Imatges de pÓgina

their admiral and officers would we have fanctioned the deed, applauded the perpetrators of it, and allowed our feamen to have been their allies and affociates? It was only the want of vigour in the officers which prevented this cataftrophe; but the example was the fame, and a flagrant violation to the principle of difcipline.

He could as little enter into the importance of our acquifition in the fleet as approve of the mode of its having been obtained: when we took into confideration the whole of the cafe, weighed what we had loft, and what we had gain ed, we should find a fearful balance against us. The refult of the late expedition had thrown difcredit on our councils, and dishonour on our operations: we could not again attempt to restore the houfe of Orange: the confidence of their enemies was confirmed; the hopes of their partifans were overthrown; nor could he conceive how any man would contend that the refult had in any degree repaid our facrifices, or realifed our expectations.

That the object of the expedition, fo far as it aimed at the refcue of Holland from the dominion of France, and the restoration of the itadtholder, was a legitimate British obje&t, he readily admitted: in proportion, however, as this was wife and good, was the criminality of thofe to whofe mifconduct its failure was to be attributed If, by their negligence, their ignorance, and their prefumption, we had failed in an undertaking fo dear to every English heart, the value of the prize only augmented the mortification of our difappoint


That the houfe of Orange had ftrong claims upon the gratitude, nay upon the juftice, of Great Bri.

tain, he did not deny: they de ferved the hofpitable afylum which they enjoyed in this country. Their expulfion from their hereditary authority in Holland was in a great meafure to be afcribed to their deference to British councils, perhaps their devotion to British minifters. To re-inflate them, therefore, was an honourable motive for our interference.

At the fame time he could not agree in the opinion, that we had any claims to the attachment of the Dutch. It was long fince any cordiality prevailed between the two countries. The French faction had been increafing from the time of the American war: it poffeffed a powerful intereft in the United Provinces; and, during that conteft, the Dutch complained bitterly of our aggreffions. In answer to their complaints, we represented them in our fpeeches and proclamations as a dull and ftupid people, who must


be ftunned into their fenfes." By fuch treatment the influence of France was established; befides which, the Dutch, in the mere view of promoting their interests, might conceive that a connexion with that nation would be more beneficial than with ours. At the breaking out of the prefent war, the Dutch, against their own wishes, nay, against the remonftrances of many friends of the house of Orange, were compelled to abandon their neutrality, and take a fhare in the war.

We had engaged them in the conteft, but were not able to protect them in the moment of dithculty from being our allies they became our enemies. But, previous to this change, what were the fym, ptoms of cordiality when we were endeavouring to protect Holland? Did not our troops leave that coun


try complaining of the people, and irritated by their reproaches? After the fuccefs of the French invafion, was our conduct calculated to increase the number of our wellwithers? Was it right, when the ftadtholder had taken refuge in this country, to confider him as fovereign of Holland, (which be never was) and require his confent to the feizure of fo much Dutch property? Were fuch measures conciliatory? had they promoted the intereft of the stadtholder? What had been the conduct of our minifters in the negotiation at Lifle? it was broken off because the French would not permit us to retain the conquefts we had made at the expence of the Dutch, who had been involved in our quarrel by our obftinacy and violence. And muft not the Dutch have confidered us as grofs hypocrites, when we lately affected fuch a zeal for their interefts, which we rendered fo completely fubfervient to our own, whenever they came to the proof? Thefe were circumftances which could not fail to produce a powerful impreffion on the cool and calculating Dutchman. But on entering on the expedition for their deliverance from the French we employed means to efface the prejudice excited against our disintereftedness: we iffued proclamations fraught with delightful vifions of future happiness under their ancient, government: we addreffed them not as a phlegmatic confiderate people, but as religious fanatics or warriors in chivalry. Not one word did we fay of Good Hope, of Ceylon, or Trincomalé; and wherefore religion was dragged in he could not understand. The French, did not interfere with the religion of the Dutch; nor indeed did they feem in any country where their

arms had prevailed to have prevented religious worship; but leaft of all had they temptation to interfere with the poverty and fimplicity of the religious institution of the Dutch. What influence then could fuch topics produce in Holland? Every thing which could have no effect had been urged, and every thing omitted which could have engaged them in our favour. We advised them to forget and for give the paft: Would they not confider it as meant that they should forget they ever had colonies, and forgive us for taking them? The minister understood very little of human nature, if he expected fuch proclamations could have any fuccefs. Inftead of all these fine reflexions upon religion, focial order, and their former government, if he had faid, we will give you back all your colonies, the argument would have been understood, and the effect might have been favourable. In effect, we bid them "be a nation without trade-be a province dependent upon England through the ftadtholder. These are the blefsings we promife you, and which you must co-operate with us to obtain." Mr. Sheridan faid he had adduced thefe proofs, to evince that minifters had not well calculated on the temper and views of the Hollanders; that they had no reason to flatter themselves with the support of that country, nor did they purfue the courfe to obtain it. It was to the laft degree arrogant and prefumptuous to involve this nation in the expence of fuch an armament upon vain fpeculation. Mr. Pitt fhould not have put his theories to fo coftly an experiment-he ought to have acted in matters of fuch high moment and extenfive concern upon authentic information and practical grounds. K4


After fubmitting to the facrifice of fo much blood, and fo many heavy burdens, we were entitled to plain dealing from the miniftry. Was it their intention to establish the old government of Holland, had their plans been fuccessful? He confefled he had his doubts upon the fubject. A noble statesman had lately reprefented that government as feeble, inefficient, incompetent to its own defence and to any ufeful exertion, from the want of unity in its executive authority. Was it then for the re-establishment of this imbecile form, incapable of felfdefence or arduous affiftance, that our lives and treafures were to be wafted? or was it to infpire the vigour of defpotifm for our own purpofes? If fo, an ufurpation was intended, and he hoped the fladtholder would have been an unwilling ufurper. Could we imagine that minifters concealed their defign? If they did not communicate it to the partifans of the house of Orange, they were guilty of a fhameful fraud in inviting them to contribute to the reftoration of the old government, while, in fact, they were to risk their property and lives alfo for a new conftitution? If they actually did make known thefe intentions, was it likely the Dutch would agree to changes which violated all the forms and principles to which they were fo firenuoufly attached? After the differences which had fubfifted between us during the whole of the American war, after the experience of the campaigns on the continent, after the views of domeftic parties, after having forced Holland into the war, and indemnified ourselves for the continental conquefts by the poffetlion of her colonies, and after the grounds of juft fufpicion against us relative to the commercial rela

tions and political eftablishments of Holland, had we any reason to infer a welcome reception? And if their confent was abfolutely neceffary to render the expedition favourable, minifters were unjustifiable in having undertaken a plan fo fatally important, without a due attention to the circumftances on which its fuccefs depended. Expectations had been formed of inducing Pruffia to enter into the common caufe ag inft France; but in June 1799 all idea of feducing her from her neutrality was given up, Seventeen thoufand Ruffians, however, were to be employed in our enterprife; and the emperor Paul agreed that fome of his own fhips fhould tranfport the forces to England, upon condition of his being allowed ample indemnification for ficting out the veffels in queftion for another expedition. The army went to Holland as a friendly country. A fummons was fent by general Ábercromby to the Batavian commander, in a ftyle of haughty menace, which proved it was not the production of that gallant officer. His condu& on every occafion, his upright and manly proceedings in Ireland, evinced him to have been incapable of it, The anfwer of the Batavian officer was fpirited. What a contraft indeed between the prefumptuous tone with which we addreffed the enemy at the beginning, and the ignominious efcape for which we were compelled to ftipulate at the end of the campaign! Minifters had faid that they could not make peace with the French; but by fatal experience, as well as by the testimony of our officers, we knew they could obferve an armistice. But did general Abercromby find the Batavian troops difpofed, like the failors, to furrender without a blow? Did he not meet with the most

the 2d of October the army moved
forward. This was reprefented as
a great victory. Alkmaar was faid
to have opened its gates, as if this
had been done by the inhabitants,
and a proof of an amicable difpofi-
tion; but the truth was, a lieutenant
and fome troops having accidentally
advanced near the place, found it
without means of defence, of which
he immediately gave information,
and the town was occupied by our
men. His royal highness stated in
his difpatches, that it had given him
the command of an extent of coun-
try, and that the people would have
an opportunity of declaring them-
felves. And what was their deci
five declaration? The army at-
tempted to advance, an engagement
took place, in which we claimed
the battle; but fo little advan-
tageous was the fuccefs, that in the
evening the retreat was ordered,
the army returned to its old pofi-
tion at Schagen Brug; and this retreat
was ordered fo precipitately, that
400 women and children were left
behind. Thefe the French treated
with great propriety; nay, these
cruel and perfidious enemies actu
ally clothed the children, and fent
them back with the women to the
British head-quarters. Thus, in-
ftead of the deliverance of the
Dutch, of which we had indulged
fuch fanguine expectations, the
army were compelled to enter into
a capitulation for its efcape. And
painful it was to reflect, that the
inducement we held out to the
enemy to agree to this armistice
was a threat to deftroy for ever the
means of commerce of that very
people whom we embarked to fave.
Nor was there any doubt but that
we should have proceeded to this
cruel alternative, if the French had
not agreed to our treaty. England
was much humiliated on this occa-

moft vigorous refiftance, even before any Frenchman appeared in action? and our firft fuccefs was purchafed by the lofs of a great Dumber of our brave countrymen. How did it happen, that, after the landing was effected, no attempt was made to follow up the advantage? Was our general prevented by his orders, or by the want of neceffaries? The fact was, that the army was left deftitute of the means of moving forward; and fuch was the want of arrangement, that they had no baggage waggons. They were first cheered with the hope that certain fhips then in fight contained them; but afterwards were told the waggons were in fome fhips and the wheels in others. The want of means of conveying the bleeding troops from the field of battle obliged them to have recourfe to Dutch fchuyts. Through ignorance of the roads of Holland, the waggons which were afterwards employed proved ufelefs. The heart recoiled to think one British failor had perished through fuch cruel negleft; and no perfonal confideration ought to fhield those persons from inquiry, in the various fituations of contractors, purveyors, &c. to whom thefe and fimilar misfortunes were to be attributed. Minifters had intelligence of this difaftrous engagement: they were apprifed of the refiftance of the Dutch troops, and of the backwardness of the inhabitants to aflift our caufe; yet, with all thefe facts in their poffeffion, they made his majefty come down to parliament, and exprefs his fanguine hopes of the ultimate fuccefs of the expedition. If, then, minifters were aware of the true ftate of our affairs in Holland, a more flagrant deception of parliament never was practifed by any administration. After the action of

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fion. Her difgrace had been augmented by every circumftance belonging to the expedition. Not that he imputed any blame to the duke of York. His royal highnefs was not refponfible for the plan, which fo much influenced military operations, and which must have been accommodated to the views and reprefentations of minifters. But the duke, not being a member of the cabinet, had no means of verifying the calculations on which the cabinet had refolved on the expedition. It was not faying too much, to fay, that, at fo critical a moment, the commander-in-chief ought to have been of the privy council. And in faying that he was a proper perfon to advise his majefty as a member of it, refpecting every thing which fuch an enterprise required, he only repeated what the public voice had declared of his royal highness's attentive, honourable, and meritorious government of the army, fince he had poffeffed the chief command. But, being unacquainted with the true ftate of Holland, our army left it with fentiments of indignation against the Batavians, by whom they conceived themfelves injured and deceived; with deteftation of their allies, to whose misconduct they imputed their difafters; and with increafed efteem for the enemy, whom they had been taught to abhor.

Such was the tranfaction which the houfe was called upon to inveftigate: never was there a cafe which prefented ftronger grounds for inquiry. An opinion had gone abroad, that parliament repofed a blind confidence in minifters: the idea that the minifter had nothing to fear from the controuling vigilance of parliament ought either to be confirmed or removed. It would

be no advantage indeed to fhow that the adminiftration of this country was in the hands of convicted incapacity; but it would be a far greater evil to prove that minifters were too powerful for controul; that error was exempted from inquiry, and mifconduct fecure from cenfure. The prefent cafe ought to afford a falutary caution to the houfe, not to give implicit faith to reprefentations made against France; and not to purfue that fyftem of exploded impolicy which had produced fuch fatal mischief and indelible difgrace. We were fighting for the restoration of the house of Bourbon, and nothing elfe. This was the fine qua non to immediate peace. The French must institute a government which our minifters fhall approve, and then fubmit to prove its ftability. In the mean time this ftability was to be ascertained by employing every hoftile means to effect its overthrow. Bonaparte muft evince by facts that he was fincere; while it was the policy of minifters to employ every effort to difturb his authority, and every infult to provoke his refentment. But if no enlarged view of policy, no dictate of conftitutional jealoufy, could move a British house of commons to inftitute the propofed inquiry, they owed it to the reputation of the army, whofe honour had been cruelly attacked abroad, though it had never been cenfured in this country. Let any Englishman read the report publifhed in the Petersburg Gazette of the different actions in Holland, by general D'Heffen, and fay whether we were not called upon to vindicate the character of a British army. Should its military fame be branded in the face of all Europe with impunity? Did we efteem fo little the reputation of our brave foldiers and gal lant

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