§ On the motion that a sum of 167,449l. be granted for defraying the expenses of general staff officers, and officers of the hospitals serving with her Majesty's forces at home or abroad.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that he could not help taking that opportunity of saying that he was surprised that no officer in the House had thought it necessary to bring before the House the conduct of Lord Hill, the Commander-in chief, with respect to the 11th Dragoons. The whole country, from one end to the other, had been looking with, anxiety to the notice which Government would take of the matter—a matter which had created scandal all over the country. The public press had done its duty in impressing on Government the necessity of taking into consideration the conduct of the Commander-in-chief—conduct which, had been characterised by all fair and impartial men as most improper and not to be tolerated. It was as much for the 1395 benefit of her Majesty's service that every colonel commanding a regiment should conduct himself with attention and care to every officer in the regiment as it was conducive to the discipline of the army. Therefore it was that he took this opportunity of saying, that he considered the conduct of the Secretary at War, if the matter rested with him, or of the Government highly culpable, when they saw the public mind irritated and offended to so great a degree, that they did not take notice of the conduct of the commanding officer of the 11th Dragoons—conduct such as no man holding the character of a gentleman could possibly tolerate or permit. He did not blame Lord Cardigan so much as he blamed the Commander-in-chief. It was impossible to read the correspondence in the papers (which he presumed to be correct without seeing that acts of unjustifiable severity were traced to Lord Cardigan. He was satisfied that individuals not connected as the noble Lord appeared to be, were removed for what might seem to civilians a slight offence, but which, in the judgment of military men, deserved punishment. But when the proceedings of Lord Cardigan, who but a short time ago was reinstated in the command of a regiment, were considered, it did appear to him extraordinary that such a state of things should have been permitted. He should like to see a return of the officers who belonged to the regiment when Lord Cardigan joined it; what complaints were made, what remonstrances had taken place, and how many had quitted the regiment. He should like to know, too, how many applied for leave of absence and got it, rather than submit to the odium which attached to their regiment since Lord Cardigan came to its command. He thought, then, that the right hon. Secretary at War should state the grounds on which Lord Hill, for reasons unknown to the public, had permitted such occurrences to take place. He insisted that conduct more likely to injure the public service than that adopted by the Government he had never known during a long life and a constant attention to public affairs; and he ventured to say that no man henceforward could join that regiment under its present command, without having "slave" branded on his forehead. When he saw an officer of twenty-six years standing, who had received the sanction and praise of every individual officer under whose command he had served to the time of Lord Cardigan's appointment, dismissed 1396 from the public service for an offence, of which, in a milirary point of view, he was guilty, but which ought to have been viewed with the many extenuating circumstances which surrounded it, he could not but conclude that the rank of the offenders caused some difference in the punishment meted out to them. He had been long enough in the field, and with the army, to know that discipline was absolutely necessary, but he also knew that if men and officers were expected to do their duty, they should be treated as men. He hoped, then, that her Majestys Government would be prepared to give some explanation of the course which they had pursued, and he called particularly on the right hon. Secretary at War for an explanation, as he lay on him the whole weight of his censure.
§ Mr. Macaulay
I certainly did not expect that a topic of such violent irritation would have been brought forward, under such circumstances, and that I should not have been enabled to give it that full consideration which would have enabled me to avoid in its discussion hurting the feelings of any one, or adding to the excitement which has been already too great. I shall state in the most direct manner, yet without the most remote intention of wounding the feelings of any hon. Gentleman, what are the general principles which guided her Majesty's Government in this matter, and which I firmly believe, notwithstanding any temporary irritation, will ultimately be held to be sound and just. In the first place, I shall appeal to the hon. Member for Kilkenny himself, whether it be in his power to suggest or imagine any dishonourable motive which could have prompted the conduct of the Government on this occasion. Who is Lord Cardigan? Is he their political friend—is he a supporter of their's? I know that the hon. Gentleman and some others have sometimes brought charges against the Government of cowardice; but in this case he certainly cannot urge such a charge, when they acted in the face of the whole press—of the general cry of the whole country? Could Lord Cardigan go to a theatre that he was not insulted? Could he take his place in a railway train without having a hiss raised against him? Was there ever a case in which a man was more violently and intemperately assailed? Without wishing to assert that Lord Cardigan is faultless (on that point I do not give an opinion)—if he had been Hare the accomplice of Burke, or any other 1397 person impugned on the most criminal charge, instead of being accused with faults of temper and manner, could stronger or more violent, or more intemperate means be taken to mark the public aversion. When the Government resolved not to dismiss from the service a man thus attacked by the press on both sides, and by the public of both parties, they are not certainly entitled to say they were right; but they are entitled to ask every person who gives the slightest attention to the subject, could they have any other motive than a sincere regard for the interests of the public service. Now, then, how stands the case? Here is a man at the head of the forces, who has led an army to victory—a man whose integrity and honour have never been impeached during the thirteen years that he held his high office—a man who has served different administrations, and possessed the confidence alike of the Duke of Wellington, of Lord Grey, and of the present noble Lord at the head of her Majesty's Government, and who has throughout this long period acted honourably and fairly by every administration, to whom he gave the full benefit of his great abilities and experience, this distinguished man was decidedly of opinion that there was no ground whatever for instituting any proceedings by court-martial against the Earl of Cardigan. His opinion was, that instead of such a proceeding settling the disputes which had arose, it would be an absurd course to take, because it would be impossible to frame any charge against Lord Cardigan of which a court-martial could take cognizance. I believe he was also of opinion that without such a court-martial it would be unjust to take measures for dismissing Lord Cardigan from her Majesty's service. Was Lord Cardigan then, to be put on the half-pay list? That is not the principle on which the half-pay of this country has been established, nor one to which, while I remain Secretary-at-War, it shall be perverted. The half-pay is no punishment. It is given partly as a reward for past services, and partly as a retainer for future services. Why should it be made a reward for offences; or should a retainer be given to a man who had proved himself entirely unfit for the service of the Crown. What alternative remained? A court-martial, or dismissal from the service. Now, that a dismissal from the service, without a court-martial would be a serious and fatal injury to the 1398 army, I have the authority of the Commander-in-chief for asserting, and I may add, without any breach of confidence, the authority of one other name, which stands higher, which stands even higher than the noble Lord's (Lord Hill's) in general estimation and professional eminence. What remains? The dismissal of an officer without any legal impugnment? I am far fromthinking, that the prerogative of dismissal without reasons is not one which the Crown should possess, because I know it is possible to imagine a case in which the safety of the State might depend on the exercise of such prerogative; but it should never be lightly exercised, and the army have an exceeding interest in great caution being observed in wielding it. This rule should be observed in every service, but especially in ours, where the pay of an officer is not much more than the interest which he would receive for his purchase money from any insurance office. I do not mean to say, that officers should acquire a vested interest in their commissions to stand against the prerogative of the Crown, where the public interests require it to be exercised, but I maintain the smallness of the income derived from military service, is an additional reason why we should be slow to advise any such strong measure as taking away a man's commission on slight grounds. Can any motive, then, warrant an unusual course in the present instance? The precedent established in the case of a rich man, may soon be applied to a poor man, and the removal of an unpopular man maybe quickly followed by that of one who should resemble Lord Cardigan in nothing but that he regularly voted against the Government. I will venture to say, that no Ministers of the Crown were ever before censured on the floor of the House of Commons for not punishing a military opponent, in whose case it was impossible to have a court-martial. These are the principles which guided her Majesty's Government, and which satisfied them that they could not have dismissed this officer without a court-martial—that they could not have resorted to the half-pay as a punishment with regard to him, and that it would be in the highest degree prejudicial to the army to establish a precedent for the dismissal of an officer for imputed faults of manner and temper, of such a nature, that it was impossible to make them capable of proof before a court-martial. Having deliberately come to that opinion, the 1399 clamour which has been raised ought only, and has only, determined the Government to adhere to it the more firmly. I say nothing of Lord Cardigan; I don't pretend to say that he is faultless; but I insist, that the principles on which the Government acted are sound ones. I am quite sure, that their motives were pure and conscientious, and if they are not done justice to this day or to-morrow, a very few months will elapse before those who are loudest in clamouring against them, will admit them to have been in the right.
§ Mr. Hume
must deny blaming the Government for not dismissing Lord Cardigan. He had expressed no opinion that that officer should have been dismissed without a court-martial. He would ask, however, whether there was no other alternative that could have been adopted, save dismissal by a court-martial? Was there no such thing as a court of inquiry? If a court of inquiry had been adopted, that course would have given satisfaction to the public, as such court would have established the truth of the charges made against Lord Cardigan, or have afforded proof that they were without foundation. He only wished the matter fairly explained; for, though the noble Lord might be a political opponent of the Government, he was one of the aristocracy, who, the people believed, was to be shielded, whether innocent or guilty. He agreed that the press had been violent in some cases, but its suggestions, he thought, ought to have been attended to. Had it been the case of a subaltern, and not of Lord Cardigan, an inquiry would have been instituted. His complaint therefore was, that the Government had not recommended an inquiry.
§ Lord John Russell
had only a word to say in addition to what had been so well said by his right hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had said, that a court of inquiry ought to have been instituted; but the complaints of each individual in the regiment had been brought before Lord Hill, who had looked at them with the greatest care and attention, and given his decision on each of them separately. His (Lord J. Russell's) opinion was, that Lord Hill had acted with the most perfect impartiality, and that he had decided justly. He could not believe that there was any ground for the assertion that Lord Hill would have acted differently to another, or to an inferior officer. 1400 He was sure that Lord Hill would have acted with impartiality in any case, and under any circumstances. He believed that a court of inquiry would have been a novel proceeding, and that it would not have been in accordance with the rules, or with the practice of the army. The hon. Gentleman said then, if these offences were committed by a subaltern officer, they would have been followed by censure or dismissal. Now he had some suspicion the case was the other way, and that if this were merely a lieutenant-colonel of dragoons, and not a peer of the realm, he might have done the things laid to his charge, and even harsher things, without causing all this excitement in the public. Some sort of fame was acquired by attacking such a man, and so far from the Earl of Cardigan being treated with particular favour, he believed that his name and connections, his large fortune and station in the Lords, rather tended to give dignity and weight to charges, which, under different circumstances, might be looked on as frivolous.
§ Viscount Howick
was sorry that this extremely painful subject had been brought forward on this occasion; but, as it had, he could not avoid saying that the answer of his noble Friend to the statement of the hon. Member near him was not altogether satisfactory. When he said so, he by no means wished to censure the conduct of Lord Hill; he was certain that in a matter of this importance Lord Hill would consult the Government, and he therefore held the Government responsible for the proceedings which had been adopted. So far from assuming that Lord Cardigan had necessarily been to blame, he was most anxious to believe that he had not only discharged his duty conscientiously but also discreetly, but he must say that the facts which had been laid before the public were sufficient to call for an inquiry in order to prove that such was the case. He concurred with the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary-at-War, that it would have been highly improper to have placed Lord Cardigan on half-pay, or to have dismissed him by the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown without some previous enquiry. After the court-martial on Major Watkin, Lord Cardigan had been so placed on half-pay, and in adopting that course he thought, as he had already on a former occasion stated in the House, that a great error had been committed. At that time he thought an 1401 injustice had been committed towards Lord Cardigan from a groundless fear of discussion which had caused an attempt to be made to get out of the difficulty by placing the noble Lord on half-pay. He therefore entirely concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that it would have been impossible to adopt a similar course in the present instance. To place an officer on half-pay, he admitted, to be a measure which ought never to be adopted as a punishment. He was also prepared to believe that there was nothing in Lord Cardigan's conduct in this instance which should have been brought under the cognizance of a court-martial, since a court-martial could only be held in cases in which a specific charge of a breach of the articles of war could be framed. There undoubtedly might be no grounds on which such a charge could be preferred in that case, but he did not think that the noble Lord in saying so had met the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman near him as to the appointment of a court of inquiry. It was nothing new in military practice that when a regiment was not in a satisfactory state, when the officers were not living in harmony, and when the discipline was not creditable to the service, the whole system should be submitted to the ordeal of a court of inquiry. The noble Lord said that every one of the unfortunate quarrels which had occurred in the regiment, had been considered by Lord Hill, and that his decision had in all been favourable to Lord Cardigan. That was possible, and the decision might in each instance have been right, but it was quite consistent with that supposition that the general conduct of the commanding officer might have been wanting in temper, and that temptations might in consequence have been held out to officers to offend, and this he thought was a fit subject for inquiry. There were several reasons which seemed to render such an inquiry peculiarly necessary in this case; in the first place it was impossible to forget the opinion which the first court-martial on Captain Wathen, had expressed against Lord Cardigan, who was in consequence put on half-pay, though he had been afterwards restored to command and to full pay. Now as he had already said, he held that the course pursued on that occasion was not a correct one, and he therefore thought Lord Cardigan had been properly recalled to the service, but the fact that such a circumstance had taken 1402 place, rendered it more necessary than it otherwise would have been, that when another transaction of a similar kind occurred, it should be made the subject of a full and impartial inquiry. But, further than this, it was notorious to all who heard him, that when Captain Reynolds was brought to a court-martial he pleaded in extenuation the great provocation which he had received. He believed that that court martial acted properly in excluding all evidence as to that provocation. He knew that some courts-martial had received evidence tending to show that there had been provocation; but then he believed it had been immediate provocation—as, for instance, when a private soldier had struck his officer, or when an inferior officer had been guilty of insubordination towards his superior officer, they had beer, allowed to produce evidence as to the provocation which each had received at the time. It would have been objectionable, he thought, in this case to have gone into evidence as to old provocations and to old quarrels. On reading the proceedings, it appeared to him that there was conduct on the part of Captain Reynolds which no previous provocation could justify or even so far palliate, as to make it possible for the court to pass upon him any other sentance than the severe one of dismissal from the service. He admitted that such appeared to him to be the case, but still there might have been provocation of such a nature as to afford ground for extending to the party tried, the mercy of the Sovereign. This he said was possible, and therefore as the court-martial had refused to hear the evidence which had been tendered, evidence concerning previous provocation; as this was by no means a solitary instance of dissension between Lord Cardigan and the officers under his command; as similar quarrels had on the contrary taken place between Lord Cardigan and several other officers; as it was farther notorious that the officers who had thus been brought into collission with their commanding officer had received the highest character from other officers of high reputation under whom they had served; as those officers had served for many years under other officers without the slightest imputation having been made against them either for want of discipline or for insubordination — he must say, that on taking all these circumstances into consideration, the termination of these proceedings 1403 by the carrying into execution the sentence on Captain Reynolds, and without investigation into the conduct of Lord Cardigan who was still left in command of his regiment, was a course highly injurious to the interests of the British army. He thought that a case had been made out which required the most rigid inquiry. What might such an inquiry have brought to light? If the conduct of Lord Cardigan had been such as he hoped it had been, Lord Cardigan was an ill-used man in being deprived of the opportunity of placing his conduct in a proper light before the public. His right hon. Friend the Secretary-at-War had described in strong terms the attacks which had been made by the press on the character of Lord Cardigan, and the painful marks of the public feeling against him to which he had been exposed. No man, much less Lord Cardigan, could be insensible to such expressions of disapprobation as had been heaped upon that noble Lord. He, therefore, repeated that it was an act of gross injustice to Lord Cardigan, to withhold from him a court of inquiry. That inquiry might have proved that Lord Cardigan was not to blame in these transactions; that inquiry might have proved that there were misconduct and insubordination among his officers, which he was bound to put down; that inquiry might have proved that Lord Cardigan was influenced by a just regard to the interests of the service, and that he was not wanting, as had been alleged, in either temper, discretion, or conduct. If that had been proved, the result would have been satisfactory to the noble Lord and to the country, and Lord Cardigan would have remained in the command of his regiment with greater moral influence over his officers than he could ever hope to exercise in the position in which he now stood before them. When he said that this might have been the case, he must, on the other hand say, without meaning any Personal disrespect or offence to Lord Cardigan, that the case might have been otherwise. It might have appeared on that inquiry, that though Lord Cardigan was a zealous officer, anxious for the good of the service, and desirous to keep his regiment in a state of complete efficiency, he was wanting in that discretion and temper which were necessary in a commanding officer. It might have turned out that an officer, after years of irreproachable service, goaded by a series of numerous but petty 1404 provocations, had for a moment swerved from his duty; and if so, the Crown might have applied the proper remedy. If, without an imputation on the honour of Lord Cardigan, this had been proved, Lord Cardigan might have been called upon to sell his commission, and retire from the army, whilst Captain Reynolds, might have been selected as an object for the mercy of the Sovereign, and might have been restored to the rank which he had properly forfeited by the sentence of the court-martial. He would conclude by repeating that the course pursued by Ministers had not been according to his opinion satisfactory, and could not promote the real interests of the British army.
Sir H. Vivian
said, it was with great regret he had heard this question brought under the consideration of the House. It was with still greater regret that he had heard what had fallen from the noble Lord who had so lately held a high and important office connected with the military branch of the service (Lord Howick), it was always, in his opinion, very objectionable to bring questions having reference to the discipline of the army into discussion in the House of Commons, it certainly was not the way to improve that discipline, and it might be highly detrimental to it. He well knew, from the manner in which the public press had taken up the subject of Lord Cardigan's conduct, what was the degree of odium to which any one exposed himself who ventured to say one word in Lord Cardigan's defence; this consideration, however, would not deter him from expressing his honest, and his unbiassed opinion. When last year the subject of the academy at Woolwich was discussed, and charges were brought against him (Sir H. Vivian), into the defence of which be had entered, his right hon. and gallant Friend opposite, (Sir H. Hardinge) paid him the compliment of saying he might have rested on his character, and that it was unnecessary he should have gone into the explanation he had given— he would now then rest upon his character, and he hoped he might express an opinion in defence of Lord Hill and Lord Cardigan, without being subject to the suspicion that he would encourage or uphold oppressive conduct from a superior to an inferior officer. He had served in the army nearly half a century, he never had brought an officer to a court-martial, and in the discharge of his duty he never had the misfortune to quarrel either with a superior or an inferior officer; he therefore ventured to 1405 hope that no man who knew him could for a moment possibly suppose he would advocate oppression, but the discipline of the army he always would uphold and maintain; and in support of that discipline it was that he was induced now distinctly and decidedly to say that he was fully and firmly persuaded that in each of the cases which had occurred in the 11th hussars, as far as he could form an opinion from the official documents which had been made public, neither Lord Hill or Lord Cardigan could have acted otherwise than they had done. And moreover, he would add, that nothing could be more unjust than the manner in which both these noble Lords had been assailed by the public press. The noble Lord the late Secretary at War had said, that the state of the 11th hussars ought to have been made the subject of enquiry before a court assembled for that purpose. Now, with all due respect for the noble Lord, he must beg leave to differ from him—the noble Lord could not have had such opportunities of becoming acquainted with the nature and consequences of assembling such courts as he had, and from experience, he must say, that there are few cases in which enquiry before such courts is not productive of more harm than good. A Court of Enquiry is not a legal court, it cannot examine on oath, it can come to no decision, or at least any decision it may come to has not the authority of law. Lord Hill had resorted to the only enquiry to which he could or ought to have resorted, the case had occurred immediately within reach of the head quarters of the army. He had an opportunity of daily communication with the regiment. He therefore directed enquiry to be made by the authority to whom it might legitimately be entrusted, to the officer in command of the cavalry, to the inspector-general of that body, and it was upon the report received from that officer that Lord Hill had acted; and he (Sir H. Vivian) repeated his decided opinion as far as he had had the means of judging, Lord Hill could not have determined otherwise than he had done. Much had been said in reference to what had occurred on a former occasion, he alluded to the case of Captain Wathen; now, on that subject, no one was more competent to give an opinion than he (Sir H. Vivian) was. When that happened, he was in command of the army in Ireland, and were he now disposed to go at any length into the question, he could, without difficulty, show that much which had been 1406 reported in regard to the conduct of Lord Cardigan was incorrect—that he could not be justly charged with much that had been imputed to him, and he would add that the court-martial in referring to him in the manner it had done, had gone out of its way, and done an act of injustice. Lord Cardigan's case had subsequently been brought under the notice of the House of I Commons. The result is well known; the division of the House was in accordance with the view he (Sir H. Vivian) had taken of it. Subsequently, he (Sir H. Vivian) had amongst others, pressed on the noble Lord at the head of the army, the propriety of restoring Lord Cardigan to the same. He had written a letter on the subject, which amongst those of other officers who had done the same, had appeared in the public papers. He had in that letter admitted that Lord Cardigan had faults, but he felt then as he felt now, that the faults were rather in the manner than in the matter—he had seen enough of Lord Cardigan at the head of a regiment in Ireland to be able to appreciate his merits as a commanding officer of cavalry, and he thought highly of them, and therefore it was that; he was desirous of seeing him again at the head of a regiment. And now, in despite of all that had been said in the public papers, he should not hesitate again to say that in his opinion in the cases in which Lord Cardigan's late conduct had been complained of, he could not well have taken any other course than that which he had taken, and in saying so he hoped that it would not for a moment be supposed that he was influenced by his personal regard for Lord Cardigan—it was as an officer he had first known Lord Cardigan, it was as an officer he spoke of him, and he verily believed that had it not been for the prejudice which had been created against him by what had formerly taken place, what had now occurred would never have occasioned the observation or given rise to the animadversions it had done. Lord Cardigan went to the command of the 11th hussars with a prejudice against him. From the moment he joined there can be no doubt there were some, who to say the least, were prepared to find fault with everything he said or did, and it was his (Sir H. Vivian's) firm belief that if the same had occurred in any other regimen t, or to any other commanding officer, that is if officers in any other corps had conducted themselves towards their commanding officer in the manner some of these in the 11th hussars had done towards Lord Cardigan, 1407 we should not have heard it spoken of in the manner that the circumstances which took place in the 11th had been spoken of we should not have seen such an attempt on the part of the press to run down and destroy the character of the officer under whose command such circumstances had happened. In respect to his (Sir H. Vivian's) opinion of Lord Cardigan as an officer, he could not give a stronger evidence than was to be found in the fact, that at the very time these unfortunate differences were occurring in the 11th hussars, he had allowed his son to exchange into that regiment as a captain—now, he trusted, that no one who knew him will suppose he would have done so, that he would have exposed his son to the danger of being treated unjustly or unhandsomely. His opinion was that he might continue to serve in that regiment without having, as the right hon. Member for for Kilkenny had said, the "mark of slave set upon his forehead," and if he did not think so he would at once remove him out of it. He would now sit down again, expressing his great regret that the subject had been introduced, and again stating it to be his opinion that Lord Hill could not have acted otherwise than he had done in this matter, nor could he at all agree with those who would attach any degree of blame to her Majesty's Government for not having interfered with the Commander-in-chief in the discharge of his duty.
§ Mr. Hawes
said, that this question had been forced on the attention of the House by the loudly expressed resentment of the whole press of England, and there had been a general expectation that when Parliament met, the conduct both of Lord Cardigan and the Commander-in-Chief would be brought under its notice. He regretted that the subject had not come before the House in a more regular way. It might be true, as the House had been told by the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman below him, in whom he placed perfect confidence, that there were no means of arraigning Lord Cardigan. Was the House then to assume, was it to go forth to the public, that the conduct of a commanding officer who drove from the service or from his regiment officer after officer, men who had served with distinction for periods far longer than he himself had done, at the sacrifice of their reputation and fortune, was to escape without castigation or censure, and that no protection was to be thrown over the unfortunate victims of his oppression? He did not 1408 think that any officer going into that regiment was to be designated in such a manner as the hon. Member for Kilkenny considered proper; but he must say, as the right hon. Gentleman, the Master of the Ordnance, had laid so much stress on the circumstances of his (Sir H. Vivian's) son having joined that corps, that the right hon. Gentleman's son went into the regiment under very different auspices and very different circumstances from those under which the son of an undistinguished person would enter it. What professional gentleman—what gentleman in any more obscure walk of life, could send his son into the army with anything like the same advantages? The hon. Member for Kilkenny had said, that Lord Cardigan was to be permitted to escape because he was a man of great wealth and of high aristocratical connexions, while a poorer man would have been severely punished, and he (Mr. Hawes) must say, that he thought there was great foundation for that belief. Surely, the universal voice of the public press was not to be neglected on a question which appealed to the good feeling and sense of propriety of every man. The defence lately put forward by the solicitor of Lord Cardigan, did not, in his opinion, at all improve the case. If there were no means of inquiring into Lord Cardigan's conduct, or of bringing him to punishment, there was one way at least of showing the sense which the Crown entertained of his conduct—one way of showing sympathy with those who had suffered by it, which had not been taken. The noble Lord (Howick), and the hon. Member for Kilkenny, had stated what was the sense of public opinion on this subject, and he (Mr. Hawes) joined with them in expressing his regret that the present constitution of the army did not permit any sympathy to be shown to the officers so situated.
§ Sir H. Hardinge
had not expected that this subject would be brought forward, and he very much regretted that it had been so suddenly introduced; but, as it had been brought forward, he must say he entirely concurred with what had been so ably and manfully stated by the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary at War, and the Master of the Ordnance. He would not enter into the details of the conduct of Lord Cardigan, and indeed the onus of explanation had been thrown rather upon Lord Hill than on that officer. He had no personal connexion or friendship with Lord 1409 Cardigan which could induce him to take an interest in his behalf; but entertaining, as he did, a strong feeling as a military man that his conduct had been much exaggerated both by the press and by individuals, who had made it the subject of comment, he should not feel justified if he did not express that opinion to the House. It was very notorious that there had been something among a few officers of the noble Earl's regiment, not many, but a few, of the nature of a cabal. That word had been used at the Horse Guards, and he was, therefore, justified in using it in that House. He would mention one circumstance which might throw some light on circumstances that had subsequently taken place, When Lord Cardigan went to India to tale the command of his regiment, he had not joined it one month before some of the Indian papers began to assail him in the most hostile manner. That gallant Officer was told by the Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir H. Fane, when he complained of this conduct of the journals, that he must not be surprised at being abused in this way, because he had himself been most grossly assailed; and when he (Sir H. Fane) inquired of the editor of one of the papers why he attacked him, the editor told him, in the most candid way, that it came from an officer of the 11th Dragoons. Lord Cardigan went to the editor of one of the journals which attacked him, and asked him why he did so, as he (Lord Cardigan) had done nothing to offend him. The editor said, "You'll be very much surprised when I tell you that those attacks came from an officer of your own regiment." When it was notorious from whom those attacks came, could it be supposed that Lord Cardigan would be on good terms with a man who was persecuting him in the public papers? With respect to Sir H. Fane, this practice was carried to a pitch of audacity, that he wrote to the major commanding the regiment, a short time previous to Lord Cardigan's arrival, to complain of the attacks in the papers. The officer commanding convened the officers of the 11th, and laid before them the complaint of Sir H. Fane, and in next week's paper there appeared the Commander-in-Chief's own letter, accompanied by the most sarcastic remarks against Sir H. Fane. Now, practices of this kind were sufficient to induce Lord Cardigan not to feel very amicably towards the officers from whom he imagined, or 1410 had strong reason for suspecting that they emanated. On various other occasions, which it would be tedious to the House to particularize, great cause of offence had been received by Lord Cardigan, and, though he might not be of the most patient temper to bear those attacks, yet he must say that officer had been sinned against more than he had sinned. At that late hour he would not enter into further details, but he thought he had said enough to show that there was some reason for any asperity which Lord Cardigan may have manifested.
§ Viscount Howick
could not help remarking, if any proof were wanted of the expediency of an inquiry, the very strongest proof had been furnished by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. An inquiry would have brought the facts which the right hon. Gentleman had stated to light. As the hon. Member for Lambeth seemed to suppose that there would have been some irregularity in appointing a court of inquiry to examine into the conduct of Lord Cardigan, he would just say, that there would have been nothing whatever contrary to precedents in such a course. He thought it a very great error that such an inquiry had not been ordered.
§ Sir D. L. Evans
knew no subject more disagreeable to a military man, than such a one as the present, and in alluding to it, he was far more inclined to appeal to the clemency of the authorities in behalf of any faults that might have been committed, than to press hardly on an officer who, whether he were guilty of the improprieties attributed to him or not, had certainly been harshly dealt with by the press. The noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, explained his opinion upon this subject in a clear and unexceptionable manner, and, without offering an opinion one way or the other, with respect to the differences which arose between Lord Cardigan, and the officers under his command, he concurred with the noble Lord in thinking, that as far as regarded Lord Hill, and as regarded Lord Cardigan, it would be to the service of both that the matter should not be allowed to rest where it did.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Several other votes were passed.
§ The House resumed—resolutions to be reported.