The Lord Chancellor
stated to the House that he had received a letter from Admiral Sir W. Parker, acknowledging the Vote of Thanks of that House, for the gallant conduct of Her Majesty's naval force under his command engaged in the operations in China. His Lordship read the letter, as follows:—Her Majesty's Ship Cornwallis, at Hong Kong, June 15, 1843.My Lord,—I have had the high gratification of receiving and communicating to the naval forces under my command your Lordship's ,letter of the 25th of February, transmitting the distinguished honour conferred on 213 Lieutenant-General Sir Hugh Gough, Bart., G. C. B., Commodore Sir Gordon Bremer, K.C.B., and myself, together with the officers and men of the combined forces of Her Majesty and those of the East India Company, lately serving under our orders, who, by the Resolutions passed in the House of Lords on the 14th of that month, arc included in the proud distinction of their Lordships' thanks and approbation for the services performed on the coast and inland waters of China.Permit me, on the part of the naval branch of the forces, to assure your Lordship of the grateful feelings with which we receive this most honourable testimonial of their Lordships' commendation; and with my respectful acknowledgments for the courtesy with which your Lordship has announced it,I have the honour to be, my Lord,With the highest consideration,Your most obedient,And very humble servant,W. PARKER, Vice-Admiral."To the Rt. Hon. The Lord High Chancellor."
The Earl of Minto
took that opportunity of expressing his regret that the time of the ratification of the treaty with China, had not been taken advantage of for the purpose of conferring some additional mark of Her Majesty's approbation on Sir Wm. Parker, in conformity with the honours bestowed upon the military commander-in-chief on that occasion. He was aware that there was no intention on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers to pass any slight on Sir W. Parker, or to show that they did not appreciate the services he bad rendered; but, at the same time, the same attention was not paid to the naval as to the military officer in command, and he regretted that the opportunity afforded by the completion of the treaty had not been made available.
The Earl of Haddington
observed, that the noble Earl had given him no intimation of any intention to make a statement, nor had he expected him to make any observations. He believed that it had been stated by the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) in that Speech which the navy would never forget, when he moved the vote of thanks to the naval and military commanders, and those who served under them in China, that the reason why the two rewards had not been bestowed at once upon Sir William Parker was, that it would have appeared to Sir H. Gough and the military as giving more than their share to the navy. The Ministers had no care but to do justice to both services. 214 The noble Lord might well say that Her Majesty's Government duly appreciated the services of the navy upon that occasion. They were certainly most extraordinary. He did not advert merely to the gallantry displayed, that was a matter of course, and the navy had frequently shown it against more formidable enemies than the Chinese. But he knew that taking the large ships to the walls of Nankin, and it was so considered by the navy, was a very extraordinary performance indeed, and without it the warfare would have never been concluded in the way it had been. It would be in the recollection of the House, that Sir Hugh Gough had earned the Grand Cross of the Bath before Sir William Parker arrived in China. At the conclusion of their joint services, for their gallant, distinguished, and meritorious services, a baronetcy was awarded to Sir Hugh Gough, and the Grand Cross of the Bath was given to Sir William Parker. Sir William Parker had since been informed the reason why both rewards were not conferred upon him at one and the same time. He trusted that Sir William Parker was satisfied with the reason, and he was sure that be ought to be; and he was informed at the same time of the intention of Her Majesty's Government to bestow upon him the other honour. It would descend to his heirs equally, and would be as much connected with his services in China as if it had been given at once, and no injustice done to Sir H. Gough, by two rewards being awarded to the naval service at the same time. He remembered, and he recalled the attention of the noble Earl to the fact, that at the time of the former discussion, he had said it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to consider Sir W. Parker again, and that the noble Earl said across the Table, "Aye, when he hauls down his flag." Was he not right in his recollection?
The Earl of Haddington
It would have been unfair to Sir W. Parker to cut him short of his command, as his time had not expired. He could only say, that it was the desire of Her Majesty's Government to mark in every way that they could in a just manner, the gallant and distinguished services of this officer, and the high sense they entertained of his naval ability, particularly in taking the navy into the very 215 heart of the country, and by these means rendering it most efficient.
The Earl of Minto
had only been attracted by the reading of Sir W. Parker's letter, to express his feeling that full justice had not been done to that officer, by making his reward less than that of Sir H. Gough. To be sure, the services of Sir H. Gough were divided into different acts, for the first of which he received the Grand Cross of the Bath, and for the second, a baronetcy; but, looking at the amount and nature of Sir W. Parker's services, they were not, in his opinion, of less value.
hoped that he might interpose. He considered that the House could not do anything more unconstitutional than to discuss the right of the Crown to confer honours. The Crown was the fountain of honour. He did not deny that in cases of gross neglect, the House might interfere, otherwise it was the duty of both Houses to abstain from any expression upon the exercise of the right.
The Earl of Minto
could not submit to such a rebuke without saying one word. He was not urging the noble Earl to do anything which he was disinclined to do, or which the Crown disliked, but there was a feeling in the navy that Her Majesty's Government had not done all that they might do for a gallant officer, and for a service in which he (the Earl of Minto) took great interest. What he had done was done in that House every day without notice. He had complained, that Her Majesty's Government, in the exercise of their discretion, had not done all that might have been expected with regard to the gallant officer, and the service with which he was connected. There were many ways in which he might have brought this subject on in a regular form. He might have given notice of an Address to the Crown, praying Her Majesty to bestow some mark of her favour for these services, and he trusted, that what he had said might not have the effect of preventing the Government from granting whatever mark of approbation they might think proper.
The Earl of Haddington
trusted that the discussion would have no such effect. He wished to remind the noble Earl, that Sir Hugh Gough's first services terminated at the heights of Canton, which it was supposed had put an end to the war. The war, however, broke out again. Sir W. 216 Parker was then sent out to China. Sir H. Gough had received the order of the Grand Cross before that war broke out. The subsequent war was a second service on the part of Sir, Gough. With respect to the feelings of the navy, if they were dissatisfied with the conduct of the Admiralty to Sir W. Parker, who was continued in his command in those seas, he had only to say, that this was the first time that he had ever heard a word about it.