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ROBERT PLUMER WARD, ESQ.
MR. WARD ON THE ORDNANCE ESTIMATES. PERSONAL ALTERCATION
WITH WHITBREAD. -DEBATE ON THE LATE TREATIES. UNITED SERVICE CLUB. -TOUR OF INSPECTION IN IRELAND. —DITTO IN SOUTH OF ENGLAND. - LETTERS TO LORD KENYON. — THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON SUCCEEDS LORD MULGRAVE AT THE HEAD OF THE ORDNANCE, -LETTERS FROM MR. W. W. POLE, LORDS BATHURST AND MULGRAVE THEREON.
For a considerable period Mr. Ward, fully occupied with the business of his office, which was greatly increased for the next three or four years by alternate prospects of peace and war, and by the labours of determining upon
very sweeping reductions which were to take effect when peace was finally reestablished, took very little part in the House, except to bring forward officially the Ordnance Estimates. In these he upon the whole managed either to avoid all opposition, or alternately to disarm it by his goodhumour, and to check it by the spirit with which he
met undeserved attack. Upon one of these occasions, however, namely, in 1815, he got into a somewhat warm personal altercation with Mr. Whitbread, who attacked him for having just a week before the battle of Waterloo, called Bonaparte the “ablest captain in the world.” “ It was to have been expected,” said Mr. Whitbread, “ that at least a rival should share
a that name with Bonaparte; and that even if the honourable gentleman was desirous of ranking him as the first captain of the world, he would associate the Duke of Wellington with him in the title, and so make out two first captains in the world !" If Mr. Whitbread had been satisfied with his triumph at this slip of the tongue in one who had no undisguised enthusiasm in favour of the Duke, all would have been well; but he next proceeded upon the old fallacy which flourishes even to the present day, viz. that because any one has written a book he can be fit for nothing else, and at once ceases to be qualified to give an opinion upon any other point. He thought fit to allude to Mr. Ward as one " whose time had principally been devoted to t'e study of the law of nations, to the investigation of that which ought to prevent war.” Mr. Ward's reply was calm and cutting, -" The hon. gentleman had,” he said, “ (as his custom was), mixed up a great number of matters in his speech which had nothing to do with the question before the House. In every speech he made, the hon. gentleman was in the habit of indulging in personal allusion and attack. With all the respect he felt for the hon. gentleman out of the House, he
must inform him that these attacks, whether arising from the feebleness of the public grounds on which he opposed Ministers, or arising from rashness of character, or impetuosity of temper, were perfectly unimportant to him, and were heard with the utmost indifference; knowing that the hon. gentleman was in the habit of making attacks on all sides, recollecting how egregiously he had failed in all his attempts this Session, he almost felicitated himself on becoming the object of his animadversions on this occasion.” Mr. Whitbread's rejoinder (after some prefatory remarks still less ceremonious) was, that “He wished to make no observation that was not founded in good humour and sincerity; and however he might respect the hon. gentleman, he was really of opinion that persons might be found more fit to fill the situation he at present held than he was.” Mr. Ward contented himself with again repeating, “that the attack of the hon. gentleman, who was so fond of making charges, did not offend him.” Later in the evening some further angry expressions were interchanged, which it is not necessary, nor, at this distance of time, seemly to revive, the whole matter being put an end to by the usual interference on the part of other members and the Chairman of Committees; not, however, until after a vague threat on the part of Mr. Whitbread, that the hon. gentleman, who was desirous of being attacked, would, from the manner in which the estimates were brought forward, be pretty sure to be gratified; as he, Mr. Whitbread, should find it very inconsistent with his feelings or principles to