§ Lord Alvanley
said, the motion of which he had given notice, and which he was then about to make, related to certain despatches which had been received from the British naval officer on the north coast of Spain, which narrated on the one side the disaster which had befallen the British Legion, and on the other, described the great bravery which had been displayed by many of those who were engaged on this occasion. The object of his motion was, to call the attention of his noble Friend opposite, of that House, and of the country in general, to the extraordinary position in which the marine forces and the artillery, now serving in the north of Spain, were at that moment placed. Before he made the remarks which he felt it to be his duty to offer on this subject, he would take the liberty of stating his opinion on the policy which had placed those gallant men in such a position. His opinion was, that that policy was detrimental to the interests and injurious to the honour of this country. He thought that it was detrimental to the interests of this country, because he had heard, and he believed, that the wisest and most enlightened statesmen of England, men of all parties, had laid it down as a principle not to be departed from, that nothing but a paramount sense and apprehension of mischief to itself could justify one country in interfering in any way with the internal regulations and administration of another. He was of opinion, that the policy which had been pursued was injurious to the honour of this country, because the sending of his Majesty's troops without any declaration of war to oppose the inhabitants of a country which was at peace with England, to attack those who were fighting for a man whom they believed to be their rightful Sovereign—who were contending for liberties which were as dear to them as the liberties of England were to Englishmen—was most unjustifiable. The present policy of this country with reference to Spain was founded on the Quadruple Alliance which was entered 126 into three years ago. He had always deprecated that treaty, because he looked upon it as one that encouraged the interference of England with the internal affairs of other countries. The objects of that treaty were, first, to secure the Crown of Spain to Queen Isabella; next, to remove Don Carlos from Spain; and lastly, to secure for that country a constitution of a liberal nature, a Government of a fixed description, and likewise to establish peace. Now let their Lordships examine how far these objects had been effected. In a very short time after that treaty had been signed Don Carlos left this country. He proceeded through France, and arrived safely in the Basque provinces, where he was received with open arms. His presence, indeed, produced an electrical effect. An army was instantly raised — a general movement was made—every man capable of bearing arms was enlisted in the cause. The most celebrated general of Spain, Zumalacarregui, was placed at the head of this force; and at the beginning of the war victory declared everywhere in favour of the arms of Don Carlos. His generals unquestionably out-manœuvred and outfought the Christino generals; and he believed if this country had not despatched forces to the scene of action the city of Bilboa must have fallen into his hands. The Government of this country thought proper, in consequence of these successes, to make a military demonstration n favour of the Queen, and by an Order in Council the Foreign Enlistment Act was suspended, consequent upon which the British Legion was formed, for the purpose of supporting the Queen's cause. He believed, that at the time all the people in this country, without exception, who were acquainted with the Spanish character, prophesied that the effect of this step would be, to strengthen and consolidate the Carlist cause, and to weaken that of the opposite party, in consequence of the jealous feeling which the presence of a foreign force was likely to create. Nay, they looked upon it as very probable that the British would be betrayed. Had not those prognostications been found to be too true? For two years the Legion had been in Spain. During all that time they had suffered the most gross ill-treatment—they had very nearly been betrayed into the hands of the enemy by a Spanish general, whose name he would not mention, and their numbers had dwindled from 10,000 to about 4,000 men. Within a very short time, their spirits being broken 127 by fatigue and privation, they had been driven back from Hernani to St. Sebastian by the very Carlists whom thy were sent out to exterminate. But it was proposed to establish a fixed, a settled, and a liberal Government in the Peninsula. Looking at that point, he would ask, what had happened? Why, since the treaty had been entered into there had been six different Administrations in Spain, which was more, he believed, than the history of any portion of Europe could show in so short a time. He might mention an anecdote which bore in some degree on the question. A gentleman with whom he was acquainted was appointed to act in a diplomatic capacity in one of the states of South America, where it was necessary to give a month's notice before an ambassador could be received. He remained there for two years, but during that time no President remained sufficiently long in office to enable him to present his credentials in form. And what was the case with respect to the establishment of a firm and liberal Government in Spain? Nothing of the kind had been effected, but the Throne and the Crown had been dragged through the mud by a set of drunken soldiers. A body of military men had rushed into the presence of the Queen-Regent, and forced her to accept of the greatest of anomalies, the constitution of 1812. What, he asked, had been effected in a military point of view? Why, at this very moment two-thirds of the roads of the Spanish provinces were in the possession of the Carlists. Gomez had traversed a great part of Spain. He had approached and threatened Seville—he had entered Cordova—and he had pursued his course to join Don Carlos, almost without interruption. When a great and powerful nation like this took such a step—when it interfered with the concerns of another country—those who sanctioned such an interference ought at least to take such measures as were likely to insure success. It was asserted, that the treaty was entered into for the purpose of preventing the northern powers, as they were called, from interfering with the affairs of Spain and Portugal. Now, anybody who studied the policy of these courts must at once have seen, that the treaty was calculated to produce a diametrically opposite effect. The northern powers were waiting quietly to see how the Spaniards and Portuguese would settle their own quarrels; they wished to leave the parties to themselves; but when they saw the British Legion sent 128 out to Spain—when they saw his noble Friend sending out his military propaganda, they became alarmed, not knowing to what extent the system might be carried, and if under these circumstances they had interfered, who could complain of them — or wonder at it? He should say no more about the policy of this country towards Spain; but he would go to the principal object of his motion. By the third article of the Quadruple Treaty, a naval co-operation was provided for with Spain, which was strictly carried on for some time. But when the Legion were sent out, the Government allowed a certain number of marines and artillery to cooperate with them. Now, he did not care whether those marines went one mile or ten miles into the country—it could not in either case be considered a naval co-operation. He would not advert farther to the propriety or impropriety of that co-operation; but the chief fault which he found with it was, that under the system which had been pursued it might be carried to any length or extent, however great, from 400 to 4,000 men. There was no saying how many men might thus be sent abroad to fight with those against whom war had not been declared. He considered it also a strange anomaly that those troops should have been placed under the command of a captain of the navy, who could know nothing of warlike operations upon land; and he strongly objected to the whole force being commanded by a foreign general who had no responsibility. He should now draw the attention of the House to what had taken place during the last three months in Spain. After Espartero with the assistance of the English marines had relieved Bilboa, the next attempt was by a combined movement to put an end to the war in the Basque provinces. General Evans received an additional force of 6,000 men, and Espartero was to have advanced from the Durango side, and Saarsfield from that of Pampeluna, to co-operate with him. Under these circumstances, General Evans commenced the campaign. On the 13th of last month he marched out of St. Sebastian with 13,000 men, English and Spanish. He was joined by a battalion of Royal Marines, amounting to 400 men, and twenty guns. Lord John Hay was also sent to assist. After advancing successfully on the 13th and 14th, they on the 15th took the heights above Hernani, and secured possession of the Venta hill. On the 16th they endeavoured to carry Her- 129 nani, and here they failed. The right of the army was supported by the Royal Marines, the left rested on the village of Aristenaga, where there was a bridge over the Urumea. That village was not occupied., neither was the bridge secured. The attack upon Hernani, which commenced at nine o'clock in the morning, was carried on feebly. In the middle of the day, about half-past eleven o'clock, 3,000 or 4,000 Carlists arrived at Hernani to strengthen and support those who were already engaged. They debouched on the right, and took possession of the village which he had already mentioned. General Evans detached two battalions of his troops to retake it. They were defeated, and immediately afterwards the whole army, with very few exceptions, retired in great disorder. So little were the Spaniards accustomed to witness or to expect such conduct from British troops, that they did not attempt to pursue, believing the retreat to be a ruse de guerre. But when they ascended the heights they saw the army retreating, or rather flying, like an undisciplined mob, towards St. Sebastian. It was, however, but justice to say, and it was ascertained by undoubted evidence, that the conduct of the officers was beyond all praise. From the general to the lowest subaltern, every officer did his utmost to quell the panic, to rally the troops, and to retrieve the fortune of the day. It would be asked, why, when the panic took place, was not the reserve marched forward to correct the disorder and give the troops an opportunity of rallying? The answer was, that no reserve had been prepared—and it was impossible to check the confusion. The troops fled to St. Sebastian—one of those thousand names so glorious in the annals of the British arms—in sight of those scenes where the illustrious Duke had won such imperishable laurels, within view of the summit of the Pyrennees, where formerly the British flag had floated triumphantly. Nothing could restrain the fugitives—nothing could stop them. But there was one bright point in this action. One body of men was seen in the midst of the battle, standing firm, unmoved, impenetrable. On them the Carlist force could make no impression. Yes, a gallant battalion of British marines, consisting of 400 men, commanded by the brave Colonel Owen, successfully covered the retreat. This battalion, assisted by forty British sailors, opposed themselves to the advancing party and but for them the artillery would 130 inevitably have been taken. They covered the retreat of the army most successfully, and enabled them to carry off every piece of artillery. He happened to receive a letter from a person who was a spectator, not an actor, on this occasion; and he described the conduct of the marines on this unfortunate day as the most brilliant and the most gallant that could be imagined. He declared, that looking to their numbers, the Carlists might have thrown down their arms, and by mere physical weight and force have overwhelmed this handful of marines. How happened it, then, that these 400 marines resisted, and successfully resisted, a body of troops, fifteen times their number — who had previously forced the Legion to seek for safety in flight? The reason was, that the latter force was composed of mercenaries, who served for their pay, and for their pay alone, without any feeling but for what they might gain; while the other gallant set of men felt that they were responsible to their King and country for their conduct, and knew moreover that the character of a brave corps, the glory of which had never been tarnished, was intrusted to their care and keeping. He did not pretend to throw blame upon General Evans or any of the officers of the Legion; all that he meant to say was, that the Anglo-Spanish force fled in disorder, and left the British marines to bear the brunt of the defeat. He therefore would ask his noble Friend opposite, what would have been the case if this had occurred to a British army under the command of a British officer responsible to his Government? Why, in twenty-four hours after the intelligence of such a defeat, that officer would have been superseded, a court of inquiry into his conduct, or a court-martial, would have been instituted, and if it was found that he had done all in his power to insure success, or if it was proved that the panic which took place was one of those events which no human foresight could anticipate, he would be acquitted, and an opportunity given to redeem his military character; if, on the contrary, he was found wanting in any of those qualities which were essential to an efficient general officer, then at, least, the honour of the British soldiery would no longer be intrusted to him. That being so, he asked his noble Friend opposite (Viscount Melbourne) to deal with general Evans in the same manner as he would deal with a British officer under similar circumstances. Of course his noble Friend could not have either a court-martial or a 131 court of inquiry, but his noble Friend could communicate with the Spanish government, and state to it that he looked upon himself as responsible for the welfare and safety of the British soldier in whatever part of the world that soldier might serve, and being so responsible, he could not allow the British soldier to co-operate with the general or the army whose conduct at Hernani had been such, as described until that conduct had been inquired into and completely cleared up. If his noble Friend refused to do this, he would, in his (Lord Alvanley's) opinion, incur a fearful responsibility. Suppose General Evans in his anxiety — a most natural anxiety — to redeem his character, proposed another operation—suppose the same troops were to tale part in it, a similar disaster to the last to occur, and the troops again to be ex posed to overwhelming danger—in such case the blame and disgrace would recoil with tenfold force upon the heads of his noble Friend opposite and his colleagues. The people of England, and the relations of those now serving in Spain, would be entitled to tax the Government with having risked the lives and reputations of the gallant soldiery, their countrymen, by allowing them to co-operate with the general and the army whose conduct in the opinion of all military men ought to undergo investigation. These were all the observations he (Lord Alvanley) had to make on the present occasion. He considered this to be neither a political nor a party question; it was simply a question in which the honour of the British flag was involved, and for the protection of that honour he held his noble Friend opposite and his colleagues to be responsible. True it was that this country was bound by treaty to afford assistance to Spain, but the Government owed another duty to them selves and their country, and that duty was to preserve unsullied and untouched the high military and naval reputation which the brave and gallant British army and navy under the command of his noble Friend near him (the Duke of Wellington) and others to hand that high character down to their successors as pure and untainted as it had been received from their predecessors. The noble Lord concluded by moving for a copy of the despatch from Lord John Hay relative to the affair at Hernani.
§ Viscount Melbourne
The despatches which my noble Friend has moved for have been laid on the table of the other 132 House, and I have therefore no objection to the motion; but the noble Lord has made a formal motion with a view to go into a long detail of our policy respecting Spain, and respecting the civil war which unfortunately rages in that country. The noble Lord said the policy of the Government was detrimental to the interests and injurious to the honour of the country; but that policy was known to their Lordships— it was known to the noble Lord — two years ago; and if it appeared so detrimental to our interests, and so injurious to our honour—so injurious to the safety and welfare of the country as the noble Lord states—I think it would have been more suitable and more becoming if the noble Lord had come forward sooner. I should think he ought to have interfered sooner, and he should not have seized the opportunity when a defeat had been sustained to arraign and condemn that policy which he had hitherto fully, openly, and deliberately acquiesced in. If the noble Lord has not done that sooner, I think it is not fair, I think it is not just or generous, after acquiescing in such a line of policy for two years, to come forward now and seize the occasion of a reverse to condemn that policy which for the first time he declares to be so detrimental and ruinous. I say more, such a course of proceeding is not only unfair, but it is injurious to the country. If the noble Lord believes the policy which we are pursuing with regard to Spain to be detrimental—if he believes it to be dangerous to the safety and injurious to the honour of the country, was it hot his duty to have proclaimed that sooner, and have done what he could to avert the danger? The noble Lord has not done so, but allowed the policy to be persevered in till a partial defeat is sustained, and then he takes advantage of it with a view to weaken the stability of the Ministry. It was the fault of all countries that there was frequent changes of Government —it was the vice and error of constitutional as well as of despotic governments that such changes took place, inasmuch as these changes prevented foreign powers from trusting the new administration or placing any confidence in their conduct, and induced them to withhold their confidence till they saw what line of conduct was most likely to be sanctioned by the Sovereign and the people. There was reason in such a mode of proceeding, because foreign powers did not know but those very measures which they might be disposed to 133 sanction, would be abandoned by a new government. They did not, therefore, wish to enter into intimate terms with a government, or Form an alliance with a nation, which, on account of such changes, could not be trusted or confided in when they might want that assistance which they were taught to look to, and on which they were told they might confidently rely. The noble Lord has laid it down as a rule, that nothing but matters of the deepest interest, nothing but matters which deeply affected the safety and welfare of our own country, could justify us in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Now, I deny that there has been any such interference in the internal affairs of other countries; and even if there Were, I am astonished that such a complaint as that made by the noble Lord should come from the opposite side of the House. I must say, it is rather a strange and curious argument to come from that side of the House, that the supporting of an established, legal, and constitutional government against rebels was an improper interference in the internal affairs of other countries. There were other parties in the country from whom I might have expected such doctrines, but, I confess, I did not expect to hear them from noble Lords opposite. But, passing that by, I ask is there nothing in the state of the Peninsula which might effect important interests in this country, and which would justify us in interfering? Is the safety of Portugal nothing? Is it nothing that by the treaties which bind us to that country we might be involved in hostilities with the adjoining kingdom? Is there any thing, therefore, novel or dangerous in the policy which his Majesty's Ministers had judged proper to adopt? I ask, also, was the tranquillity of the world nothing? Is the peace of Europe nothing? Is that not a subject of deep interest [" Hear, hear," from the Duke of Wellington.'] The noble Duke cheers, and I understand that cheer to mean that the peace of Europe would be rather endangered than secured by the course which we have pursued. That may be a question between us. But I ask the noble Duke whether, when he concurred in our foreign policy two years ago, and particularly in our policy respecting the question before the House, he did not do so with a view to preserve the peace of Europe? That, I confess, is one of the great objects for interfering with the affairs of Spain, because I am convinced that the peace of Europe is most likely to 134 be secured by establishing tranquillity in Spain. My noble Friend objects to the Quadruple Treaty, and to the views of the Government which led to that treaty. Now, I can assure the noble Lord, that the views of the Government are not such as he supposes. The object of the British Government was, not to establish any particular form of government in Spain, but to secure the peace and tranquillity of the country. If the peace of the country could be secured by the establishment of a constitutional government, we could pursue no other course than that of doing everything in our power to promote the establishment of a constitutional government, and secure its stability. The great object of the Government was, to secure the peace of Europe, to put an end to civil war, and to establish the power of the Queen whom we had recognised, and to whose support we were bound by treaty. The noble Lord has also objected to the step which the Government had taken with regard to the Foreign Enlistment Bill, and has stated that any person at all acquainted with Spain, every person of reputation or character, or who had any knowledge of that country, had condemned the policy of the Government. If such were the fact, they must have condemned it silently, for I have never heard of it. That was a step on which the sense of Parliament might have been taken; but no such course had been proposed. In my opinion, it is not fair. I had almost said it was hardly honourable, for noble Lords opposite to condemn a line of policy in which they themselves had acquiesced. If any censure had been passed on it, most probably it would not have been persevered in. It is unnecessary for me to make any observation on those parts of the noble Lord's speech which refer to the various revolutions and civil changes which have taken place with great rapidity in the Peninsula. These are circumstances, no doubt, which are much to be regretted; but they do not originate with us, but from a source over which we have no control. They are circumstances which, as far as we could have any power in such a matter, we were anxiously desirous of preventing. My noble Friend afterwards proceeded to what I apprehend to have been the principal object and point of his speech, namely, the state in which English forces are placed in Spain, the dangers to which they are exposed, and the consequences likely to result there from. I am certainly unable to follow the noble Lord 135 through all the details of these occurrences from the day of the 16th downwards, or to pronounce any opinion as to the conduct of the officers engaged on that occasion. My noble Friend says, that he does not know to what extent we may be drawn in this matter, and how much further we may be obliged to go, and what forces we may be induced to employ. All I can say upon this point is, that, whatever may be done, it is impossible anything can be done in the dark, and that, if anything is done of which Parliament disapproves, it would have ample opportunity of expressing its disapprobation, a disapprobation which it had never yet manifested. My noble Friend passed an eulogium on the conduct of his Majesty's troops for the manner in which they acquitted themselves on the occasion, and then made some severe animadversions upon the conduct of the soldiers belonging to the Legion, who, he says, did not behave with the same firmness. For this my noble Friend gives as a reason, that the first are soldiers responsible to the Government, the others mercenaries employed by a foreign government with whom they can have no dealing, and they can have no sympathy. Why my noble Friend was pleased to distinguish the latter by the title of mercenaries, lam at a loss to imagine. Why, my Lords, all soldiers are mercenaries. [" Hear, hear! and no, no!"] I say yes —mercenaries they are—they are paid for their service, they fight for pay, and therefore they are mercenaries. As for the conduct of these men, I believe that they have behaved with as much gallantry and as much enthusiasm in the case as any soldiers who have ever fought in our own service. Will the noble Duke opposite be one to join in this denunciation of those whom it is thought proper to denominate mercenaries? Did he never command mercenaries—had he never foreign troops engaged to serve under him for pay? Where is the difference, I ask, between the soldiers who were engaged under the noble Duke in the last war, and the men of this Legion, who, by virtue of an order in council, in pursuance of the ancient and wise policy of this country—of a policy sanctioned by the authority of the act itself, the operation of which that Order in Council went to suspend—have been permitted to enlist in the service of an ally of his Majesty. The gist of my noble Friend's speech was this: —Will you, in consequence of the behaviour of these officers, and of the misconduct of some of those with whom they are 136 allied, permit the marines and artillery belonging to his Majesty to remain in co-operation with the army in Spain? My Lord, I answer most distinctly that I will. My noble Friend says Irun a great responsibility, under existing circumstances, in continuing these troops in Spain. This responsibility I will take upon me; but I will not take upon me the responsibility, in a moment of temporary defeat, of disaster, of withdrawing from the Queen of Spain that assistance to which, by every dictate of good faith, every principle of honour, his Majesty is pledged and plighted to render her. I say, my Lords, I will not do it, because it would be entailing upon me a responsibility and disgrace deeper than any with which I have yet been charged by the noble Lord himself. The noble Lord says, that if what has happened in Spain had occurred in our own service — that if General Evans had been our officer commanding on that occasion, he would have been dismissed. I say, not if I were minister. I say that an officer who serves his country ought to be supported not only in victory, but in defeat; it is the duty of his country to stand by him; and a moment of temporary check, my Lords, is not a time to mark such an officer with disgrace or dishonour, much less withdraw from a cause which appears to be blighted or failing, that support which we are bound in honour and justice to permit to be given to it. My Lords, I am ready to incur all the responsibility of these troops remaining in Spain; and all the responsibility of any further operations which may be undertaken there. I do not wish to entertain any sanguine expectations on the subject; but, at the same time, I must say, that I do anticipate a fortunate and successful result from these operations—fortunate and successful, not only as regards Spain, but the world in general, both at home and abroad. My Lords, we all know, that in every country, both at home and abroad—in every part of the world—difficulties and embarrassments will sometimes occur which nobody can specifically account for, or point out the time when they may or may not occur. We all know this; but, my Lords, I will not argue in that lowering and degrading language which has been admitted in discussion elsewhere as to the general state and prospects of their country. I hold it in the highest degree unwise, impolitic, and, not to use a harsh or unparliamentary expression, I do consider it to be a labour of an humble and creeping charac- 137 ter, and if for the purpose of political advantage, quite unjustifiable to circulate and propound such notions. My Lords, I can only say in conclusion, that I see nothing in the state of the affairs of this country, either at home or abroad, to induce any minister to withdraw from office, or to deter any one not in office from accepting it, if, in other respects, he deems it advisable.
§ The Duke of Wellington
* My Lords, I am exceedingly happy to hear from the noble Viscount that the state of the country is of that satisfactory nature which he has just described. The noble Viscount has thought proper to object that the subject of the present discussion has never, on any former occasion, been brought regularly under your Lordships' consideration. I can only say, that I have more than once taken opportunities of expressing my decided objection to the course of these operations. It is perfectly true, that I have never considered it my duty, and have never thought proper, to bring the subject distinctly under your Lordships' notice by way of motion. My reasons for adopting this course were founded, in the first instance, upon my desire to avoid interference, by a vote of this House, with any affairs of the Executive Government. I have very great objections, —founded on the existing state of the Constitution of this country, and considering the relations in which this House stands, at the present moment, towards the other House of Parliament, on the one hand, and towards his Majesty's Ministers, on the other,—to originate the discussion of this or any other question connected with the policy of the Government.
With this feeling, my Lords, and under these circumstances, I have done everything in my power to prevent discussions from being brought forward, on subjects of this nature. On more than one occasion, when a noble Friend of mine, (Marquess of Londonderry) whom I do not see now in his place, has endeavoured to bring under your Lordships' consideration subjects of this description, I have done everything in my power to avoid the discussion.
It is true, that when the Order in Council in question was produced by his Majesty's Ministers, I gave notice of my intention to submit a motion on that subject. My reason for giving that notice was, that a noble Friend of mine having asked the noble Viscount opposite a question as to the ope-* From a corrected Report.138 ration of that Order in Council with respect to pensions for wounds, and retirement allowances to officers and soldiers,—and not considering the answer of the noble Viscount satisfactory, I did wish to discuss the question more at length, in order that I might elicit the noble Viscount's opinion, on that and some other matters. It appeared to me that the noble Viscount, by that Order in Council, had suspended only one half of the clause of the Foreign Enlistment Act; and that the other member of the clause, that which inflicted penalties on persons who should enlist others into the service of a foreign power, was not suspended. I did not, however, bring forward my motion, because some of my noble and learned Friends did not agree with me upon the subject, and I thought it best not to proceed with it.
This, my Lords, is the real account of the transaction. I have never, from that day to this, brought forward the subject, though I have frequently given my opinions upon it; and I abstained from so bringing it forward for the reason I have before assigned;—namely, my desire to avoid a vote on any question relating to the measures of the Executive Government, which was not called for by some passage in a speech from the Throne, or by some proposition brought forward by his Majesty's Ministers; so as in some manner to render it necessary that I should state my opinion. But upon all such occasions I have not failed to state my opinion; and have stated it upon this subject more than once.
The noble Viscount, in replying to the speech of my noble Friend, appears to think that the Government acted precisely according to the policy and terms of the Quadruple Treaty; and he talks of that which the Government have done, as if theirs had been a system of policy adapted to the salvation of Portugal, and the preservation of the peace of Europe.
This question divides itself, my Lords, into two distinct branches: the Portuguese question; and that which is perfectly separate and distinct,—the Spanish question. My Lords, I must confess that I did not approve of the original Quadruple Treaty. I considered it inconsistent with the ancient principle, and the policy and practice adopted in this country with regard to Portugal, to avoid to interfere in the disputes between the two Princes of the House of Braganza, which had been the policy of this country for many years. It 139 sanctioned the introduction of Spanish troops into Portugal, which measure was inconsistent with our defensive relations with Portugal; and had been objected to and prevented in this very contest between the rival Princes of the House of Braganza. Yet it gave no fresh assistance to bring the contests in Portugal to a conclusion, excepting the promise to give the aid of this country by the employment of a naval force in co-operation with the Spanish and Portuguese troops, which aid was not necessary. Another objection which I entertained to the Quadruple Treaty was, that it mixed up France and this country in the offers and promises made to Don Carlos and Don Miguel, in the fifth and sixth articles of the Treaty. These Powers became, in fact, guarantees for the performance of these engagements, as well as for the performance of the engagements made under the same articles of the Treaty, to the subjects of Portugal and Spain. It is impossible to describe the inconvenience of such articles. They require the interference of the Government in hundreds of little questions. I have felt the inconvenience of those articles since their adoption—I stated my objections to them at the time, and I have seen no reason since, to alter the opinion I then formed. Don Carlos and Don Miguel evacuated Portugal, and Donna Maria became Queen of Portugal, and Don Pedro took possession of the government of that kingdom;—the objects of the Quadruple Treaty were thus attained. Don Carlos having been brought to England, and having proceeded from thence to the north of Spain, the additional articles to the Quadruple Treaty were agreed to on the 18th of August, 1834. These articles are, in some respects, essentially different from the articles of the Quadruple Treaty itself. The Quadruple Treaty did not require the King of the French to do more than be a party to it, or to aid in the attainment of its object, until he should be called upon by the other three contracting Powers. The King of England was required, under article three of the Treaty, to co-operate with the troops of Spain in Portugal by the employment of a naval force. But, by the first of the additional articles to the Treaty, the King of the French obliged himself to take such measures in those parts of his dominions which adjoined to Spain, as might be calculated to prevent succours of men, arms, and warlike stores, being sent from France into Spain: and the King of Great Britain en- 140 gaged, under the second of the additional articles, to furnish such arms and warlike stores as her Majesty the Queen of Spain might require; and further, to assist her Majesty by a naval force if necessary. The Duke of Braganza was to give the best assistance to serve her Majesty that he might be called upon to render. So that those additional articles were essentially different from the terms and provisions of the original Treaty, by which the removal of the two Princes from Portugal was effected. I do not mean to say, that, in the preamble to that Treaty, allusion is not made to the affairs both of Spain and Portugal; but there still is a remarkable difference between the words used in the Treaty, and in the additional articles; and most particularly in relation to the part to be taken by this country.
Those additional articles were signed in the month of August, 1834; and in the month of November, 1834, I was called upon to carry the treaty into execution. It was not then considered to be a treaty of the description given by the noble Viscount; it was not considered as a treaty for the preservation of the peace of Europe, or as a plan for great operations to be performed by arms. My Lords, I have a right to say this, because I myself had an explanation on the subject—first, with the Government of the King of the French, in which it was clearly stated, that the parties were bound not to interfere in the internal concerns of Spain, or in the contest then going on in that country;—it was so stated distinctly at that period, and the statement, having been communicated to all the parties in the Treaty, and in the additional articles, was satisfactory to all. The noble Viscount appears to be of a different opinion. I refer to the despatch to prove the truth of my statement. That, I assert, was the distinct understanding of all the parties in the Treaty. The noble Lord has thought proper, in answer to my noble Friend (Lord Alvanley), to take quite a different view of the case. I speak, not only from a perfect recollection, but a perfect knowledge of the facts and words; and I now challenge the noble Lord to produce the despatches of that time. I believe that the original object of the naval force which it was agreed should he supplied under the second article of the additional articles of the Treaty was, to establish a blockade on the north coast of Spain, from the Bidassoa to Cape Finisterre: but it was discovered that that blockade could not take place; — 141 that blockade was an act of war which this country could not execute, as it was not at war. It was unfortunate that the noble Lord should not have; ascertained this important fact a little sooner. But, as soon as it was ascertained, the Spanish Government was informed, that this country, not being at war, could not blockade the Spanish coast. The noble Lord appears to doubt this fact; but I again refer him to the despatch. The result of these discussions was, that her Catholic Majesty thought proper to pass a decree, by which all the towns and ports on the north coast of Spain, although in the actual possession of her Catholic Majesty, were declared to be under maritime blockade; thus, in fact, exercising a right of war against her own subjects— living in towns and ports in her own possession, under her protection, and in her allegiance.
There are some noble and learned Lords in the House who will feel surprised how such a decree should have been passed, and should have been carried into execution; and among them the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who was not then in his Majesty's Council. It was very soon discovered, however,— I think early in 1835, that Spain could not declare the blockade of her own coast in her own undisturbed possession. But, very shortly after, the irregularity of this blockade having been discovered, her Catholic Majesty thought proper to give directions that certain Spanish vessels from England, bearing the certificates of the Spanish Consul in English ports, should be admitted into the ports of the Spanish coast blockaded by this decree. The blockade was thus put an end to, as no party could submit to it as long as it could be relaxed for any description of ships. From the commencement of November, down to the month of April, our squadron remained on the north coast of Spain, engaged in no manner in the operations of the war; excepting, 1 believe, on one or two occasions, that they conveyed the Queen's troops from one part of the coast to the other, I understand that a noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department has said, in another place, that my right hon. Friend, who was at the head of the Government, had carried into execution these articles fairly and honourably. It certainly was my object to carry these articles fairly and honourably into execution. I must say, however, that I never saw any mode, or any opportunity whatever of carrying into 142 execution that particular part of the second of the additional articles, or the third article of the treaty. But, for what reason? Because, my Lords, the enemy of the Queen of Spain has not even a cockboat— not a single port, not a fishing village— much less a coast, or ports upon that coast, which any naval power could attack, or against which any naval service could he performed.
From some observations which fell from certain Friends of the noble Lords opposite a few evenings ago, I gather that I am considered to have been very much in error; but it is admitted, at the same time, that I executed the treaty fairly and honourably. I must say, that, up to this time, I conceived that the treaty to which his Majesty had been pleased to affix his signature, had been, by me, fairly and honourably executed. The Government of that day saw no mode by which naval assistance could be rendered to our ally. The articles of the treaty requiring the supply of arms and ammunition were carried into execution. But although we found that we could take no steps towards attaining the objects of the additional articles by military force, we felt that the real strength of this country, in a case such as that which we had before us, consisted in that influence which it possesses, founded on its justice, its fairness, its disinterestedness, and the wisdom of its councils. And we considered it our duty to exercise that influence with a view to put a stop to the practice, which at that time prevailed on both sides of this unhappy contest, of putting their prisoners of war to death. We accordingly prevailed on the Spanish government to consent to our endeavour to establish a convention or cartel to attain that object; and Lord Eliot was sent on a mission to the head quarters of Don Carlos. Lord Eliot conducted himself with so much ability, that he succeeded in establishing a cartel for the exchange of prisoners; and had the satisfaction, on the day of his arrival at the head quarters of Don Carlos, of saving the lives of twenty-five men who had been made prisoners, and who were about to be put to death. I contend, as I have before contended in this House, that his Majesty's present Ministers ought not to have departed from the position which the Government of which I speak had established while they were in power. I will not pretend to say what would have been the result of their having followed put that course; but this I do say, that the course 143 pursued by his Lordship's Government has not benefited the military or the financial affairs of Spain, or promoted the peace of that country or the general tranquillity of Europe, or attained any of the political advantages which the noble Viscount boasts have been attained by his departure from that position which the previous Government had occupied, and had left to their successors. But, my Lords, it did unfortunately happen that certain parties in this country had been connected with the Spanish finances; and it was important to those parties that red coats should make their appearance in Spain, and that the name of "Great Britain" and of the British Legion should be mixed up in the operations of the war. Money was raised in this country to defray the expense of the equipment of the "Legion," as it was called, of 10,000 or 12,000 men, and also of their pay, their food, and maintenance, for a certain number of months; and the noble Lords, in order that this scheme might be carried into execution, gave their consent to the order in council for the suspension of the Foreign Enlistment Act. The corps quitted this country and went to Spain, in the spring of the year 1835, nearly two years ago. Their first operation after their arrival at St. Sebastian was a march over the very same ground, to the very spot which was the scene of the late disaster. My Lords, up to that moment, the Eliot Convention, as it is most honourably and justly called, had been carried into execution. It was on that day departed from on both sides, and from that day to this, I firmly believe, from all I have seen and read—and I have read much on the subject within the last few days— there has been no certainty in the execution of that convention. Not only has there been no certainty in the execution of that convention, but, notwithstanding the millions of money that Spain has expended—notwithstanding the blood which has been shed, and the number of lives which have been lost,—I will venture to say, that the military affairs of the Queen of Spain are in a worse condition now than they were in the month of May, 1835. When the Legion embarked for Spain, it was sent to the northern parts of that country. Soon after the disaster at Hernani in 1835, as soon, I believe, as the original sum of money allowed for its equipment and its first expenses had been expended, the corps was sent to join the other troops at Vittoria, having been under 144 the necessity of crossing the Ebro in order to reach that place from Bilboa. The Legion suffered the greatest possible privations of all descriptions at Vittoria. These were not likely to improve their discipline or subordination. There, however, they remained, during the winter of 1835, 1836. But a crisis was approaching in the financial concerns of Spain. The interest of the debt was to be paid in money, and it became necessary that the Legion should be brought again to the coast, that Great Britain should appear to take an active part in the war,—that, in fact, something else should be done in order to produce a particular sensation in a place called the Stock Exchange. This corp, towards the spring of the year, was brought, by a very circuitous march, to Santander, and thence, by sea, to St. Sebastian, where they were employed in the relief of a blockade of St. Sebastian, a town of which the blockade had been maintained for some time by a Carlist officer, by name Guibelalde. It was thought absolutely necessary to raise the blockade. In the meantime, I should inform your Lordships, that the British squadron, under the command of an officer for whom I entertain the highest respect, (Lord John Hay) had been on the coast, and, as I said before, had done nothing, for, in fact, there was nothing to do. But it being found to be absolutely necessary to relieve the blockade of St. Sebastian, the corps was accordingly brought from the neighbourhood of the Ebro and Vittoria in order to carry into execution this operation. Then, my Lords, the British squadron came into active operations with its sixty- eight pounders in the steam boats, which were fired with great success into the works constructed for the defence of the flanks of the Carlist's position. This was the great affair of the 6th of May, as it has been called all over Europe. But, my Lords, what was the result? The Carlist lines were removed a little further off, just beyond the reach of the fire of the sixty-eight pounders of the steamboats of the British fleet; and there the blockade of St. Sebastian has remained and been maintained from the 6th of May, 1836, up to the present moment. The whole of the policy of the British Government, therefore, all the operations of the British Legion, backed by the British squadron have effected nothing more nor less towards putting an end to the war, and giving peace to Spain and to Europe, than the removal of the blockade 145 of St. Sebastian from one point to another, so as not to come within the liability of being affected by the sixty-eight pounders of the British steamers, under the command of Lord John Hay. I defy the noble Viscount, or any noble Lord supporting the same line of policy, to show that a single advantage of any description has been gained from that day to this. The noble Lord has, therefore, no reason to boast of the consequences of these operations, since the removal of the blockade to the distance of one mile is all that has been effected by the very great and serious risks which he has thought proper to incur. If the noble Lord supposes that the safety of St. Sebastian had been more or less endangered by the blockade, I can assure him that he is much mistaken; for, from what I know of that fortified town, which is one of the first or second order in Europe, I can take upon myself to say, that the Carlists might have been left in their original position without any danger whatever to the town, because they could not make an attack upon such a fortress. In the whole course of the war, they have not, to my knowledge, taken, by an attack, any fortified post; or even, open town of any magnitude, prepared for its defence. They could not have distressed St. Sebastian for provisions, because its communication with the sea could not be prevented. I say, it could not be prevented, even if the whole British fleet were blockading it, instead of being stationed there to relieve it. The amount of inconvenience felt by the town from the Carlist force being in its neighbourhood, was neither more nor less than the unpleasantness of ladies and gentlemen, residing there, being prevented taking their evening walks in the neighbourhood. This is the whole amount of the inconvenience from which the town was relieved. This was the whole amount of the service rendered. Under these circumstances, my Lords, I cannot think these operations of such importance as the noble Viscount seems to attach to them; I mean the operations of the squadron as connected with the Legion.
But, my Lords, I will go a little further. I will say, that I firmly believe that the connexion between the Legion and the fleet, has been injurious to the military operations of the Queen of Spain's generals. That is my decided opinion, founded upon my knowledge of the nature of the country, and of the position of both parties. 146 My Lords, there is one point to which I wish most particularly to refer; that is, the want of a communication between the Queen of Spain's generals, which can be relied upon. If corps of the size of those now employed are not actually joined, there must be a certain communication between them; for, without communication, there can be no co-operation; and any attempt at co-operation would, in my opinion, in all probability, lead to disasters such as have recently taken place at Hernani. How are these troops situated? General Evans's troops are at St. Sebastian; General Saarsfield is at the other side of the Borunda, at Pampeluna; and Espartero, with his army, is at Bilboa. It is impossible, that there can be any communication between these three, except by the French frontier, and by sea from Socoa, or by the Ebro. An arrangement is made for an attack, and a day named. What was the consequence? General Evans made an attack, but General Saarsfield, at Pampeluna, does not attack; there is a frost, or snow, or rain, or some physical impediment which prevents a movement on the part of Saarsfield. General Evans cannot be informed in time, and the enemy has opportunity and leisure to throw his whole force upon General Evans; who, even if the troops had behaved well, would have been compelled to retire. The position, therefore, of the Legion at St. Sebastian, in order to cooperate with the British squadron, that there might be something like British cooperation, was not an operation of war; it was one of stock-jobbing. My Lords, it is a matter of much surprise to me, that General Evans, who, having acquired the confidence of his Majesty's Government, and that of the Queen of Spain, I presume must be an able man—it is, certainly, a surprising circumstance, that having had experience of the difficulties of carrying on communication in that country, and having met with a check in the month of January, 1836, for want of communication, he should not have felt the danger of his position, and should have omitted to put himself in communication to a certainty with that corps in whose co-operation he was to act, instead of keeping himself at a distance from it, in order that he might carry on operations in concert with his Majesty's fleet. There is another occasion upon which his Majesty's fleet have acted, to which I wish to refer, namely, at the siege of Bilboa, one transaction connected with which has, for some time past, made an impression on 147 my mind; and I am now desirous of mentioning it, merely for the purpose of obtaining an answer in explanation with regard to it. Don Carlos attacked Bilboa; the siege of which General Espartero endeavoured to interrupt. The British fleet co-operated in these endeavours. It has been stated by respectable authority, a noble Lord, a Peer of the realm (Lord Ranelagh), who was at the time in the Carlist camp, that the following circumstances took place. The plain facts are these:— "His Britannic Majesty's ship, Ringdove, lay at anchor during the greater part of the siege in the Bilboa river, between Fort Desierto and Portugalette, within half musket-shot of the Carlists, where, had she been considered as an enemy, she would have been seriously injured, and, perhaps, destroyed. It was rumoured, that she fired three or four shots ashore, and a great sensation was created in the Carlist camp at the idea of such a gratuitous outrage during a state of virtual neutrality and mutual forbearance, where no provocation had been given; but these shots were afterwards discovered to be nothing more than signals to steamers in the offing, and nothing of retaliation was attempted or thought of. His Britannic Majesty's brig, Saracen, lay further up the river, moored till the last under Fort Desierto. This fort and the Spanish gun boats were, almost daily, engaged with the Carlists; yet the Saracen, which lay in the midst of the latter, took no ostensible part in these contests, but (as it now appears) sent her crew to work the guns in the fort; while she herself continued to lie quietly at anchor, apparently neutral and harmless. Had either vessel acted openly on the offensive, the Carlists would have known with whom they had to deal, and I should have withdrawn to another part of the provinces." I allude to this letter, in order that a contradiction may be given, if possible, to the facts stated in it. They represent a state of things which ought not to exist. Parties engaged in the operations of war, cannot appear at the same time in two characters. They cannot avail themselves of the advantage of a neutral character to take a position from which an hostile attack can be made with advantage.
The noble Lord has stated, that he will not recall the marines. I would beg to remind your Lordships, and the noble Viscount in particular, of this fact,—that the marines are properly the garrisons of 148 his Majesty's ships, and that upon no pretence ought they to be moved from a, fair and safe communication with the ships to which they belong. The noble Lord states, that he is responsible; and that he will take upon himself the responsibility. I have commanded his Majesty's armies, and have incurred as many risks and faced more difficulties than, I hope, the noble Lord will ever have to encounter. I have been engaged in hostilities of this description, where co-operation was carried on upon the coast; and, although I certainly would do as much for the service, and I believe I may say, have done as much for the service, as the noble Lord; yet I would not venture, and have never ventured, to put any corps whatever in co-operation with the Spaniards, or in any situation whatever in which the detached troops could not communicate with the corps from which they were detached; and, above all, upon the sea-coast, where the troops detached could not hold communication with the ships. The first order to each of these detachments was to keep the communication with their ships. The loss of 400 or 500 marines may not materially involve the honour of this country; but the lives of the men ought not to be endangered, as they must be, if care be not taken that they should have a communication with a point of safety, without some very extraordinary cause. We hear of the operations of the marines with the Austrians. But the Spanish troops, and particularly the British Legion, are not the Austrians. I cannot consider this corps of General Evans to be in a state of discipline and subordination, such as a body of troops ought to be in, with which his Majesty's marine forces ought to be connected. They have suffered very considerably; their losses have been great, and have affected their subordination, their good order and discipline, particularly, in presence of an enemy. A disaster or panic may occur among the best troops; but, among such, order can be reestablished. It does not appear, that these are in the state in which they ought to be, to render it safe to co-operate with them. No efforts of their officers can, in such cases, have any effect upon them. The noble Viscount says, that we are carrying on these operations with the object of maintaining the peace of Europe; and these objects are, more especially, put forth in a pamphlet which is attributed to a colleague of the noble Viscount, who has applauded its opinions, if he has not gone 149 further, and adopted them as his own. Is the noble Lord desirous, in accordance with the policy so set forth, to press upon the nation the adoption of the system of a general combination of the powers of the west, upon principles offensive as well as defensive, against the powers of the north and east of Europe? If so momentous an affair, and such a course are seriously contemplated, they should not be commenced by stealth, but in a manner worthy of the character of a great nation like Great Britain. It is not by allowing Spain to raise a Legion here in the first instance, and afterwards by sending a few hundred marines, that any really important object can be accomplished. But if the noble Lords are in earnest, a message should be sent to Parliament, and the support of the country should be called for, to this new scheme of policy; and a commanding force should be sent, in order to carry it into execution. But I recommend to the noble Viscount well to consider the length of time which must elapse before these operations can be brought to a conclusion; the expense which must, in the first instance, be incurred; and the lengthened period which must elapse before the troops can be withdrawn, and the other expenses can be discontinued, which must be incurred if this scheme is to be undertaken. The noble Lord must establish a government in Spain; he must have the assistance of a Spanish army; and he must pay, equip, and provide for, not only his Majesty's troops, but every Spanish officer and soldier employed in the settlement of the government of the country. It may be said, that there are financial resources in Spain; but I am much mistaken, regarding the state of the Spanish military establishments and Spanish finances, if there are not non-effective establishments, such as pensions, retired allowances, expenses of garrisons, and others which will consume the whole of the pecuniary resources of Spain, however well managed, even without including the interest of the existing debt. I think, that if this country should have this matter fairly brought under its view, it would not be thought advisable to enter upon the scheme proposed in this pamphlet. But we are told, that France ought to act this part; and that we ought to give France our moral support. France act! At whose expense? Prance would have the same difficulties— nay, greater difficulties—than this country. Is it intended that we are to subsidise France? No such thing; we are to assist 150 with our ships and marines on the coast; but it is France that is to carry on the operations in the interior, and pay this expense. Is it believed, that Louis Philippe has lost his senses? If we cannot expect that France will defray all this expense, what is to become of the integrity of the Spanish dominions, and the independence of the Spanish government after the operations shall be concluded?
I think, that I have shown your Lordships how little has been gained for any party by the system of operation which has been followed upon the coast of Spain, and the inutility and danger of the continuance of that course; and the absence of any ground for hope that Parliament or the country will consent to adopt the larger scheme of policy suggested in a pamphlet recently published, as is supposed, by authority. I would, therefore, suggest to the noble Lord opposite, the expediency of reverting to the station which the Government of this country had taken in Spanish affairs, when they succeeded their predecessors in office. Your Lordships are aware of the great influence of this country in the affairs of Spain, for many years—an influence founded solely upon a belief of our justice, and disinterested views, and confidence in the wisdom of our councils. I do not pretend to say, what can be effected by our mediation; but it will be, at least, as much as can be attained by our petty warfare. Let us resume, in reality, the neutral position that becomes us, which we occupied before the order in council was issued; and we shall have a chance, at least, of restoring tranquillity.
said, that there were some matters referred to in the speeches both of the noble Duke who had just sat down and of the noble Lord who had introduced this matter to the notice of the House, upon which he was anxious to make a few remarks. He gave the noble Lord (Alvanley) all due credit for the candid and manly explanation which he had given to the House of the grounds upon which his opinion was formed. The noble Lord must, however, allow him to say, that there was some inconvenience in discussing matters of so grave a nature as the general policy of this country, viewed in connexion with the construction of a particular treaty, without bringing the question before the House in the shape of a specific motion. And he must further ask his noble Friend at the opposite side, as well as the noble Duke who had last addressed the 151 House, why, if they had all along dissented from the foreign policy pursued in this respect by his Majesty's Government they had declined to embody that dissent in a specific shape before; and, especially why they should have selected the present moment for bringing it forward, after the occurrence of a disaster which, but for the brave conduct of his Majesty's Marines might have been certainly still more disastrous? What particular purpose, could be served by indulging in invectives of this description, without calling upon the House to give its assent or dissent to any distinct proposition? Again, he would ask, was this the proper moment to recall our marines, and to express, not by a vote of their Lordships' house, but through the medium of speeches merely, their disapprobation of the military conduct of General Evans? The principal objections which his noble Friend had urged against the policy pursued by his Majesty's Government towards Spain were our interference, by force, with the civil disputes of a foreign country, the suspension of the Foreign Enlistment Act, and the extended construction of a treaty. With respect to the meaning of the treaty, as connected with the interference complained of, he certainly thought that the noble Duke had not been sufficiently accurate in his statement. The noble Duke seemed to think that the object of the treaty was attained when Don Miguel and Don Carlos were both excluded from Portugal. He must say, that he felt it impossible that any man could attentively peruse the preamble of the treaty without perceiving that the affairs of Spain were equally made its subject as those of Portugal. The noble Lord then read a passage from the preamble, which stated the interests which the King of Great Britain, and the other powers who were parties to the treaty, had always taken in the security of the Spanish monarchy, with a view to the maintenance of peace, as well in the Peninsula as in every other part of Europe. He contended that this interference with Spain was perfectly justifiable, as ancillary and subservient to the maintenance of the peace of Europe. But it was said, forsooth, that they had not preserved the peace of Europe. He could, however, with truth, as he believed, state, that peace had been preserved; and, in his conscience, he believed that it had been so preserved through the agency of the Quadruple Treaty. At the period when that treaty was signed, it was believed that the adoption of such a measure was 152 essential to the preservation of this country from being involved in a war with the northern Powers of Europe; and the belief was at that period very generally entertained, that money had been sent from various quarters to assist Don Carlos in his military evolutions. For his part, he entertained little doubt that Don Carlos would have been at the present moment enthroned in Madrid, and that the relations subsisting between this country on the one hand, and Spain and Portugal on the other would have been materially different, had not the moral force, and the naval and military assistance of Great Britian, been extended to those countries. It was declared, however, to be alike immoral and inglorious to carry on a war in this manner without openly proclaiming it. But, surely, no noble Lord was ignorant that the laws of nations contemplated and recognized auxiliaries as well as belligerents, allies as well as principals in military operations. If this treaty were really objectionable in principle, why had not noble Lords endeavoured to prevent it from receiving the sanction of the Crown when it was under the consideration of Parliament? With regard to the right of intervention, it seemed to be assumed by noble Lords opposite that the Ministers should make vows of chastity and forbearance, and politically and diplomatically lead the life of vestal virgins. Great, indeed, was expected to be their forbearance, when it was to with hold them altogether from interfering in any war of succession. Had it always been the policy of England to withhold her interference under similar circumstances? There was not one British heart which beat with greater delight than did his at the contemplation of the successful service which the noble Duke had rendered during the Peninsular war. Now, surely the noble Duke was engaged upon that occasion in a war of "foreign interference." Why, the history of England abounded with instances in which British subjects served as mercenaries in foreign armies. It was in this capacity that the illustrious Marlborough had gained his early military experience. If he were to mention all the great names of individuals similarly circumstanced, the noble Duke would be quite appalled. From the time of the Black Prince, who had served literally as a mercenary, down to that of Elizabeth, cases of this description had repeatedly occurred, and many of the instances which had arisen during the reign of that Queen were 153 exactly analogous to the present case. There was no declaration of war made at that, period, notwithstanding that so many-British subjects had been sent or permitted to serve in the wars of Foreign countries. Passing to the case of King William 3rd., whose character no man admired more than he did, what was it that constituted that monarch's peculiar glory? Was it not the fact, that when he saw his father-in-law trampling on the liberties of this country, and ready to subject its inhabitants to popish tyranny, he did not hesitate, without the proclamation of a war, without the sanction of a treaty, to connect himself with the discontented party in this country, associating himself in arms with some of his own countrymen, and thus to achieve a revolution which had consecrated for ever his "Glorious memory." Coming down to later times, when George 2nd exhibited his imperturbable valour in the battle of Dettingen—did he not exhibit it as an auxiliary? It might be said, that this Sovereign was also Elector of Hanover, but this did not affect his argument. Was not that distinguished diplomatist, Lord Stair, so deeply versed in international law, also present as an auxiliary at the same battle? Yet according to this new code of political honour, those distinguished personages had disgraced themselves by acts which were recorded with praise in the page of history. Referring to another head of objection, if he were asked what he was to understand by one nation, engaging to give "naval co-operation" to another, he would answer, such cooperation as an admiral of any nation was bound to give to a general of the same. It was, unquestionably, true, that the person against whom war is made, and to whose adversary he gave assistance, has a perfectly just ground for proclaiming war against us if he chooses. They (the Ministers) had, however, made no mystery of their intentions in this matter. Their object was, avowedly, to expel Don Carlos from Spain, and their reason for adopting this course was, that they believed they were thus contributing to the maintenance of peace in the Peninsula and throughout Europe, by the only probable mode of attaining that object. [The noble Lord here sat down for a few seconds, apparently overcome by debility; but, notwithstanding the cries of "Keep your seat," he immediately rose, leant upon the table, and proceeded as follows]:— Entertaining the highest respect for the noble Duke opposite, and 154 for the strict attention which he paid to his Parliamentary duty, he must contend that the policy of Ministers with respect to this question was straightforward and intelligible. They had acted in conformity with the provisions of a treaty, into which they had entered, not for the purpose of establishing a particular form of Government, but to maintain the legitimate rights of the Queen of Spain, which were invaded by insurgents. They considered themselves bound, as far as they could consistently with honour, justice, and prudence, to carry that treaty into effect in accordance with its spirit. The policy which they had adopted was clearly intelligible. They had interpreted the words of the treaty according to its spirit, largely, and deliberately and if circumstances should arise rendering such a measure desirable, there would, no doubt, be a further treaty proposed. To those who objected to the foreign policy of Ministers, that it had a tendency to involve this country in a general war, he (Lord Holland) would say that when, in conjunction with his colleagues, he assented to this treaty, he had, of course, reflected upon and taken his chance of the consequences. He had compared the chances both ways, and he felt no hesitation whatever in now asserting, that they had succeeded, not in directly driving Don Carlos out of Spain, but in proving to the satisfaction of every person, both in and out of Spain, that Don Carlos never would reign in that country. He should say then, looking at the whole state of affairs in Spain, that Don Carlos was not one step nearer than before to the object to which he directed his operations. Indeed, the very ground that his noble Friend occupied, instead of proving that Don Carlos was likely to succeed, proved that nothing could be more unlikely than his success; and furthermore, he trusted their Lordships would recollect that not a town joined Gomez; that the Spaniards—he meant, of course, to limit the observation to the inhabitants of those towns—appeared to be as averse to municipalities as were the noble Lords opposite last year. On a subject like the present he should necessarily be most unwilling to venture upon a prediction, he had never been betrayed into a prediction but once, and then he was wrong; but with respect to Don Carlos, he might say thus much, that he was not now in as good a situation as before. He should not follow the noble Duke through his remarks on the military operations in Spain, which certainly ought to 155 be listened to with great deference; but he would submit to the noble Duke that the fact of Don Carlos being still not a step nearer the capital, proved strongly the utter impossibility of his final success. The expedition of Gomez, too, the strangest event which had ever occurred in any war, seemed to corroborate the fact. The people evidently were against him. He should make one remark more, and then conclude. It had been said, that the suspension of the Foreign Enlistment Act was improper, but it should be borne in mind, that a special clause gave the executive a power to suspend it. For what reason could that clause be inserted if it was not in contemplation of some such concurrence of circumstances as had produced the suspension. The possibility of the power being used, was evidently thought of, or the clause would not have been necessary. The noble Duke said, that he should not have consented to the suspension, as he gave a different meaning to the clause. The noble Duke, from his great military knowledge, was certainly well able to judge of what should be done in the case; but he would ask him whether, if the Government had refused to suspend the Act, the people of Spain would not be ready to exclaim that the English Ministry were indifferent whether Don Carlos or Donna Isabella reigned over them? The advisers of the British Crown were charged with being partisans of Christina; he charged those who brought the accusations with being Carlists. It had been made matter of complaint against the policy of his Majesty's Government, that they had not adopted the means which the treaty supplied, but his opinion was, that even if the treaty had not authorised them, they ought still to have pursued the same course. There was one other point on which he wished to address their Lordships before he sat down; if he observed in all oligarchical governments an absence of those principles, and of those results which, as it appeared to him, were material to the happiness of mankind, he must be permitted to say, that in this country, possessing as it did the best |of popular Governments, he should be the last to advise any other course than that which had been adopted. He should be the last to accede to the doctrine, falsely called Conservative, which affirmed that the people were made for their rulers, and not their rulers for mankind.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
said, that not- 156 withstanding the able and convincing speeches which his noble Friends near him had addressed to the House, there still remained some considerations which he should take the liberty of submitting to their Lordships. He would endeavour very briefly to show the course which his Majesty's Government had pursued in adhering to that treaty, which in the course of the present discussion had been so often adverted to. He would begin by observing, that it was undoubtedly according to law that the Government of this country should interfere, provided they did so in conformity with the stipulations of the treaty—according, as he should say, to the received interpretation of the treaty; but the proceedings of the Government were wholly at variance with the treaty—they were different from it, and not to be justified by any part of its provisions. So far from this being the case, according to any fair interpretation of the treaty, he should say it would not be a difficult matter to show that directly the reverse had occurred —that the King's Government had not only acted immediately after the ratification of the treaty in violation of it, but that they had so acted by their declarations and conduct since. They told the country that they had great pride in an observance of the treaty. He desired to see them abide by that declaration; that for which he was most anxious was an observance and a present observance of the treaty. One of the most important considerations for the House was to determine the nature of the engagements which that treaty involved, to determine likewise what were the objects of the treaty, and the means by which it was proposed to carry those objects into effect. Of course the House would readily believe, that he did not wish to go at length into the origin of the treaty, but in order to a useful explanation of the position in which this country stood it was necessary that he should shortly refer to the ground over which we had passed. He should not enter into the question which regarded the claims of Don Carlos, and for this simple reason, that they were not material to the present discussion; neither should he enter into a controversy with the noble Baron opposite on questions of Spanish law, for, however high his authority might stand as a Spanish jurist, he would take leave to say, that the legal question was one which in no degree affected the present discussion, and therefore it was one on which no Member of 157 that House was called to pronounce an opinion. The law of succession in Spain had been acquiesced in, and acknowledged for upwards of 100 years, and according to that law, Don Carlos must have succeeded to the throne. That that course of succession should have been departed from merely under the "pragmatic sanction" of Ferdinand VII., delivered in favour of his daughter, was an event which could not have occurred without shocking the feelings of the great majority of the people of Spain. On the death of her father, the Queen succeeded to the throne of Spain; all the authorities, however, the great body of the people, the army, and, he might say, a large proportion of every class, acquiesced. The Queen on her accession was recognised by the British Government. He did not quarrel with that recognition, neither did he object to the step taken by the Government of sending out a Minister from this country for the purpose of affording to the Administration of the Queen all the moral force which the sanction of this country could supply. Shortly afterwards Don Carlos being then in Portugal, was called upon to give in his adherence. This having been declined, Don Miguel, then the ruler of Portugal, was called upon to expel Don Carlos from his dominions. Don Miguel not choosing to do so, the Spanish Government had recourse to arms in order to give effect to their demand, and thence the origin of the treaty. His noble Friend had very justly and correctly said, that when those two Princes had retired from the Peninsula, the object of the treaty had been accomplished—that the designs and wishes of the contracting parties to that treaty were fully satisfied. If any man looked at the treaty with a sincere desire to apprehend its true meaning, and brought to the task the most moderate share of intelligence, he could not fail to see, that the case was precisely as he had stated it. Two forces existed in the kingdoms of the Peninsula, and it became necessary to expel both. To their expulsion there were two acceding Powers, and this expulsion unquestionably was the ratio suasoria of the treaty. He repeated, that no one could fail to see, that the interpretation he held to be the correct interpretation of the treaty was the only one which it would bear; in fact, it was that which the noble Viscount himself put upon it, when pressed by a noble Marquess, whom he did not then see in his place, three years ago. It did appear 158 to him (Lord Aberdeen) that nothing could be more material to the present question, nothing more conclusive, both as to the meaning of the contract and the sentiment of the noble Viscount, than his reply to the noble Marquess on the occasion to which he had been referring; it was to this effect—But his Majesty's Ministers were blamed by the noble Marquess for having suffered Portugal to be invaded by a Spanish army. Now, what were the circumstances under which that invasion took place. The claimant to the Throne of Spain had taken refuge in Portugal, and around him were collected the band of disaffected persons by whom his pretensions were encouraged. It was clear therefore, that while he occupied such a position there could be no security for the Spanish Government, but still no attempt was made at invasion until Don Miguel had more than once rejected the respectful applications which were made to him to deliver the pretender up. If ever, therefore, one country had a right to enter another for its own protection, Spain possessed that right in the instance referred to. An absolute necessity existed for the course pursued by the Spanish Government, and that being the case, was it not the duty of the Government of Great Britain to take care that the intervention took place under the conditions of a treaty which would limit the parties from doing more than was really necessary for the accomplishment of the object which they had in view. This, in fact, was the main ground on which this treaty proceeded.*He now put it to their Lordships whether anything could be more clear than that the treaty had been amply fulfilled when those two Princes were expelled from the Peninsula? As it appeared to him, the contracting parties could not, under the treaty at least, proceed further. So soon as Don Carlos re-appeared in the Peninsula, additional articles were entered into, but these articles contained no new reasons for further diplomatic engagements. He begged to read the preamble to those articles, which was as follows. After reciting the names of the contracting parties, and describing them as the same that signed the treaty of April, 1834, it proceeded to say, that these parties—Having taken into their serious consideration the recent events which have taken place in the Peninsula, and being deeply impressed with the conviction, that in this new state of things new measures would become necessary for the complete attainment of the objects which it was the purpose of the said treaty to*Hansard (Third Series) vol. xxv, p, 952,159accomplish, agreed to the following additional articles of the treaty of April, 1834.From this preamble, and from the additional articles themselves, copies of which were in the hands of noble Lords, nothing could be more apparent than that the expulsion of the two Princes from the Peninsula was the new object which the contracting parties had in view, though the reasons for the former treaty confessedly-remained in full force. Now, it would appear, according to the new interpretation of the treaty, that the object was not merely to expel the two Princes alone, but by that expulsion, and by other means besides, to establish the internal peace of Spain. His Majesty, in the speech which he delivered from the Throne, in the month of August last, was advised to say, that—He lamented deeply that the state of Spain still rendered that country the only exception to the general tranquillity of Europe, and he regretted that the hopes which had been entertained of the termination of the civil war had not hitherto been realised,What! engaged in promoting the internal peace of a foreign land? He must be permitted to say, then, that that was the first occasion upon which this country had been engaged in anything of the sort. By the treaty it appeared, that his Majesty had undertaken to supply the Queen of Spain military stores and the aid of a naval force, but the Government even now admitted that no part of the treaty bound this country to continue its aid with the view of that aid not ceasing until the internal peace of Spain should have been re-established. The noble Baron opposite desired a large and liberal construction to be put upon the treaty; but would any honest man, having the use of his understanding, and taking the words in their common and legitimate sense, say for a single moment, that the species and extent of assistance given had been limited to the terms of the treaty—that it consisted merely in military stores, and in the aid of a naval force? A couple of brigs were sent out, the complement of marines to which would probably have been about forty or fifty, but if instead of that number 400 or 500 marines went to Spain, he felt satisfied that both Parliament and the country must see, that there was nothing of naval assistance beyond the fact, that the marines were carried in ships to the place of their destination; it was precisely equivalent to sending an equal quantity of infantry. On these grounds, then, he affirmed, that what 160 had been done under pretence of carrying the treaty into effect was neither more nor less than a fraud upon the public and upon Parliament. It was a most material consideration to be borne in mind, that this country did not stand merely in the situation of a single party to the treaty; England was not the only party; England was not at liberty to act as she might think fit, nor were we at liberty to put such interpretations as we might think proper upon the terms of that treaty, seeing that there were other parties to the engagement. He could not fail to rememember what had been said on the necessity of being governed by the spirit of the treaty, but so much stress being laid upon the mere spirit made him somewhat apprehensive that there existed a design to put an arbitrary and unwarrantable interpretation upon its terms. The King of the French was also a party to the treaty; but that Monarch did not put on the treaty any other than a precise and justifiable interpretation. He told his Chambers that he had scrupulously and religiously fulfilled in Spain the stipulations of the Quadruple Treaty. If England were entitled to put a larger interpretation upon the treaty than the King of the French had found himself warranted in putting, why did they not avow it at once? Why did they not announce to the Queen of Spain that they would do all in their power, and to stop at nothing, to promote the internal peace of Spain. The present Government in this country professed to proceed upon a principle of non-intervention. Spanish pride would not allow of intervention being used, therefore the favourite word was "co-operation," and yet in France they did not seem to think that there was much difference between the two; but in the Parliament of Great Britain the avoidance of the word "intervention" appeared to be so important, and phraseology altogether appeared to be of such moment, that a new word, "translimitation," was invented to serve the purposes of the Foreign Office. The French Government, however, knew too well the situation of affairs in Spain and the relative positions of the parties to the treaty to follow the example which England had set. The French Ambassador at Madrid— a very able man—wrote a letter, an extract from which he proposed to read to their Lordships, in which he described the nature and degree of the interference necessary to accomplish the objects proposed by his Majesty's Government. That letter was read 161 in the course of a speech made on the present subject in the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, and was as follows:—As the passions which the struggle of parties and the existence of civil war have excited cannot be calmed in an instant, it would be necessary that the French army, in order to consolidate its work, should occupy for a space of time, more or less extended, according to circumstances, the country to which it shall have given peace; otherwise the flame would indubitably spring up again, either in the provinces of the north, or in some other parts of Spain. The length of time for which this occupation should continue ought to be determined on beforehand, and in addition it should be stipulated most strictly, that the French troops should not quit the Spanish territory, even after the expiration of the time agreed on, unless after a deliberation held together by the two Governments, and not on the simple demand of the Spanish Government alone. An immensity of embarrassment to us, and of evil to Spain, had arisen from the liberty left in 1823 to King Ferdinand to put an end, at his own will, to the occupation of his country by our troops. The same fault must not again take place. Let us never forget that we should always expect constant caprice on the part of the Spanish Administration, and such caprice as might in a moment overthrow what we might have done for preserving the tranquillity of the Peninsula. We ought to take our measures in accordance with this view. I am naturally led by this state of circumstances to speak of the line of conduct that we ought to mark down for ourselves with respect to the Spanish Government. It evidently cannot, at least before the majority of the Queen arrives, overcome the difficulties which are inherent in her position and character, but in leaning for support on us. Our present co-operation ought not to be an isolated act, but the first step which shall take place in a new system. It is absolutely necessary, even while treating Spain as a perfectly independent state, to retain her many years under our guardianship. It is only by such a proceeding that she shall be enabled to undertake a real reform in her laws and her morals—to effect a calm in the violent passions which ferment in her bosom—and to prepare for herself a future condition of peace and prosperity.With this, the French view of the subject, the Government of this country was not content. How changed were times when the responsible advisers of the King of England appealed to, entreated, nay, were affronted with the French Government for not" entering Spain and occupying it for several years! He did not mean to say but that the Government were led into all this, step by step, but he requested the 162 House to look at the point at which they had at length arrived—that of, in effect, soliciting the interference of the French Government for the purpose of maintaining, or rather restoring, the internal peace of Spain. He would ask, did not that attempt to make ourselves responsible for the pacification of Spain amount to rendering us responsible for the acts of the Spanish Government, even though those acts extended to the confiscation of the property of the Church, the sending forth the inhabitants of the religious houses to beg, and driving them even to destitution and death? It was so throughout. Ministers had embarked in a scheme for obtaining an object which was unattainable under any circumstances, and which was certainly unprecedented in the history of this country. Their Lordships had heard a good deal from Ministers about their pacification of Greece. But how had they pacified Greece? They had drawn an arbitrary line—they had separated the population on the two sides of that line, and they had said, "You shall keep the peace; you shall neither of you pass this line, or if you do we will attack you." Their Lordships had also heard a good deal about the mode in which Ministers had settled the affairs of Belgium, though in point of fact the affairs of that country and Holland remained as unsettled as ever. There, too, they had drawn an arbitrary line, and had said, "Whoever passes that line, that party will we attack." But in this case they had said, "We will restore the internal peace of Spain," not by the expulsion of Don Carlos, supposing that they were able to effect it, nor indeed by another specific or definite measure. They had given the Government of Spain a mere gratuitous pledge of assistance; and if it were to be permanent under all changes of government, and they had already had one government changed, and an anarchical regime founded on military insurrection established in its stead, where, in the name of common sense, was their assistance to end? If their object were the restoration of internal peace to Spain, then in case the Government of Spain were avowedly a republic, as it was practically at present—nay, even in case Don Carlos were to be at Madrid, the treaty must go on indefinitely so long as a single smuggler was to be found in any corner of Spain. He mentioned this to show how vague, indefinite, extensive, and impracticable, the object of this treaty was. He contended, that we ought not to have 163 mixed ourselves up in a war of which we knew little or nothing of the origin. What, he would ask, was the British interest, which bound us to such a vague, extensive, and impracticable treaty? The noble Baron had thrown out that it was some undefinable interest which bound us to unite our efforts with those of the Government of Spain, to establish in that country a free constitutional government, and to form a solemn league and covenant against the attacks of the northern Powers, in consequence of their continual encroachments, designs, and plots against all constitutional states. With such great objects in view, was the measure which the British Government took of their importance limited to a mere force of 400 marines 9 If it were the object of Ministers to establish in Spain a constitutional government, then ought they to spread wide their banner of freedom— then ought they to surround the country with the pomp, and to confer upon it the glory, of war, and not to deprive us of the security and tranquillity of peace. If Ministers were prepared to enter into a compact against the northern Powers—if the report were true, that an open declaration had been made to that effect by the representative of our Court at Madrid, and if they were really determined to combine against Powers with whom they were at present in intimate alliance, he hoped that they would not do it in this mean, paltry, furtive, and underhand manner. Let them proclaim to the world the course they intended to pursue, and then let them act in a manner worthy of it. He, for one, denied both the necessity and the policy of such a course, but it would at any rate be intelligible—it would meet with the sympathy of some, and with the reprobation of others, whilst at present their course was Warned by all parties. He must say, that from all the information which he had been able to obtain, it did appear to him, that the noble Lord had shown himself ungrateful for the forbearance with which he had been treated by the northern Powers—for, with all the Spanish lore, of which the noble Lord had proved himself to be a master, he thought he would admit, that the right of succession of Don Carlos was at any rate uncertain. For a century or more it had Been certain, and though doubt had been thrown on it by his brother Ferdinand's decree, that very circumstance proved that it was still doubtful. What, then, was to hinder other persons from acknowledging Carlos as King, just as we had acknow- 164 ledged Isabella as Queen? And if they had thought proper to acknowledge him as King, what was there to prevent them from engaging to assist him as King which did not prevent us from engaging to assist Isabella as Queen? He well recollected, that one of his Majesty's Ministers in the other House of Parliament had admitted the right of foreign Powers to do so if they thought fitting. With his usual complacency, he admitted that such might be the case and with more than his usual complacency he added, that he did not care whether it were so or not. The noble Lords on the opposite benches had reason to be thankful for the prudence and forbearance of the Powers who had hitherto taken no part in this quarrel; and he believed that it was true that, if any ill-will existed at present on the part of those Powers to the cause of Queen Isabella, the existence of the Quadruple Treaty, and that alone, was the cause of it. The noble Lords might, however, some day find, to their cost, that those Powers were not inclined to carry their forbearance too far. One reason of the forbearance which they had hitherto shown might be the contemptible degree of assistance which we had rendered to our ally—he did not mean in character but in amount. They knew well that 400 marines could never expel Don Carlos from the throne of Spain; but if the manifesto, of which their Lordships had heard so much, were to be carried into effect, then the noble Lord might perhaps find that the northern Powers were not inclined to carry their forbearance any further. They might not be inclined to view with the same complacency which distinguished one of his Majesty's Ministers the occupation of Spain, even for a time, by a French army. He did not mean to say, that under some circumstances—indeed, he could conceive the circumstances—a more decided course even than that which the noble Lord had either taken or proposed to take, might not be justifiable; but those circumstances had not yet arisen, nor could it be desirable for this country that they should ever arise. Ministers had made this country parties, or rather auxiliaries, to a war in whist), not only had we no interest, but in which it was not even pretended that either our safety or that of Spain was concerned. With us it was merely a question whether we should take a step to restore the internal peace of Spain, and for that step we had made ourselves a party in one of the most brutalising and demoralis- 165 ing wars that had ever disgraced humanity. He could not persuade himself that any-war was justifiable which was not a war of self-defence, or which did not involve interests of such a magnitude as to bring it under that character. He was not, he believed, more squeamish upon such points than others, but he must say that, without any such cause, to make ourselves parties in; such a brutalising contest was to in our a dreadful responsibility indeed. He knew that war was in many cases a necessary evil, and that the usages of civilised nations in depriving it of its brutality had deprived it also of half its horrors and half its criminality. But in this case, to join gratuitously in a contest characterised as this had been from its outset, was to incur a sin against him who "had made war to cease to the uttermost ends of the earth." He would recommend the noble Viscount at the head of his Majesty's Government to satisfy his conscience by restoring things to the state in which they were when his noble Friend near him (the Duke of Wellington) abandoned the Government. The noble Viscount was himself a frank speaker, and liked, he believed, those who spoke out frankly to him. He would therefore speak to the noble Viscount in the strains which he loved to hear. He would ask the noble Viscount frankly, what he believed the state of public opinion to be upon this subject? He did not allude to what had occurred a night at two ago in another place, where the noble Viscount's policy had been sanctioned by a majority of thirty-six voices, but he asked the noble Viscount whether in the country among all classes there was not a feeling of disgust arising from our having taken a share in a contest Utterly unconnected with British interests, and carried on in a manner utterly incompatible with the honour of the British character? So much was that the case, that to his humble comprehension it appeared throughout the whole extent of the British Empire the only real approbation of this contest was to be found in Downing-street. He would go further and say, that murmurs as to its expediency and propriety were even heard there, and that the only real smile of satisfaction at its continuance was to be found in the secret recesses of the Foreign-office. The noble Earl concluded by stating, that he had expressed his feelings strongly upon this subject, but he felt strongly upon it, and he therefore trusted that he should meet the indulgence of their Lordships, if in the 166 heat of debate he had trespassed longer than he ought to have done upon their time and attention.
The Earl of Minto
rose, in consequence of the appeal which had been made to him by a member of his Majesty's Government, to answer the question which had been pot by the noble Duke opposite, and also by the noble Baron who had opened the discussion. He would commence with the last first. The noble Baron had spoken of the British force under Lord John Hay, which he said was nominally under the command of that gallant Officer, but virtually under that of General Evans. He had asked whether the seamen and marines in the King's service might not be exposed to some fatal calamity, owing to their being in connexion with General Evans and the Spanish army? To that question he would reply, by stating distinctly that the King's forces intrusted to the command of Lord J. Hay had never been directly or indirectly, nominally or really, under the command of General Evans, or of any other officer in the employment of the Spanish Government. The instructions given by the Admiralty to Lord J. Hay were to act under their orders upon his own responsibility, and the assurances which they had received from that gallant Officer were to the effect that he had constantly dome so. As to the risk to which it was said that his Majesty's forces were exposed in co-operating with the troops under General Evans, he had only to reply, that the assurance which he had for their safety was, that they were acting under the command of one of the best officers in the British navy, on whose prudence and gallantry the country might safely rely. With regard to the question of the noble Duke, his reply was short. The noble Duke had read an extract from the letter of a noble Lord, in which it was intimated that an armed British squadron had appeared in the Bilboa river, under the pretext of neutrality, and that under that pretext it had secured to itself protection from annoyance, whilst acting in the service of the Queen of Spain. He thanked the noble Duke for having given him an opportunity of setting him right upon this subject, and of telling him that there was not the slightest foundation for the intimation to which he had alluded. His Majesty's forces, seamen as well as marines, were acting openly in the Bilboa river as belligerents. [The Duke of Wellinglon—" As belligerents?"]—co-operating with the troops of the Queen of Spain. 167 The convent of Desierto was garrisoned by British troops, as was well known to the Carlists, on whom they were daily firing as often as they came within range of their guns. Moreover, our vessels and our boats, when sailing under British colours, and carrying communications between Bilboa and the sea, were fired on perpetually by the Carlists. There was no ground, therefore, for supposing that the officers and men of his Britannic Majesty's squadron sought protection from Carlist shots under the pretext of neutrality: for they appeared, he repeated it, openly as belligerents. The noble Earl who had spoken last, had spoken of the great number of marines attached to our small squadron. Now, he would beg leave to inform the noble Earl, that the number of marines embarked on board a squadron was always in proportion to the service for which, and not to the ships in which they were embarked. He had searched the records of the Admiralty, and he was not aware of any instance where a naval force was sent to act upon an enemy's coast in which a large number of marines had not been embarked. For instance, when the gallant father of a noble Lord on the opposite benches was sent with a fleet to Algiers, there was a larger force of marines than was usual embarked in his ships, under the command of a gallant Officer who now held a distinguished place in the House of Commons. Moreover, the force under the command of Lord J. Hay was much larger than the noble Lord supposed. There were two frigates on that station beside the brigs. The number of marines was, therefore, not so much out of proportion to the magnitude of the vessels employed as the noble Lord wished their Lordships to believe. Where military operations were projected on land, it was customary to attach to the ships of the fleets, not only a large force of marines, but also a considerable force of sappers and miners.
§ Viscount Melbourne
believed that a misapprehension existed as to the doctrine laid down by the Duke of Wellington concerning the interposition of the French in the affairs of Spain in 1822. He denied that we had recently urged the French government to interfere in the concerns of that country. That was an erroneous notion. We had never urged the French government to any occupation of that country. He would candidly confess that he himself did not perceive any thing so very dangerous in such an occupation. It did not 168 give the influence which was generally supposed. During the last war, the sovereigns of almost every country in Europe owed their crowns to our interference, and he should like to know what influence that had given to the British Government since the peace, or indeed what influence the British Government had at present. In saying that, he did not mean to admit—for he was not aware—that the influence of the British Government was less now than it had been since the termination of the war. He had been surprised to hear many of the noble Duke's observations on the constructions which ought to be put on the Quadruple Treaty, and he particularly referred to what the noble Duke had said respecting the second article of that treaty being inexplicable. He contended that the co-operation which we had recently given to the troops of the Queen of Spain was that sort of co-operation which was contemplated by the treaty. What was the meaning of the words "to assist and cooperate?" Was it not to further, by every means in our power, the objects of those with whom we were co-operating? He maintained, that had the noble Duke at this day been in command of the Spanish army, he would from that treaty have expected from the British fleet the same assistance which he had himself received from Admiral Penrose, when he was on the Bidassoa. With respect to what had been said respecting the safety of the seamen and royal marines under the command of Lord John Hay, he had only to observe, that he felt that they could not be placed in safer hands than those in which they now were, under the guidance of their present able, gallant, and discreet commander. He was sure that, under his command, their safety would not be unduly hazarded, or their honour in any respect compromised. The noble Duke had made an observation which had given him great pain, and on which he requested the noble Duke, who he did not imagine intended to cause him pain, to give him a distinct answer. The noble Duke had said, that the whole of these proceedings had originated in stock-jobbing; he hoped the noble Duke did not attribute such proceedings to the British Government. He hoped the noble Duke did not think that his Majesty's Ministers had any privity with those who had contrived those proceedings. The noble Duke, however, had expressed himself so strongly on the subject, as to leave an impression of that kind on the minds of those who heard him. If the 169 noble Duke supposed that any stock-jobbers had had any influence with the Government in the measures they had adopted, then he (Lord Melbourne) had only to declare most solemnly, on the part of himself and of all his colleagues, that they had not been influenced by any motives of the kind which had been alluded to.
§ The Duke of Wellington
was understood to repeat that we had no right to interfere in this contest in the way we had done. If the noble Viscount referred to what he had said, he would find that he (the Duke of Wellington) had stated the object of the treaty was a blockade. This was intended even after the month of August. He had not, and never could have, the least wish or intention to impute to the Government such motives as those to which the noble Viscount had referred.
The Earl of Minto
begged to say, in answer to Lord Alvanley, that Lord John Hay was with the whole division of the marines when they covered the retreat of the British Legion and Spanish troops from Hernani. He was upon the ground, and present at every movement made by the marines; and every step was taken upon his judgment. He believed, in point of fact, that if it were necessary, Lord John Hay was, and always would be, present. Of course, his Lordship was the responsible commander, and the officers under him were responsible to him. He believed that the battalion of marines were never engaged but in his presence. With regard to another question which had been put by the noble Lord, there must, of course, in certain instances, be a communication between the two generals, General Evans was perfectly independent of the marines, and the marine battalion and King's troops were under the sole command of Lord John Hay. They were a separate force, under the sole command of Lord John Hay. He did not think this the most convenient course for adoption, but it was the only shape in which the King's troops could co-operate. He took it for granted that the general outlines of the operations were matters of arrangement amongst the different officers.
§ Lord Ashburton
adverted to a charge which had been made against him of having said that peace could not be maintained for six months when the present Ministry came into office. He denied that he had ever said any thing of the kind. What he had said upon a question which had reference to Belgium in stating his 170 opinion was, that the affairs of that country were not in such a state as to secure the peace of Europe. But nominally the government of Belgium was established. This was the substance of what he had said, and the prediction which he had made was one which he was proud of having made. He did not now think it necessary to waste their Lordships' time on this part of the subject, but he would advert to the majority on this question, of thirty-six, in another House. He believed that nearly two-thirds of the other House also entertained the opinion which was the unanimous opinion of the country in reference to this question. In the course of his recollection of Parliamentary proceedings (and he would appeal to the noble Viscount,) he never recollected a great debate like that which had just been concluded elsewhere, to pass over in the other House of Parliament, where the conduct of a government was arraigned, and a direct motion to arraign the conduct of his Majesty's Government.
rose to order. The noble Lord was out of order in alluding to what had occurred in another House of Parliament. But not only did the noble Lord allude to the debates in the House of Commons, but he was about to enter into a disquisition on the conduct of its Members.
§ Motion agreed to.