« AnteriorContinuar »
have been esteemed too perilous an adventure at such a crisis, and indecisive minds would have sought delay in negociation. But they followed up with spirit the preparations of the late ministers; and consequently, are entitled, at least, to share in the fortune and glorious termination of that event.
, However, great and beneficial as that occurrence ultimately proved, I do not think it a question of any importance in the present discussion. But the grounds on which I rest the claims of ministers to a vigorous prosecution of the war, are to be found in facts of a less equivocal complexion. To them exclusively must every dispassionate man ascribe the fortunate issue of the campaign in Egypt.
The most prominent feature of that expedition was, the inadequacy of the force to the obstacles it had to encounter, and the object it had to atchieve: the means were altogether disproportioned to the end. For, with the fullest admission of the incquiparable valour of our troops, the skill of our generals, and the resolute perseverance of all; they had such difficulties to surmount, that even the actors in it, looking back upon the scene, are surprised how they got through ; and at a loss to account for those
power's of the mind and springs of animation, by which they withstood the force of superior numbers and stubborn resistance. The authors of that expedition ought, to this hour, to tremble at the dreadful responsibility which would have fallen on their heads, had it proved unsuccessful. The fortunate issue of the campaign, as it depended not on them, cannot be allotted to their glory, but to those who perceived the critical position of our brave army, and rescued it by a timely reinforcement. . But, as I shall prove more fully in the sequel, that this merit belongs to the present ministers, I shall postpone any further remarks, until the subject is introduced in its order of time as their measure.
If, Sir, this proof of promptitude, decision, and vigour, should not be deemed sufficient 10 tranquillize even the most reluctant mind; per- mit me to refresh your memory by a selection of other facts, which, though not severally stamped with that awful magnitude of character attached to the Egyptian expedition, yet, collectively taken, exhibit as correct an idea of systematic firmness and ability, as can possibly be conveyed to the human understanding. From such an investigation, the country will be enabled to determine, which of the two parties
is composed of " idiots br madmete tho ministry or their opponents i I lave already observed, that our affairs, do mestic and foreign, in March, 1861, were op pressive, complex, and multifatidus. It was also an æra of unprecedented internal weakness: The flower of our forces was employed in disa tant parts of the world; the militia, which had attained the highest perfection of excellence, was no more.: By an ill-judged policy the best disciplined militia upon the face of the earth, the bulwark and pride of our island, had been drafted into regiments of the line, and maintained the martial glory of the empire during the unfortunate invasion of Holland, and the more successful campaign in Egypt. : The defence of our country was confideď chiefly to the fleet, the volunteers; and yeomanry corps, at a period too, when our inveterate enemy threatened to invade us with those forces which had recently effected the subjugation of the continent.
Notwithstanding this exposed state of the country, augmented by the confederacy of the
* In these terms did “ the tempered pride,” of the elaborate Lord Grenville, in a moment of splenetic humour, speake of his Majesty's ministers. See Debates, Nov. 23; 1802.
Northern Powers against us, the restless machinations of domestic traitors, and the pressure of scarcity, which increased their activity'şı notwithstanding the various complicated difficulties, which I have already described, the present: administration fully proved themselves to be quaJified to direct the affairs of the state, by the uncommon vigor and spirited promptitude of their measures. Before the return of our victorious fleet from the Baltic, Cadiz was blockaded by Sir James Saumarez; sorders were dispatched to our nayat and military commanders, in the West Indies, to seize the Danish Islands; and the next packet which arrived from that quarter, brought the grateful intelligence of their capture, and che reduction of St. Eustatius. While the glory of our arms was thus illustrating abroad, vigorous measures were adopted at home to repress the designs of lurking conspirators, by the renewal # of those salutary restraints which had before effectually checked the progress ofisedition in Great Britain and Ireland. An admi. nistration which had had their own immediate popularity more at heart than the permanent welfare of their own country, might have ob
April 19 and 16, 1901,
tained a temporary gratification of their object, by abstaining from this last measure. But its revival was a convincing proof of their determination not to compromize the safety of the -state, by sacrificing the public to their private interests, as well as a decisive test of that in- flexible regard to the laws and constitution, which even their most inveterate enemies do not
prétend to deny, has distinguished every act of their administration. 1. While these comprehensive measures were in the course of execution, the ministers were actively engaged in negociations with the Northern Powers and the French government. When Lord Nelson's victory off Copenhagen was announced, instead of betraying a puerile elation of mind, and of raising a war-hoop for perseverance in objects that had become indefinite, Mr. Addington perceived its tendency, and seizing the opportunity of explaining it, pointed to the return of peace as its probable consequence * Never did the speech of a minister give more general satisfaction; for, many a tedious year had passed over, since Englishmen had been aocustomed to hear the voice of conquest softened