« ForrigeFortsett »
must ultimately be imputed to him not so convenient to themselves. For or not. Blame must be imputed this purpose, either no inquiry at all, somewhere, either upon the officers or an inquiry in the regular mode, or upon the ministers. The Court with shut doors, would have been of Inquiry was a tribunal very lit- most convenient. But that the impatle competent to this purpose. The tience of the public would not readily true conception of a Court of Inqui- acquiesce in. To that the terrors of ry was, that of a set of persons dele. the newspapers were opposed. They gated to inquire into the circumstan. therefore conceived and brought forth ces of any transaction, for the pure that monstrous production, unknown pose afterwards of advising his Ma- to our laws and our usages, an open jesty confidentially, whether there Court of Inquiry, of which the only was ground for submitting the mat. effect has been, to throw dust in the ter to an inquiry of a more judicial eyes of the people, by a show of trial nature. They were a set of advisers, without the reality, and by making and not of judges; or, if judges, them believe that what, after all, is judges who were to judge of nothing said only of the officers, was to be but whether the matter ought to be applied to the ministers.-But even submitted to judgment. Às a se- supposing the establishment of this cret tribunal, they were to determine court and its decision to be perfectly whether they would advise his Ma- justifiable, the declaration, that none jesty to try his officers. But what of the officers concerned ought to be the ministers wanted was, that, as a put upon their trial, could be no juspublic tribunal, they should deter- tification of government. The Board mine whether the country ought to of Inquiry broadly stated, that the acquit his ministers. They pervert, want of means prevented the victory therefore, the whole nature of the of Vimiera from being followed up: tribunal, and have produced out of it the acquittal of the officers, the refore, such a strange, anomalous, and in. was the condemnation of the governconsistent proceeding, as was never ment. Sir Arthur Wellesley said, known in the laws of this, or of any that the advantages which resulted country. It is a trial and no trial. from the evacuation of Portugal by It can neither condemn, so as to in- the enemy, and the time gained flict punishment on the guilty, nor thereby, were equivalent to all that acquit, so as to protect the innocent might have been lost in other refroin further prosecution. In the spects.' This he could not admit, mean while, witnesses are to be because any time that might be nepledged, impressions made, and facts cessary for the reduction of the eneprematurely disclosed, so as to ren- my would have been amply repaid der a fair trial before a regular tribu- by its consequences. But nothing nal no longer practicable. The cause could be more completely unfortuof all this is to be found in the sinis- nate than the argument now urged ter purposes of the ministers on one in defence of the convention, that it side, and in their fears on the other. had the effect of getting the French They wanted to hush up the busi- out of Portugal sooner than could ness, so as to prevent that full disclo- otherwise have been done : For, first, sore which a trial would bring out, it is not true. The speediest way and which might involve statements would undoubtedly have been tu
have conquered them in the first in- would have been improper to send out stance, as the honourable general a large army under an inferior general; would have done, with the troops that a large force required, as it that he had, and as the other ge. were, a large general; but surely it nerals do not deny that they could did not follow from that position, have done with a sufficiency of caval- that a small army must be sent out ry: next, it is not at all clear that, with a small general. It was not neeven when that opportunity was lost, cessary that the general and the army the expulsion of the enemy by sub- should fit with such exactness. There sequent operations would not have was not the same danger in making been quxe as speedy, and a good the general too big as in making him deal more satisfactory, than the me- too little. Why should they not thod of convention. But lastly, of put their best foot forward at once ? what advantage was it to the honour. Why not send out, in the first in. able gentlemen, thus to endeavour stance, the proper general, with a to accelerate the evacuation, when, small rmy, especially when that as it was, it came upon them before small army was to be immediately inthey were prepared for it? They creased to a large one? It was from are arguing, therefore, against them- the neglect of this principle that selves, when they give, as a reason the rapid supercession of the genefor adopting the convention, that it rals, and all the calamitous consesooner left them at liberty to trans- quences of the campaign, had arisen. fer the army to Spain. Why make He could not conceive a more persuch sacrifices for an object which, fect recipe for exciting dissension when they had got, they were not in and jealousy in an army; for sweepa state to make use of ?- These ing away all cordiality and union from points, therefore, are established a- among its members; and destroygainst them : Ist. That they are an. ing every prospect of the prosperous .swerable for the convention, good or issue of a campaign. Sir Arthur bad as it may be, inasmuch as it is Wellesley had stated, that, from the admitted on all hands, that it was first moment of their arrival, he perfrom the want of means, which they ceived he could not flatter himself ought to have provided, that it be that he possessed the confidence of eicame, or was thought necessary : ther of his successors in the command. 2dly. That when they had got this This was the natural consequence of God-send, they were not at all pre. the rapid supercession in which pared to profit by it; and that there. neral succeeded general ; they fol. fore, 3ily, If the honourable gene. lowed cach other as wave succeeded ral's
's success had been completed in wave, rising, some of them, as it were, the way that he had proposed, they literally out of the sea; they were aswould still less have been prepared, sembled upon the stage like persons and have made it still more evident at the end of a comedy, with all the that they had sent the troops into happiest effects of surprise ; some from Portugal in the most headlong, blun- one part of the world, and some from dering manner, without the least idea another; one from Syracuse, and anof what they were to do, or what other from Ephesus; bringing with plan was to be pursued in different them their various views and preju. results that might be supposed. dices, and marring whatever was to « Tie noble lord had stated, that it be done, by their total ignorance of all that had preceded.--It had been their piece, and to confess that it declared, from the highest authority was, to be sure, a most wretched in the state, that the convention of performance. Cintra had disappointed the hopes “ There was another and a weigh. and expectations of the nation. Had tier ground of accusation against the ministers changed their mind? Did right honourable gentlemen, founded they entertain a different opinion with upon their total want of foresight in respect to that transaction now and all their military measures, and the cul. at the time they caused the guns to pable absence of any general or combe fired? Did they at that moment prehensive plan. His Majesty's mini. really think the news was good; or sters never seemed to know what to do. were they only endeavouring, by noise They sent out troops before they knew and clamour, by a bold and confident where they would be received; they show of exultation, by firings at mid- sent them in a state of equipment inanight and puffs in the morning, to dequate to the object for which they confouad the sense of the country, were destined ; and when these troops and, as sometimes happens in other had at length been brought to act theatres, to force, as excellent, down upon the great theatre of war, the octhe throats of the public, what they casion had gone by, when they could knew in their own minds to be most be of any effectual use. Junot and execrable stuff? He should really be his corps could not be better placed curious to know in which way the any where than as they were, cut off honourable gentlemen meant to take from all communication with their it; whether they meant to describe countrymen, pressed upon all sides by themselves as dupes upon that occa- the accumulating force of the Portion, or as only intending to dupe tugucze nation, and condemned either the nation ? Among their friends, to shut themselves up in the fortresperhaps, they will prefer the latter ses of that country, or, by taking the description ; but as they can hardly field, to expose themselves to the deventure to profess this publicly, they struction which the vengeance of an must be content to be set down as irritated and insulted people was pre. persons who were unable to discover pared to inflict. In this state of that this convention was a bad mea. things, the question was, Whether sure, till it had received the comment it was good policy to make any atof the public voice, till the knowledge tack upon Junot, with a view to deof its merits was forced upon them stroy his force ? But if that were not by the universal cry of the country, good policy, it was still less so, to by the groans and murmurs, and hiss- attack him with a view to grant him ings and cat-calls, and cries of off, such terms as would send him into off,' which assailed themon every side, Spain, from which, whilst in Portu. and from every rank or order of gal, he was effectually cut off. Unpeople from pit, boxes, and gallery: less ministers were prepared to say One merit, however, may be allowed that they had been successful before them. They did not, like many au
their time, they had no way of acthors, set themselves obstinately to counting for the interval that elapsed resist the general judgment, but, af. before the army proceeded to Spain ; ter the hints they had received, ap- and if they rested their defence upon peared willing at length to withdraw that ground, they must stand self
VOL. II. PART 1.
convicted of a criminal want of fore you to show for your victory? Have sight, and were deeply responsible you brought home the game ? What for all the losses which resulted from have you bagged ? Have you
taken that unfortunate expedition to Spain General Junot? On the contrary, is having been undertaken too late. But he not now at the head of his division how would the case have stood if Ju- in Spain ? Have you made his corps not's force had been destroyed or prisoners of war? On the contrary, made prisoners of war? What would are they not fighting against you and have been the inevitable consequences your allies at this moment in Spain ?' of such a result, in the impression it It was this loss of glory, this deplo. would have made upon our allies, rable neglect of the opportunity to upon our enemies, upon ourselves, make an indelible impression upon and upon all Europe, as to the compa- the French themselves, and the Sparative character of British and French nish nation, as to the striking supetroops ? This impression alone was riority of the British army, that were equivalent to most of the objects that most to be regretted in the unfortucampaigns the most successful are able nate result of the campaign in Portuin general to give. Those who think gal. Nothing could compensate the otherwise, must know but little of the loss of so precious an object, of such state of the world, particularly at the a golden opportunity. His Majesmoment in which welive, or of the feel- ty's ministers, from their want of ings and judgments of mankind on diligence, from the absence of all the other occasions. What had we gain- ordinary officialactivity, from their toed at Maida ? In point of territory, tal want of all general plan, and from nothing : in point of acquisition of the blind inconsiderate way in which any pecuniary value, nothing : but they had conducted the whole of the we had gained glory, military glory; campaign, stood, even upon their own and this single circumstance was suf- shewing, condemned before their ficient to render the battle of Maida country.' one of the most useful, as well as Mr Perceval, in replying to this most honourable, of any that had speech, had recourse to recrimination. ever been fought for the country. “ Perhaps,” he said, “ Mr Wind. Our army had fought as well at Vi ham might speak feelingly on the miera as at Maida, but unfortunately subject of superseding officers, from the same credit will not be given for having experienced the inconvenience its conduct. The troops with whom of it. He had employed a junior our force had come to blows would officer (Brigadier-General Crawford) remember their superiority, but the to go with 4000 men, by the Antipeople of France would not be incli- podes, to Botany Bay, from whence ned to admit it upon our statement. they were to proceed to Chili, which Whenever we should claim this supe. they were to conquer. This done, riority, they would quote the con- a line of * posts was to be establishvention against us. They would ask, ed across the Andes to Buenos Ay• What have you gained ? What have res, to secure the possession of that
* This was answered by Mr Windham, who said, he had never intended to have established military posts between Chili and Buenos Ayres : the only posts lie ever thought of were posts for letters and communication.
settlement. Surely the right ho- right nor power to act : nor could nourable gentleman could not have he deny that it was the open, undisforgotten this; for such an idea, when guised opinion of every man, that the it once entered the mind of a man, convention of Cintra had disappointcould not be got out of it again. ed the hopes and expectations of the General Crawfurd, however, was, af- country. "Having thus delivered his ter a long voyage, recalled, in order feelings upon this
subject, he defendto be placed under the command of ed the mode of inquiry which had General Whitlocke, at Buenos Ay- been adopted, because a court marres.” In the same spirit Lord Cas- tial presumed the existence of a tlereagh had observed, that “the ex- charge of some specific crime ; and it pedition to Sweden, and that prepa- would have been a harsh measure, ring at Cork, were fully as beneficial, while so strong a feeling pervaded in their effects to the country, as the nation upon these transactions, to those which had been sent to Egypt have sent any officer to trial with the or the Dardanelles." The weakness weight of that clamour upon his head. of such a mode of defence was per- And whom could they have selected ceived by Mr Whitbread, though it for such a trial? If Sir Hew Dalrymisprecisely by such arguments that he ple, would not ministers have been uniformly apologizes for the crimes of accused of partiality, in sending to Buonaparte. “Was it,” he asked, “a trial an officer who had to plead his justification for all the evils which scanty information of the state of the misconduct of ministers had oc- things on his arrival in Portugal, and casioned, that their opponents, four who had no time to acquire any ? If years ago, had evinced similar, if not Sir Harry Burrard, he had the comgreater, imbecility and ignorance? mand only for four-and-twenty hours, Was that any apology to the coun- and had scarcely interfered in the try for the disappointment of its operations. It was only on military hopes, and the degradation of its principles that he could have been character? In the name of truth, if selected, and this was what governboth had been proved guilty of blun- ment were anxious to deliver no opi. ders the most criminal, let that be a nion upon, feeling it impossible for reason for punishing them both to- men in civil offices to decide on mat. gether; but never let it be advanced ters of that sort. Should, then, Sir as an extenuation for every future act Arthur Wellesley have been select. of disgraceful mismanagement." ed !-He could only be accused of
The defence of ministers was closed having excited those proud hopes by Mr Canning. “ He felt himself which were afterwards unfortunately justified,” he said, “in concurring disappointed. What mode, then, réwith Lord Castlereagh and Mr Per- mained to be adopted but that of an ceral in the same vote, but he differ. inquiry, when there was brought fored with them in some points : These ward no distinct accusation or speciwere rather political than military, fic charge against any of the com-beyond military competency to manders?” execute, or military tribunals to de. Thechoice and change of commandcide upon. He objected in principle ers remained to be defended. “In to the practice of stipulating condi. the appointment of Sir Hew Dalrymtions respecting which we had no ple," Mr Canning said, “ all his col