HL Deb 22 April 1836 vol 33 cc114-6
The Marquess of Londonderry

had to entreat the indulgence of their Lordships for a very few moments, while he made one or two remarks, in consequence of a letter, which had appeared very generally in the journals of this metropolis, written by Lieutenant-Colonel Evans, who was also a brigadier-general, or a field-marshal, or held some other rank, he did not exactly know what, in the service of the Queen of Spain. A particular allusion had been made to himself in that letter, otherwise he would not have taken the smallest notice of it; because it was full of allegations and statements as to the probable result of the contest in Spain, which, however, left it as difficult as ever to discover the true bearings of the case. He was spoken of in the letter to which he alluded, as if he had stated in their Lordships' House that which he had no foundation for stating. Now, it was not in his nature so to act towards his brother-soldiers, and he should be ashamed of himself if he thought that he could be capable of making any statement relative to them, for which he had not good and fair grounds. The statement in the letter of Colonel Evans ran thus:— But anonymous aspersions, whether absurd or atrocious—whether from party motives, private malice, or from persons discarded from our ranks, are deserving of little notice. Not so, however, distinct allegations made in the Senate. For instance—in the House of Lords, the Marquess of Londonderry is reported to have stated, that the British Legion went into action on the 16th of January in a state of intoxication, and that it retreated to Vittoria in the same state, having murdered a considerable number of prisoners. The noble Marquess is further reported to have declared, that he had in his possession proofs of these charges. In my relative situation as your representative, you are interested in this matter. I am, therefore, happy to be able to inform you, and also the noble personage referred to, thus publicly, that there is not one word of truth in the statements attributed to him. Now it would be in the recollection of their Lordships, that, on the 12th of February, he had, in that House, made the statement which was here alluded to. In the Gazette de France of the 6th of February, a letter was inserted, dated "St. Jean de Luz, January 31," which contained the following passage:— On the 17th, in the evening, the soldiers of Colonel Evans on re-entering Vittoria, drunk and enraged at having been beaten, massacred 130 Carlists who had been prisoners for some days. The English officers did all in their power to prevent this cowardly murder; their soldiers, however, would not listen to them, and, with great barbarity, executed their horrible crime. On the 8th of February, the same account was given in most of the London journals; and on the day which he had already stated, the 12th, he came down to the House, and, in the course of his speech, mentioned the circumstance. On that day a letter had reached his hands, written by an individual extremely well acquainted with the affairs of Spain, and from whom he had repeatedly received correct information with respect to Spain. He opened that letter, and he found there the same observations as were contained in the French paper. Now, he should not have the least hesitation in producing that letter—in laying it on the table, and proving at their Lordships' Bar the grounds and evidence on which he stated the fact, the accuracy of which had been questioned. He did not think, he must say, that he was treated by the noble Viscount (Melbourne) with that degree of candour which he had a right to expect, with reference to the letter alluded to by the noble Viscount on a former evening, and a copy of which he wished to be laid on their Lordships' Table.

The Earl of Minto

said, the non-attendance of the noble Viscount was owing to his not being aware that the noble Marquess meant to ask any question about the letter to which he now referred. Had he been aware of the intention of the noble Marquess, he was certain that his noble Friend would not have left the House.

The Marquess of Londonderry

said, he was quite ready to produce the private letter to which he had alluded, and to lay it on the Table of the House. He trusted that he had now justified himself. He had shown the grounds on which his statement rested. In the first place, the French paper contained the paragraph; secondly, the journals of the metropolis had repeated it; and thirdly, he had received private information to the same effect.

Here the matter ended.

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