The Marquess of Londonderry
begged to be allowed to say a few words in postponing the notice he had given, with reference to the letter moved for by the noble Duke on the cross bench (Richmond) on the 19th of May last. He (the Marquess of Londonderry) should not have moved for the production of that letter himself, because he felt that any discussion as to the state of the war in Spain might be attended with some inconvenience to the public service; and considerable reserve had, therefore, been shown upon the question on his side of the House. But he did expect, when the noble Duke on the cross-bench had moved for that letter, bearing, as it did, on the disgraceful and disgusting manner in which the British troops had been engaged in the war, he would have favoured the House with some observations on the subject. That noble Duke declared himself free from all party; the motion he made some time ago on the subject of the Irish Municipal Corporations appeared to have exercised considerable influence on the course pursued by Ministers elsewhere; he had also shown great dexterity in bringing down a noble Earl the other night, who had before taken leave of political life, and whose speech from the same cross bench had been so much praised by both sides of the House, although he could not say with much justice; the noble Duke sitting on that cross-bench, and exercising so much influence, ought, after moving for the production of the letter in question, to have directed the attention of their Lordships to the subject. The question now related not only to the state of the war in Spain, but concerned the profession at large; it came home to every soldier; 1165 for it was impossible to say whether, as matters now stood, if Lord John Hay were taken to-morrow, summary punishment would not be inflicted on him. For God's sake let things remain no longer in that state; the King's troops and ships could not be employed in that service without involving Government in a responsibility of the most frightful character. But in consequence of the absence through indisposition of his noble Friend, the Duke of Wellington, whose opinions were entitled to so much weight on every thing connected with the Peninsula, he was induced reluctantly to postpone his motion. He hoped that the Session would not pass over without their Lordships having their attention directed to this subject, and with out Ministers being called to account.
The Earl of Minto
rejoiced, that it. would not be necessary for him to say one word, either as to the reasons which the noble Lord had given for thinking that these questions ought to have been put some days ago, or as to the reasons which he had assigned for thinking, that as those questions had not been put then, they ought not to be put now. He wished, however, to offer one observation in reply to those which had just been offered by the noble Earl. The noble Earl had said, that one of his reasons for not putting these questions now was, that he apprehended the discussion might be injurious to the public service, and that he observed, on the part of his Majesty's Government, some shrinking, which looked like reluctance to enter upon it. Now, in reply to that observation, he would say, first, that he saw no inconvenience likely to arise to the public service from the questions of the noble Earl; and secondly, that he himself had no reluctance to answer any question put to him by the noble Earl consistent with his duty to the public. He said this, that it might not be supposed that he shrank in the slightest degree from this discussion. He thought that the noble Earl's speech was rather addressed to the noble Duke on the cross-benches than to the Members of his Majesty's Government, and he should therefore leave the noble Duke to reply to it. The noble Earl had condemned the war in Spain, had said that it was a new and anomalous state of things, and had asked in what character did this country appear in it. His (Lord Minto's) answer to that question was, that our country appeared there as an ally 1166 under the treaty of quadruple alliance. Under that treaty we were bound to send an auxiliary naval force to co-operate with the forces of the Queen of Spain. There was nothing new or anomalous in their appearance in the field in that character. Whenever the noble Earl asked his questions he should be prepared to give them a distinct answer.
§ The Duke of Richmond
would not enter at present into the question of the propriety of the war in Spain. When that question was regularly before the House, he should be ready to give his opinion upon it. He could not, however, permit the noble Earl to say that the noble Earl late at the head of his Majesty's councils (Earl Grey) had recently come down to the House upon his (the Duke of Richmond's) persuasion. That noble Earl had come down of his own accord, by his own consent, to his own great honour and credit, and had displayed in his speech of that night the same spirit of disinterested patriotism which he had displayed upon every occasion during a long life. That noble Earl had come down, and had made a speech which he could have wished to have had that influence on the cross benches which the noble Earl said that it produced. That speech must have convinced many, but he was sorry to see, that however much it might have influenced, and would long continue to influence, the people out of doors, it had not changed the vote of a single noble Peer. He was not the noble Duke who had persuaded the noble Earl to come down on that occasion. He wished to God that he had such influence over the noble Earl, for if he had, he would bring him down as often as he could to assist and benefit the deliberations of their Lordships.
The Marquess of Londonderry
had never supposed that the noble Duke had used compulsion to bring the noble Earl down to the House. The noble Duke however, and the noble Earl together had made a formidable diversion in support of Ministers. He should be most happy to have the noble Earl and the noble Duke as his allies; and in saying that, he hoped he should not be accused of saying any thing disrespectful to either. He thought that his Majesty's land forces were placed in extreme peril in Spain by the course pursued by General Evans. The noble Earl need not flatter himself that he had got out of the scrape yet; he would have 1167 enough of it before the close of the Session.
The Earl of Minto
had derived his in formation from sources less public than those of the noble Marquess; and from all that he had heard and seen, he apprehended that General Evans would proceed in the same gallant career of success which he had hitherto pursued.
§ Conversation dropped.