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The Chancellor of the Exchequer faid, he faw no objection to the motion; but with refpect to the other motion which the hon. Gentleman had mentioned, relative to the property tax, although he was not aware of any objection, yet he wished to avail himself of the hon. Gentleman's difpofition to give a notice for a future day.
The motion was then agreed to, and Mr. Gregor gave notice of his intention to bring forward the other motion on Monday.
The Speaker obferved with refpect to accounts laid upon the table, that it would be for the convenience of the House if duplicates from the different offices were prefented, in order that members might obtain information upon the subjects of these accounts whilft they were printing.
WAR IN CEYLON.
Mr. Creevey-I now rife, Sir, in pursuance of the notice I gave fome time fince, to move for certain papers and docunents for the purpose of information, and as grounds for further inquiry refpecting the war which the King's Government in Ceylon has lately been carrying on in that island. I should not have prefumed, Sir, to take upon myself the office of calling the attention of the Houfe to this fubject, had it not appeared to me of a very limited nature, and one lying within a very narrow compafs, or had I perceived a difpofition in any other Gentleman to do the fame thing. As the fubject however, now, Sir, has been fome time before the public, as it appears to me to be one of the greatest importance, as no Gentleman has appeared difpofed to take it up, and as his Majesty's Ministers have not thought fit to give this House any information refpecting it, I have thought it my duty to introduce it to the confideration of Parliament. As the House and the public are not in poffeffion of any official accounts of the cause or origin of this war, of many of the tranfactions which took place in the course of it, and of many of its effects and coufequences, I will fhortly state to the Houfe fuch leading particulars as, from the information I am in poffeffion of, I believe to be true: I am certain they are moftly true, and where I am incorrect, the papers I fhall move for will fet me right. From the year 1795, when we first took the island of Ceylon from the Dutch, to the end of 1802, our Government in Ceylon feems to have purfued its proper objects, to have confined itfelf to the poffeffion of the coafts and open countries of the island, to the introduction of wholefome laws and civilization amongst the natives who
live under our Government, and every thing I believe, during, the period I have mentioned, bore the strongest and most flattering profpect of improvement. We had never apparently during this period entertained the dangerous policy of interfering with the unprofitable interior of Ceylon, the woods, and mountains, and wild inhabitants of the King of Candy's dominions. Some time however in 1892, it seems fome fubjects of the British Government had purchased in Candia a quantity of the Moka nut, and which in its way to our fettlements was feized by officers of the Candian Government. I have heard that fuch contracts by Candian fubjects are against the laws of that country; but be that as it may, our Government claimed the property, and it was agreed to be restored, or the value to be paid for it; the va-: lue, i believe, was 300l. certainly not more, and the final dif ference between the English and the Candian Governments was whether this fum of 300l. fhould be paid instantly, or at the expiration of a few months: the real caufe therefore of the war which was about to take place, was the difference between the prompt and protracted payment of 3ool. It was in this tranfaction that our national honour was supposed to be involved, for this our Government left its useful occupa tions, and put all the troops in Ceylon in motion to chastife the King of Candy, to invade his dominions and feize his capital. It is perhaps neceffary for me here, to state that the King of Candy's dominions are compofed principally of woods and mountains, affording no poffible object for any rational enterprife, fituated in a climate the most fatal to Europeans, and that his capital is in the heart of his dominions. Some time in January 1803 this war began, and in a very short time, and fcarcely with the lofs of ten men killed in battle, we penetrated as far as Candy, which we took and found the King was fled. So far we were all fuccefsful; but then, Sir, came, what our Government of Ceylon knew must come, that dreadful malady the jungle fever, that for ever infects the interior of Ceylon, and for ever deftroys the inhabitants of Europe. This fever, Sir, upon this occafion deftroyed hundreds upon hundreds of our troops in Candia; of the 51ft regiment alone, above 300 perished; of the 19th regiment, 170 befides the 200 of the fame regiment who. were afterwards murdered. One should have thought, Sir, as we had thus difplayed our power by the feizure of the King of Candy's capital, and putting the King to flight, as we had paid fo dearly for it in the death of our foldiers, and as the K 2
country prefented no object worthy of our poffeffion, that our Government would have inftantly withdrawn the furviving troops; but it feems, Sir, our Governor was now determined to play a great part in the politics of the Candian Government; for this purpose he left a garrifon in Candy to fecure fuccefs to our intrigues, and from this most ridiculous and contemptible interference of ours in the affairs of Candy come all the dreadful and difaftrous confequences we fince have heard of. We first dethroned the reigning monarch, and put upon his throne a new King of our own choice; a perfon fo unskilfully felected for that purpofe, fo univerfally odious to the Candians, that we finally withdrew him, and he has fince been murdered on account of our partiality to him, and his own prefumption. We then, Sir, refolved upon changing the Candian monarchy into an aristocracy, and we guaranteed a form of government of this fpecies, and put the first Adigar or firft Minifter at the head of it. During all this time, Sir, the garrifon of Candy were daily diminished and enfeebled by death and fickness: there were only left of British troops, the 19th regiment reduced to 200 men, and a Malay regiment. The Houfe will know how to appreciate the climate of Candy when I ftate to them that of the 200 of the 19th regiment, 160 were fick in their cots and perfectly difabled. At this period, Sir, the town of Candy was furrounded, as I have heard, by 20,000 Candians-certainly, I believe, by not less than 10,000. Our troops, cut off from all provifions, reduced by death and fick nefs as I have mention. ed, and the Malay regiment beginning to defert, furrendered, and laid down their arms. The termination of this dreadful tragedy we all know; upwards of twenty British officers, with the 200 unfortunate troops of the 19th regiment, were led out two by two in the streets of Candy, and there, by the orders of the very Adigar we had guaranteed in his government, they were knocked in the head and had their throats cut, and this not even with the exception of the 160 fick men of the 19th, who were dragged from their cots and murdered. About the fame period all our fortreffes in Candia were attacked, all the garrifons compelled to evacuate them, and all the fick in thofe fortreffes were left and murdered. Thus ended, Sir, our invafion of Candia; it began in January, and before the end of June our invading army was all either expelled, had died, or were murdered. From the date of the event I have last alluded to, the destruction of our garrison in Candy, to the latest accounts I have seen, which are dated in September
September last, the fituation of the island became every day more alarming. The Candians, elated with the expulfion and deftruction of the British, had in immenfe numbers invaded our fettlements, from one end of the island to the other, and according to the lateft accounts had left us nothing but our forts. The natives or Coolies who live under our dominion, men of the most ferocious natures, were beginning to display the most alarming spirit of difaffection to us; fuch of the King's troops as remained alive were ftill under the influence of the difeafes they had contracted in the Candian expedition; and in short, fuch was fuppofed to be the danger of the colony on the continent of India as well as at Ceylon, that in the beginning of September, an expedition was fitting out at Calcutta, for its immediate affiftance. The lateft letter that I have feen on this fubject is of the 15th of September, and is from Madras; the writer of it states as a most extraordinary circumftance that no tidings from Columbo have been received fince the 4th, and from this, and from the other circumstances I have ftated, expreffes the moft ferious apprehenfions for the fafety of that ifland. Now, Sir, if this ftatement be correct, (and I am fure in most parts that it is fo) it is I think a little extraordinary that his Majefty's Ministers should never have communicated a single fyllable of informa tion to Parliament upon a fubject of fo much importance. I apprehend the facts I have ftated are perfectly fufficient to induce Parliament to call upon Minifters for the most full and minute particulars respecting a war apparently fo rafh and so impolitic, apparently fo deftitute of all advantage, and fo evidently fatal and difaftrous in its effects. It is the duty of Parliament at all times to examine into and afcertain the objects for which the brave defenders of our country are facrificed, and it is more peculiarly the duty and the interest of Parliament to do fo at this prefent time. There are, Sir, likewife circumstances connected with this war, and confequences arifing out of it, that more imperiously call upon us to inquire into the conduct of the Governor, and which I will briefly ftate to the Houfe. When we first took poffeffion of Ceylon, it was not the least of our advantages that we took with it all the experience of the preceding settlers, the Dutch: the Dutch had made this particular experiment of fubduing the Candians over and over again; they had twice, with as little lofs as ourfelves, feized the capital and expelled the King; but on every occafion their army was finally destroyed by the fame caufes which have destroyed
ours. It is fingular, Sir, that on one occafion, the precife Calamity which has lately befallen our garrifon at Candy befell the Dutch. The Dutch garrifon at Candy were compelled to capitulate, and on their march, and within two days journey of Columbo, were to the amount of 400 men all murdered: the effect of thefe experiments upon the Dutch was to convince them, that all attempts upon the interior of Candy, were not only fruitless but fatal to themselves, and accordingly, for the last twenty years of their fettlement in that ifland, fuch projects were never again repeated. The prefent Governor of Ceylon was in poffeflion of thefe facts and of this experience before he dooined our foldiers to fuch inevitable deftruction: they are recorded in a very valuable and interefting account of Ceylon, written by an officer of the army we fit fent there, and the materials for which hiftory were collected under the immediate eye of the Governor. I wish, Sir, the writer of that history had been more correctly prophetic when he fays, "Our Government will doubtlefs avoid the errors of former European maßlers of Ceylon, who waited unprofitably, in vain attempts to fubdue the natives, that time and those refources which might have rendered this ifland one of the most valuable colonies in the world." With refpect to the confequences of this war, (independent of the unprofitable termination of it, and the mortification we must feel at having our brave troops apparently fo idly facrificed) they are really, Sir, of the moft alarming nature; I need fcarcely remind the Houfe of the contiguity of Ceylon to the continent of India; India is allowed.
o be the great object of French ambition; we act upon this. fuppofition in all our political calculations; it is with refe-. rence to India that the harbour of Trincomalee is beyond, all value; and yet, Sir, with a war carrying on in India on an enormous fcale, with a French fquadron in the Indian feas, full of troops, fo often faid to be captured but ftill unaccounted for, with the French ports full of veffels and troops ready, for expeditions, with a neceflity at home for our regulararmy, more urgent than was ever known, and with that regular army more than ever neglected, we are placed in the. diftreffing dilemma, that we must either, by withholding affiftance from the Government of Ceylon, endanger our poffef-. fion of that most important colony, or we must in this hour, of need and neceffity deprive ourselves of a part of our most valuable and moft rare fpecies of defence. I am informed, Sir, that 1000 troops of the line are now embarking, or have