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had not vet become the rule of the British arms, joined most heartily in the national applause.
On the 2d of October, when the imperial parliament had met to pay a nation's just tribute of praise to its naval defenders, Lord Spencer thus did himself honour in addressing his brother peers.
He said, that “he had next to take notice of an exploit which had never been surpassed, and scarcely ever equalled, in the annals of historyhe meant the defence of St. Jean d'Acre by Sir Sidney Smith. He had no occasion to impress upon their Lordships a higher sense than they already entertained of the brilliancy, utility, and distinction of an achievement, in which a general of great celebrity, and a veteran victorious army, were, after a desperate and obstinate engagement, which lasted almost without intermission for sixty days, not only repulsed, but totally defeated, by the gallantry and heroism of this British officer, and the small number of troops under his command.
“ He owned it was not customary, nor did he think it had any precedent in the proceedings of parliament, that so high an honour should be conferred on long services, which might be performed by a force so inconsiderable in point of
numbers; but the splendour of such an exploit, as defeating a veteran and well-appointed army, commanded by experienced generals, and which had already overrun a great part of Europe, a fine portion of Africa, and attempted also the conquest of Asia, eclipsed all former examples, and could not be subjected to the rules of ordinary usage. He, therefore, in full confidence of universal approbation, moved “the thanks of the House to Captain Sir William Sidney Smith, and the British seamen under his command, for their gallant and successful defence of St. Jean d'Acre against the desperate attack of the French army, under the command of General Bonaparte.”
This speech was received with great and universal cheering ; upon which Lord Hood rose and said—“ He could not give a vote on the present occasion without bearing his testimony to the skill and valour of Sir Sidney, which had been so conspicuously and brilliantly exerted when he had the honour and benefit of having him under his command. Had that officer been at the head of a more considerable force, there was every probability that not a Frenchman would have escaped. The nation must be sensible of the importance and benefit of the service that had been achieved ; and judging from his character
and conduct, he made no doubt but even this was only an earnest of his future glory, whenever an opportunity presented itself.”
Lord Grenville said “There never was a motion, since he had had a seat in that House, to which he gave a more hearty concurrence and assent. The circumstance of so eminent a service having been performed with so inconsiderable a force was, with him, an additional reason for affording this testimony of public gratitude, and the highest honour this House had it in its power to confer. By this gallant and unprecedented resistance, we behold the conqueror of Italy, the future Alexander, not only defeated and driven from the situation at which he had arrived, but also obliged to retreat in disorder and confusion to parts where it was not likely that he would find shelter from the pursuit of British skill and intrepidity. How glorious must the whole appear, when they looked to the contrast between the victors and the vanquished ! Bonaparte's progress throughout the whole of his military career was marked with every trait of cruelty and treachery. Sir Sidney Smith, in defiance of every principle of humanity, and of all the acknowledged rules of war, had been long, with the most cool and cruel inflexibility, confined in a dungeon of the Temple, from which he
only escaped by his own address and intrepidity. But the French, by making him an exception from the general usages of war, had only manifested their sense of his value, and how much they were afraid of him. This hero, in the
progress of events, was afterwards destined to oppose the enemy in a distant quarter; and, instead of indulging in any sentiments of revenge or resentment against his former persecutors, indulged the natural feelings of his heart, by interfering and saving the lives of a number of French pri
Soon after this, when victorious in an obstinate contest, where he was but indifferently supported by the discipline of the native troops, or means of defence in the fortifications of the fortress, he generously and humanely lent his protecting aid to a body of miserable and wounded Frenchmen, who implored his assistance, when the cruelty and obstinacy of their own general had devoted them to almost ineviable destruction."
The motion was then agreed to nem. diss., with a vote of thanks to the British officers, seamen, and troops under Sir Sidney Smith.
In the House of Commons, on the previous 16th of September, Mr. Dundas, in moving the thanks of the House on a similar occasion to that which we have just related, thus alluded to the services of our gallant officer.
“ A twelvemonth had not elapsed since this country felt some apprehension on account of the probable destination of the French army in Egypt-an apprehension which was much allayed by the memorable and glorious victory of Lord Nelson. The power of that army had been still much further reduced by the efforts of Sir Sidney Smith, who, with a handful of men, surprised a whole nation, who were his spectators, with the brilliancy of his triumph, contesting for sixty days with an enterprising and intrepid general at the head of his whole army. This conduct of Sir Sidney Smith was so surprising to him, that he hardly knew how to speak of it; he had not recovered from the astonishment which the account of the action had thrown him into. He had looked at it over and over again, and no view that he had been able to take of it had quite recovered him from the surprise and amazement which the account of the matter gave him. However, so it was; and the merit of Sir Sidney Smith was now the object of consideration, to praise or to esteem which too highly was impossible. He had heard that Sir Sidney Smith, who had his difficulties, had been spoken of lightly by