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rests of infective which would have bee* poured upon them for giving up, at iuch a time, a conquest so dearly bought and so critically important i Was it a rash supposition to imagine, that hostilities would recommence ? Was there nothing in the watering and uneasy alternations that preceded the treaty of Vienna, to countenance the belief that another battle might be fought for the liberties of the continent i And in that case, would not Walcheren have been, in our hands, a most important means of annoyance ' At that time, too, the sickaess was daily abating: that disimper uniformly abates in October, and terminates in November. Here, then, the evil was momentarily decreasing, while the advantages reatoaably to be expected rose with the crisis itself. The opponents of ministry would have an expedition subject to no chances, and secure of intermediate, as well as ultimate success, their theory was more perfect dum their practice. I will detain the Qouse,"said Mr Perceval, "no longer, weary at their attention is, and exhausted as is the subject. I have rel uctsntly endeavoured to drag them along with me through a length of detail which lent me no aid, and to which my humble efforts could impart no interest. It remains only to state, that it was my anxious wish, as well as that of my colleagues, to retain Vf tlcheren, if that intention had been practicable, and that our greatest regret u, that it was not possible to rttam a conquest which, if retained, would have proved invaluable."
The question now, afterfour nights debate, wasput to thevote. 227 membati voted for Lord Porchester's re■sJotioBS, 275 against them. The house then divided upon an amendsaat of General Craufurd's, purport
ing, that though the house considered with regret the lives which had been lost, it was of opinion that his majesty's ministers had proceeded upon good grounds in undertaking the expedition. 232 members voted against this, and it was carried by 272. The second set of resolutions was then put to the vote; and Lord Porchester's censure upon ministers for delaying the evacuation, was negatived by 275 against 221. A counter resolution, approving them for retaining the island as long as they had done, was moved by General Craufurd, andthe numbers were 255 to 232, leaving ministers a majority of 23. This was their smallest majority; their largest was 51, which was in fact upon the same question ; but before the final division many of the ministerial side had left the house, conceiving the business sufficiently determined, and worn out by the length of the debate, for the house did not adjourn till half past seven in the morning.
The reasons which the ministry assigned for not having evacuated Walcheren sooner, were completely satisfactory. Upon the policy of undertaking the expedition, more was said than their opponents had anticipated; the importance of the naval station which had been attacked was made apparent; it was shewn that three successive administrations had each meditated an attempt upon that station, and that such an attempt had also been contemplatedby Nelson. The effect which the discussion produced upon great part of the country was expressed by Mr Wiiberforce, when he said, that a great deal of strong .and just reason- May 9. ing had been adduced on both sides, and that on the whole it was a question with regard to which impartial men might differ.
The opinion of Nelson upon such a subject was deservedly considered as of the greatest weight; but what was it in reality that Nelson had projected ?—an attack upon Flushing, which he said, would be a * week's expedition for 4 or 5000 troops. The possession of Flushing would have effected all that was desirable; that station in our power, it would have mattered not what might have been the number of ships which would then have lain rptting in the Scheldt. And if the conquest had been made at a fit season, we should have been left with unexhausted forces to maintain it; for to take and to hold is the only principle upon which any state should ever attempt conquest. The ill effects of the climate, had they been duly foreseen, might have been counteracted by proper precautions, and perhaps even the causes of the evil materially diminished by covering as many of the drains as possible, and keeping those clean which were left open. The greater part of the troops would have been effectually secured by being hutted on the sand hills and kept in floating barracks, and means might have been devised for lessening thedangertothosewhom it would have been necessary to keep in the town. Generous diet, with the free use of tobacco and of spices, would have served as antidotes to the climate; the risk would have.been greatly alleviated by quartering them in the upper stories; and if men for the service had been selected, who were natives of the fen countries, they would have found themselves in an atmosphere not very different from their own.
These things had manifestly never been considered; the season was ill
chosen, and the choice of the commander was, if possible, stiH more indefensible, from his vice of notorious and incorrigible sloth. Under a man of soldier-hke habits and activity, trie expedition might easily have succeeded, and in fact could hardly have failed of success, had the first operation been effected,—that of landing; uponCadsand ; the failure there drew after it all the other evils. But had the expedition succeeded in all its parts, still it would, at such a time, have been a miserable misdirection of such an armament. It was affirmed, that we could not have supported an army farther from our own snores, because foreign coin could not at that time be procured ;—a strange argument, which the opposition seem to have considered as valid, for they made no reply to it. But, without referring to the manner in which the French make war, what is to prevent us from giving our own money currency wherever our armies go, by martial law, if foreign coin is not to be procured, or only at a loss ?—The aramount object at that time should ave been Spain. It is true, that a larger army could not have been employed under Sir A. Wellesley, because that which he had was not supplied ;but there was another and even a more important scene of operations in Catalonia. Barcelona might have fallen, Gerona have been saved, and Zaragoza recovered forthe Spaniards.
If, however, it had been thought better to turn our views to the north, and the circumstances of Prussia, as Mr Canning so ably argued, rendered it unfit to land in Germany, one object, and only one, offered itself, which would have been commensurate to the meansemployed. We should
• Clarke and M'Arthur's Life of Nelson, vol. ii. p. 229.
hive once more, and now with a justice whicfc could never be disputed, have attacked the Danish capital, plaeted the English flag at Copenhagen established a viceroy there, incorporated Zealand with the British empire, and admitted the inhabitants to a foil participation of all the rights and privileges of British subjects. «GH we pay a proper regard to i Polybius, " we shall find j, not only to condemn our on some occasions and comend our enemies, but also to comend and condemn the same persons, different circumstances may re; for, as it is not to be imagined "a are engaged in great s should always be pursuing false mistaken measures, so neither is it «ble that their conduct can at all jtfromerror." Thernodern spirit of* party, not having that regard to truth of which the historian speaks, either sees things falsely, or, if it sees them aright, wrests the consequences to its own perverse purposes. The opposition argued truly, when they maintained that the expedition to the Scheldt was impolitic and disgraceful; but the conclusion upon which i insisted was, that therefore the
ministry ought to be displaced, and they themselves be appointed to succeed *hem; and they who agreed with them most entirely in the first part of their proposition, would have regarded the second as a worse evil than the expedition itself. The temper and the views with which this party called for a vote of censure, were exposed by Mr Stephen in a singularly felicitous allusion. "The public," he said, "were led to expect a redress of grievances, and punishment of delinquents; but the gentlemenon the opposition bench had the more substantial game in view of obtaining possession of the government; and this was the true cause of theirimpatience. They reminded him of the squire of the valourous knight of La Mancha. The knight, like the people of England in this case, was intent on generous purposes, though with mistaken views; but Sancho had always his eye to the main chance; and as soon as an adventure was atchieved by his master, he conceived, like these right honourable gentlemen, that his own end was attained ; and said, ' I do beseech you, sir, give me immediately that same government."
&V Francis Burdett's Motion for releasing John Gale Jones—His Letter
to his Constituents, Committal to the JTouier, and consequent Proceedings.
The decision of the house upon the the House of Commons had a right
Walcheren expedition was so utterly to imprison a person, not a member
discordant with the opinion of the of that house, for an offence punish
public, that it would probably have able by the ordinary course of law i
excited a feeling throughout the coun- This question involved the consider
try little less violent than that which ation of two distinct qualities,—pri
had manifested itself during the in- vilege and power. The one, privi
quiry of the preceding year; but lege, the house possessed for its own
the attention and the passions of the protection; the other, power, was a
people had been effectually diverted right to be exercised over others,
by circumstances which, during the Privilege they were to exercise to
progress of the business, had grown prevent the crown from molesting
out of the commitment of Gale Jones, them in their proceedings; they were
On the 12th of March, Sir Francis to use it as a shield for themselves;
Burdett moved that Jones should be but they were not to allow it to
discharged. "He lamented exceed- change its character, to be converted
ingly," he said, "that, inconsequence into power, and to use it for the de
ofindisposition, he had not been pre- struction of others."
sent at the time the resolution for com- Sir Francis then entered into an
mitting John Gale Jones to Newgate historical argument, shewing how this
was passed, conceiving as he did that privilege, according to his view of
the house possessed no such privilege, the subject, had arisen. "By the
and that no such privilege could legal- exercise of that privilege, in the pre
ly or constitutionally exist. The Taw sent case," he affirmed, " the com
of the land was the standard by which mon law, Magna Charta, and trial by
the privileges of every individual, and jury had been violated. Mr Jones
of every body of individuals, in this was imprisoned for an act, the illega
country were to be measured; but lity of which had not been proved,
he maintained, that the imprisonment the facts not ascertained, nor the law
of John Gale Jones was an infringe- determined. And what was there to
ment of the law of the land, and a prevent Mr Yorke from preferring a
subversion of the principles of the bill of indictment, according to law,
constitution. The question was, if against him; in which case, if they
. suppose that any twelve lawful in .England could find a verdict of poky, then would he be punished twice for the same offence. If, on other hand, a verdict of acquittal then would he have to undergo the most nt short of death, that imprisonment, by an order of the House of Commons, for hiving done an act not proved to be i crime. It was a doctrine clearly laid down by Lord Coke, that no man cook) be fined, or confined, but by a Court of Record ; no court but that in which forty shillings damages might be given could be a Court of Record;—the necessary conclusion *a% that the power of fine and imprisonment was not in that house. No right to fine was assumed. Why then was the greater power retained, when the smaller one was admitted The warrant of comft contended, was illeits parts, but eminently conclusion. A legal warmust conclude with the words, ''til the party be delivered by due 'law;' this warrant ended 'during the pleasure The house, by such a proceeding as it had resorted to, assumption of the judire, and legislative powers, was m the very teeth of the In the due administration of the htw h was wisely provided, that the suae men snail not take two steps together; one set find the bill, another decide on the fact, another the law; bnt that house, which administers no oath, which squares itself by no form, which makes no previous elimination of the fact, jumps at once upon its dangerous and most alarmfinds the accused hat? for their pri
vilege. The privilege talked of resembled the bye laws of a corporation, sufficient to bind themselves, but which could not overturn the law of the land. This was to shew the house to be as great as kings, lords, and commons. It was, besides, an encroachment on the prerogative of the crown, whose privilege it was to see that no unlawful restraint was laid on the liberty of the subject." Sir Francis concluded in these words: "Sir Fletcher Norton has said, that he would pay no more attention to a resolution of the House of Commons than to that of a set of drunken porters in an alehouse. The observation was coarse, but it was just. If gentlemen, therefore, are of opinion that a resolution of this house is equal to that of all the branches of the constitution, they will then reject my proposition; but if, with me, they think that they cannot overturn the law of the land, and the acts of parliament solemnly passed, by any assumed power exercised by that house alone, they will agree with me that John Gale Jones must be discharged." Upon this Mr Williams Wynn said, that if a motion had been brought forward for the liberation of John Gale Jones, upon the ground of his contrition for the offence which he had confessed at the bar, he should not have objected to it; but the proposal of that liberation had been so interwoven with other topics, that he really knew not how to proceed." Then taking up the historical argument which Sir Francis had produced, he shewed him that there were cases on record of the assertion of this right as early as the reign of Henry VIII. "It was indeed true, that no instance of committal for a libel was to be met with prior to the reign of Elizabeth j but the fact was, that in