« ZurückWeiter »
complete and splendid that History can record, and in its consequences must prove highly beneficial and important, not only to Great Britain, but to mankind. It may be truly said, that the Noble Lord has preserved from anarchy, distress, and misery, three fourths of the world. No officer, I will be bold to say, ever more highly merited the gracious notice ot his Sovereign and that of his Country; and I should have been greatly gratified had his honours been carried higher. Imprefied, therefore, as I ain with the very distinguished and meritorious services of Lord Nelson, as well as with the spirited and gallant conduct of the Captains, Officers, and Men, he had the honour to command, it is with infinite satisfaction I thall give my cordial vote for the Motion now before your Lordships ; and with equal pleasure I shall give it also for those the Noble Earl will follow it with. I beg three words respecting the brilliant success of the little fquadron under the command of Captain Six John Borlafe Warren upon the Coast of Ireland, which, although not to be in any manner compared with Lord Nelson's, yet it is highly important, and juftly entitled to much praise. I cannot refrain, before I lit down, from offering to your Lordships my most humble congratulations upon the zealous, intrepid, and able conduct that has been so strongly manifested by his Majesty's naval Servants in the course of the present jolt and neceffary war, which never has been, or, I think, ever can be exceeded; but I fully trust, my Lords, it will be equalled as often as opportunity shall offer for The wing it.”
Lord Minto said, he was conscious that his feeble voice would scarcely be heard in the general exultation of the country on so interesting an occasion, as the voting the Thanks of the House to Lord Nelson, for his brilliant, fplendid, and truly important victory in the Bay of Becharia; but joining, as he did, in common with all Europe, in admiration of the gallant Adıniral's extraordinary merit in the attainment of that great and comprehensive object, he hoped the intrufion of the few words he meant to say on the subject, would at least be deemed excusable, when he declared he could not suppress his sentiments from the impulse of friendship for the man, whose private virtues he revered not less, than he honoured his enterprising spirit and uncommon kill as a naval officer. With these feelings he was certain he would not be alone impressed ; every loyal heart in the Empire would beat in unison with his, and Europe and the
whole World would eventually join in the chorus. He held it unnecessary to enlarge then upon thofe important confequences. Indeed an adequate eulogium upon such advantages was beyond not only his individual powers, but thofe of eloquence itself. They transcended the fublimest flights of the imagination, and even of the Mufe; nay, language itfelf afforded no adequate terms of expression. He considered it, Lord Minto faid, as one of the most fortunate circumstances of his life to have lived on intimate terms with Lord Nelfon for several years, and though he knew that no words which he could utter would add to his character, high as it , stood upon the ground of the Epic Victory (for so it might be called) off the Mouth of the Nile, yet he felt it but an ad of justice to the noble and abfent Admiral, to declare from his own knowledge, that his whole profeffiopal life had been a continued series of exploits, so gallant, so fingularly well conducted, and fo replete with proofs of skill and.judgment, that each or either would have afforded a balis of fame, broad enough for the proudest man in the fervice to have refted on. His Lordship in particular stated as an inftance, Lord Nelson's bravery on the 14th February, 1797, in the glorious action in the Bay of Biscay, under the command of the great and immortal Earl St. Vincent, in which Lord Nelson, with the utmost intrepidity, had gone up with his fingle ship, and attacked the whole Spanish fleet; a circumstance of which he had been an eye-witness, and therefore could speak with perfe&t confidence. By the spirited conduct of Lord Nelson on that occasion, other officers were Stimulated to follow so glorious an example, and the fuccess that followed, with all its consequences, were too well known and remembered to need expatiating upon. His Lordfhip faid, the variety of proofs of extraordinary bravery and skill which Lord Nelson, though a young officer, had given the course of his life, were all so brilliant and splendid ; That when each occurred, it was the general opinion that the last could never be exceeded, nor could it have been but by himself, as the late unparalleled archievement evinced, which in extent of success, of glory to his country's arms, of advantage to her interests, and those of all Europe, as far surpassed the beneficial effects of any one of his foriner services, great as they had all been, as the human imagination could well conceive. His Lordship said he forbore to enter into any detail of the other meritorious proofs of Lord Nelson's claim to the highest regard as a naval Officer, because, in
his mind, his condud in the Bay of Biscay at the period to which he had alluded, and his conduct at the Mouth of the Nile, comprehended a volume, and in the importance of each threw all other evidences of his extrordinary merit at aa immeasurable distance. In short, Lord Minto observed, he did not know how the ingenuity of any man could better contrive to display the character and the true claim to the highest respect and admiration which Lord Nelson was entitled to, than by quoting the simple, medest, and unadorned, but pious sentence with which that gallant Officer began his dispatch home, communicating the important news of his victory. In that their Lordthips could not fail to observe the sincere piety of our Christian Conqueror, contrafted with the blasphemous hypocrisy of the French Atheists, who to fill up the measure of their guilt, after having publicly abjured the Diety at home, and all pretensions to the sacred ceremonies of the christian religion, had on their arrival in Egypt published a declaration, profelling themselves to be." worshippers of Mahomet. What he had taken the liberty of intruding upon their Lordships, might poflibly be imputed solely to the impulse of private friendship; but! Lord Minto said, when the great and glorious public events to which every word he delivered referred, were duly confidered, he hoped the House would do him the honour to think his observations entitled to be regarded as resulting from a sentiment of a higher class. Before he fat down, his Lordship declared, that unwilling as he was to take up more of the hours of the House, at a moment when he knew from the business of the day, it was presled for time, he could not forgive himself if he did not state, what neither their Lordships, nor the World at large could be acquainted with, as marking features in Lord Nelson's character. They had witnessed his extraordinary merits as a naval officer, but they could not know that he was not more emiDent for his gallantry at sea, than his political wisdom on fhore. He had himself happily experienced the benefits of Lord Nelson's continued services in taking share in councils, projecling plans, directing modes of liege, and the conduct of military enterprize, so that he felt himself fully warranted to declare Lord Nelson as ready and as wise in the science of political knowledge as he was brave and expert in the cone ? duct of naval exploit. His Lordship laid, it naturally would not have itruck the House, that such an extent of staiesman. 's like talent could be lodged in the inind of a Sca-Officer,
who without hesitation could carry up his single fhip against a numerous fleet and break through their line (as bad been the case in the Bay of Biscay), or who could boldly attack a more powerful squadron of an enemy, regardlefs of the apparently strong position of that squadron, the menacing forts which gave it the highest probable fecurity, and the shoals and dangers of an unknown bay ; but fuch was the bravery of the noble Lord in question, that in spite of these obvious difficulties he had obtained the moft splendid victory for his country, that ever graced its annals, and such the extent of his political fagacity as he had describeil.
His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence said, he rose from motives fimilar to those of the noble Lord who had juft spoken, and observed, that he should have found it necessary to say a little more than he now intended, were it not for the very warm and just eulogium pronounced by that noble Lord upon his gallant friend, and in a much better and more eloquent manper than he himfelf was capable of doing.
He was also in habits of particular friendship with the noble Baron, and was fully aware of his professional merits : but at present he would confine his observations to the atchievement for which the thanks of that House was proposed to him. The noble Earl at the head of the Admiralty had justly observed that a detail of the beneficial consequences of Lord Nelson's victory was not the fit business of that day: certainly it was not; but he must nevertheless say a word respecting it. He had heard that the French Admiral considered his position as secure from danger in every respect, and that it might defy attack from a British fleet. Considered in some respects, his Royal Highneis said, he was inclined to coincide with him in opinion, and he would state his reasons for thinking fo. Towards the end of the last war, two events took place which certainly tended to corroborate such an opinion ; the one was, when Admiral Barrington lay in a fimilar manner with a squadron at anchor at St. Lucie, Monsieur D’Estaing, with a very superior tieet, found all his attempts completely baffled. The other, when he himself had the honour of serving under a noble Lord near him í Lord Hood), to whose kindness he should, on all occafions, be proud to express his gratitude ; in that case, the jame success had attended the noble Lords position, which seemed, at the time, to prove, that a British fleet at anchor may be considered as so many impenetrable batteries ; but when these Atlieifts had recourse to a similar expedient, they found, to their confusion that it did not avail them against the prowess and energy of his noble fiend. He trulled the naval Spirit of
this country would be always manifested with the same fuccefs, and that their Lordships, would repeatedly find, as in the event of Lord Nelson's victory, which reflected so much glory' on that gallant officer, and on his Majesty's arms, that British valour afloat was not less active than when at anchor.
His Royal Highness thought it proper to take some notice of the rumour that had gone abroad, that there had been diffentions among the officers of Earl St. Vincent's fleet, in consequence of the selection of Adiniral Nelson to command the expedition to Egypt, and of the officers who served under him ; upon which he must observe, that he confidered that the right of the selection of every cominander and officer for any particular service indubitably lay with the Board of Admiralty and the Admiral of the particular fleet from which a squadron was at any time detached; and that, were the cafe otherwise, the public interest might materially fuffer; he faid this, without the least disparagement to the rest of the officers of Lord St. Vincent's Aeet, many of whom were his particular and intimate friends; and a better proof of the advantage of the doctrine he had just stated, or of the wisdom' and propriety of the selection that had been made in each instance, could not be wished than the very eminent and glorious success with which the enterprise had been crowned. As the noble Earl at the head of the Admiralty had well said, the victory carried with it its own eulogium, he would not therefore dwell further upon Lord Nelson's singular merit.
His Royal Highness said he was particularly forry on that day, as indeed he should be on any other, to feel himself obliged to say any thing that could tend to give rise to debate, but he must take the liberty of differing with the noble Lord (Lord Hood) who had said, he wished the honours of Lord Nelson had been carried higher. That was, in the first place, a topic not very fit to be discussed in that House, as he conceived, because it was the undoubted prerogative of the Crown to diftribute honours---mercy and rewards being in fact the iwo most glorious prerogatives of his Majesty-and the very fame reasoning that he had used respecting the right of selecting officers to coinmand and serve on any expedition, which he had stated ought to lay with the Admiralty Board and the Admiral of the fleet from which a squadron was detached, applicd in this case. Besides this, he thought his Majesty had been well advised in conferring upon Rear Admiral Nelson his present honour, because it was to be recollected that he was a young flag officer, and not a commander in chief, bụt only at the head of a detached squadron, and in the distribution of honours due regard Vol. I. 1798. H