§ The Duke of Wellington
In pursuance of the notice which I gave to your Lordships on the first day of the Session, I proceed now to ask your Lordships to express your approbation of the services of her Majesty's fleet and army employed in the late operations in China. I am perfectly sensible of the importance of the duty which I call upon your Lordships to perform. Her Majesty has been pleased to declare her approbation of the services of her fleet and army: her Majesty has distinguished both services by marks of her gracious favour, and has adopted other measures to signify her approbation of them; and my proposition is, that your Lordships taking into consideration the nature of the services performed by the fleet and army—taking into consideration their value and importance at the moment at which they were rendered—should support her Majesty in the applause which she has expressed; and by pursuing that course your Lord ships will, I trust, excite and stimulate others of our countrymen, in all future times, to emulate those whose services I am about to bring under your consideration. In performing the duty that devolves upon me on this occasion, I shall carefully avoid adverting to any topic, or alluding to any subject, which can give rise to any feeling but that which I am desirous should exist among your Lordships—namely, admiration of the services which I am about to detail to you. It will be necessary for me to advert to certain historical facts, in order to render clear the exposition of the services of the fleet and army which I am about to make to you; but I shall advert to them only as facts, having no intention to blame anything—and, indeed, there is no reason that I know of to blame anything. Certain it is that I 526 have no intention to blame anything that has passed; and, as I have already said, I shall refer to what has passed merely as historical facts, to render clear what I am about to address to your Lordships on the subject of the services performed by her Majesty's navy and army. Your Lordships are aware that in 1839, after a discussion upon the events which had taken place in China, war was declared with that country, and orders were given to blockade the Chinese ports, and carry on certain other hostile proceedings against that empire. Those measures were carried into execution as early as the month of June, 1839. At that period Canton was blockaded, and hostilities were further prosecuted by the capture of the island of Chusan. The fort of Amoy, also, was blockaded, and certain operations were carried on in that harbour by a small detachment of the fleet under Admiral Elliot, who was in his own ship, and who afterwards joined the rest of the fleet and the army at Chusan. In a short time the admiral, according to the instructions which he had received to act as joint plenipotentiary with Captain Elliot, proceeded to Pa, on the Pei-ho, which he reconnoitred; and, having communicated with the Chinese authorities at Tien-ling, on the river Pei-ho, commenced there negotiations for peace. The negotiations thus commenced were subsequently continued at Chusan. Negotiations for a cessation of hostilities were also carried on at Ningpo; but subsequently the negotiations for a treaty of peace were removed from the northern part of China—from the Pei-ho, Chusan, and Ningpo, to Canton. On arriving at Canton, the Chinese commissioner appeared to be not so willing as before to conclude a treaty of peace: the admiral being, unfortunately, taken ill, was rendered incapable of remaining longer on service, and quitted the station. The command of the fleet then devolved upon Sir Gordon Bremer, who carried on the naval operations, whilst the negotiations continued to be conducted by Captain Elliot. From various circumstances, it was discovered that the Chinese were not serious in the desire of making peace on the terms proposed and required by her Majesty's plenipotentiary, and in the course of the communications and discussions which took place, a British vessel was fired into from a fort which ought not to have been occupied; and it was subse- 527 quently discovered that the whole of the forts on the Canton river, which it had been previously settled were not to be occupied, were armed and occupied. The negotiations were continued, but they certainly did not make much progress: different periods were fixed, at which communications were to be held and answers received; but no communications were had, and no answers were received, and at length it was found to be absolutely necessary to suspend negotiations and recommence hostilities. Accordingly the commodore, the commanding officer of the fleet, immediately determined to attack the forts in Canton river, particularly those which protected the entrance to Whampoa. Among other promises made by the Chinese, and not performed, was one for the opening of trade at a particular period. In the mean time large bodies of troops were being collected, and it was found that Tartar generals and Tartar commissioners were coming down for the ostensible purpose of treating for peace, but for the real purpose of war. Under these circumstances the commodore determined immediately to attack the forts on the Canton river, and to obtain possession of them. He did so. He consulted with the military commanding officer on the spot respecting the assistance to be afforded by the army, and by the cordial co-operation of the two services, of which many examples were afterwards given in the prosecution of the war, the army being landed on the flank or rear of the works attacked in front by the fleet, and by the accurate posting of every vessel of the fleet, all the forts were carried almost without loss, the army having entered the forts by the rear at the same time that the navy carried them in front. It is from this operation I propose to date the accounts to which I shall call your Lordships' attention. I do not mean to say that the operations to which I have already adverted—namely, the attack on Chusan, the blockade of Amoy, and the attack upon the vessels in that harbour, were not all highly meritorious; but there is this distinction between them and the operations subsequently carried on—namely, that they took place during a time when negotiations were pending. In what I am about to address to your Lordships I shall, therefore, confine myself to the operations which took place after the breaking off of negotiations in the month of January, 528 1841. The capture of the forts made an impression on the Chinese negotiators, and they again desired to commence negotiations, Under the treaty of peace which had previously been concluded, her Majesty was to obtain possession of the island of Hong Kong, and it was deemed expedient still to insist upon that, although the treaty had not been actually signed. The commissioner on the part of her Majesty having desired the admiral to take possession of Hong Kong, he entered into an agreement, that in case the island were given up, the forts which had been taken should be restored to the Chinese. Still the negotiations did not advance. The Chinese commissioner never actually met the plenipotentiary of her Majesty to sign conjointly the treaty of peace. It was known that a large Tartar army was assembling at Canton; and in this state of things it was considered necessary to recommence hostilities, to attack all the forts and batteries, and to take possession of Canton. A suspension of hostilities was again agreed upon, in consequence of the Chinese undertaking to pay a sum of money as ransom for Canton. Thus affairs stood at that time. The treaty which had been agreed upon was considered as concluded; that is to say, it was really signed; but I do not believe that any of the conditions were carried into execution, except that which related to the occupation of Hong Kong by the Queen's troops, and certain of the forte by the Chinese troops, upon condition that they should not again be armed. Things remained in this state until towards the 20th of May, at which period large bodies of Chinese troops continued to assemble in the neighbourhood of Canton, and threats were held out of an intention to recommence hostilities. It was also ascertained that some of the batteries and towers on the river had been armed, in contravention of the arrangement entered into, and that attacks had been made upon her Majesty's vessels and British merchant vessels by five boats, from which the British vessels were protected by the activity of some small craft attached to the fleet. At this time Sir Hugh Gough joined the army, and the commodore and he having reconnoitred the coast of the river, and the disposition of the Chinese army on the heights beyond Canton, determined on a plan of joint attack, which was carried into execution in a manner worthy of your 529 Lordships' approbation. The position of the enemy was well examined and ascertained, and a plan was formed for a conjoint attack on the several fortified posts on the river by the fleet, and upon the position of the enemy on the heights beyond Canton by the army. The army was landed at the place appointed for the commencement of its operations, whence they advanced and attacked the formidable position of the enemy, defended by the works of the town, and by a large number of Tartar troops, besides the garrison of the town, in a camp upon the heights. Here commenced a series of operations which were really quite surprising, and of which I believe there is no example in the military and naval history of (his country or any other. Our fleet and army have been manœvring on the rivers and coasts of China, and defending themselves against large bodies of the enemy in the field; and at the same time attacking fortified positions, some of which were deserving the name of citadels, and they have performed these manœuvres with the utmost facility and with uniform success; and they have done this, my Lords, how? By the activity, energy, and zeal of the officers, petty officers, and seamen of the navy, in marking out the spots at which the large ships were to take their station with a view to the operations to be carried on, and to enable the admiral and the general to combine these operations. We have seen the fleet attacking strong forts, built of masonry, and well provided with ordnance, whilst the army, being lauded at a spot previously agreed upon, has assisted the fleet in its operations, and the success of their combined efforts has been uniform, and, I must say, wonderful. The attack upon Canton was the first instance of these operations being carried on upon a large scale, in front of a force superior to ours. Our troops would have entered into Canton if it had not been thought expedient to suspend hostilities upon condition of receiving another ransom, and to protect the town from the consequences of being stormed at that moment. As I said before, I have no blame to bestow upon that proceeding. The troops then embarked, and took up a position again at Hong Kong. I have gone a little into detail with respect to these operations, because they were the first of a series of similar operations which were carried on with the cordial understanding and co- 530 operation of the two gallant officers, Si Hugh Gough and Sir H. Senhouse Shortly after the performance of this feat, the fleet sailed from Hong Kong, and the first operation which they undertook was the attack upon Amoy. They proceeded then, and examined the port, and having found that the island of Koo-lang-soo formed one side of it, the admiral and general, in the manner before pointed out, having well considered the position of the enemy, and the nature of the works to be attacked, and the position of the troops opposed to them, agreed that the troops should be landed at Koo-lang-soo, and should proceed, some of them to attack the works on that island, and others to attack those in the neighbourhood of the town of Amoy. My Lords, the ground was sounded, the danger exactly ascertained, and here, again, our forces performed one of those manœuvres which I have endeavoured to describe to your Lordships. The general immediately got possession of the island of Koo-lang-soo, and forthwith directed his attention to the support of the position which the fleet took up at Amoy; and they were successful, as they had been before, and as they have since been in many other cases. They occupied the island of Koo-lang-soo, left there a garrison, and sailed for Chusan. At Chusan they found the works vastly increased and improved since their previous occupation in the preceding year. Indeed, it is curious enough that the Chinese had carried into execution some of the measures which the British engineers had proposed to adopt in the preceding year, in order to strengthen the island of Chusan, then in their possession. Notwithstanding the strength of these works, and the increased strength of their position, afforded by enormous batteries of masonry, the operations of the fleet and army, by the adoption of the same system, had the same result. The troops were landed in the position agreed on by general and admiral, the ships took up their stations opposite particular parts of the works, and the attack succeeded in a most extraordinarily short space of time. In short, my Lords, this just shows what a fleet and army can do when united, and acting cordially in support of each other, under officers who think they best perform their duties in considering the whole operations to be carried into effect—the situations which each force should occupy during those 531 operations, and taking care that the intended plans should be put in execution by the troops exactly as they were first intended. This it was that was done, and, as usual, the place fell into their possession. From Chusan they went to attack the forts and arsenal on the left of the Ningpo-river, and they found them situated on a height, being fully garrisoned, in the highest state of order and preservation, being one of the principal arsenals of the country. There was a large body of troops on the other side of this fortified position, destined to co-operate in its defence; and yet, my Lords, of this position our forces got possession as easily as they did of Koo-lang-soo, Amoy, and Chusan. If you will give me leave, I shall dwell for a moment on the really curious circumstances under which the arsenal of Chinhai was attacked. The enemy had an army stronger than ours, in a position to assist the garrison, and destined ultimately to protect Ningpo. The general and admiral carried on concerted operations. They agreed to land the army on the right of the river, while the fort was attacked by the navy in its sea front. And it is a strange circumstance attending this attack, that in order to ascertain exactly the danger of the topographical situations in which the operations should be carried on, the ship which made the greatest attack on the citadel, anchored in water scarcely deeper than would float her. My Lords, the general attacked with the troops, and carried everything before him, the fortified outworks and the garrison within, and he was soon enabled to assist the force which was attacking it from the sea. The admiral stormed the citadel, and the ships' crews, as soon as the breaches were made, saw on the other side those who were proceeding to their support, and in an astonishingly short space of time this citadel, notwithstanding two or three explosions, which took place by accident while the operations were going on, was in possession of the fleet and army. The troops were embarked, and sent up to the great city of Ningpo, into which they entered without opposition. Now, here was another instance of the advantage derived from the co-operation of the fleet and the army. The army was aided by the steamers and smaller vessels in their attack on the enemy's troops, while, on the other hand, the troops aided the navy in their attack on the citadel as soon as the breach was 532 made. My Lords, some disturbances took place after obtaining the occupation of Ningpo. Noiwithstanding that the troops conducted themselves greatly to the satisfaction of the inhabitants. It appeared that the people of this large town, thought it might be practicable to get the better of them, and the soldiers from the Chinese army, encamped at no great distance, found their way into the town in disguise, having, perhaps, heard of similar proceedings in this part of the world. On the 9th or 10th of March an attack was made not only on the town of Ningpo, but on the citadel. I am happy to say, however, that attempt completely failed, and I have observed, with the greatest satisfaction, the measures which were adopted to bring about its failure. I can't avoid expressing my admiration of the activity and energy of the officers who adopted those measures with entire success—particularly of the subaltern and those of the next rank. They manifested discretion, firmness, and courage under the circumstances in which they were placed, and frustrated all the attacks which were made; so that before morning the place was as securely in then-possession as it had been the previous night. The enemy retired, and took refuge in the country some miles above Ningpo. And thither the general, in concert with the admiral, thought proper to follow them, with a view of making an attack. My Lords, they did attack them. The general, by his courage and that of his troops, aided by the seamen and marines, carried a most formidable fortified position against the best Tartar troops of the empire, and in that attack his gallant brother in arms, the admiral, at the head of his seamen and marines, charged in support of the troops into the enemy's camp, which they took possession of and occupied that night. This is another and a most remarkable instance of the cordial co-operation between the two commanders and the two services—a co-operation which must insure, on every similar occasion, the success which attended those operations. My Lords, there can be no doubt that the operations of this war were exceedingly difficult. Little was known of China except its enormous population, its great extent, and its immense resources; but we knew nothing of the social life of that country; we knew nothing more of its communications than a scanty acquaintance with its 533 rivers and canals, and whether their roads ran along rivers, or in any other way, nobody in this country could give any information, nor could any be acquired. We felt, as everybody must have felt, that it was absolutely necessary, after so many years of negotiation, to carry the war into the heart of the country, in order to make an impression on a people who had manifested so little disposition to render justice, and to come to reasonable terms of peace. The question was as to the mode of doing it; and considering the complete ignorance which we and all mankind were in, with respect to the communications of the country—the difficulties, natural and artificial, which we had to contend with; besides the immense distance from our country at which the operations must be carried on—we naturally look to the results; and, I must say, there is no individual, however sanguine, who could have expected such success as has been produced by the cordial co-operation of the admiral commanding the fleet, and the general commanding the army, and (following their example) of the officers and men in both services. My Lords, as I said it was determined to carry the war into the heart of the country, it having been confined, up to the period I have alluded to, to the coasts and islands. The first attack was made on the city of Chapoo. This was supposed to be a place of great importance. The commanders co operated in precisely the same manner as they had hitherto done; they carried on conjoint operations after previous examination; and after having ascertained the difficulties they had to overcome, they provided for the occasion, ascertaining the depth of the water and all the other circumstances calculated to ensure success. The place, like the others, was taken by the army attacking in the rear and by the fleet in front, supported by the small craft and steamers. Having carried this place, they turned their attention to operations on the Wosung. This is a river which falls into the Yang-tse-keang, on the right bank, and it appears to run nearly parallel to a canal, rather tending towards a coast than otherwise. The general having at this time been joined (through means of the fleet) by artillery and horses, sent from India by the Governor of Fort St. George, landed some men near the river Yang-tse-keang, who marched across it and attacked one of the forts, while an- 534 other attack was made in front. The forts on the Wosung were carried by operations similar to those I have already described. The fleet and army having been posted exactly in the places fixed upon, pursued the course pointed out for each, provision being made for the due performance of the duty allotted to each. All these attacks succeeded as the others had done before them, and the forces, having thus gained a position in the forts of Wosung, were enabled to enter the Yang-tse-keang, and to proceed in a body up that great river, for the purpose of carrying on operations at the point fixed upon—namely, at the junction of the great Imperial Canal with the Yang-tse-keang. After considerable difficulty and some loss, this position was carried, as the others had been, by the joint operations of the two services. The Tartar troops were completely subdued, and this place came into the possession of her Majesty's troops. The general and admiral then determined to pursue their success by proceeding to Nanking, and to carry on operations in the same manner against that place, should they not prevail upon the enemy to come to terms of peace. Accordingly, they proceeded up the river and examined the localities as usual, with the view to attack. By this time our mode of proceeding was known by the enemy, and they soon perceived what our forces were about. However, our commanders made like preparations to the preceding, and landed the troops, so as to be enabled to make an attack. The enemy then surrendered, and offered to agree to the proposed terms of peace. My Lords, this peace was signed, and has been confirmed, and although it has not been formally ratified, and therefore not laid before your Lord ships, it is already made known to the public. My Lords, considering the energy, ability, prudence, and fortitude with which those operations were carried on, their uniform success, and the honour which resulted to her Majesty's army, the advantages which must accrue to the country from this early peace, and the probably greater advantage which must result from our future commercial intercourse being placed on a better footing with this great empire, I do hope your Lordships will agree unanimously to the vote of thanks I mean to submit to you. My Lords, I have the satisfaction of being able to add to this statement that I have every reason to believe that those engaged in this ser- 535 vice displayed uncommon proofs of discipline and good order—I mean, of course, both fleet and army. I have read several accounts of the sobriety which they observed, avoiding that great temptation in war the use of spirituous liquors, and I have heard and read with great satisfaction that they treated their enemies on all occasions with the utmost humanity, so much so, that I understand the feeling in China was "these barbarians (as they called us) are our best friends, and we cannot look upon them as enemies." My Lords, it is under these circumstances that, considering the difficulty of these operations, their uniform success, and the small loss which accrued, I trust I shall draw from you an unanimous expression of approbation. They whose names I shall have the honour to propose to you, according to the usual practice, are the admiral and general who commanded, the general who served under the former, but not to the admiral in a similar position, as there was no admiral under the command of Admiral Parker. There was another admiral connected with the fleet, Sir T. Cochrane. He was, at the time of these operations, at the mouth of the Canton river, and frequently expressed a wish to be engaged in more active operations, but the admiral found himself under the necessity of detaining him in what he conceived an important position. Under these circumstances I regret I cannot, according to the usual practice, insert Sir T. Cochrane's name in this vote of thanks. I should have been happy, had it been the practice, to have mentioned all the names of the gallant officers of the other ranks who distinguished themselves in the course of these operations. But, my Lords, theGazette contains them, and I entreat you to read them, as well as to examine those operations with attention. They are worthy of the especial attention of professional men; but all men who read them will see what these forces have done, the difficulties which they have undergone, and the services which they have rendered their country. I find, my Lords, that it was not Admiral Parker who carried on the operations at Canton, but Sir H. Senhouse, an officer who rendered great and distinguished service, but unfortunately died, like many others, from the exhaustion which he suffered by reason of the labours he went through in the course of the day. The noble Duke then read the following vote of thanks:— 536That the thanks of this House be given to Lieutenant-General Sir Hugh Gough, G.C.B., Vice-Admiral Sir W. Parker, G.C.B., and Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, K.C.B.; for the distinguished skill, intrepidity, and indefatigable zeal with which they have conducted the combined operations of her Majesty's naval and military forces on the coasts and on the inland waters of China; whereby a series of brilliant and unvaried successes has been concluded by an honourable peace on the terms proposed by her Majesty.That the thanks of this House be given to Major-General Lord Saltoun, K.C.B. Major-General George Burrell, C.B., Major-General Sir Robert Bartley, K.C.B, Major-General Sir James Holmes Schoedde, K.C.B., and the other officers of the navy, army, and Royal Marines, including those in the service of the East India Company, both European and native, for the energy, ability, and gallantry with which they have executed the various services which they have been called upon to perform.That this House doth acknowledge and highly approve the gallantry, discipline, and uniform good conduct displayed by the petty officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the navy, army, and Royal Marines, including the troops in the service of the East India Company's service, both European and native, the cordial good feeling which has subsisted between all the branches of the united services; and the honourable emulation exhibited by all in the discharge of the various duties required by the peculiar nature of the operations to be performed; and that the same be communicated to them by the commanders of the several ships and corps, who are respectfully desired to thank them for their gallant behaviour.He would also move that the Lord Chancellor be requested to communicate the above resolution to the forces engaged in China.
§ The Earl of Auckland
concurred in every word which had fallen from the noble Duke in admiration of the services rendered both by the military and naval forces in China; but for his own satisfaction, as he had himself selected for that service Sir Hugh Gough and Sir William Parker, and as those distinguished officers had served for some time under his instructions, he trusted he might be permitted to say that he would ever feel pride in looking back upon their intercourse with him during one part of the progress of these operations. They were officers who had no superiors in judgment, skill, and determination, and in the eulogiums pronounced upon them he most fully and entirely agreed. Upon the services which they had rendered it was not 537 for him to enlarge. He rejoiced that they had been the instruments of performing those great services to this country, that they had been the means of procuring that peace which promised everything that could be desired from it as the result of a glorious and successful war—and he rejoiced that they would receive the distinction of the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. Before he sat down, their Lordships would permit him to allude to what had fallen from the noble Duke. The noble Duke had spoken of the services of the army and navy, but to one branch of the army he himself would try to call the particular attention of their Lordships. He meant the native Indians. Those gallant troops were taken from home, were placed in a position on board ship most repugnant to their tastes and habits, and the answer of the native soldier to his commander, on being questioned as to his feelings upon going on such service, was then, what it had invariably been, "Where you go, we will go." These were not mere words of compliment. The Sepoys embarked with cheerfulness—they bore privations with cheerfulness—and proved themselves in these respects second to none. He was glad, from his own feelings towards the native troops, to bear such testimony in their favour; but after what had already passed, he would detain the House no longer upon the subject.
§ The Duke of Wellington
had to apologise for not having more particularly alluded to the Sepoy troops. He had had occasion to take particular notice of the conduct of a company of Bengal Sepoys in the attack upon the heights of Canton. He believed that that company was intended to keep up the communication between two considerable bodies of our troops. These troops were withdrawn, but, somehow, the order to withdraw did not reach the Sepoys in sufficient time, and they were placed in a situation of much peril. They attempt ed to defend themselves by means of their fire arms, but, unfortunately, their muskets would not go off, owing, he believed, to the damp. They kept their ground, however, and gallantly defended themselves with the bayonet, until they were joined by a company of the Royal Marines, sent to relieve them. Their conduct had been most satisfactory.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, no one could feel more strongly than he did how impossible it would be for him to add 538 any weight to the testimony of the noble Duke, testimony which no one could feel so eminently qualified to bear to the great merit of the services which had been rendered upon the late important occasion. It would be useless for him to express his humble, though warm concurrence in the feelings and sentiments given utterance to by the noble Duke, were he not desirous of expressing the only thing in the shape of a regret which he could feel in connection with the vote before the House, and it was this—that, owing, he had no doubt, to technical considerations in connection with the vote now proposed, inasmuch as that vole merely referred to military and naval services—owing to these technical considerations, and only owing to them, he had no doubt it was that they did not find included in the vote proposed the name of an individual, an eminent and distinguished officer in another service, but who, on the late occasion, had acted in a political capacity—he alluded to Sir Henry Pottinger—a distinguished officer in the service of the East India Company, but who, on the late occasion, had officiated in those parts of the world in the capacity of plenipotentiary of her Majesty. If it happened, from the technical considerations which he had alluded to, that his name was not included in the vote, let not their Lordships forget that he acted not only as plenipotentiary in concluding the treaty of peace, but that he was throughout the whole of the late operations aiding and assisting in person the exertions of the forces upon every occasion, lending his powerful assistance to the military operations carried on by the commander and admiral of the laud and sea forces, and contributing largely to that which the noble Duke had justly adverted to as forming one of the most satisfactory features of the war—that spirit of humanity, and good order, and conciliation, which, during the late operations, was, through his advice, as well as by the authority of those eminent commanders with whom he acted, strictly enforced and invariably maintained and to which, no doubt, might in a great degree be attributed the brilliant and complete success which had attended them. Indeed he thought that it would appear, from the more recent proceedings of the Chinese government, that they were yielding under the effects produced upon the people of the country by the conciliatory nature of the measures which had been 539 adopted—measures which were teaching the Chinese to look as friends and not as enemies upon our troops—and teaching them, also, what order of things connected with our relations with them, would best tend to their future tranquillity, and to their immediate exemption from the sufferings and the privations of war. To that system being uniformly persevered in, the authority, the presence, and the advice of Sir Henry Pottinger directly and essentially contributed. He trusted, in making these remarks, that the noble Duke would not think that he adverted to the services of the officer he alluded to as meaning to impute blame to him (the Duke of Wellington), if, on technical grounds, he had been prevented from including his name in the vote before the House. But he did feel that it was impossible to allow the occasion to pass—and he was not influenced by personal acquaintance with the officer in question—without expressing what he felt of admiration for that career which had been heretofore passed in the service of the East India Company, but which had been no less successful in aiding the service of her Majesty—services of which he hoped it would appear that their Lordships were not and could not be unmindful.
§ The Duke of Wellington
concurred in every word which had been stated by his noble Friend relative to the distinguished services of Sir Henry Pottinger through all the late operations. He had negotiated the treaty of peace, but that treaty was not yet under the consideration of the House. Under these circumstances, therefore, he could not consistently with the forms of the House, include Sir Henry Pottinger's name in the vote now proposed without laying on the Table of the House all the papers connected with that treaty of peace. He had no doubt whatever, that if they could be laid before the House at that moment evidence would be furnished sufficient to attract the admiration of every man in England to Sir Henry Pottinger; but they could not be produced at present; and, therefore, the name of that gallant officer could not be included in the vote he had the honour of proposing.
would call the attention of their Lordships for one moment to a certain singularity in the circumstances under which the present vote of thanks to the army and navy in China would be 540 passed. On former occasions the thanks of Parliament, prefaced by panegyrical addresses, had been moved by political chiefs and party men in both Houses; but at present it did so happen that this vote was proposed by a man, with respect to whom every one who would receive it would prefer his single opinion, his single panegyric, to votes of thanks from both Houses of Parliament. The subject of this vote had already been disposed of—for of what value could their assent be to it? It could add little more than mere form to the substance with which the noble Duke had already endowed them. The noble Duke had observed on the great skill of the combined operations of the army and navy. He had always understood that of all military operations, the most difficult to plan and hard to execute were the combined movements of land and sea forces; but the late operations, beside having contended with these difficulties, had been attended by obstacles of a very peculiar, if not an unparalleled, nature, as his noble Friend had clearly shewn. In agreeing to this vote of thanks, of course he pronounced no opinion on any subject but the naval and military services performed—no opinion upon the political part of the subject, no approval of the war in which the services of the army and navy had become necessary—which had been performed and brought to a happy, because a peaceful termination. He hoped and trusted that that termination would be for good; he hoped that all men's care would be bestowed and their efforts directed tore-store complete, cordial, and lasting relations of amity—a really hearty good understanding between this country and the Chinese empire. He had lived long enough to be aware of what his noble Friend hinted, in his clear and distinct statement, that there existed some little difference between the difficulties and the perils with which our gallant countrymen had to contend during the earlier period of the war compared with those which had been met and surmounted in the latter. The Chinese were not only most numerous—so numerous that their resources were almost incalculable—that their people were to be counted by hundreds of millions, but they had the power of increasing their armies almost to their wishes, and their revenue to such a degree, that a poll-tax amounting to one shilling per head would pour from fifteen to sixteen millions of pounds sterling into their revenues without hindrance or difficulty. 541 They were also a clever people—they were an ingenious people—and they were emphatically an imitative people. Therefore there was some little difference in our situation with respect to them, when they had learned from us somewhat of our tactics towards the close of the war; and he would very much wonder, should a good understanding not be restored—should a feeling of revenge be left rankling in their breasts, if they were not to take steps during the peace they at present enjoyed, and which they had purchased by costly sacrifices of treasure, as well as blood—and of towns and islands as well as blood and treasure—to turn to account those faculties and resources which he had alluded to, so as to make the next campaign which might be carried on in our eastern dominions of much longer duration and of much more doubtful issue than the one which had just been happily concluded. For which reasons he hoped—and he would repeat the wish he had already expressed—that every pains might be taken, both by the Government here and by the Government in India, to restore not a nominal peace, but a real and cordial good understanding with that great and powerful empire.
The Earl of Haddington
felt sure, and could assure the noble and learned Lord, that such pains would be taken, that such efforts would be made; and he trusted that the result of the late glorious operations would be, with respect to the feeling of the Chinese, very different from that which the noble Lord seemed to anticipate. Their Lordships might believe that he would not be guilty of the bad taste of travelling again over the ground trodden by his noble Friend near him. He knew full well what was the value of praise from him, and he was not about to add his eulogiums to those passed by the noble Duke. But being placed at the head of one of the branches of the services engaged in the late great operations to which the noble Duke had done so much justice, he rose for the purpose of returning thanks to the noble Duke, on the part of the naval service, for the eulogiums bestowed upon it. He congratulated the navy, in having had its panegyric pronounced by an authority the value of which could not be overstated. But he would add one word before sitting down with reference to the crews of the East India Company's steamers. By them was a most important part of the service 542 in China carried on. The great majority of the steamers present there were supplied by the East India Company. They were not, he believed, necessarily belonging to the East-Indian navy, but hired for the occasion by the Company, to whom he hoped the thanks of the House would also be voted. Some of these steamers were commanded by officers in the Royal Navy; and the Board of Admiralty had done all that was in their power to testify their sense of the services rendered by these steamers, by the notice they had taken of those of the officers commanding them who were more immediately under their control. Some of those officers had greatly distinguished themselves, and their conduct had been followed by suitable promotion and reward. He would detain their Lordships no longer, but would once more express, on the part of the navy, his thanks for the manner in which the noble Duke had characterised that branch of the public service.
The Earl of Minto
would not detain their Lordships many minutes, but he could not refrain from saying that he concurred, fully concurred, with the noble Duke in the admiration which he had expressed of the great actions performed by both branches of the service, and of the skill and perseverance by means of which difficulties of no ordinary nature had been successfully surmounted. For when they remembered that the late naval operations had been conducted in strange and unexplored seas, particularly abounding with the dangers common to navigation, and surrounded by hostile coasts, it must appear extraordinary, not only that success so great could have crowned our efforts, but that the British flag could have been carried by British cruisers before the walls of Canton, inside of the bar of the Pei-ho, and as far as Nankin. There was one point, however, to which he must allude, although it was with somewhat of regret that he found himself obliged to do so. He referred to the distinctions made between the rewards bestowed upon the commanders of the different branches of the services employed in China. Sir Hugh Gough having been created a Baronet, while Sir Wm. Parker had only been rewarded with the grand cross of the Order of the Bath. He was aware of the circumstances which had led to this unfortunate distinction having been made. He understood that the grand cross of the 543 Bath having been previously bestowed upon Sir Hugh Gough, the Baronetcy was conferred upon him as the only further reward which could be properly bestowed. At the same time, he did not think that this partiality of distinction was at all advisable. In the expedition there had indeed been no rivalry between the chiefs of the respective portions of it, except as to which should best perform his duty to his service and his country; yet, in the case in question, the expedition, if it had any peculiarly distinctive character, was certainly rather a naval than a military expedition. The greatest difficulties to be removed were those surmounted by the naval Commander-in-chief. These difficulties were difficulties of navigation, and, of course, from the very nature of the case, it was impossible that it could be other wise. The greater burthen of the service fell, then, upon the naval branch; and, such being the case, it might be thought an invidious distinction that Sir Hugh Gough should have been enabled to transmit to his posterity the honours he had won in China, while Sir William Parker's distinctions would die with himself. He was very sure that Sir William Parker would look upon the cross of the order of the Bath as a high honour; and if the case rested on the adequacy of the reward he had received to the services which he had performed, he (the Earl of Minto) would not have a word to say upon the subject; but seeing that, in addition to the grand cross of the order of the Bath, Sir Hugh Gough had been rewarded in another manner, he did trust that the subject, if now, at least at some future lime, would come under the consideration of her Majesty's Government, and that Sir William Parker would have the satisfaction of knowing that he would transmit his well-won honours to posterity.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that his noble Friend had correctly stated the reason why the honours alluded to had been apportioned as they were. One commander had already received a cross of the order of the Bath, and consequently, it was necessary that another reward should be bestowed upon him. There was not—there could be no doubt as to the correctness of what the noble Lord had stated, with respect to the importance of the operation carried on by the naval branch of the service; there was no doubt of the exertions made by its 544 commander. Without the ships the army could not have moved a single yard. But it was not to be supposed that those whose duty it was to advise her Majesty with respect to the distinction to be conferred could have made any mistake with respect to the nature of those services. The rewards had been apportioned as they were for the very reason which the noble Lord had stated. It was contrary to the usual practice to confer more than one honour of the kind alluded to at the same moment; but then it would be remembered that there was no necessary limit imposed by the course which had been pursued to the graciousness of her Majesty.
The Earl of Minto
was entirely satisfied with the explanation of the noble Duke. There had been no slight intended towards Sir William Parker.
§ The Duke of Wellington
No, no; certainly not.
The Earl of Haddington
said, that any charge of the nature now hinted at would naturally fall upon him; but he could assure his noble Friend that the services of Sir William Parker were not overlooked when the baronetcy and the grand cross had been bestowed. But it would be remembered, with reference to the distinction awarded, that Sir Hugh Gough had been for a longer period employed in the Chinese service than Sir William Parker, that he had already received the honour of a grand cross of the order of the Bath, and that there remained but a baronetcy to add; and he believed that, had they both been conferred upon Sir William Parker, such a course would have really appeared to be of an invidious nature. With respect to the services rendered by Admiral Parker, he must not be deterred from saying that they had been most eminent. That gallant officer went out with a high professional character, to which he had greatly added by his exertions, which had placed him in a position which would carry his name down to after ages as having been one of those who had done good service to their country.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
said, that he agreed with his noble Friend opposite with respect to the conduct of Sir Henry Pottinger. The details of the operations carried on by that officer had come under his observation, and it was impossible to say too much of the discretion, the judgment, the consisteney, and the forbearance which he had practised throughout all the 545 negotiations entrusted to his management. His conduct had been such as not only to have ensured success in the negotiations which he carried on, but to have procured for him the respect and attachment of the Chinese with whom he was brought into contact; the sentiments induced in the minds of all with whom he had had any concern had been those of respect and good feeling, hardly to be expected considering the nature of the operations which he was then conducting. Fortunately his services, great as they had been, were still in full operation, and it was his good management and judgment that they were mainly to look to for the further improvement of those successes which had been detailed to the House. Their Lordships might imagine that, placed as he was at such an immense distance from this country, in a part of the world communication with which was so difficult and uncertain—they might imagine the satisfaction which any Government must feel in possessing, in such a situation, a person in whom such confidence might be placed; and it was with entire reliance that the happy result of the late war would be turned to that account which they had a right to expect, that they reposed their confidence in the discretion and ability of the distinguished officer alluded to.
§ Resolution carried unanimously. Lord ships adjourned until Thursday.