Imatges de pÓgina

lant officers, as to allow the afperfions caft upon their renown, by that libellous letter of general D'Heffen, to remain uncontradicted * ?

Mr. Sheridan concluded his fpeech with faying, that we owed it to the fpirit of the troops, to the honour of the living, and the memory of the dead, to bring to public view the authors of this our national difgrace.

Mr. Dundas began by obferving, that it was not his defign to enter into the detail of all the honourable gentleman's arguments; but to confider wherein the late expedition to Holland failed, and to what the failure was owing. Some mistakes had been made on the fuppofed alliance between Auftria, Ruffia, and Great Britain. He admitted that

we wifhed the aid of Ruffian troops, and that we thought it effential: he would himself go further, and fay that it was effential to the interest of this country and Europe to keep up a good understanding with Ruffia; and if in any part of the inquiry propofed by the motion there was likely to be a difquifition which might tend to leffen the cordiality fubfifting between Great Britain and Ruffia, or create jealousy between the armies, it would be a ftrong reafon with him for oppofing it. Our object in the expedition was threefold: first, to rescue the United Provinces from the tyranny of the French; fecondly, to add to the efficient force of this country and diminish that of the enemy, by gaining poffeffion of the Dutch

*Letter of Major-general D'Heffen from his Head Quarters at Zyper Schleufen. From the Peterburg Court-Gazette of October 22.)

"I humbly acquaint your imperial majefty, that, on the 4th of September, I arrived << from Yarmouth with the fire divifion of troops before the Texel. We difembarked "immediately in row-boats, and landed all our troops on the 6th at the Helder, though "in a violent gale of wind. General D'Hermann was arrived before me, and was at the "distance of thirty-five werfts from the Helder towards Alkmaar. By his orders I joined "him on the 7th; and on the 8th, in the morning, at 4 o'clock, we proceeded in "three columns, and attacked the enemy with a bravery only characteristic to your "majefty's fubjects. We drove him from three ftrong intrenchments, took all the "batteries with the bayonet, and entered three ftrong villages, with the town of "Berghen. We had already taken fourteen pieces of cannon, about 1000 prifoners, and "killed upwards of 2000 of the enemy. However, all our ammunition being exhaufted, we could no longer carry on offenfive operations against a numerous enemy, who "employed all his forces against us, who forced the right wing of our allies who intended to attack at the fame time, but who, for caufes unknown to me, were two "hours too late, which confiderably injured the victory which we had already gained. Lieutenant-general D'Hermann was made prifoner.-I cannot conceal from you, "moft gracious fovereign, that the troops of your majefty are in want of the moft ne

ceffary articles. I will not, however, pretend to fay that this is owing to the want " of care of our allies, but rather to their late arrangements, when, contrary to the "first plan, they landed all the troops, their own as well as ours, in a crowd, fo that "it was impoffible the small tract of ground which we occupied could furnish us with "provifions, and we are under the neceffity to wait for fupplies from England. We "were in want of fufficient artillery and horfes, and the troops were not yet recovered "from a violent fea-fickness. Our ammunition being exhaufted, we had no means of "attack and defence but the bayonet; but through the extreme fatigue of our troops, "their retreat began in confufion. The commander-in-chief being a prifoner, lieu"tenant general Sherebzow killed, and major-general Suthof wounded, the chief "command devolved on me. I ftrove to collect our troops, and retired to our first "advantageous pofition in fuch a manner that the enemy found it impoflible to folFlow. Our whole lofs in killed, wounded, and prifoners, amounts to about 3000


men; but the enemy has loft many more, the prifoners taken by the English and ourfelves amounting to above 3000 men, &c.”,


fleet, fo as to render it of no ufe to the French, by whom it was kept with a view of aiding them in a defcent on fome part of our dominions; thirdly, to divert their pursuits in general; and, by hostile operations in Holland on our part, to defeat their plans in the courfe of the campaign, whether they chofe to remain there or not. Thefe objects were in contemplation, and there was a great probability at that time of their fuccefs: two of them did fucceed, and only one failed, for which he fhould affign a fufficient reafon.

That it was the policy of this country to refcue Holland from the gripe of France had been admitted by the honourable gentleman himself, who was pieafed at the time to compliment his majefty's minifters on the defign; though he had wonderfully changed his fentiments, and, in fubftance, told the Dutch, in his cloquent addrefs that night, "to be aware of the English, who had endeavoured to destroy then in the American war; who had now taken their poffeffions, but never would reftore them; and if hereafter they thould remove the French yoke from off their necks, he warned them to beware of fuch friends." This was his advice as a British fenator! He ought to have recollected, that all these atrocious grievances, recapitulated for the purpose of tarnithing the glory of his country, and of which he fo kindly reminds Holland, were committed before the year 1787; and yet during that we had been fuccessful in bringing about a revolution there, which he then highly recommended. Why did the Dutch fubmit to it? and what was our motive in interfering to accomplish it, but to refcue Holland from the yoke of


the houfe of Bourbon? Was it more criminal in us to attempt to refcue the fame provinces from the French republic? In the one cafe Pruffia did that in concert with Great Britain, which the honourable gentleman applauded: in the other Great Britain attempted it alone, and the honour ble gentleman condemned it! It was a maxim adopted by the wifeft politicians, from the earliest period of our connexion with Holland, that it thould not be under the French. Queen Elizabeth gave affiftance to the powered by the Spaniards; and Dutch to prevent their being over. thought, if the Low Countries were not in their hands, the commerce injured. King William followed of this country would be materially uniformly obferved fince the reign the fame policy; and it had been of the houfe of Brunswick.

in the time of king James, under There had been fome exceptions fome bad administrations; but no good politician ever doubted of the imprudence of that council; nor need arguments be added to prove, that the refcue of the Dutch from the tyranny of France, whether monarchical or republican in its government, was an object worthy of purfuit.

was, the capture of the fleet, by The next point to be difcuffed which means we could diminish the appeared most surprising that there power of the French. To him it fhould remain a doubt of the value of fuch an acquifition. had that fleet been abfolutely defTo what tined? To invade our dominions! derable advantage to deprive the Could it then be termed an inconfienemy of the means to attempt it? It was univerfally affirmed, that if northern coaft on Ireland, it could any hoftile fleet appeared on the only

only come from the Texel; and an effential fervice had been rendered to this country by preventing the poffibility of it. Befides which, we took nearly 70,000 feamen of the Dutch, all of whom were liable to be employed in the French fleet; and 40,000 tons of fhipping belonging to the enemy, which might have annoyed our commerce. This fleet was one grand part of our plan in the expedition; and here it had fucceeded: But the honourable gentleman thought this no gain, as the Dutch framen were not well affected towards the government under which they were ftationed; affigning, as a proof of it, that they rofe against their officers: but we fhould have acted a very unwife part if we had not taken care that their difpofitions, whatever they might be, fhould be fecured in our ports, instead of the ports of Holland.

Coni, and at Philipsburg. Two of our objects, therefore, out of the three, had been completely accomplifhed; and he would now proceed to confider from what caufes we had failed in the third.

Our third object was, to co-operate with our allies against the enemy; and this expedition kept them in a state of fufpenfe respecting the diftribution of our force, of which we felt the beneficial effects in various parts of Europe. The houfe might remember, that the battle of Novi was the most bloody, as well as the most doubtful, between the French and Auftrians in the whole campaign, and caufed the recovery of Italy from the French republic. Could it have been fuccesful, if the expedition to Holland had not taken place? The advantage gained by the allies was alfo illuftrated by Maffena in Switzerland, and to be ascribed to the neceffity to which the French were driven, to employ 40,000 of their men to reinforce their power in Holland. This advantage gave decifion to the imperial arms at Novi, at Suabia, at Tortona, at

Had the French followed the plan formerly adopted by them, they could not have prevented our recovering Holland. At the moment our enterprise was undertaken, it was a doubt whether they would place their reinforcements there, or in other parts of the continent: they poured their prodigious reinforcements into Holland, by which means we were unable to rescue it from their yoke: but another part of the refult was, that they loft every other point which they con tefted, in the whole campaign, in every other place.

The honourable gentleman faid, that the Dutch were not favourable to our views, and that minifters ought to ftate to the house the information upon which they formed their plans: but furely there required little argument to prove how highly improper, nay, how effentially injurious it might be to the interests of Europe, were minifters to disclose their fources of intelligence in the moft critical period of a war. He did not mean to infer that they had not proceeded on grounds which juftified them in acting-it belonged to the houfe to fpeak either from the parliament or the public; he, for one, would never advife his majefty to order fuch intelligence to be divulged: but were he at liberty to give up all confidential communication on this point, he could foon convince the house that the difpofition of the Dutch was not unfavourable to us. This led him to another part of his fubje&t

the making known the inftructions given to commanders;-would


any able statesman or reasonable perfon think it politic to expofe the future plans of a war, and the mode of operation, when upon fecrecy muft depend its fuccefs? Thefe were points which the wifdom of parliament had entrusted to the discretion of government, and ministers alone could decide what was proper to be communicated to the public.

they could not want them; for all they immediately had to do was, to fecure a landing place, and a poft of communication. Sir Ralph had to confider what pofition he fhould take till the ft of September, when reinforcements fhould arrive. He judged wifely for the difpofition of the army; and the delay arofe from caufes which no human wifdom could forefee, and therefore could not prevent. Had he been able to land when he expected, he would, according to all probability, have commanded complete fuccefs to all the objects of his expedition. The fame wind prevented the Ruffian troops from arriving to reinforce ours: they did not come till the 18th. The duke of York offered the Ruffian general D'Hermann to delay the attack, if he thought his men were not fufficiently recovered from their fatigues of the voyage; but the general earneftly requested that the attack fhould be made, with a promptitude and alacrity which reflected the highest honour upon him. But this ardour led him to the field full two hours fooner than the time appointed. The army, however, was glorioufly fuccefsful till a late hour in the day. General D'Hermann and his troops were in poffeffion of the village of Berghen, and crowned with victory, till his zeal led him beyond a given point, and turned the fate of it. When the attack was made, the French amounted to 7, and the Dutch to 12,000 men; yet, notwithstanding this fuperiority of force, our troops fought and conquered them with a fpirit which immortalifed the battle; but the French continually pouring in reinforcements, the duke was advised by general Abercromby, and all the other officers, to accede to the terms of an armistice, which was by that

Never was a commencement more profperous than that of the late expedition. Sir Ralph Abercromby failed for the Helder the 13th of August, and every thing promifed the moft rapid fuccefs: on the 14th came on the most extraordinary hurricane that ever blew from the heavens: it was impoffible to land a fingle failor on any part of the coaft of Holland, and this continued till the 27th; the confequence was, that the enemy knew where our fleet mut land, and the troops came in fhoals to oppofe us: 7000 men were collected; and, as they were fuperior in numbers, fir Ralph could not land his men to advantage: the ardour of the failors, and the gallantry of the commander, were never excelled on any occafion. Without any thing but their mufkets and bayonets (for they had not the power of bringing with them a fingle field-piece) against cavalry and artillery, they made their landing good; and by it they fecured the Dutch fleet. He stated thele things to fhow how eafy it was to cenfure both foldiers and their generals unjustly upon an event depending on the temper of the elements. It was alleged that the troops had no means to draw their waggons; but they had no waggons, and could not poffibly have landed them had they been there-inftantly on their landing

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time mutually wifhed. The duke yielded to this advice; and, by fo doing, confulted the dictates of reafon and humanity.

Much had been faid of the difgrace attached to the end of the expedition; but even the French were ftruck with the gallantry of the troops which fought against them, Our army returned with as much honour as they entered Holland. The duke of York could not be wrong in giving up 8000 lumber of French troops from our overloaded prifons: he did not recede from any one article in which national dignity was concerned: he refifted with firmnefs and indignation every propofition for delivering up the fleet. The honourable gentleman had attempted to inAuence the feelings of the house by dwelling on the blood which had been fhed, and the expence which had attended the expedition, and had erroneously stated both: the one had been flated as equivalent to the income-tax-fix or feven millions; the other as the lofs of 10,000 men. There was no occafion to leave this point to conjecture: the expenditure actually amounted to 1,142,000l.; and, computing by debtor and creditor, there could, in commercial confideration, be no objection to it. We had a right to confider the flips which were taken, and to state the reduction for the maintenance of a fleet in the North Seas to check a Dutch fleet. If we calculated the value of the latter, the decrease of expence in the former, and the faving in the pay of 10,000 feamen voted lefs the laft year, the balance was greatly in our favour. We gave up the 8000 prifoners, who were annually fed at a great expence, and gained 6000 Dutch feamen to man our fleets. The

objects gained by the expedition were, the fhips, the reduction of expence, and the great diverfion in the French forces, which facilitated the victories of the combined armies. Without making it a topic of eloquence, he believed he felt as much as any man for the brave foldiers who compofed our army; but in war no important objc&s could be obtained without the lofs of many dear and valuable connexions: thefe calamities arofe inevitably from the fituation of a great nation fighting for great objects for an independent empire, and for exiftence itself! To remove the impreffion of our having loft 10,000 men, he would ftate in detail the returns made during the whole of the campaign: Sick and wounded admitted into the hofpitals, Sent home out of these hofpitals,





The amount of those who died, And the whole of those who were flain, Should any gentleman wish to be farther informed, he might fatisfy himself by applying to Mr. Young, who fuperintended the hofpital; and, in naming him, he must add, that there was no praife, and no reward, to which he was not entitled. As the returns were made in hafte, they were of courfe fubject to fome mistakes; and many reported to be dead were afterwards found upon their legs, and well. But it certainly must be caufe of fatisfaction to every humane mind, to be undeceived in the estimate of lives faid to be loft, and to find, instead of ten thousand, the comparatively fmall number of eight hundred and forty-fix. This was a lift to excite the fenfation of forrow and regret ; but whilft we fhed the liberal tear,


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