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VOTE OF THANKS TO SIR
summonses. Mr. Waithman, however, was not satisfied with this, but pledged himself to make a motion for further enquiry into the matter on some future day.
The Lord Mayor obseryed, that when he came from the Old Bailey, he found the newspaper on his table; but he did not at the time care a farthing for such a uifle, nor did he so much as enquire how it came there.
Mr. Waithman then gave notice, that he would, on a future day, move for an enquiry into abuses in respect to the admission of boys into Christ's Hospital, such abuses having been publicly stated to exist.
A great many petitions and memorials on city affairs were then read apd considered and that business being disposed of,
Mr. Waithman rose to make his promised motion on the
He began by reading the vote of thanks in question, which was proposed and car, ried on the 2d October of the last year, and which was to the following puspose :
• Resolved, to thank Sir Home Popham for the very important services rendered by him in the capture of Buenos Ayres, at once opening a new source of conimerce to the manufactures of Great Britain, and depriving her enemies of one of their richest and most extensive colonies, and also to present to him a sword of the value of 200 guineas."
When that motion was introduced, he for one had opposed it, on the ground that they were then unacquainted with all the circumstances of the case. On that ground, the impropriety of such a vote was strongly urged at that time; and if there was any room for hesitation, they surely could not hesitate now, when all the circumstances and effects of Sir Home's conduct were known, to expunge that vote, as premature and unfounded. Were he merely to refer gentlemen to the judgment of the court martial, that alone might be sufficient. The charge against Sir Home Popham was proved, and the sentence of the court martial was, that his conduct was bighly cen. surable ; but, in consideration of circumstances, they contented themselves with reprimanding him. This sentence was a very heavy one, and ought to form the criteTion by which this court ought to judge of the services of Sir Home Popham on that occasion. The utility of votes of thanks, situated as this country was, in exciting the emulation, and preserving the spirit of its defenders, was obvious; but they ought to 'be extremely careful to whom such a vote was given, and when prematurely giren, it ought not to be continued on record, thereby to lessen the value of such rewards. But it was said that this would be a bad precedent, and might give rise to perpetual changes and uncertainty. It was a much worse precedent, however, to continue a vote which had been so prematurely given. It was true that Sir Home Popbam bad made a very able defence before the court martial, but that defence proved every thing but his own innocence. In the motion which he was going to make, he knew that party views would be ascribed to him; but he disclaimed all such motives(hear! hear!)-he had neither asked nor obtained any favour fronı any administralion; and the faces of two of those gentlemen, who were so loud in their cries of hear! hear! (alluding to the Messrs. Dixon) were better known to the late lords of the treasury, than almost any other man's
. Mr. Waitbman then took a long review of the circunstances attending the first expedition against South America, but as that question had come before the public in such a variety of ways, it would be superfluous to follow him in the detail. He contended that mercenary inotives had led to the expedition against Buenos Ayres, and therefore it did not menit a vote of thanks. He condemned Sir Home for withdrawing the troops from St. Helena, under an engagement with the governor of that island, which his success at Buenos Ayres would have rendered it the more improper for him to perform, as it would have required every man engaged in the expedition to remain for the protection of the conquest. He enlarged on his not sending earlier notice of the capture by the Spaniards, as it would have prevented merchants from sending their goods, which he formerly encouraged them to ship. He did not mean to dispute Sir Home Popham's capacity, or his naval skill, though he doubted whether he had been in one se• vere engagement, since it would have been heard of if he had. The honours, there. fore, reserved for superior merit, should not be made too cheap by being conferred ca him. His conduct had been censured by the late and the present board of admiralty, as well as by a court martial, and that court must be very partial to themselves, if they could think that, under such circumstances, the vote of thanks was right, and every body wrong, but Sir Home Popham himself. He concluded by moving a resolution
" That the vote of thanks was premature, unfounded, and ought to be expunged."
Mr. Reeve seconded the motion, merely that a subject which had excited so much public attention might receive a full and fair investigation.
Mr. Samuel Dixon opposed the notion. He contended, that the great crime of Sir H. Popham, in the eyes of the gentleman who moved the resolution, 'vas, his having been in the confidence of the late right hon. W. Pitt. (Loud cries of hear! hear !) This, more than any other reason, was the cause why that gallant officer was attacked with a partiality and unfairness of comment which did no credit to the mover, and would not help him to gain his object:-To judge fairly of the conduct of Sir Home, it would be proper to contrast the small force with which he took Buenos Ayres, with that mighty force by which it was lost. When at the Cape, he saw an opportunity of serving his country, and he erubraced it with ardour; and glorious would it have been for the country, if his successor on the same spot had acted as well as he had done. He had been charged with remissiess in not communicating sufficiently with general Beresford at Buenos Ayres; but the famous brigadier general Craufurd could not communicate with his general, even when in the same town with bim. (A laugh.) If this resolution was carried, he expected the gentleman-would follow it up by moving, that as the corporation of London bad purchased a sword to be presented to Sir Home Popham, that the same sword should be given to brigadier general Craufurd, he having lost his own. (Loud laughter.)
Mr. James Dixon apologised for intruding binself on the attention of the court, especially after the great length of time the mover of the question had taken up, in stating his motives for bringing forward such a motion, in support of wbich he had not been able to adduce one solitary proof. He said, he did not consider th:e discretion which Sir Home Popham had exercised in leaving the Cape without orders, in the reprehensible light in which it appeared to ihe mover of the question, and inore especially under the circumstances of the present war; besides, many similar instances were to be found in the naval annals of the country, by which it would appear that some of the greatest actions of our commanders, had been performed without the direct orders of the government. Admiral Rouk took Gibraltar.---Lord Nelsori, under the directions of lord St. Vincent, made an attack on Teneriftę, and at a subsequent period, that ever to be lamented hero, pursued the French fleet to the West Indies without orders, and no censure was bestowed in either of tho:e instances.
Sir Home Pophain was also blamed for the circular letter he had addressed to the trading and manufacturing interests, in which he might perhaps be considered as having exceeded the strict line of his duty; but still his motives were good, and directed to the benefit of his country. Had his suggestions, as to the nature of the cargoes fit for their markets, been attonded to in this country, and the wild speculations of some of the shippers not entered uponi, great advantages would have been derived, even from the temporary possession of that settlemeni. To shew the folly and absurdity of many of these speculations, it was only nece-sary to enumerate a few of the articles shipped for South America ; namely, warming pins, notwithstanding the warmth of that cliinate, Seltzer water, and spruce beer. Or the arrival of the ships, the beer had flown, and only empty bottles were to be found : vhilst other persons, more provident, bad shipped broad-cloths, linens, silk and cotion hose, and other articles suitable for that market, which had netted upwards of 1001. per. cent. and the proceeds liad been remitted to this country in dollars.
The last observation he should make was, on the charge alleged :gainst Sir Home Popham by the mover of the question, for not writing to government from the 5th of Sept. to the 20th of Nov. which was easily answered, for it appears he had not then any vessel which could be spared for that service. Soon after, he was superseded and sent home in a manner highly disgraceful ; for instead of permitting him to roturn in a manner suitable to his station, in a frigate or sloop war, they sutti ed him to return in an unarmed transport, and, in other respects, badly equipped for such a voyage. On the whole of the proceeding before the court, he could not avoid
expressing his opinion, that it appeared to him to originate in party feeling, for party purposes, and as such, he should vote against the motion.
Mr. Alderman Birch said, he should be extremely sorry if any attempts were made to elude the question. It would be an insinuation that that court was an undecided body, wavering with every wird that blew. It would be a reflection on the character of that gallant officer who was the subject of the motion. As for bimself, he felt no fears that the result would be injurious to the character of that gallant officer; and instead of rescinding the vote of thanks which had been given, he conceived that the court would be rather disposed to confer upon him a second vote of thanks, for a siniilar service, than rescind the one which was already passed. The thanks had been voted, not for any general conduct, but for a particular service; and it could not be disputed, but that the service for which the thanks had been voted was performed. That court could not form itself into a court-martial, to decide upon the strict etiquette of military duty ; but he would contend, that if the persecutors of Sir Home · Popham could have even condemned him to die for the military offence, still the sword which the city bad voted him could not be taken away, and would, of right, belong to his next relative, aiter his death. The enemies of sir Home Popham nust, however, confess, that there was a very wide difference between acting contrary to orders, and acting without orders. He would defy any man to say, that sir Hiome Popham " had acted contrary to any positive orders which he had received. His defence for acting without orders was, that he was unwilling to remain idle; that he was sanctioned by the opinion of sir David Baird, in considering the Cape of Good Hope as pertectly secure, and that it was even part of his duty to have a portion of his squadron cruizing off Rio Janeiro. A short time after he had successfully undertaken this enterprize, the administration was changed; and it was a curious thing to observe the different manner in which the news of the capture of the Cape of Good Hope was received by the public and by ministers. By the public it was received with that enthusiasm, which a British public ever feels for the successes of the empire ; but by the adniinistration with sullen silence. In a short time after, they heard that the capital of South America had been taken by the same victor who had taken the capital of Southern Africa. Although the park and tower guns were fired, ministers appeared sorry at hearing the news. Sir Hoine Popham was not the man whom they wished to be successful-he was not the man on whose brows such laurels should be permitted to bloom. They could not indeed tear those laurels from his brows, but they endeavoured to blast them. No reinforcement was sent out to secure the conquest, but admiral Stirling was sent out to supersede bim; and he was sent home in a common prize brig, that had not a single gun to defend it, and scarcely men enough to navigate it. Although sir Home Popham had been treated so harshly by them, yet still they perceived that this acquisition was too important to be lost, and, therefore, they sent out a grand expedition to recover it; an expedition, formidable for its force, and fitted out " with all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of inglorious war.” The annals of the British empire did not display any thing which could be set against this expedition for ignorance and empiricism. He wished that it might form a sort of parenthesis in our history, and be as much as possible unconnected with it If the acting without orders was now to be considered so great a crime, the earl of St. Vincent, who in a manner governed the admiralty when they ordered this court-martial, had himself acted without orders, when he sent lord Nelson on the expedition to Teneriffe, where that gallant oficer was severely wounded. When the ever-to-belamented Nelson went to the West-Indies, he did it without orders; and, in his letter, he expressed a hope that ministers would not be displeased with his conduct. Upon the whole it appeared to him that the country was more likely to derive benefit from the exertions of men of enterprize, than from the cold calculations, and systematic proceedings of men without energy, but who obeyed the letter of their instructions. Enterprize was the soul of this country, in a military as well as a commercial view. The gentleman who had made the motion dwell upon the circumstance of sir Home Pophamn being defended by able counsel, and no counsel appearing against him. The fact was, however, directly the reverse; for at this trial, for the first time, (as he believed)o counsel was heard on the part of the prosecution, and the counsellor who was chosen was Mr. Jervis, the nephew of lord St. V'incent. There were so many circunstances of this nature attending the persecution of sir Home Popham, that it appeared as if the business had been taken up for no other view than as a mere party question.
Mr. alderman Rowcroft rose, and said, he was desirous the court should go at once to the question; and he entertained no doubt of the nature of their decision. He thought the introduction of the matter, in debate, was unnecessary, and very injudicious; and though the subject was a theme inviting many considerations, and on which it was tempting to say a great deal, the court might rely that he would not permit himself to detain them long.
In ihre ârst place, he begged to lay aside all introduction of the present adminstration, or of the last, or of that which preceded, as foreign and irrelevant to the matter proposed by the morer, and he should equally avoid any discussion or comparison of the conduct of general Whitelocke, or general Crawford, as unconnected with the subject, and improper to be in any manner alluded to in that place. Nor ought the conduct of sir Hone Popham, either as to blame or merit, to be tried again in that place: it bad passed already several ordeals, and every one had learnt, long ago, how to estimate bori: for what there was, in his conduct, to be noticed with reprehension, for the vindication and support of the principles of civil subordination in military commands, be bid borne the sentence of a competent tribunal; and, for the merits of his ability and good conduct in the prosecution of his enterprize, he had already THREE times received the expression of approbation and thanks from three distinct, and Not all favouring, bodies.
On the advice of the capture, the lords of the admiralty, by their secretary, Mr. Marsden, expressed their approbation and tļanks for the judicious and able conduct displayed on the occasion, and that, surely, must be allowed to be no vulgar testimony of his merits; and, if insinuations often made were to be regarded, was not the testiinany of willing evidence or of partial esteem? The court-martial, in their sentence, though they expressed a reprimand, on the principle so well understood, and so proper to be supported, yet they took into consideration“ CIRCUMSTANCE;" which deserved to mitigate: those, circumstances were the grounds of the vote of thanks of the court, and surely their more humble approbation might justly be expressed, and their sword offered, where two such acknowledgements of merits and services had been previously made.
If Sir Home Popham was still to be the subject of their attention, it would be far more proper to consider of conveying, a fourth time, the expression of their gratitude and praise for GRET SERVICES lately performed in a manner highly deserving their approbation--it would be more just to him, and creditable to the court, than a motion to rescind the resolutions which they had already made, and in which were included their thanks to the other deserving commanders, and to the officers, seamen, soldiers, and marines, who were the meritorious companions of his enterprise, activity, and able conduct.--Mr. Roweroft concluded, by saying, he should vote against the motion.
[A very general cry then took place for the question.]
Mr. Waithman, however, rose to reply to the observations which had been made. He began by observing, that he perceived the facts which he had stated had not been attempted to be refuted ; and he might then repeat what he had said before, that he never understood that Sir Honie Popham had ever an opportunity of displaying much gallantry in battle. He felt at a great loss to understand how the worthy alderman could make it out, that a severe reprimand from the court-martial implied an approbation of a great part of the conduct of Sir Home. That conduct was, in fact, of such a nature, that no government could exist, if it were tolerated. If every india vidual officer could, upon his own authority and judgment, undertake expeditions such as this, the responsibility of government for its conduct would be completely at an end.
The wortlry alderman who had spoken last but one (Mr. Alderman Birch) had commented with some severity on the nephew of Lord St. Vincent being the counsel for the prosecution : he had not, however, pointed out a single instance where the conduct of that counsellor could be found fault with. The force which Şir Home Popham brought to Buenos Ayres, was clearly inadequate to retain the possession of it; and although first taken by surprize, yet as soon as the Spaniards
had resolved to resist us, an army of 20,000 men was conjured up immediately to attack our troops, who were of necessity obliged to yield. Sir Home Popham, when he could bring himself to write upon this subject, wrote a crying sort of a letter to the admiralty, complaining of the unexampled perfidy and atrocity of the Spaniards. If this pertidy and atrocity were to be enquired into, how would they appear ? As soon as the Spaniards were perfectly convinced that we did not come there for their benefit, or for any honourable purpose, but merely for booty and plunder, from that moment they determined to resist us. When they had seen above a million of dollars put on board our ships, and sent off to Europe_when they saw ncar three millions-worth of quicksilver likely to be carried off also; it was time for them to oppose this system of plunder. Without calling it perfidy or atrocity, they did what any other men possessing spirit, and conscious of their strength, would have done on a similar occasion. It was wonderful how certain persons accommodated themselves to all manner of events. When Buenos Ayres was taken, they expatiated on the great advantages of it; but when it was lost, ihey appeared to think the loss was triling. It was in the same way that they cried out for the deliverance of Europe, and said, that no expence of blood and treasure was too great to secure our continental connexions; but as soon 'as the continent was lost, they found that we could do very well without it; and now that our commerce appears to be in the greatest danger, they are beginning to find out that we can do without commerce also. The fact was, that the district of Buenos Ayres produced no other articles of commerce, except hides and tallow. There had been some personalities introduced into this discussion, but that fault was not bis. As he had been charged with bringing forward the question on party motives, he must so far retaliate as to say that he never received or solicited any thing from the late administration, whereas the worthy alderman (Alderman Birch) had applied to Lord Erskine for a living for bis son. If he had any private interest in this decision, he declared that it was rather in favour of Sir Home Popham than against bim ; but he conceived that the thanks of the city would be of no value in future, if a person could have the thanks of the city of London for such conduct as that of Sir Home Popham's.
Mr. Kemble deprecated all party contests at such a moment as the present, when every heart and hand should be united in defence of the country.
The resolution was then put, and negatived by a very great show of hands; and a division being called for, there appeared For the resolution. . . . . .2. aldermen
STATE PAPERS. From the London Gazette of Saturday, Nov. 28, fcontinued from p.432.) or shall arrive at any port in this kingdom, destined to some port or place within the restriction of the said order, and proof shall be made to the satisfaction of the court of admiralty in which such vessel shall be proceeded against, in case the same shall be brought in' as prize, that the loading of the said vessel had commenced before the said periods, and before information of the said order had actually been received at the port of shipment, the said vessel, together with the goods so laden, shall be restored to the owner or owners thereof, and shall be permitted to proceed on her voyage in such ntanner as if such vessel had sailed before the day so specified as afore.