Page images

It was

risque of the Danes drawing their army from | in ordinary, and such as to indicate an apHolstein to Zealand, but the French army pearance of preparation for active serof 40,000 men, under the command of mar- vice, but there was yet much to be done shal Bernadotte, then on the frontiers of that in the way of equipment. The noble lord province, made no secret of its destina- concluded with moving, " That the thanks tion.--A considerable British force was of the house be given to lieut. general the already prepared for service on the conti- right hon. lord viscount Cathcart, knight nent; but it was neces

cessary, in altering the of the most ancient order of the Thistle, destination, to make a material change in commander of his majesty's forces in the the equipment of this force, by furnishing north of Europe, for the judicious and deit with the means of carrying on a siege. cisive measures, which, after exhausting A large number of transports were col- every means of negotiation, were employlected, but their destination was to be al ed by him for etfectuating the surrender tered. An ordnance train, the largest of the Danish Navy and Arsenal of Copenever sent from this country, was to be hagen.” The Resolution being read from prepared and embarked. All these pre the chair, parations were made between the 19th Mr. Windham, notwithstanding the disJuly, when his majesty's ministers, having tinction taken by the noble lord, felt him. shortly before received the information self under the disagreeable necessity of opwhich determined them, took his majes posing the present motion; and if such ty's pleasure as to the propriety of the had been his opinion before, certainly noexpedition and issued their orders accord- thing that had been said by the noble lord ingly, to the 30th of the same month, when could have the effect of altering his deterthe expedition sailed, completely prepared mination. It was unpleasant to object to and equipped in every matter essential to a motion of this kind, because the party. a fleet and army. It was certainly in a principally interested was brought before great measure owing to the exertions of the house by no fault of its own. the Transport and Victualling Boards, and unpleasant to object to what was asked in the Board of Ordnance, that a British their name, though not by them. It was force of 25,000 men was assembled ready unpleasant also, because there was an idea to act in the Baltic before the middle of that where praise was withheld there was August.-Having thus pointed out the mi an intention to cast blame. Certainlys, litary merits of the enterprise, and the

here there was no room for any

such conuseful co-operation of the public boards, struction as that, for he subscribed most he submitted to the house, whether a great heartily and chearfully to all that had been injustice would not be done if those merits said of the meritorious conduct of the

arny were not acknowledged, whatever doubts and navy in all that had been done; they some might entertain of the moral justice had done all that men ought to do. The and good policy of the enterprise. He moderation and temper with which they could not think of the magnitude of the had conducted themselves, served to mitiresult without being satisfied, that the gate the harshness of the enterprise on service called for the acknowledgment of which they were employed. It was cerparliament. If the navy had not done so tainly right to keep the merits of the army much as the army, yet he had no hesita- and navy distinct from the merits or detion to say, that though it was not prudent merits of ministers; and to separate the to bring the men of war to act directly consideration of the orders from that of the against the formidable defences of Copen- execution. But it was not so easy to hagen towards the sea, they had rendered separate and keep distinct the nature and the most important service in checking character of the service. The nature of the small craft, that would otherwise have the service was always one of the indispenannoyed the flank of the British army, sable rules by which public gratitude was impeded its operations, and added much measured. In all military annals, there to the loss of men. Certainly, never was

were instances of as great personal merit in greater exertion displayed in the equip- the minutest actions, as in operations on ment of a navy, than was exhibited by the the largest scale; in single ships, in luggers British seamen at Copenhagen, in fitting and schooners, in packets even, as there out 18 sail of the line, besides frigates and was lately a brilliant example, above all, in smaller vessels, in six weeks. It was true, actions of boats. In all these cases there these ships were in a higher state of pre was as much courage, as much zeal, as servation than was usual for ships lying much heroism, as much true contempt of


death as in the engagements of great fleets the general exultation of the country, at and armies; yet these cases were not con the success of the expedition, but the sidered of sufficient magnitude to call for pain he afterwards expressed himself to the thanks of parliament. It was also have felt arrested his assertion, and did beyond a question, that there was greater more justice to his disposition and prinmerit in effecting a judicious retreat be- ciples. If pain was to make part of the fore a superior enemy, than in hazarding a sensations excited, the joy could not be battle under every prospect of defeat. very complete. It was not in fact, nor The sanction of the approbation of parlia- ought to be, that unmixed effusion which ment would be particularly called for in we witness in the country on any of those such a case to rescue merit from ignorant occasions which really and truly and as

Success was no criterion in point it were by acclamation, call forth the of justice, but in point of practice it was; thanks of this house, but that sort of .and it was only as the emanation of national sober, chastised, subdued joy, if joy was exultation, upon great success and great to be felt at all, which a father would public service, that the thanks of parlia- feel on hearing that his son's life was safe, ment ought properly to be regarded. We but saved by an operation which was to should be able to say, 'this is a subject on leave him a sufferer and a cripple all the which every heart gives a loose to joy; this rest of his days. It was not in this state is the expression of the general feeling, of mind, nor for successes of this descripand the triumph is made manifest by the tion, that a nation indulged in public regrateful acknowledgments of the legisla- joicings, or poured forth its acknowledgture.' But who could say that the present ments to those by whom these successes was a case in which every heart exulted? had been obtained, however meritorious, This was not a case similar to that in which individually, their conduct might have British troops had conquered the con been. National thanks implied national querors of the world; where those who had rejoicing; and national rejoicing did not

ssumed the title of invincible were met belong to the present occasion. It was without any advantage of numbers, man on this principle that he heard with pain to man, and yielded to the superiority and disgust the firing of the Park and of British prowess. That, indeed, was Tower guns, on the day when the news a triumph on which every British bosom arrived. It was a call for exultation on exulted; that was a triumph worth fifty an occasion, where sorrow for the necessity navies of Denmark. But this was not of using force, and sympathy for the sufthe feeling on which his majesty's minis- ferings brought upon the Danes, was in ters' acted, any more than those self- the mouths of his majesty's ministers, and erected tribunals, formed probably at in the hearts of the British people. It first upon good intentions, but threatening was not merely a want of propriety that to become in the end a most serious mis

was to be complained of in such an injuchief to the country,--who while they dicious demonstration, but want of policy, think but little of Battles of Maida, the

as we might yet have to suffer a severe sources only of national glory, know no penalty from the wrath of an exasperated bounds to their exultation on any mea people. However strikingly meritorious, sures which promise to open a source of therefore, the conduct of the army and commercial speculation; who set them- navy might have been, they must have selves up, not merely as the rivals, but as been content, on this as on so many other the opponents, of the king's tribunals; occasions, to remain without that last and who acquit where those condemn; who cry highest reward, the thanks of this house. up to the skies those whom the others have If neither the practice nor policy of the pronounced to be offenders; who set at country would admit of such reward benought the rules by which his majesty ing given in the present instance, if acmeans his service to be governed ; who cording to the practice, generally, if not teach an officer to say, no matter what invariably observed, such an expression my profession thinks or what the king's of the public gratitude would imply sen

courts decide, I have other resources to timents, which the country neither did • trust to, I have other cards in hand ; nor ought to feel, and which it would be « King loses, Knave wins;' If I am a culprit in the highest degree injurious both to its • at Portsmouth, I may still be what is much character and to its interests, to be sup· þetter, a hero at Lloyds.' The noble posed to feel, the army and navy could lord was, no doubt, thoroughly satisfied of not complain, though a reward was with


held, which they themselves must be con- falling, ships exploding, actions yard-arm scious of having equally deserved, as far and yard-arm, we must have had nothing as their own merit was concerned, but men employed in rolling tar barrels, thousand instances where yet it was never for working cranes, packages of hemp, at all in their contemplation. All this, lighters and wherries with spars in tow; a supposing the service to be of as high a scene, in short, for Tower wharf or the West character as he had been hitherto willing India docks.-- The noble lord said, ithad not to take for granted; but he was prepared been judged prudent to bring the British to go the length of saying, that as a mere fleet to act against the batteries of Copenmilitary and naval proceeding, the ser- hagen, and that was the reason why the vice was not one entitled to the thanks of ships were not more actively employed; the house. The army and navy did all then came the commissioners of victualling, they could; but what was done did not then the extraordinary preparation to predeserve the thanks of the house. The vent the Danes from being prepared to meet noble ford was checked at times in the us with adequate resistance, then the great merit he was dealing out to the army and amount of the Danish preparations, and navy, lest he should take too much from then the merit of the Transport Board. himself and his colleagues : on the other Thus, what the noble lord gave with one hand, he did not well know how to praise hand he took away with the other. Govern-. himself and them, without cutting up the ment sent a force sufficient to render refoundation of what he was to say of the sistance unavailing; and in this principle two services. He was at a loss whether they were right; then came the difficulto take it in meal or in malt. Then the ties to be conquered and the resistance noble lord seemed to think the glory be- which it was such a merit to have overlonged to the transport and victualling came. Then the noble lord said a force boards, and thus while these boards did the had been collected which was sufficient to service the army and navy were thanked. render success difficult and doubtful, and The fitting out and bringing away ships this laid the foundation for a compliment was certainly a service, but it was a service to the skill of the commander. It was not of labour, such as might be performed at to be doubted, that the zeal of the DaPortsmouth or Plymouth, as well as at nish inhabitants led them to do every Copenhagen. At this rate, public thanks thing that could be expected from them: and rewards might be given at one end but they were not a force of such a deof an expedition as well as at the other, at scription, as an officer bred to regular the out-fit not less than at the conclusion. warfare would take credit to himself for Yet he had never heard of a commissioner having overcome. He thought it a thing of a dock-yard who had been made a | to be deprecated that in the midst of the peer; nor of a master attendant who had services every day passing, any glory a rer ribband. In other cases, the titles should be taken from the reduction of Coof the honoured commanders had been penhagen. The fact was, the city was taken from the scene of action; such were reduced by the distress brought on it by the titles of earl St. Vincent, lord Nelson the bombardment. He did not condemn of the Nile, and lord Duncan of Camper- the bombardment as a means of reducing down. Was a similar reference to be the town, if the town was to be reduced, made in the case in question, the title but he did not think it a foundation on might perhaps be appropriate enough, Co- which to build a structure of glory.-On penhagen seeming to signify, according these grounds, considering the question to its etymology,

" the harbour of mer as entirely distinct from the conduct of chants and traders,” but he did not con his majesty's ministers, he did not think ceive that any one would be much dis- the service deserving the thanks of the posed to contend, that the assumption house. To bestow such a reward where it would be very desirable in the present was not deserved, was to undervalue and instance. A yet stronger criterion was degrade the reward itself. It would have the omission of what had been usual on the effect of diminishing the estimation all occasions to which this pretended to of it, where it had been already given, be similar, the striking a medal to com and to sink the ambition to seek it in fumemorate the service. In the name of ture. He again lamented the marks of ridicule and common sense, what would exultation so improperly displayed, by have been the emblems that such a medal way of contrast, he supposed, to the actual must have contained ? Instead of masts sorrow that prevailed. He also lamented,

however high his personal respect for the nours, and apparently increased severity individuals, the grant of the peerage to in punishment, which, in former times, lord Cathcart and lord Gambier. He had were devised to cast an additional horror the pleasure of knowing and living in some on crimes. But the nature of the stratadegree on terms of friendly intercourse gem would be canvassed and exposed, and with both, and had a high esteem for their the public would join him in thinking such characters, both in their profession and distinction a shame rather than an honour. out of it. Lord Cathcart was a soldier, It would be like the case of a worthy bathe son of a soldier, and the father of ronet (sir Brooke Watson) late a member soldiers, and had served meritoriously in of that house, who having to go in the citythe army ever since the American war;, pageant on lord mayor's day, and being and lord Gambier, though but little em- asked what he intended to do with his ployed for many years in active service at wooden leg, answered, with great good husea, was remembered as a sharer in the mour, that he meant to gild it. While memorable victory of lord Howe on the there seemed, in fact, a sort of propriety, 1st of June, and as having contrived to that in the midst of so much splendour distinguish himself, so far as a single cap- nothing so plain should appear as an ortain could, in that distinguished action. dinary wooden leg, it would on the other Still he thought the services performed by hand have been supremely ludicrous, to them on this occasion did not warrant set off ostentatiously what it must be that exertion of the prerogative in their wished to conceal, to decorate a defect, favour, and he highly blamed his majesty's to attract attention and notice to what could ministers for advising their sovereign to be regarded only with regret and pain. grant these honours, and for proposing This was exactly, however, what his mathese thanks. If any thing should be kept jesty's ministers were doing? They were distinct from party feeling, it was the gilding their wooden leg, and exposing it granting of these naval and military re- to public mockery, by endeavouring to get wards, without any other motive than the a' false honour for themselves, at the exconsideration of mere military merit. pence of the hon. commanders. The serWould the honours bestowed on these offi- vice performed was not such as to merit cers acquit the noble lord of the censure the honour or the thanks : and therefore, that would attach to the nature of the expe- he, acting on the same principle on which dition ? Would it not rather be concluded, he declined moving a vote of thanks for that being granted with that view, they the capture of the Cape of Good Hope, only served to aggravate the greater and protested against the misapplication of a weightier offence which had been already most sacred trust, which ought never to committed ? This sort of grant was an

be exercised without the greatest circuminstance of the worst species of minis- spection, and which would be soon deterial corruption, in as much as it went to stroyed if exercised inconsiderately or imthe destruction of that fund of honorary properly. rewards, in which the poorest man in the Mr. Brand declined entering at all upcountry, if the case were properly explain on the merits of the service, in which that ed to him, or even without any explana- part of the army


had been emtion, on the pure impulse of feeling, would ployed, to which it was proposed to vote be sensible that his interest was more ma the thanks of the house, but he deprecated terially involved and affected, than in the the coming to a resolution, which would most wasteful expenditure of the produce preclude the house from afterwards comof the taxes. A pension if unworthily ing to a decision upon the policy of the bestowed on one, would remain a recom- expedition.' One of the grounds on which pence of no less value for another; but a the expedition was justified, was the allegtitle of honour, or a vote of thanks, woulded weakness of Denmark to defend herself sink in value, both as to the past and the had she been attacked by France, and he future, upon every misapplication that the conceived, that it would be altogether ingranting of either was subjected to. The consistent to pass a vote of thanks for a house was now called upon by lavishing service which derived its principal imporrewards to cast a false lustre on an act of tance from the degree of resistance which doubtful justice and policy; it was hoped those employed in it had to encounter. that this vote would have an effect, not The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, unlike, in its principle though opposite in that the motion now before the house, its operation, to those forfeitures of ho- would by no means have the effect pre

separate the

tended by the hon. gent., and that it nei parison of what it would have been had ther entered into the contemplation of his they battered and stormed the town, in noble friend, who proposed, nor of the which case, perhaps the right hon. gent. right hon. gent. who opposed the resolu- would have had no objection to their retion, that it in any way pledged the house ceiving the thanks of parliament. For to an opinion upon the merit or demerit of his part, he conceived that their conduct those who planned the expedition. He was highly meritorious for its temper and wished that that right hon. gent. had so moderation. At the same time, they had discussed the question immediately before taken care not to hazard the object they the house, as not at least to afford strong had in view. The right hon. gent. apgrounds of suspicion, that his mind was peared also to think, that nothing had very much prejudiced upon the question been done by the navy, and that if the not now before them. He would not how thanks of the house were voted to the erer, be tempted by any thing that had army, at least they ought not to be voted fallen from the right hon. gent. to trans to the navy. Could a single instance be gress the limits of the present question, found of a conjunct expedition, in which not even to reply to the charge, that mini because one description of force did only sters had planned the expedition from no all that it could do, the thanks of parliaother than the paltry motive of keeping ment where withheld from it? Even when their places; the solidity and justice of the navy had only landed the troops in which he should leave with the cool judg. Egypt, for instance, in which although the ment of the house, and the cool judgment navy certainly made excellent arrangeof the right hon. gent. himself. What he ments for the disembarkation of the

army, meant now to observe was, that the rea yet by the latter the victory was won, for soning of the rt. hon. gent., if corroborated which the thanks of parliament were voted by the decision of the house, would be to both. He hoped the house would make extremely prejudicial to the public ser no distinction between the services. He vice. He seemed to be of opinion that no hoped the house would

preservice was entitled to the thanks of parlia- sent question from the question of the ment, except it was the cause of a gene policy of the measure. He hoped the ral and triumphant feeling, compleatly house would not refuse their thanks to the unmixed with any regret, and that there officers engaged in this expedition, because could be no merit, under any circumstan they had executed a painful and heartces, either in a retreat or defeat, to entitle breaking duty. (A cry of hear! hear!) it to such an honour. He begged leave, He repeated, that it certainly was a painin opposition to this doctrine, to remind ful and heart-breaking duty. He had never the right hon. gent. that adm. Cornwallis contemplated the subject, either before or received the thanks of the house for the since the expedition had taken effect, but judgment and bravery which he displayed as a most painful duty. Still, however, it in presence of a superior force, when no was a duty. It had been performed with engagement, and consequently no victory, as little injury to the power attacked took place. The thanks of the house had as possible. The question was, whether also been voted to the governors of Ma the house would refuse their approbation dras and Bombay, for their activity in to officers, who had rendered a most imforwarding the views of the governor gene- portant service to the nation, by diminishral of Bengal. When lord Hood took ing that force, which, but for their expossession of Corsica, unaccompanied with ertions, would probably, ere this, have any of the circumstances which the right been joined with the enemy in the invahon. gent. had contended were necessary sion of this country. to the establishment of such a claim, he Mr. Tierney said, the only distinct had received the same mark of approba- ground which had been stated, which he tion. The very circumstance of the ser could understand, was, that our army and vice in question being paintul to the feel- navy had been sent on a most painful duty, ings of those employed in it, he considered and had conducted themselves with all as an additional reason why it should not possible moderation. Ile was not at all pass unrewarded, and if any thing more inclined to dispute this statement; but he than another could add to the merit of the did not think this was exactly that sort of officers employed in the expedition against merit which was to be rewarded by peerCopenhagen, it was their having obtained ages, and the highest honours which the a cheap and bloodless victory, in com state had to bestow. Was it supposed that VOL. X.


« PreviousContinue »