« ForrigeFortsett »
~T; ir.d when the catholics came •j teir that Mr Whitbread had set r.f for their advocate, and had tinted thii phrase in support of their erase, xt. »n; to be hoped they would reject his advice, and deny that he had any rifht to plead their cause on aoct> zroiiids." The mefe mention cf tit Irish catholics called up Gtrznl Montague Matthew.* "He csj«! zzj man," he said, "to say that the catholics of Ireland were rrbrii. The person who should pre■cise to say so did not deserve to brr, bnt to die by the hands of the Cobbtsoo executioner. No communi«tH.a, pood, bad, or indifferent, had takra pLce between them and the Fresek since the year 1796, when Aftkar O'Connor met Hocheon the burden of Switzerland. Atrocities •n talked of:—Never had more atocit;fs been committed by the nam. desperate despot than by the Bc:»b go7ermnent:—of all despots, tar British government had been the wra. How they dealt with kings whom they wished to dethrone, Sir AnhnrWcflesley couldinform them: —in the East they did not imprison ■ murdered them. There in the House, who •w secretary of state in Ireland in the year 1798,—he could inform th?a what was then the situation of Ireland."—Here General Matthew wu most properly called to order hr the Speaker :—he, however, contz*d in the same irrelevant strain. "Other members," he said, " had innxdaced Ireland, and the catholics of ifriaod were alluded to in the negoaboa then under debate. He would
tell Earl Cambden, if there was ever tyranny in any country, it was in Ireland, under his administration." Being again and repeatedly called to order, he said, " then he must give up the year 1798, the scalping, and all the rest, and the best thing he could do, was to sit down."
Inapplicable and mischievous at the tenour of this speech was, it was defended by Sir Francis Burdett. "On addresses," he said, "which were proposed to be voted to his Majesty, he understoou it to be a matter of right in any member to enter into a discussion of die general interests of the country. It might be disagreeable to the ears of Englishmen to hear the perilous situation of their country described,—to hear enumerated a train of occurrences more calamitous and improvident, probably, than had ever disgraced any nation on the face of the globe; but still, had he not been instructed by the superior judgment of the Speaker, he should have been of opinion that General Matthew was entitled to have proceeded, and might fairly have introduced any para, llel instances of atrocity, when told, on the other side, that the act of the Emperor of the French, by which this country was precluded from listening to his overtures for peace, was an instance of the most unparalleled atrocity which had ever disgraced any country. Whatever were the merits of Buonaparte, which unquestionably would not be fairly discussed in that house, it would, at. least, be allowed, that he knew the best means of accomplishing the objects he had in view. Having, then, received from him a taunt as to an unprotected part of our dominions, let us take the hint, and by an act of our own render a repetition of the taunt unncaessary. It had been said, that beat a fool in a mortar with a pestIe,hewouldnever quithisfolly: — we have been beat in a mortar for many years, but what had we got but disgrace?"
• There is a Mr Matthew Montague in the House, and mistakes have sometimes aade between Matthew Montague and Montague Matthew. This, the latter *t «*» very odd, as there was as much difference between thern as between a nJ a cheanut horse.
Sir Francis then proceeded to speak of the affairs of Spain. "If we were to assist the Spaniards," he said, **it was the duty of ministers to have seen that there was a rational hope of attaining our end: if they had proceeded upon light grounds, they had been guilty of a crime of the deepest magnitude. After having obtained accurate information as to the real state of public feeling in that country, they should have seen that there were300,000 men in arms; that all the passes were secured; that a British army would be able to fight with every advantage; that the soldiers would not be subject to the want of food; and that they would only have to fall, if they did fall, in the field of glory. If these things could not be insured, it was their duty not to have landed a single man, but to have supplied the Spaniards with arms and other necessaries, which might have prolonged the war. And with respect to sending money to them, it would well have become the ministry, before they called for a supply from the exhausted pockets of the people, to have restored the millions of which Spain some years ago had been so unjustly pillaged by the government of this country, and which had gone to his Majesty, under the name of droits of admiralty.—But there was no rational expectation of success in such a
co.itest. They had trusted the British character and honour on the rotten plank of the Spanish government and the inquisition! The absurdity of acting on the divine right of kings had been the misfortune of this reign, —in support of it we had made an unavailing-waste of blood and treasure, but we had never yet embarked in any legitimate object. It suited administration now to say, that the internal government of a country should not be interfered with. How did this) doctrine accord with the idea of that contest in which, for the last fifteen veai's, we had been engaged with the French, simply because they chose to alter their internal form of government? Instead of a monument to the memory of the minister who involved us in such a war, he deserved to have lost his head on a scaffold.—The House is called on for an address of thanks. I, for one," said Sir Francis, "have no thanks to bestow: kings arc too much exposed to have adulation poured into their ears, and this has been the cause of the overthrow of too many of the thrones of Europe. We have not heard that any of the kings who have of late years fallen under the dominion of Buonaparte were in want of courtiers. It is lit that the king of England should occasionally hear the truth from his Commons, and no better opportunity than the present can possibly present itself.—Mr Canning has objected to the thought of this being a sinking country:—he himself may be rising, but the country is sinking; and there is too much ground to believe that it will sink still lower, if a reform doesnot speedily takeplace."
Lord Henry Petty applauded the speech. "1 n the principal parts of its sentiments,—sentiments," he said, "which were delivered with such an rjapsace as could not soon be forfattro,—he cordially concurred; and tan* was no man in whose sentiments he would be more happy to feel it consistent with his opinions to concur thic Sir Francis Burdett." Mr Caaaiagcould not help expressing his litLxnrfeairnt and regret at hearing ttk. "To the talents of Sir Francis," be aid, " and to his sincerity also, J<3 nua was more willing to do justice than he was; but without meanmy thing disrespectful to that v.-sGurable baronet, he must say that r - wis grieved to hear the noble lord, ihi was naturally to be ranked among great men of the country, and ■who wis to be looked to as one of ;ts probable governors, declare such sz estire concurrence in sentiments so ca^trxms in their nature and character. If the evils which Sir Francis IWdrtt deplored were so grievous, wky did he not bring them forward n tone distinct and tangible form, isd sot listen a general declamation tyaa a question of this nature? why not procote some practical remedy, sacij J jvastdy as any minister could ijjplr, and tot continue to repeat his iact.TB?, that the whole frame of the ^eminent was not worth preser
Txktt was a cry of No! No! Mis'Fpaeatation! irom the opposition t at this part of Mr Canning's i; and Sir Francis appealed to
the House, whether such an imputation was applicable to him i whether the course which he had pursued that night, as he had uniformly done, in reprobating the abuses that prevailed in the administration of government, could be fairly deemed inconsistent with the profound veneration which he felt for the genuine constitution of the country i Upon this Mr Canrring replied, that he referred to the phrase of " absurdly contending for loyalty," which the baronet had introduced in his speech. Sir Francis explained his meaning to be, that the argument respecting loyalty in Spain was pushed to an extremity inconsistent with the freedom of any nation, and particularly with the constitution of England. But though this particular phrase might thus be fairly explained, and nothing fell from him in this speech contrary to that veneration which he expressed for the constitution, it is not the less certain that, during the whole of the Spanish revolution, Sir Francis Burdett and his partizans have shewn a callousness of feeling toward the patriots, and an indifference toward the best interests of mankind, which were not to have been expected from any true lovers of liberty.
Mr Whitbread found himself too weak to divide the House upon his amendment, and the address, as originally moved, was carried without a division.
TOU II. PART I.
Vote of Thanks to Sir Arthur Wellesley and his Army. Debate upon t) Campaign in Portugal, and the Convention of Cintra.
The campaigns in Portugal and Spain were concluded, but they were to be fought over again in Parliament. A vote of thanks Jan. 23. was moved to Sir Arthur Wellesley, for the battle of Vimiera. Earl Moira protested against it, because Sir Harry Burrard was not included. "That general," he said, " had approved of the dispositions made by Sir Arthur for the battle, and thereby made himself responsible for those dispositions. He had the command; he was present, for a great part of the time, in the hottest of the engagement; and he controuled the opinion of Sir Arthur respecting the advance to Torras Vedras. Had the army been defeated, he must have participated in the shame of the defeat : surely, then,justice required that he should partake of the triumph of the victory, especially as, after what had transpired in the Court of Inquiry, to leave his name out of the vote of thanks would be, in fact, to pass the severest censure upon him." This inference was totally denied by the ministry. Lord Mulgrave said he knew Sir Harry Burrard well, knew his sentiments upon the subject, and that that gallant general
utterly disclaimed all right to than! which he felt he had not earnc This assertion did not preclude a r petition of the same arguments in the House of Jan. 'J Commons.by Lord Folkestone and Mr Whitbread. Gene Stewart replied, that no man con have a higher respect for Sir Hai than he had; but he could not h< observing, that if the thanks of P liament were to be voted him, would be impossible to make t army understand for what; for l 6oldiers had seen the activity of Arthur Wellesley, and knew t' Sir Harry Burrard did nothing m than come into the field.
On these questions no division tr place, all parties being agreed t the services of Sir Arthur Wei ley and the army under his cc mand deserved the thanks of tl country. The question upon convention of Cintra was a trial strength. Lord Henry Petty mo two resolutions, stating that it had disappointed Feb. the hopes and expectations ot the country, and that causes and circumstances which to it had in a great measure an fcnubemisconduct and negligence of Sk Majesty's ministers. These resolution were introduced by a speech of considerable length. Lord Henry bcgm by saying, that " no proceedcgi which had yet taken place upon thu subject were of a nature to preclude ti expediency and necessity of a parfaiESJtary investigation; for the Boi/d of Inquiry was a tribunal incompetent to give satisfaction to the com try, and irreconcileable with all ris received principles of law and eqtitv:—Opening its doors to the whiic, calling upon the very parties n give their testimony, and drawing fron them information by which tie* were to be subjected to criminal proccation, it was calculated rather co defeat than to promote the ends of iJStxx.
"It is not my intention," he purtad, "to discuss the extent of the anrrections which broke out in Spain; but if they afforded any room tor military exertion on our part, government could not have been !«usd more fortunately situated with to military means than it was. There was at that time a considerable expedition prepared for distant «rvjce,-_there was another, force in lie Mediterranean, under General Spencer: it had been sent to take pane&sion of Ceuta, but when it arrived, the attack upon Ceuta was fjcod impracticable. Soon aftervinii a new prospect of vigorous exertion opened upon Lord Castle.•ajh, and a third army was sent upon * voyage of discovery and observation, to look for an expedition in the 3»kic. Thus, then, when government called upon to co-operate rch Spain, it had in actual readiness three distinct masses of disposable farce. Lord Castlereagh was actunch in his own failures. It was
resolved to send a force to assist the Spanish patriots: Sir Arthur Wellesley was appointed to the command; and the ultimate destination of the expedition was Portugal. There was nothing in the possession of Portugal itself,—nothing in the possession of the port of Lisbon, as a source of immediate succour to the Spaniards, —nothing connected with the real interests of our faithful ally the Queen of Portugal, or of her subjects, that could point out, much less justify that destination; for of all the calamities that can be inflicted upon a country, the conquest of it by a power not able to retain it is the greatest; because it is thereby exposed to all the calamities and horrors of two revolutions. It subjects a country to calamities, of which the immediate evil inflicted by the conqueror is the least; for it draws out all the lurking vices that are concealed in the bosom of society, and brings all those dormant badqualities into play, which never fail to accompany and aggravate the convulsions of a country. These evils are inflicted even by a change from good to better; but how much more must they be increased when the change is from bad to worse! Such an assistance this country could not be called upon to afford, neither was Portugal inclined to require it; and such was the onlyassistance we could give to Portugal, independent of Spain. But we now have been taught that it is not on the Tagus that Buonaparte was to be restrained in his pursuits. In the progress of his unlimited schemes of ambition, it is not to momentary triumphs, to the eclat of public rejoicings, or to the firing of Park guns, that his exertions are directed. Because he aims at ultimate advantage, and hopes for ultimate success