanation why Sir Henry Pottinger was not included in the vote? The evils at the beginning of the war had arisen from the want of such an able director. He had been glad to observe the cordial feeling that had subsisted between the army and the navy.

Sir R. Peel

The unanimous disposition of the House to express their commendation of the zeal, energy, and gallantry, as well of the officers in command as of every man concerned in these operations, induces me to say, that I most cordially concur in all those expressions of admiration which I have heard. With respect to Sir Henry Pottinger, I think that the opportunity which I took on a former occasion of publicly acknowledging the sense entertained by the Government of the services of that distinguished man, must exempt the Government from the suspicion of wishing to throw any slight upon him. I then took the opportunity of stating, that nothing could exceed the zeal, discretion, and forbearance of Sir Henry Pottinger. And now, when others concerned in the same expedition are to receive a mark of public gratitude, I should be sorry to allow the opportunity to pass without repeating the sentiments I then expressed. I wish it had been consistent with usage to have included the name of Sir Henry Pottinger in the vote; but at the same time I think it of great importance to adhere in these matters strictly to precedent; because if we did not do so—if we did not strictly adhere to those precedents, which I think have been founded upon good sense, every omission that we happened to make in a vote of this nature would imply a censure. We avoid the risk of such an implication by adhering to the established usage. If the hon. Gentleman were right in supposing that Sir Henry Pottinger had had committed to him the conduct of the naval and military operations, in that case, undoubtedly, Sir Henry Pottinger's name ought to be included in the vote. But Sir Henry Pottinger was her Majesty's plenipotentiary, entrusted with the diplomatic arrangements of the expedition against China, and all the direct control that Sir Henry Pottinger had over the naval and military operations was to direct their suspension, in case his negotiations arrived at such a point as to render a suspension of hostilities desirable. I apprehend, that there is no instance in which a diplomatic agent of the Government has received the thanks of Parliament for the successful completion of any negotiation, however important, or of any treaty, however advantageous to the interests of this country. This explanation, I think, will convince the hon. Gentleman and the House that as Sir Henry Pottinger's functions were diplomatic, not military or naval, no reflection is cast upon his great and valuable services by the omission of his name in the vote of thanks now under the consideration of the House. I certainly think, that the precedent of including the names of diplomatic servants in votes of this nature is one that we ought to pause before we establish. I can well enter into the feelings of this distinguished man—distinguished not only for his civil qualifications, but for his military service—when he sees this public acknowledgment of the brilliant achievements of his brothers in arms, and feels that he cannot partake in the thanks of Parliament. As a proof of the entire approbation which her Majesty's Government entertains of Sir Henry Pottinger's services, and of the confidence which we place in him, I may say, that, finding him appointed by our predecessors, we took the earliest opportunity of assuring him that a continuance in her Majesty's service in China would be acceptable to us. At the same time we have intreated him to give to the public the advantage of his services, by continuing to conduct the affairs of Great Britain in that quarter of the globe. I fear that his answer will be in the negative. He has this excuse, that such has been his devotion to the public service, that for the last forty-six or forty-seven years he has been employed in India, and yet in all that period has only been absent one year and a half. We have, however, entreated him to remain until we can benefit by his opinions and advice upon many important matters connected with the adjustment of our future relations with China; and I assure the hon. Gentleman that, if Sir Henry Pottinger will recall his decision and remain permanently in China, he will possess the entire confidence of her Majesty's, Government, and we should think that we had succeeded in making the arrangement of all others the most beneficial to the country. I hope I have said enough to show, that her Majesty's Government are not insensible to the high services of Sir Henry Pottinger, and that we regret, as sincerely as the hon. Gentleman can do, that the adherence to established usage precludes us from making a public acknowledgment of them.

Resolutions agreed tonew, con.

It was also

Ordered, "That Mr. Speaker do communicate the said resolutions to Lieutenant general Sir Hugh Gough, bt. G.C.B. Vice-Admiral Sir William Parker, G.C.B., Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, K.C.B., Major-general Lord Saltoun, K.C.B., Major-general George Burrell, C.B., Major-general Sir Robert Bartley, K.C.B., Major-general Sir James Holmes Schoedde, K.C.B; and that Lieutenant-general Sir Hugh Gough, Vice-Admiral Sir William Parker, Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, Major-general Lord Saltoun, Major-general George Burrell, Major-general Sir Robert Bartley, Major-general Sir James Holmes Schoedde, be requested to signify the same to the officers serving under their respective commands."