HL Deb 05 February 1817 vol 35 cc215-8

Lord Exmouth, in his full uniform and insignia of knight grand cross of the order of the Bath, having taken his seat on one of the cross benches opposite the Lord Chancellor, and the latter having put on his hat,

The Lord Chancellor

addressing himself to lord Exmouth, who rose and remained standing, said, that the House in the discharge of its high duty, had taken into its serious consideration the honourable claim which the noble admiral had acquired to the applause and gratitude of the nation, for his gallant and meritorious conduct, in carrying into execution the determination of this government, to deliver from bondage the christian slaves already confined at Algiers, and to abolish, by treaty, the system of christian slavery for ever! the measure adopted by this country had been most favourable to the interests of humanity, and reflected lustre throughout Europe, on the British name and character. The House had learned, with the most lively satisfaction, that the plan of the great achievement, which the noble admiral had so gallantly executed, was formed by his skill, judgment, and ability; and the world had heard, and had done justice to the valour and intrepidity, with which that achievement had been effected. The display of those great qualities, of skill, valour, judgment, and intrepidity, could not fail to transmit to posterity, the name of the noble admiral, together with those of the illustrious men who had raised and established the naval character and glory of this country. He should not presume to detain the House, whilst he endeavoured to express the personal satisfaction he himself felt, in communicating to the noble admiral this testimony of the approbation which their lordships had bestowed on his gallant and honourable conduct. He should proceed, therefore, to read, in the manner he was commanded, the unanimous Resolution of the House:

"Resolved, nem. dis. by the Lords spiritual and temporal, in parliament assembled, that the Thanks of this House be given to Admiral Lord Viscount Exmouth, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, for his gallant, able, and judicious conduct, in the decisive attack on the forces of the Dey of Algiers, on the 27th of August, 1816."

Lord Exmouth

said, that, after the high eulogium which had been pronounced by the noble and learned lord, it was impossible for him to withdraw, without endeavouring to express the high degree of satisfaction which he felt on this occasion. However judicious his arrangements might be considered—however important the results to which they led might prove—he felt that his exertions were overpaid by the honour now conferred on him. When engaged in the expedition, he relied, for his best reward, on the approbation of the noble lords who surrounded him; and that reward he received with sentiments of gratitude and respect. He might, indeed, be charged with insensibility, if he did not feel almost overwhelmed by the obligation. Honoured, as he was, by the favour of his royal highness the Prince Regent, and distinguished by the approbation of their lordships, it was impossible for him to find language adequate to the expression of his feelings. His life had been devoted, for the last forty years, to the naval service of his country, and, therefore, he felt himself competent to speak of the efficient aid he had received from his able associates in the expedition, rear-admiral sir David Milne, and vice-admiral Van Capellan—as well as of the manly perseverance, and unconquerable spirit, of the brave officers and men of both services. He would venture to state, without fear of contradiction, that the flag of Great Britain never obtained more glory, never derived more honour, was never crowned with greater success, than in the operations against Algiers. He felt the highest reward in the confidence of his sovereign, in the approbation of their lordships, and in the general praise of those who had the honour of the naval service most at heart. Towards the noble and learned lord on the woolsack, who, in such dignified and impressive terms, had communicated to him the thanks of the House, he felt the strongest sentiments of personal respect. The recollection of the honour conferred on him would ever be fresh in his mind, and would animate himself, and he had no doubt all those gallant officers whose merits their lordships had so justly appreciated, to future exertions in defence of their country. He should be proud to communicate to rear-admiral Milne and to vice admiral Van Capellan the thanks of that House, and to state to them the high testimony which had been borne to their great merits. He was sure it would be felt by them, and by every officer in the fleet, as a stimulus to future exertions, as the best reward for the duty they had performed, and for the zeal and devotion they had displayed in the service.

Lord Melville

moved, that the speech of the Lord Chancellor and that of lord Exmouth should be entered upon the Journals; which was ordered.

The Duke of Clarence

said, he rose to submit a motion, which, he was convinced, would not be received with disapprobation. He was the first nobleman who had moved, that the speech of the noble and learned lord, in communicating the thanks of the House, and the answer to it, should be printed. This he had done, when viscount Duncan received their lordships thanks for his victory over the Dutch. From the manner in which the noble and learned lord had communicated their lordships' thanks on this occasion—an occasion of the utmost importance—an occasion on which the character of Great Britain stood as high and as proud as on any other whatever—he thought that the same course should be adopted. The expedition against Algiers was a subject of which this country might well be proud, because it had often been asserted, by foreign states, that, in our maritime pursuits, we always fought and acted for ourselves alone. But all the nations of Europe could now judge, whether Great Britain, in sending out viscount Exmouth on this service, was not actuated by a pure feeling of humanity towards the rest of the world? By this act Great Britain had proved, that she could and would exert herself to protect the rights of the seas against those who invaded them unlawfully. His royal highness concluded by moving, "That the speech which the noble and learned lord had delivered, be printed, as likewise the manly, and excellent, and capita] answer, which was returned by the noble viscount."—Agreed to nem. diss.