HL Deb 27 March 1840 vol 53 cc163-6

The order of the day for considering her Majesty's most gracious message in relation to Lord Seaton, having been read,

Viscount Melbourne

said—I now rise my Lords, to move that an humble address be presented to her Majesty, expressive of your Lordships' approbation of the sentiments contained in her Majesty's message, and to assure her Majesty, that your Lordships will be happy to concur with me in carrying those wishes into effect. Upon the early life and career of the noble Lord who is the subject of the present message, it is not my intention to expatiate, particularly in the presence of so many noble Lords whom I see around me, who are so much better able to speak upon such subjects than I can possibly be; suffice it to say, that from his youth he has been a soldier, and a distinguished soldier—that he has held the most confidential situations under the most distinguished commanders, and borne a considerable share in that series of triumphs which have shed such a lustre upon the British nation, and conferred so much glory upon the British arms, and so much advantage to the country and the world. Allow me, my Lords, now briefly to call your attention to the subject of the present message. After having been governor of Upper Canada, the noble Lord became commander of her Majesty's forces in both these provinces. During the period of that command, there broke out that unfortunate insurrection, which, for a time, entirely unsettled that country, and which he met with the promptitude and decision, and prudence and precaution, which rendered it of very short duration, and speedily restored the tranquillity of that country. This happened under the government of Lord Gosford; and when he left Canada, Lord Seaton succeeded to the government of the provinces. When her Majesty was advised to send out Lord Durham as Governor-general of the Canadas, the noble Lord instantly accepted, under the new Governor-general, the post he had formerly held as commander of the forces in these provinces; not, in my opinion, the least prudent or signal act of his Lordship's life, and evincing, at the same time, the moderation of his character, and his anxiety to serve her Majesty in any capacity which he might be called upon to do. He put aside all personal feeling, and acted in the most cordial manner with the new Governor-general. I think, my Lords, this was not the least noble trait in his character. He acted in a manner which did honour to the service, in performing the duty required of him, without regard to personal considerations, or to circumstances which might by others be considered humiliating. Next year, when the civil war broke out again, he acted with the same promptitude and prudence, and the disturbances were soon put down. I say, my Lords, that the prudence and wisdom of his civil services were equally conspicuous and valuable, and such, I believe I may say, as to command the universal approbation of the House and the country, and to merit the honours which her Majesty had been advised to bestow upon him. I call upon your Lordships to concur with the other House of Parliament to give him the means of supporting that honour. To this application there has been but one exception, and that a most honourable one. The only obstacle was a doubt in the mind of the noble and gallant Lord himself, whether the services which he had rendered were such as to merit the honours and rewards bestowed on him. That doubt was communicated to the Commander of the forces, and I believe that was the only doubt expressed in any quarter—it is the only one I have heard of. I trust that the House rather agree with the general voice of the country, than with the modest doubt expressed by the noble and gallant Lord himself; and, therefore, in the confident, expectation of your Lordships' assent, I move, "That an humble address be presented to her Majesty for her most gracious message, informing the House that her Majesty, having taken into consideration the services of John Lord Seaton, as Governor-general of Canada and Commander of the forces in that province, had determined to confer upon him some signal mark of her favour; and to assure her Majesty, that this House will most cheerfully concur in any measure necessary to accomplish that most important purpose."

The Duke of Wellington

said, I entirely concur in the motion which has been made by the noble Viscount. My Lords, I will not weaken what the noble Viscount has said, in respect to my noble and gallant Friend, by adverting to the topics which the noble Viscount has enumerated with so much feeling and ability. I have had the honour of being connected in service; with my noble and gallant Friend at an; early period of his life, and I must say, that at all times, and under all circumstances, he gave that promise of prudence, of zeal, of devotion to the service of his country,; which he has since so nobly fulfilled. With respect, my Lords, to those services which he has rendered his country on the occasion mentioned by the noble viscount, which have led to the message we are now considering, I can only say that I entirely concur with the noble Viscount in all that he has said respecting the noble and gallant Lord, in resuming his post, and taking the command of her Majesty's troops, notwithstanding it was deemed expedient that the government should be placed in the hands of another. I entirely agree with the noble Viscount in wishing that such examples as that shown by the noble and gallant Lord may be always followed by those who are in her Majesty's service; but I must say that there never has been a brighter example than this manifested by the noble and gallant Lord, respecting which the noble Viscount has so strongly declared his approbation. I must say I derive the greatest satisfaction on hearing the intimation of her Majesty's gracious favour to the noble Lord, and her Majesty's approbation of the great services he has rendered his country. I concur, my Lords, most cordially in the course proposed by the noble Viscount, in order to enable her Majesty to complete her gracious intentions in making provision for the noble Lord to support those honours which have been conferred on him.

The Duke of Richmond—

My Lords, having served under my noble and gallant Friend, I beg your Lordships to allow me to express the gratification I feel on the present occasion in concurring in the sentiments expressed by the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, and more particularly in what has been stated by the noble Duke with respect to my noble and gallant Friend. When I first heard of the rebellion breaking out in Canada, it was a great consolation to me to know that he who had commanded the 52d light infantry in the Peninsula, who had gained the good-will of the inhabitants of the country through which he passed—who had obtained the love and respect of the officers and soldiers whom he commanded —who administered justice to all with an equal measure —was now in the command of her Majesty's troops in Canada, and I had the highest confidence in him. I agree with the noble Viscount in what he has stated, in thinking that to my noble and gallant Friend is mainly to be attributed the tranquillity which followed. Having had the honour of serving under his command, I thought I was justified in addressing your Lordships, and I beg to say, that I have never been called upon to give n vote which I shall give with more satisfaction than this for a provision for Lord Seaton, who has a greater claim upon the country for his services than any man alive.

Motion agreed to, nemine conlradicenle.