HL Deb 28 June 1815 vol 31 cc0-1018
The Earl of Liverpool

then moved the order of the day for the consideration of the Prince Regent's Message respecting a vote of credit. The Message being read, his lordship observed, that this was the usual message at the close of a session, for placing an unappropriated sum at the disposal of Government to answer any exigencies that might arise in the course of public affairs. It could not be expected that at this moment he should enter into any detailed exposition of the state of public affairs. Upon this vote the subject was undoubtedly open to discussion; but he believed it would be generally felt not to be expedient to raise any such discussion at this time. This, however, would, he imagined, be universally admitted, that it was of great importance to enable Government to prosecute the contest with the utmost possible vigour, in order to secure that object which was the only proper and legitimate object of all our warlike exertions—a just and honourable peace. Deeming it improper, then, at this period, to enter into any details respecting the situation of public affairs, he should content himself with barely stating, that the sum to be taken in the vote of credit was six millions. He then moved an humble Address to the Prince Regent, thanking him for his gracious Message, and echoing the Message in the usual manner.

Lord Grenville

said, he did not rise to oppose the motion, which, on the contrary, had his most cordial approbation. Nothing could be more proper at the present crisis, than that ample means should be put in the power of the Crown to turn to the best advantage the great exertions which had been made, and were now making, and at length to bring the whole to an honourable and permanent conclusion: and, indeed, so very proper and expedient in every point of view did this appear to be, that he should not have thought of troubling their lordships, even with a few words, had he not been desirous of doing that duty to his country and to its noble defenders—that justice to his own feelings—which he had not an opportunity of doing on the occasion, when the subject was brought more directly under the consideration of their lordships. He had, in truth, conceived that his parliamentary duties had been finished for the session; but being in town, and understanding that this business was to be brought forward this evening, he resolved to come down, in order to add his humble tribute of applause to those sentiments of deep and heartfelt approbation which their lordships and the whole natoin—had expressed towards the truly noble and gallant men who had a share in that signal and distinguished achievement which filled the heart of every Englishman with joy and exultation. It was only from not being aware, in time, of the day when the thanks of their lordships were to be voted, that he was prevented from attending his duty in the House on that occasion, and joining the expression of his admiration and applause to that of their lordships and the country. No distance of place, no consideration of personal convenience, would have prevented him from coming forward to discharge so sacred a duty. Nothing of that description would have prevented him from doing himself the pleasure to state how warmly he concurred in every mark of gratitude and approbation that could possibly be offered to those who had contributed to the splendid and glorious achievement to which he alluded: but, indeed, it was hardly necessary to state his concurrence; for whatever might be the difference of opinion as to the necessity and justice of commencing the war, when once we were in it, all must concur in the proposition that it ought to be carried on with the utmost vigour; and when intelligence was received of this almost unparalleled event, the heart of every one who felt as a man, and an Englishman, must have beat high at the elevation on which his country was placed by an achievement so truly glorious and magnificent: for he would venture to say, that this country was, by this event, raised to a pitch of elevation which it had never before occupied, even in the most splendid periods of its history. It was an achievement, not only never surpassed in the history of Britain, but one which had never been overmatched by any exploit recorded in the history of the world. [Hear, hear!] Our gratitude and admiration ought, therefore, to be as unbounded as the merits of that renowned commander and that gallant army, who had raised so proud a monument to the fame and honour of their country, and contributed in such a wonderful manner to the great object of placing its safety and prosperity on a secure and permanent foundation. Ask the Commander to whom all this was owing, and he would tell them that it was owing to the invincible obstinacy and unshaken courage, to the character and composition of the troops which he had the happiness to command. Ask the troops to whom it was owing, and they would tell them with one voice—for so it appeared by letters as well as by verbal communications from those who were eye-witnesses of the scene—that it was owing to the unparalleled exertions, the matchless skill, and unequalled merits of the Commander. Ask their country to whom it was owing, and the nation with one voice would say, that it was to the valour and merits of both. The Commander was worthy of the charge of calling forth the qualities and directing the energies of such troops; the troops were worthy of being led to victory by such a commander. [Hear, hear!] But it was not merely with a view to the fame and military glory of the country, that this event was important. It was of vast consequence with a view to that which was alone the just and legitimate object of war—the attainment of an honourable and permanent peace; and he trusted that this grand achievement would be attended with the desirable effect of at length securing to the nation that peace so much wanted. He did not mean perpetual peace, for that would be a vain expectation; but he trusted it would have the effect of relieving the country from the pressure of perpetual war, or from such a state of peace as must be attended with the apprehensions and burthens of a dangerous war, and was worse than war itself. The present contest was, in his opinion, most just and necessary in its commencement, and one which ought to be prosecuted with a vigour and decision worthy of its object; and he was ready to give his tribute of approbation to those by whom the means of producing such a splendid result had been furnished. The contest was commenced as the last effort necessary to secure to the nation the benefits of upwards of twenty years active exertion, and he trusted that now at last this country and Europe would be suffered to enjoy the blessings of peace. It was true the boon, if it could be obtained, must be considered as having been purchased at the expense of the most valuable lives which this country had ever produced; but even those who were most nearly connected with those departed heroes, and who most deeply felt and lamented their loss, even they must confess that their blood had not been shed in vain, if it purchased the permanent safety, tranquillity, and prosperity of their country and of Europe. It was to be hoped, that care would now be taken so to improve our success as not to allow this great object again to elude our grasp. If he could perceive any disposition among their lordships, any disposition in Parliament, or in the nation in general; if he could perceive any disposition in those to whom the administration of the government was entrusted, to remit our exertions, and to leave the great object unaccomplished; if he were to see them inclined, from a spirit of premature accommodation, or false notions of magnanimity, from a wish immediately to relieve the country from its burthens, or from a desire on the other hand to insist upon any thing which ought not in justice and honour to be demanded; if he were to see the ministers of government, from these or any other motives, prepared again to give up our advantages, and leave Europe exposed to new wars and fresh convulsions, then, and then only would he say, that the best blood of Britain had been shed in vain.—[Hear, hear!] But he had no reason to apprehend that this would be the case. The universal opinion in their lordships House, and the other House of Parliament, and he trusted the unanimous sentiment of the nation was, that our exertions must be prosecuted with vigour till the great object of the war, of all our exertions and sacrifices, should be fully and permanently obtained. He had every reason to believe that such was the feeling and opinion of the members of Administration, and it was in that confidence only he wished to mark the circumstance—it was in that confidence only that he gave his most entire and cordial assent to this proposition.

The motion was then agreed to, nem dis.