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Proceedings respecting Mr Frere's Correspondence with Sir John Moore. Earl Grey's Motion of Censure against Ministers, for the Conduct of the War in Spain. Pension granted to the Brnther of Sir John Moore. Earl Temple's Motion of Censure. Attack upon Colonel de CharmUly. General Moore's conduct examined.
Mn Frere's letters to Sir John Moore were among the papers laid before Parliament. The opposition had now obtained what April 18. they wanted. Earl Grey affirmed there could now be no doubt that the fatal event of the campaign was in consequence of Mr Frere's interference; and Earl Darnley thought the House would be wanting in their duty, if they did not move an address to his Majesty for the immediate recal of April 21. that minister. Shortly afterwards, Earl Grey moved an address, declaring the full conviction of the House that, "owing to the rashness and mismanagement of ministers, the hopes which the nation had been led to entertain had been disappointed; a large and useless expenditure of the means and resources of the country had been incurred; a great and dangerous accession of political, naval, and military strength had already been obtained by the enemy; and above 7000 of his Majesty's brave troops, together with their gallant commander, had been sacrificed without advantage, in
an enterprise without plan, combination, or foresight, and equally illtimed and misdirected." The motion was introduced by a long speech, in which he argued that the reverses of the Spaniards had arisen from one of two causes j—either because there was not a persevering spirit of patriotism in Spain, or because, if the elements of such a spirit existed, there was not a government capable of properly directing it: whichever were the case, the English ministers were blameablc. Either they had information, or they had not:—if they had not, they stood charged with culpable negligence; if they had, and held out hopes which that information did not justify, they stood in a much higher degree responsible for their conduct. After reasoning at great length upon these points, he came to the subject of Mr Frere's correspondence ;—" a gentleman," said he, "who, whatever may be his talents in other respects, and however painful and unpleasant it may be to me to make the observation, appears t» be wholly unqualified, from his folly, ignorance, and presumption, for that
sigh uid important station which he a: present occupies. To prove the isooapttence of this gentleman, I swi only refer to the letter in which, ippeiring to be ignorant of the arrtw of rtinforcements to the French way, he mentions to Sir John Moore ho* desirable it would be for him, ud bam politic, to make an attack «poa the French army before it lioold be reinforced ; and yet at the d«e of that letter the French army tad been increased to 113,000 men! Anther reason which he assigned for tin advance of the general was, that Fruce was always weak after a great dort! Sentiments such as these cana« fail to remind one of the case of those, who, from being in the con•Oat habii of telling stories, come at ingth to believe them themselves."
nil lordship then endeavoured to prove " that the advance of the artsy from Salamanca was the work of this Mr Frere." "Lord Castlerogh," he said, " in his instructions to General Moore, directed him to •t pided in every thing respecting
the junta of government by, and to take all his information on that, and all the subjects concerning the state of Spain, from Mr Frere;* not, however, that he was to submit to his communications as to commands, but to pay every attention to them short of what should be paid to commands. From these instructions it may be what weight the advice of Mr
Frere must have had in determining Sir John Moore's conduct. He recommended him to suspend his retreat for the present, because, he said, such was the spirit of the people, that if they should be abandoned by the British army, he was convinced they would still accomplish their object. When Mr Frere stated the determined spirit of the Spaniards,—nay, when he went the length of alleging, that even if that people were left to themselves, he had no doubt of their ultimate success, he still urged Sir John Moore to advance; adding, that such a movement was at that time of so much importance to the interests of Spain, and he was so certain f of its
'Tie passage alluded to in Lord Castlereagh's letter is as follows:—" Whenever jw stall bare occasion to make any communications to the Spanish government, rat ue to correspond with it through the minister at Madrid, and all communication from the Spanish government to you are to be made through the same channel: tod although communications, either from the Spanish government or the Wash minister, are not to be considered by you as in the nature of orders, you will, werthtJess, receive such requisitions or representations, upon all occasions, witli utmost deference and attention; and in case you shall feel it your duty to Assent from them, you will take care to represent, in the fullest manner, your rea**> for to doing, as well to the British minister, for the information of the Spanish frcnraient, as to the government at home." As for any directions to General ■•ore, that he should take all his information from Mr Frere, no such were given: ue thing is too absurd to be possible.
t Mr Frere's words are these:—" I cannot forbear representing to you, in the *>w>£cst manner, the propriety, not to say the necessity, of supporting the dcter*astion of the people of this country, by all the means which have been entrusted '•> you for that purpose. I have no hesitation in taking upon myself any responsibly which may attach itself to this advice; and I consider the fate of Spain as fcyeabng absolutely, for the present, upon the decision which you adopt. I say for '** prnnt; for such is the spirit and determination of the people, that if aban*"*d by the British, I should by no means despair of their ultimate success."
happy result, that he would be ready to take the whole responsibility upon himself. By this strong, and, as it afterwards proved, false statement, the general was induced to change his prudent determination of retreating. Accompanying these communications of false intelligence, was a most improper letter from Mr Frere, which deserves the strongest terms of reprobation,—a letter which, by recommending the examination ot the messenger who bore it before a council of war, in the event of his not com-. phing with the recommendation it contained, actually proposed to take out of the hands of Sir John Moore the command of his army. And who was the bearer, to whose representations such respectful attention was to be paid? Was he any great officer of experience ? Wasit Dumourier, or Moreati, the great rival of Buonaparte? No such thing ;—but M. Charmilly, one of the most infamous characters existing; a man against whom Lord Sidmouth, when in office, was cautioned. He is, in fact, one of those who commenced the sanguinary revolution at St Domingo, where he was actually concerned in assassination. From St Domingo he went to France, as one of the delegates from that island; and from France he came to take refuge here, where lie attempted to impose upon the government, by assuming an authority and official character, which he did not possess, from the government of St Domingo. Such was the man whom ministers thought fit to entrust. How, I would ask, could they be ignorant of his character? He who, for several years, has notoriously practised usury iu this town, who can be trared through all the courts of law in actions for such pract ices, and whose name the noble lord
on the woolsack may find among the list of fraudulent bankrupts. This, then, my lords, is the sort of man whom Mr Frere thought proper to select for the purpose of influencing the decision, if not of superseding the authority, of Sir John Moore. In denouncing this man, whose name I have learned from private letters transmitted by Sir John Moore to his relations, and in marking him as one of those emigrants who took refuge in this country in consequence of the French revolution, I beg I may not be understood as casting any general reflection on that description of persons. God forbid that I should use any expression calculated, in the slightest degree, to disturb the feelings of those high-minded persons; those generous spirits, who, from a chivalrous devotion to their sovereign and his family, fled from the French revolution! The conduct of such men not only entitles them to compassion, but to admiration. This person, who was the bearer of tb:i extraordinary letter from Mr Frere, left Madrid on the '2d, and of course could not be unaware of the state of that city at the time. He also brought a letter from Morla, who, on the very day he wrotr the letter exhorting Sir John Moore to advance towards Madrid, was actually ncgociating with Buonaparte for the surrender of that city. Thus, had Sir John Moore been influenced by Mr Frere's confidential messenger, whom there was great reason to consider M a traitor and a spy for the enemy, or by the exhortation of Morla, whose treachery to the Spanish cause had since become glaring, the probability was, that our whole°army would lwu' been destroyed or taken prisoners:
certainly, if Sir John Moore vanced towards Madrid, such tov
jt: btto the consequence; and it •a aot done the loss of that ever-bt-hmented officer that the cotin
- vonld have had to deplore, but «lititmction of his whole army." Ii the course of his speech Earl
G <» introduced a panegyric upon Bcoapatt. « What a contrast," !*• aid, " does the conduct of his Mitsty's ministers afford to that of : exanimate general whose plans tiadto oppose! Whoever speaks tix, it is not possible he should iok of him without admiring him ■ til great abilities, whatevermay '.Might of his character in other ifttti In rapidity of execution
- ii oaly equalled by his patience in 7»i»gthe means. He lias all the wile qualities of Fabius and Mar^i, whether you consider the coun
"1 a «hich he acts, the people with tea hf bat to contend, or the means fhich he is to subdue them. He -«Hitnibal in the application of
• Kun, and is exempt from his rM hah, that of not improving by
• experience. The means pro
• i-d hy Buonaparte for the accom>WM uf his purposes are so well named, and his objects so ably 'waled, as generally to give him ■* certainty of success; and •Knrf may be thought of his total "tgifd of the justice of those ob"'. it is impossible not to admire
ability and wisdom with which "whines the means of accomplish
LiHGrry did not, however, speak ■'• the utitr despondency which is i.-vd by the otlitr admirers of
apartc. "Even after all our • '>." be aid, " great as they were, fad and treasure, in character
stmour, he was persuaded that, •tli administration of prudence ■tsbtn, the couutry was pos
sessed of ample means to bring the contest in which it was engaged to an honourable termination." But he added, 41 that in order to maintain the ultimate contest which is to decide for ever the power and independence of the country, the true policy of those who govern it must be, to pay a strict attention to economy, to be actuated by a determination to concentrate our means, not to endanger them in any enterprise or speculation in which the event is doubtful; but pursuing the economical system of husbanding our resources, by which alone we could enable ourselves to continue the con'est, the cessation of which does not depend upon us, but upon the injustice of our enemy." At the close of his speech he recurred to this topic. How is it possible," he asked, "to attend to the cant of modern patriotism, that it is of no consequence by whom the administration of our government and resources is conducted? How can it seriously be urged that it is the same thing whether the government be entrusted to incapable persons or able statesmen? I am really astonished at the absurd extravagance of the doctrine into which men of general good sense and good intention have been' recently betrayed upon this subject. To the principles of reform, to a temperate, intelligible, and definite reform, I have been always, and still continue a friend. To promote that desirable object was the study of the last administration ; and it was in our endeavours to attain that end that we incurred the reproaches of those who covered their censure under the specious phrases of a sordid economy, and a want of vigour." His lordship misrepresented the opinion advanced by men of general good sense and good intention.
They never urged that it was the same thing whether government were administered by weak men, or by wise ones. What they maintained was, that the party out of place was in no respect better than the party in place, and in some respects worse; that the opposition did not possess the slightest superiority in talents; that they had still less the ad van tage in principles; that the measures which they recommended towards Ireland were factious and fallacious; and that the language which they held respecting Spain was such as left no hope for the honour of England, if it were entrusted to their hands.
The Earl of Liverpool rose in reply. "Earl Grey," he said, " censured his Majesty's government for precipitation; declaring it to be his opinion that they ought to have waited to ascertain the probability of the success of the patriotic cause in Spain, before they offered assistance to the Spaniards. What! when the feeling of resistance against oppression was $o strong and so general in Spain, would it have been honourable to have told the Spaniards, 'We will not give you aid while you are most in want of it, but we will defer our assistance till you arc in full strength, and need it not?' Had such been the language held by ministers, they would have deserved the reprobation of every man in the country. It was a singular circumstance, with respect to their conduct in. the affairs of Spain, that every individual who censured their plan had a plan of his own; but, unfortunately, none of those plans had a single principle of agreement with each other. This at least shewed thedifficultyunder which ministers had laboured in the forma tion of their own measures, although
it afforded a facility in defending them."
After again defending the destination of Sir Arthur Wellesley's army, his lordship proceeded to a charge advanced by Earl Grey, concerning the deficiency of cavalry in Sir John Moore's expedition; "only 2000 altogether," he said, " having been sent, to a country, too, where that description of force was peculiarly nocessary ;—a deficiency that could not proceed from the limited number of our cavalry, for we had no less than 27,000." To this the Earl of Liverpool replied by saying, "that the public mind had been very much misled upon this topic; and it was material, both with reference to this and other expeditions, that the country should not be led astray by false ideas. Had his lordship ever inquired what the proportion of tonnage for cavalry bore to that of tonnage for infantry? For infantry (and for a long distance) a ton per man was considered as sufficient; forevery horse transported, not less than nine or ten tons were allowed: thus it would require as much tonnage to carry ."JOOO cavalry as 40,000 infantry. But the amount of the tonnage was a small part of the question: the quality of the transports was a more material consideration. A horse transport must be a vessel of a certain description, having a certain height between the decks, &c.; and the quantity that government could at any time procure of such vessels was very limited. Yet, notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding cavalry could only be sent to the peninsula by degrees, on account of the difficulty of procuring forage there, from 8 to 9000 horse were sent; and no less than 12,000 would have been sent in all, had it not been for the in