§ The House then went into Committee of Supply.
§ (1.) 1,862,430l. to complete charge for Land Forces.
§ MR. HUME
said, he should admit that the Army was now in a better position and condition than either the Navy or Ordnance. He thought there was much to be done in regard to the improved organisation of the Army. However, he would not then enter upon that question. Looking at the state of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, and the state of our finances, he believed considerable retrenchment might be made without rendering either of these branches in the least degree less effective. He believed a very large portion of the Ordnance stores had been wasted, and in that department especially much more improvement might be effected. It was not his intention to propose any alterations then, or interfere with any of the returns. The House had voted the number of men—they were bound to pay them, and the vote before the House was for that purpose. At the same time he was certain they had voted for 20,000 men more than they wanted; but the time was not far distant when considerable retrenchments should be made. He thought it was of great importance that the public should be made aware more precisely of the nature of those estimates than they could be by the more anouncement of the total sum voted. He was of opinion that the estimates ought to be reduced to what they were in 1835. As regarded the Army, he felt bound to say that the estimates were rather creditable, looking at the relative expenses of the three branches. There was certainly much less ground for com- 361 plaints of the Army Estimates, seeing the increased number of men employed, than in the other two departments of the service. He had examined the returns submitted to the House, and compared their several items. The result of his opinion was, that the Army bore by far the best comparison. He found the Navy and Ordnance estimates very different indeed. There was an enormous increase for the last five years on the expenses for the preceding five years. In the Ordnance department they wore more than double what they had been. Taking the expenditure of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance, for five years, from 1834 to 1838 (both inclusive), and distinguishing under each year and each head the separate expenditure, and the total amount of the three services in each year, he found the results to be—
Taking the averages of each service in the next five years, from 1846 to 1850 inclusive, he found the returns stated—
Years. Army. Navy. Ordnance Total. £. £. £. £. 1834 6,493,925 4,503,960 1,068,223 12,066,057 1835 6,406,143 4,099,430 1,151,914 11,657,487 1836 6,473,183 4,205,726 1,434,059 12,112,968 1837 6,521,715 4,750,659 1,444,523 12,716,897 1838 6,815,641 4,520,428 1,384,684 12,720,750 61,274,159
Showing an increase for the latter period of about 4,300,000l. There was a very strong opinion that considerable alterations ought to take place in these matters, and that great improvements might be made without lessening the efficiency of the services. He should like to see the Army as in other countries, where each regiment should take their routine of duty abroad. It was not fair to give some regiments all the service abroad, and a very small proportion of it at home. He believed there might be reductions. Military men, of course, differed with him, and if he was in the Army himself he might be disposed to be of their opinion; but not having any personal interest in view, and looking at the 362 increase of taxation and the burthens on the country, he thought great improvements might be effected in the services generally.
Years. Army. Navy. Ordnance Total. £. £. £. £. 1846 6,699,699 7,803,464 2,361,834 16,864,697 1847 7,540,404 8,013,873 2,947,869 18,502,146 1848 6,647,284 7,922,286 3,076,124 17,645,694 1849 6,549,109 6,942,397 2,332,631 13,824,537 1850 6,490,474 6,711,724 2,485,387 15,687,585 84,524,659
§ MR. F. MAULE
willingly bore testimony to the patience and temper with which the Committee upon the Army Estimates had investigated the matters before them, and which could not fail to be of service to the whole branch of the profession. They had opened large subjects of inquiry—the clothing of the Army, the question of agency, and, indeed, the whole constitution of the Army. These were subjects which required very considerable time and deliberation before the Committee proposed any report to the House. The Government would be in the possession of the evidence upon these points; and before the estimates were presented to the House next year, the Government would give it their most careful consideration.
§ COLONEL CHATTERTON
Sir, I trust my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War will bear with patience, and excuse the remarks I think it my duty to offer on these estimates, believing I am solely actuated for the benefit and advantage of that profession in which I have passed my life.
Good-Conduct Badges.—I beg, in the first place, to draw the right hon. Secretary's attention to this item. I see no charge for them in the Estimates, though I am quite aware the right hon. Secretary only gives one to each soldier as his conduct merits it. Is the right hon. Secretary unwilling this should be known? But, shabby as the distinction is, it costs the private soldier 3s.; and if he has to provide them, and becomes entitled to three or four badges, this supply of eight (one for each jacket and coat) forms a large deduction from his pay; and as gold lace is worn by corporals of Cavalry at a charge of 1s. 6d. each badge, when he becomes entitled to three or four, it entails an expense of 10s. or 12s. a year. Now, Sir, as all honorary gifts and decorations are given to officers free of charge, I cannot understand why soldiers should pay for them. I therefore beg to call my right hon. Friend's attention to this; and I hope he will not only furnish them gratis in future with every clothing, but give them of gold or silver lace, according to the service, whether Cavalry or Infantry, the man is in.
Allowance to Commanding Officers.—The next remark I would make, Sir, is, how can any idea of right or justice sanction an Infantry Lieutenant-Colonel re- 363 ceiving 3s. a day for commanding his regiment, and not grant it also to the Lieutenant-Colonel of Cavalry, whose expenses quadruple those of the Infantry Lieutenant-Colonel? It actually makes the Infantry Lieutenant-Colonel receive more pay than the Cavalry. My right hon. Friend seems incredulous, but I think I can convince him I am correct ere long.
I now come to Money Allowances to Field and Staff Officers at home, in lieu of Forage, and would ask, can anything he more unjust than charging Cavalry Officers for the forage of the horses they are obliged to keep for the public service? I will take the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He is obliged to keep a horse, for the forage of which he suffers a daily deduction of his pay of 2s. 10d.; that daily pay of 1l. 3s. is thus reduced to 1l. 0s. 2d. Now, the Infantry Lieutenant-Colonel receives 17s. a day; 3s. a day for commanding his regiment, and about 2s. 3d. or 2s. 6d. for forage for his horse. I think I have now proved to my right hon. Friend (miserably and inadequately paid as both services are), that the Cavalry Lieutenant-Colonel is the worse off, although he has expensive horses to purchase, expensive appointments and accoutrements to provide. Now, Sir, I hope the right hon. Secretary will recollect this, and remove an injustice which only exists in the Cavalry service; for when we find our illustrious Field Marshal—all General Officers—all Staff Officers—all Officers of Artillery and Engineers, and mounted Infantry Officers, are paid for the keep of their horses, no one idea of right or justice can be brought forward in support of the Cavalry Officer being obliged to pay for those horses which the public service compels him to provide.
The next item is, Lodging-money for Married Soldiers. When I last called the attention of the House to the demoralisation and impropriety of married and bachelor soldiers occupying the same rooms in barracks, I was told that Government had it under consideration, and had given a grant for that purpose. But, Sir, what does this great grant—this extraordinary boon—amount to?—4d. a week to a married soldier to provide lodging for himself and family. Really, Sir, the penury of this grant is inconceivable; but I am sure my right hon. Friend will correct.
The next item is, the Gratuities to deserving Soldiers. This is also on the lowest possible scale of economy. In my mind, Sir, soldiers who deserve a gratuity and medal, or discharge, should receive it; 364 and this honour and bounty should not be so restricted as at present. One only is issued in each year; one for the serjeant, one for the corporal, and one for the private. Therefore, the most numerous body can only receive a medal in three years. I cannot state how perfectly incomplete this reward is.
Paymasters and Solicitors.—I see, Sir, 16,305l. charged for the former, and 205l. 6s. 3d. for the latter. Now, Sir, as to the former, I really think a great saving may be here gradually made. The Household Brigade, the Artillery, the Engineers, all do without the services of this officer; and I cannot see why it should not be the same in the Cavalry and Infantry of the Line. I have the greatest respect for these gentlemen, and I would not remove one of the present occupants; but I think their services may be gradually dispensed with without any loss to the public service. As to the Solicitors, I do not understand that situation; but if the Foot Guards must go to law, they should, I think, pay their own solicitors' bills.
Serjeants and Serjeant Majors.—I now come, Sir, to what I consider one of the greatest grievances in the Army, and I feel confident my right hon. Friend will give his serious consideration to its amelioration. I mean, Sir, depriving Serjeant Majors and Serjeants of their good-conduct pay on being promoted to that rank. When a corporal is promoted to the rank of serjeant, he is at the same time rewarded and punished. His pay as Corporal is 1s. 8d. per day (in Cavalry), and if he, after years of continued good conduct, and the strictest attention to duty, obtains four or five badges for good conduct, it exceeds that of a serjeant, and he is promoted to a situation of far greater merit, honour, and far greater expense. From his multifarious duties he is so occupied as to be unable to clean his horse or appointments, and is obliged to employ a Dragoon at an expense of 1s. 6d. per week (the sum the Regulation also orders the Infantry officer to pay his servant). Being obliged at all times to be respectably dressed (in fact, to he a pattern man), he has to supply himself annually at least with a pair of boots at a cost of 18s., a jacket at 25s., overalls, 26s., a forage cap, and other articles of expensive equipment. For the right hon. Secretary is of course aware the Cavalry soldier is only clothed once in every two years. The serjeant is also by regulation obliged to attend the Serjeants' mess; another additional expense. On discharge 365 he is also a sufferer. If he serves 21 years, and has not completed three years of that time as a Serjeant, he only receives a private's pension—8d. a day; whereas, had he remained a corporal, and with the same service, he would be entitled to 1s.
Being deprived of his good-conduct pay and badges on promotion, though he possessed them as corporal and private, no mention of them is made in his parchment certificate or discharge, and this often militates against his obtaining employment on retirement from the service. It has been said, Sir, that an equivalent is given by the allowance of medals and gratuity of 20l., which a well-conducted Serjeant can receive on discharge. Now, really, Sir, this is perfectly absurd; and I am sure every hon. Member who hears me must see it in that light when only 123 Serjeants out of 7,118 have been granted that gratuity (from the paucity of the grant), or one in about 70. This certainly is but small encouragement for good conduct.
In consequence of what I have stated, and the very few advantages held out to the Serjeant, I have known several corporals refuse the promotion, from the greater benefits of the corporal's situation, both when serving and on discharge. This, Sir, should not exist.
Sir, I have, however feebly, endeavoured to bring the case of this most deserving and excellent class of men—the Serjeants of both services, before my right hon. Friend and the Committee; and I trust I shall not have pleaded in vain, but that the right hon Secretary, seeing the manifest injustice of depriving the Serjeants of their hard-earned honours, will take their case into his serious consideration, and grant that good-conduct pay and badge which they have so well deserved, and which I cannot help saying they have been unjustly deprived of.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
said, no one more sincerely felt the necessity for economy than he did. As the Committee had not reported, he would abstain from any remarks on the subject. He quite concurred in the hardships on private soldiers referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Cork city.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, there was one subject connected with this vote to which he wished to call the attention of the Government and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War. He referred to the allowance to officiating clergymen for performing divine service—17,500l. He was 366 not about to object to the clergymen or the vote, but he thought it right to refer to a circumstance connected with both. He observed that the practice of blessing or consecrating banners, for the Army, was continued, and he was prepared to state his own opinion with regard to that practice. He believed it was calculated to give very great pain to large classes in this country—large bodies connected with the Established Church—and Dissenters more especially, from the manner in which it was performed. The case to which he wished to call the attention of the Secretary at War appeared in the Freeman's Journal of the 28th of March, 1850, upon the occasion of the presentation of new colours to the 55th Regiment, in Phœnix Park, Dublin. The ceremony of consecration was performed by the Rev. Charles Hort, chaplain to the garrison, who was robed in his full canonicals. What he (Mr. Bright) wished to call attention to was the prayer, which, in his opinion, was totally unsuited to such an occasion; and he ventured to say that no man in that House would be prepared to defend it as it appeared in the newspaper. After praying for the Queen, and offering up a variety of other petitions, the rev. gentleman went on to say—Having implored thy blessing, O Lord, upon the Queen and all the Royal Family, we would now implore thy blessing upon that portion of Her loyal and devoted subjects now present, and who are more immediately engaged in the service and defence of their country. We thank thee, O Lord, that although the maintenance of the profession to which they belong is rendered necessary owing to the wickedness and depravity of man, still it is a profession countenanced and recognised in the pages of thy Holy Word; and as the banner of the cross of Christ, the great Captain of our salvation, is therein set forth as the chief point around which the soldiers of Jesus rally in the day of trouble, and a sight of which, when looked at through the eye of faith, inspires the beholders with renewed confidence and energy, so, O Lord, may these earthly banners now being renewed and consecrated to thy service and the defence and honour of our Sovereign, be as instrumental as those that are now being laid aside, have been in maintaining the loyalty and bravery of the corps now before thee—a corps which has ever been ready to stand foremost in its contributions to the fame and glory of the British arms. We call upon thee, therefore, O Lord, to bless and consecrate these banners. In thy name, most mighty Lord of Hosts, we do now send them forth. May they never be unfurled in any but a good cause—may they, as we doubt not they shall be, borne and supported by strong arms and brave hearts, who, if they fear thee only, shall be enabled to do all things through Christ, who will strengthen them. Cover and protect those over whom these colours shall wave in the day of battle; or if they tall, as many of 367 their gallant comrades have fallen whose bones have been left upon foreign shores, may they die as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, and who have triumphantly borne the banner of the cross. May they never be ashamed of Him whose encounters and victories on their behalf this solemn season of the year brings forcibly to mind. Finally, may they be strong in the Lord—may they this day put on the whole armour of God—may they fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life; and for their encouragement may they treasure up the words of the great Captain of their salvation—'Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.'If there were parties who believed that there could be any advantage to those banners, or the persons who served under them, derived from such services, he (Mr. Bright) could only say he thought that it was one of the greatest superstitions conceivable. If there were persons who believed there was no advantage from it, then his opinion was that such consecrations were a hollow imposture, which ought to be abandoned. Since Constantine marched under the banner, bearing the motto, In hoc signo vinces, there had been nothing which more nearly approached to superstition than that prayer—an abstract from which he had read to the House. What salutary effect could it have upon the soldiers, mixed up and confused as it must have been in their minds at the time? He was sure it had no effect upon their individual respectability or good conduct. He did not speak of the matter with regard to the peculiar sentiments of any particular sect. He believed there were hundreds of thousands of all denominations of Christians in this country who disapproved of it. Its effect, as far as the soldiers were considered, could be of no good whatever. He believed no man in the British Army thought the banners were rendered more useful by consecrating them. He feared by persisting in such practices it would be thought the Legislature was endeavouring to bolster up Christianity itself. He should like to know whether it could be proved to the House and the country that any good object could be effected by such a ceremony. If it was necessary that petitions should be put up to Heaven, they should have them in their public services and in places devoted to public worship; but they should not call upon the Sacred Name and Attributes in such ceremonies as he had described. He had heard of similar occurrences at Portsmouth and other places, but he thought that to which he had called attention was the very worst they could have seen. It was a prayer, not only not religious, but 368 upon the face of it, he said emphatically, it was as blasphemous a prayer as ever had been offered in the face of Heaven.
§ MR. F. MAULE
said, he did not think the exactions referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for the city of Cork were so very great, after all, when it was considered they were made with an increase of daily pay. With regard to the question of married soldiers, he had done all in his power to make arrangements in the barracks; and the Ordnance Department had been most anxious to assist him, so as to separate as far as possible the married from the single. He believed that was carried out to a considerable extent, and he did not find now so many complaints on that subject as there were. With regard to the solicitor of the household brigade, there were many cases in which the household brigade and the Army generally were involved in law, and in the household brigade they found it better to make a small allowance to pay the solicitor. There were so many detached bodies of the Army, that they could not appoint solicitors to each of them. Then, with regard to the discharge, the commanding officer put at the bottom of the certificate the character of the man. And now to address himself for one moment to the question which his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester had raised. He must say that the question of the consecration of the colours of a regiment was one which must be a matter of opinion. It was a custom which had been handed down in the Army from time immemorial. It was the practice whenever colours were presented to a regiment, to sanction the presentation by invoking on the occasion the blessing of the Almighty God. For his own part he could see nothing offensive in this; he could see nothing superstitious in it. He admitted that it might not be necessary, in order to ensure to those colours the attachment and affectionate regard of the soldiers who fought under them; but the soldiers were none of them the worse for hearing that blessing solicited. With reference to the prayer which his hon. Friend had read, he confessed that if this observance was to be practised at all, so far as he could listen to that prayer, he did not see anything that could be found fault with, and he saw no expression which could well be improved. The chaplain of the garrison of Dublin, from whom that prayer was said to have emanated, he believed had the interest of the soldiers, over whom he held a pastoral charge, most sin- 369 cerely and cordially at heart. He believed I there was no act which attracted so much the attention of the soldier of a regiment, or one with which so little fault had been found, either by the public press or by individuals complaining to a public department, than the observance of a religious ceremony on the presentation of new colours to a regiment. It was, as he said, established by no order or regulation that he was aware of, but it was a custom that had come down to us from the earliest times, but it was one that might be dispensed with, if such was the wish of the Army and the pleasure of that House. But it was one that he saw no grounds himself to interfere with, and therefore, with all respect to, and feeling all respect for, the religious feelings of all classes in this country, he should not interfere with it, believing it to be acceptable to the feelings of the Army, and also to the feelings of the public.
§ CAPTAIN BOLDERO
said, he was glad that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the city of Cork had brought forward the subject of good-conduct pay. He himself knew of the case of a corporal who had four badges for good conduct, and who had on that account an addition of 4d. a day to his pay, and who preferred remaining as he was than being made a sergeant. With regard to what fell from the hon. Member for Manchester, he (Captain Boldero) thought the prayer he had read a very appropriate one. The hon. Member talked of regiments as if he were as conversant with them as he was with the loom and the spinning-jenny of Manchester. Soldiers were much attached to the colours of their regiments; they would defend them at the risk of their lives, and rather than they should fall into improper hands they had been known to burn them and eat the ashes.
§ MR. F. MAULE
explained, with regard to the good-conduct pay, that a corporal's pay was 1s. 4d., while a Serjeant's was 1s. 10d., a day, and the Serjeant when he was discharged was entitled to a higher pension.
§ SIR H. WILLOUGHBY
complained of the proportion of the expenses paid by the East India Company for the troops in their service.
§ MR. COBDEN
was quite sure that the East India Company did not pay their fair proportion of expenses for the soldiers in their employ. Take, for instance, the pensioners. The out-pensioners of Chelsea alone cost a million a year. At this moment nearly one-fifth of the Army was in India, and if the Company were charged one-fifth, their proportion of the pension list would be 200,000l. a year, letting alone the officers.
§ MR. WAKLEY
begged to ask the Secretary at War if any inquiries had been made or steps taken with regard to the adoption of the knapsack invented by Mr. Bennett, and which was admitted to be much superior to that now in use?
§ MR. F. MAULE
replied that his attention had been drawn to it. It did not, however, rest with him, but with the Commander-in-Chief.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also
§ (2.) 84,916l., to complete Charge for General Staff Officers.
§ (3.) 46,684l., to complete Charge for Public Military Departments.
§ COLONEL CHATTERTON
said: I cannot avoid remarking upon the enormous and unjustifiable charges in the first page of this vote. I see clerks of overy degree receiving more pay than General Officers in the Army. I do not wish, Sir, in the least to detract from the merits of those gentlemen, nor do I desire to have the smallest deduction made from the pay of the humblest of them. But when I see men of their class in life receiving more pay than officers of high rank in the Army, who have purchased their commissions—who are exposed to the casualties of war and the vicissitudes of climate, I cannot but exclaim against such injustice. In the second page of this vote, that department over which my right hon. and gallant Friend presides, and presides so ably, the salaries of this description of gentlemen are still more extravagant and unjust. Clerks receiving 1,200l. per annum—even those of the third class 300l. per annum—is, in my mind, quite uncalled for; and I trust, Sir, future estimates will show, at least, a reduction of one-third in this large amount.
§ MR. F. MAULE
said, these gentlemen held very important offices. The depart- 371 ment alluded to managed all the financial department of the Army, including an expenditure of six millions per annum. The men who managed it had risen through a long life, from the lowest offices; and they were well entitled to the salaries they received, and it would be a great injustice to attempt to reduce them.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the two following:—
§ (4.) 8,895l., to complete Charge for Royal Military College.
§ (5.) 9,657l., to complete Charge for Royal Military Asylum.
(6.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding 41,000l., being part of a sum of 81,000l. (of which 40,000l. has been granted on account) be granted to Her Majesty, for defraying the Charge of Volunteer Corps, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April, 1850, to the 31st day of March, 1851, both days inclusive.
MR. H. BERKELEY
rose, pursuant to notice, to oppose the vote, the principal object of which was the maintenance of the yeomanry corps—a body alike inefficient in itself for any useful purpose, and unconstitutional in its tendency. He was aware how unpopular his opposition must be in an Assembly which numbered among its Members a full squadron of yeomanry officers, all bristling with yeomanic valour, and burning with squirarchal indignation that any one should dare to meddle with this pet toy of the landocracy and aristocracy—this mimicry of war; but he must fulfil what he considered to be a duty. He approached the subject in no spirit of hostility—[ironical laughter]—don't let hon. Gentlemen laugh before they know what they are laughing at—in no spirit of hostility to our regular Army. He had the highest respect for both of our glorious services; but he had none at all for what he considered a mere mockery of a service. He was not a member of the Peace Progress Society, he was not a member of the Financial Reform Society, although he respected the motives of his hon. Friends who were; he was not afflicted with anything in the nature of military-phobia; he had no objection to a properly-constituted military force, but he had a decided objection to pay 81,000l. a year—and more than 81,000l.—for the Chancellor of the Exchequer was minus some 20,000l. every year from the evasion of horse duty by these yeomanry gentlemen, large numbers of whom drew the voluntary sword in order to get rid of the involuntary 372 tax—to pay 100,000l. a year or a force which in no way answered its alleged purpose. He would show that the yeomanry never had adequately fulfilled the purpose for which they were established, looking to the past, and also how they threatened to fulfil that purpose, looking to the present and to the future. The first position he assumed was, that no armed force could be of any utility unless it was strictly amenable to discipline, the first rule of which is subordination; and it was because the yeomanry had for a long series of years been insubordinate, disobedient, and disorderly, and because they now avowed, and unblushingly boasted, of that pernicious habit, that he thought them utterly unworthy to be intrusted any longer with the guardianship of the public peace. He would beg the Committee to look back to the conduct of the yeomanry for the last thirty years, and he would invite their attention to the principal events in which the yeomanry had been engaged during that time. The first case to which he would ask their attention—the coronation of George IV.—was one which showed the pernicious habits of the yeomanry in reasoning upon their orders, instead of carrying them out. On that occasion, the Queen Consort had returned from the Continent, and threatened to take part in the ceremonies of the day. Great excitement prevailed in London; vast numbers of persons were congregated, and there was an evident disposition to riot and disorder. The military were called out, and with them the yeomanry. Among the regular troops called out was the brigade of Life Guards, which behaved then, as it always had done, with humanity blended with firmness. The yeomanry, however, behaved after their kind; they proceeded to reason upon their orders. They debated those orders, instead of carrying them out. The Queen, according to yeomanry reasoning, was an ill-used woman; so a fig for the Home Secretary and for the Horse Guards. The yeomanry were called out to keep the peace; and they did so by riding about and cheering for the Queen and Alderman Wood. Was it necessary that he should point out to the Committee the danger of such conduct, or the invidious position in which it placed the regular military, who did their duty silently and steadily? If he wished for an instance of the danger of such proceedings, he had only to refer to the case of the Bristol riots, when the conduct of Colonel Brereton and of the 373 Third Dragoon Guards, in mingling with the people, and cheering for "King William and Reform," produced the most disastrous results. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He mentioned the case of the Bristol riots merely as an instance of the effects of such conduct; but he had a word for they yeomanry on that score in good time. He would now call the attention of the Committee to an instance of yeomanry insubordination equally remarkable, but of a different nature. He referred to what was commonly called the "Manchester or Peterloo massacre," in 1819. That case afforded an instance of the impulsive character of yeomanry proceedings; it showed how completely their impulses were unchecked by discipline. On that occasion the yeomanry were called upon to disperse an unarmed mob of both sexes, among whom were a large number of children: and how far they exceeded their orders, and brutally slew men, women, and children, was matter of history. In this case, the orders given to the yeomanry were in perfect keeping with their feelings and inclinations; they: were ordered to disperse a mob which had met to petition for reform of Parliament and for cheap bread; and the consequence was, that they threw into their onslaught the vengeance of prejudice and personal malignity. In both the cases he had mentioned, he thought it clear that the yeomanry had reasoned upon their orders, and that insubordiuation was the cause of both effects. At the coronation of George IV. the yeomanry were pleased to patronise the Queen, and they regarded the people as a well-disposed mob, who had the perfect confidence of the yeomanry warriors. In the Manchester riots the people were an ill-disposed mob, with designs on the yeomanry breeches pocket. He now came to the incendiary riots, known by the name of the "Swing riots." On that occasion the Lords Lieutenant of counties called out the yeomanry, but they could not get the yeomanry to come. [Laughter, and cries of "Where?"] Why, it was a general complaint throughout the country. At that time fire-raising was the order of the day, and every yeoman feared he might become a marked man; and the Lords Lieutenant reported to the Government the inefficiency of the yeomanry corps in the whole of the west of England. [Shouts of "Name, name!"] It was very well for hon. Gentlemen to attempt to stifle discussion, but he stated this as a matter of notoriety. 374 He would remind the Committee that in 1837 and 1838 Lord Melbourne made a reduction of the yeomanry corps, and by so doing gave great umbrage to the yeomanry. He remembered that Lord Sondes threw up his commission, and invited the whole of his corps to disarm. Hon. Gentlemen had asked him to mention cases; they had cried "Name, name!" and he would give them enough of names before he had concluded. He would name cases where the yeomanry had behaved in the very worst possible manner, and where they had shown themselves to be inefficient, incapable, and disorder. The opinion of almost all Lords Lieutenant with whom he had spoken was, that the yeomanry were useless as a constabulary, because they could not be brought to bear upon any given point on a sudden emergency. Why, they might carry a troop of Life Guards from London to Leicester in less time than it would take to assemble an effective troop of yeomanry in Leicester; and they might carry a couple of guns, with their attendant artillerymen, from Woolwich to Bristol, in less time than it would take to assemble an efficient body of yeomanry in Bristol; for an effective body of yeomanry could not be assembled in an averaged-sized county within forty-eight hours. The Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, who was a great supporter of the yeomanry, and who raised a troop of his own, which he sent to the Duke of Beaufort's regiment, had stated that he could produce the staff of his own militia regiment, a handful of men accustomed to arms, conveying them in waggons, at any given point of the county, many hours before he could hope to see there an effective yeomanry force. He (Mr. Berkeley) would now show the Committee what the yeomanry were worth on an emergency. They all remembered the Bristol riots; and he thought hon. Gentlemen were not so ignorant of geography as not to be aware that Bristol was in two counties, Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, in both of which counties yeomanry abounded, and very finely-dressed gentlemen they were. They wore a vast deal of hair on their faces, and they looked desperately fierce. But Bristol was on fire for three days, and was, during that time, completely at the command of lawless men, while the yeomanry were of no more use than a set of old applewomen. What aid did Bristol receive, in her three days of dolour and distress, from the voluntary heroes of 375 Somersetshire? During that time about ten of the Somersetshire yeomanry marched into Bristol, and they were kindly locked up by the authorities to prevent the mob from harming them. That fact was stated in the Bristol Gazette of the 9th of May last. It appeared that a protectionist dinner was held at a place called Old Down, near Bristol, where a Mr. Colston, a magistrate, who seemed, according to the description of Hudibras, to have united the hero with the magistrate, "great in the seat, great in the saddle," boasted how he and the yeomanry cavalry of Somersetshire would serve an ill-disposed mob if they could only get Her Majesty's Government to back them, which meant, to be interpreted, that if Government would only pass corn laws, Mr. Colston and the Somersetshire yeomanry would sabre a little those who called out for "cheap bread." He invited any hon. Gentleman who belonged to the gallant yeomanry corps of Somersetshire to refute that statement, or to explain why, on the occasion referred to, the corps did not make its appearance. Well, then, a word for the voluntary heroes of Gloucestershire. He found it narrated that Captain Codrington having been sent for by the magistrates, appeared in Bristol, after some time, at the head of the Doddington and Marshfield troop of yeomanry; but the hon. Gentleman on that occasion, if he did not perform the part of Dunois, yet certainly performed the feat achieved by the King of France, who, they were told—Marched up a hill, and then marched down again,for he marched into Bristol at the head of his troop, at the request of the magistrates, and he marched out again by the light of the Bristol fires. That was all the assistance the inhabitants of Bristol received in those three black days of fire-raising and robbery from the united heroes of Somersetshire and Gloucestershire; yet it was this species of force which the citizens of Bristol were to be required to pay for. But, though the people of Bristol might be called upon to contribute to the support of this force, they would not forget what old John Dry den said of such a band, in his day, that they were…"maintained at vast expense; In peace a charge—in war a weak defence. Stout, once a year, they march, a blustering band, And ever, but in time of need, at hand.It might be said, however, on behalf of 376 the yeomanry, that the Bristol magistrates were not to he found; that they acted as all such ancient and dignified Dogberries might be expected to act, before the Municipal Reform Act had weeded the corporations; they retired to their houses, locked their doors, barred their windows, and left the Recorder to scramble over the houses like a scared tom-cat. But if the excuse of the yeomanry for quitting the city was, that no magistrate could be found, such an excuse, instead of palliating, was an aggravation of their offence; for it had been laid down by Lord Mansfield, by Lord Ellenborough, and by Sir N. Tindal, and it had been also stated by General Dalbiac, that if a magistrate could not be found, it was the duty of the military to act for the protection of life and property, and to repel force by force. He (Mr. H. Berkeley) would give one more instance to show how the qualities of the soldier were developed by the yeomanry. He had been anxious to find instances where they had been under fire; and at last he had dropped upon one. He had heard rumours of a campaign in Glamorganshire, and he wrote to a gentleman who had the honour of holding a commission in the Life Guards, and who, subsequently retiring into the country, took a commission in the yeomanry—Mr. Franklyn, of Clementstone, near Bridgend, in Glamorganshire, a gentleman of the highest respectability. That gentleman had sent him the following particulars respecting the conduct of the yeomanry in the Merthyr riots in 1831:—The corps consisted of three divisions, the eastern, central, and western, under the command of a country gentleman as major, since dead. These divisions were ordered to assemble, and march upon Merthyr. The western, or Swansea division, commanded by an old Peninsula officer, never reached Merthyr, having suffered themselves to be disarmed in a bloodless encounter with a mob on the road. A portion of the central division was hastily collected by me as lieutenant, and marched to Merthyr, where we found the major with the eastern division. The yeomanry, 100 strong, were ordered to march towards Brecon to escort some powder.The letter went on to state that about two miles from Merthyr they arrived at a place on the steep side of a hill, where the road was found barricaded with huge heaps of stones, and the people on the height threatened to roll down stones on the troops if they did not retire—After some delay the major gave the word—What word? To get off their horses and storm the barricade? or to outflank the barricade with a party, and take it in the rear? No; nothing of the sort, the major gave the word, 'Threes 377 about, march,' whereupon the mob begun to fire, I and the march instantly became a rout, which I in vain (said Mr. Franklyn) attempted to arrest by threatening to cut down the first man that [passed me, and which, accordingly, I essayed to do, but the sword being blunt—[who would trust one of the yeomanry with a sharp sword?]—the man was merely knocked back on the crupper of his horse, and carried on with the rush of the crowd, who reached the barracks according to the respective speed of their horses.This was a subject of joking and laughter at the public-houses in Mertbyr to this day; and, considering the yeomanry dress, I the short jacket scarcely reaching down to the os sacrum—they must have made a pretty display when they all turned tail together. Mr. Franklyn concluded—This is the consequence which must necessarily arise from the attempt to make bad farmers into worse soldiers by a few days' drill—just sufficient to make man and horse uncomfortable—just sufficient to destroy the confidence of men individually; without giving the confidence of discipline to either man or horse. Humanity, policy, and economy forbid the employment of any other force than regulars against a mob.Most true, and it was frightful to think of the consequences of the temporary success of an infuriated mob opposed to such a force as this. What would have been the consequence if, at the time of Frost's riot, Newport had been defended by a regiment of yeomanry instead of half a company of the 45th Foot? So much for the past glories of these warriors; and now for their present exploits. What were we told now? That unless certain public measures were carried, the yeomanry meant, to use their own expression, to fight for it; and that they would draw their swords when they pleased, and upon whom they placed, and when ordered to draw their swords they would keep them in their scabbards as long as they pleased. There was, for example, the boasted Protectionist meeting at the Crown and Anchor, with yeomanry delegates from all parts of the country—"the crafty and cruel Chowler," "the heroic Higgins," "the blustering and blatant Ball," "the audacious Allnutt"—and, though the froth of such scum might seem undeserving of notice, let it be remembered that this was countenanced by very different persons—there were seven great "Sachems" of the high council with their "medicine man," Richmond in the chair, and forty "braves" from the protectionist tribe in that House all joining in the war-whoop, all uniting in the war dance, in approbation of the sentiments, in honour of the threats, in con- 378 firmation of the intentions of these savage warriors. Turn to Yorkshire; there you have Mr. Ferrand, in his war paint, digging up the hatchet. Does he not tell us how his yeomanry once protected our trade, and would not do so any more? The contemptibility of the threateners was no excuse for our paying them out of the purse of the threatened—men who had a private "Horse Guards" of their own. His right hon. Friend the Secretary at War would perhaps say there must he some force to support the military. Then increase the civil force. Instead of a rabble of 300 or 400 yeomanry, never found when wanted, and when found of no use, why not have, in an averaged-sized county, twenty-four mounted police, on horses well broken and well bitted, not on things used to snaffle bridles and to lean upon gig collars—men who would not endanger their horses' ears by the use of their sabres. The magistrates and the people at large would have infinitely greater confidence in such a body than in treble the force of yeomanry. One word on the subject of discipline. All officers of experience of whom he had ever heard had stated the same opinion as Major Mackworth, who, when examined in the King's Bench, on the subject of the Bristol riots, said any commanding officer would prefer being without raw recruits entrusted with fire arms. Now, what could yeomanry cavalry be called but "raw recruits?" He cared not for what inspecting officers may say at the annual drills; their language on such occasions was what Marryat called, in one of his clever novels, "flap doodle," or stuff to feed fools on. They were sometimes told it took three years to make a soldier; and it was said, moreover, that a commanding officer inspecting a regiment could distinctly detect a trooper who had not been drilled with his horse for a year. But it was not cavalry officers alone who used this language, but distinguished infantry officers like his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Frome. He found it stated that, at a festive meeting—The hon. Colonel Boyle returned thanks for 'the Army.' He trusted the Army would not be reduced in numbers, for a soldier was not made in a day; he must be drilled and disciplined, and on that discipline often depended the fate of battles.[Colonel BOYLE: Hear, hear!] He was glad to hear his hon. and gallant Friend cheer that sentiment. Perhaps that circumstance accounted for the fate of yeo- 379 manry battles. That motley rabble met once a year to have what they called "a drill"—a kind of military masquerade, a cavalry carnival—a crew composed of awkward bipeds mounted on raw quadrupeds; and then those experienced officers who talked of discipline reviewed them, and concluded the day by saying they had "inspected the finest corps of cavalry their eyes had ever seen go into a field." This was the language used to the gentlemen at inspections, but it was well known at the same time that almost every inspecting officer had his portfolio crammed with caricatures of "yeomanry at drill." In conclusion he submitted that he had shown that for years past the yeomanry had been insubordinate and useless. At the present moment they claimed for themselves the distinction of being disobedient and dangerous. Let the House, then, add what he had proved to what the yeomanry had confessed, and he thought they would have good grounds for doing what he proposed, which was, that they should reject this vote.
§ MR. F. MAULE
said, he must confess that at that period of the Session, and at that hour of the night, he was sorry that his hon. Friend who had just sat down had occupied so long a time in calling upon them to reject a vote which he (Mr. F. Maule) should not have proposed for their adoption had he not felt that it was for the support of a force which he believed to be in itself a good and a constitutional force. His hon. Friend had stated that he had shown that this force had for a long series of years been insubordinate and unamenable to discipline, and that it possessed every quality which would make it unfit and inefficient as a military force. His hon. Friend had gone through the long period which transpired between the year 1831 and the present time, and had quoted three instances during that time in which, according to his own showing, the yeomanry force had failed to do their duty as it would have been expected to have been done. He (Mr. F. Maule) thought that he knew a little more of the habits and practices of the yeomanry than his hon. Friend did, for he had had the honour of holding the office of Under Secretary of State for six years, during which time the yeomanry force claimed his most particular attention. He was then made aware of the character and state of efficiency of every corps, and of the reports to the Commander-in-Chief of the inefficiency and efficiency of each re- 380 spectively. The House must be aware that every corps of yeomanry was inspected, with very few exceptions, after it had been called upon to do permanent duty, once every year; and nothing was more usual than that after these inspections the officer bearing Her Majesty's commission, who held the inspection, should feel himself called upon to compliment each corps on their appearance; but that officer had another duty to perform, one which on his honour he was bound to fulfil, and which was of a sacred and a serious character. He had to report confidentially to the Commander-in-Chief as to the discipline of the regiment which he inspected, and never in the course of his own experience, or that of any body else that he knew, was a report made which showed that any corps was deficient in discipline, or deficient in anything that should constitute a defence to the country if it were wanted, and that that report was unnoticed or passed over. The hon. Gentleman stated that Lord Melbourne felt that these corps were in some degree inefficient, and made a reduction in them. His hon. Friend would allow him to state that in that respect he was wrong, for Lord Melbourne increased the corps of yeomanry. When a reduction took place in the years 1837 and 1838, it was made entirely from a financial consideration, and not from any consideration on the part of his noble Friend, that the yeomanry were unfit in point of character and efficiency. He maintained that the character of the yeomanry of England was one which, in point of honour and of zeal, was not to be too highly valued. He did not suppose that there were many gentlemen in this country who, because some men such as those whom they had heard of at the Crown and Anchor, and who had come there to talk wildly and absurdly of what they would do, or would abstain from doing, would for one moment suppose that the opinions which they gave expression to were the opinions of the great body of yeomanry generally. He did not believe that he had seen any public meeting on any political subject where men had not been carried away by their feelings for the moment, and had not given expression to words of very little meaning, and were not listened to by men who were thoroughly unable to give a proper interpretation to them. He was not going to attach any weight to anything that might have been said at the Crown and Anchor, nor did he mean to attach any blame to those who would not 381 withhold these expressions, because they could not. He was quite certain that whenever the yeomanry were called upon to do their duty, they would do it as faithfully and as readily as they always had done it. The hon. Gentleman, howevor, quoted three instances, in which he stated that they failed to do good service. Now he would give him one instance of their conduct on an occasion which took place in his own country, in the county of Stirling, when the troops were at the time scarce and scanty. Were it not for their assistance on that occasion, great loss of property and life would have occurred. The service which had been rendered by the regiment of yeomanry in that county was acknowledged by the commanding officer of the regular troops and by the commanding officer in Scotland, and to this day it was remembered by the inhabitants with the deepest gratitude. Similar services had been rendered by the yeomanry all over the country at times of disturbance. It was not so much that the yeomanry were not called out to enter into conflict with mobs, but it was the knowledge that the yeomanry corps were in reserve to protect the localities in which they wore placed, and that, on that account, the troops of the line could be removed to other places to suppress disturbance, that they occasioned the security of life and property. Small bodies of yeomanry isolated and little likely to be of service had been reduced; but the large regiments had been maintained in the populous districts, where they were more numerous, and could be assembled in numbers sufficient to give good service and conduce to the safety of the whole body. He could say, from the reports which had been made by the officers who inspected the yeomanry, that if they did away with them now, at a time when they were accused of leaving the country in an almost defenceless state, they would do away with a force which kept peace in the country, and cost them only the trifling sum which he had asked. He thought that he need say no more to induce them to agree to the vote, which was for the maintenance of a body of men who were ready to do again what they had already done if they had the misfortune to require it.
§ COLONEL REID
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol held an opinion of the yeomanry force diametrically opposed to his own. The hon. Gentleman had complained of the inadequacy, incapacity, and insubordination of the body. 382 He, on the contrary, thought those corps immensely valuable to the State, both physically and morally, and eminently qualified to perform all the duties that could be required of them; and that was not a mere theoretical opinion, but was founded on practical experience and observation. When he had had the honour of commanding the Household Brigade, he had been employed from time to time in inspecting these corps, and bad consequently enjoyed good opportunities of forming a just estimate of their value and efficiency. Two or three years ago he had inspected a corps in Hampshire, commanded by the right hon. Gentleman the Speaker, under whose able command they all were in that House, and he had seen the right hon. Gentleman at the head of a most soldier like body of 200 or 300 men, putting them in the most excellent style through a number of well-selected manœuvres, such as were likely to be of real use on service. One combination was so good that he never afterwards had a field-day of his own regiment that he not adopted it. He had had the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing the officers and men under his command going through those manœuvres with the most surprising precision, regularity, and compactness. The corps was composed of materials of the most desirable kind of farmers and tradesmen of a superior description, all mounted on their own horses, and equipped and appointed in the most soldier like way; and he left the field with the conviction that they were eminently fit for any duty for which they might he called on, and he staked his reputation as a soldier that if they were in the same state as when he saw them, and were called on to quell any riot, even though the rioters were thirty times their number, they would very soon have routed and dispersed them. He could safely affirm that, with, at most, one or two exceptions, he had found all these corps in a slate of efficiency. Regarding the question of expense, it must be admitted that the yeomanry corps was the cheapest description of force the State could maintain. The yeomanry corps, numbering 13,500 men, cost the country, if they were not called out, 45,000l. a year; and if they were called out, the expense did not exceed 81,000l. Compare this with the cost of regular cavalry. A regiment of cavalry consisted of 400 men, but only 271 horses, of which not more than 250 were really effective. The cost of the regiment was 383 17,777l. per annum. If hon. Gentlemen would enter into a calculation, they would find that 1,140 mounted regular cavalry cost more than 13,500 yeomanry. It should he borne in mind, too, that these 13,500 men were liable to be called on for service at any moment in the course of the year. The hon. Member for Bristol said that when the yeomanry were wanted, it was impossible to get them together for several days; but he (Colonel Reid) knew, from experience, that the case was otherwise. During the Chartist riots the Buckinghamshire yeomanry were called out to replace the troops quartered at Windsor and other places. The Buckinghamshire yeomanry, consisting of 600 men, assembled in less than four hours; and not more than twenty men were absent on the occasion. The hon. Member for Bristol had read for the amusement of the House a letter written by an officer who was in the same regiment with him (Colonel Reid) some years ago. That gentleman was not a military authority, having served only a short time, and being possessed of very limited experience. No doubt there might be cases of inefficiency; but whenever inefficiency was clearly established against a corps, it was the duty of the Home Secretary to disband it. It was, however, necessary to proceed in such a matter with more caution and discrimination than a Whig Government had sometimes exercised. When the right hon. Secretary at War was Under Secretary of State, he (Colonel Reid) was employed to inspect the Berkshire yeomanry corps. There were four corps, and he inspected three of them. The fourth corps, which was commanded by a gallant Admiral—one of the Lords of the Admiralty—was not inspected. Of the three corps inspected by him, one was commanded by Lord Barrington, one of the Members for Berkshire, and another by a country gentleman universally respected. It was gratifying to him to be able to compliment the commanders of those corps, in the field, on their efficiency; and he reported them favourably to the Commander-in-Chief. Of the third corps, which he would not name, he was unfortunately obliged to report unfavourably. Between the period of inspection and the meeting of Parliament, the whole of the three corps were disbanded, and when Parliament assembled Lord Barrington asked in his place on what grounds that proceeding had been adopted? and the right hon. Secretary at War, then Under Secretary 384 for the Home Department, said it was in consequence of the unfavourable report made by the inspecting officer, Colonel Reid. Now, it should be borne in mind that this report was confidential. Was it fair to place him in such a situation? From that moment up to the present hour, he believed the two gentlemen who commanded the regiment of which he reported favourably, entertained great doubt as to his candour. He told them in the field that their regiments were in a state of efficiency; and the Under Secretary for the Home Department stated in that House that they were disdanded in consequence of his having reported them inefficient. The fourth Bershire yeomanry corps, commanded by a gallant admiral, was retained, That regiment was not inspected at all. [Admiral DUNDAS: Yes, it was.] Not that year. He dared to say that the regiment was in excellent order, but it could not have been in a state of greater efficiency than those which were disbanded. It appeared to him that, in the case in question, neither the yeomanry corps nor the inspecting officer had received fair treatment from the Government. It was his misfortune to differ from the country party on several important points, but nevertheless, he held that great party in the highest estimation and respect. He believed that the country gentlemen and the yeomanry formed the most respectable portion of the British community. Their character stood too high to be injured by the calumnies which had been directed against them. Did the hon. Member for Bristol really suppose that because some persons at a public meeting had uttered intemperate language, the great country party would relax in the discharge of their duty? For his part, he believed that if the yeomanry should be called out to quell disturbances, they would be only the more anxious to prove that they were animated by the same loyal feelings which had ever characterised them.
§ COLONEL CHATTERTON
Sir, it is not my intention to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol through his tirade of invective and jest with which he has entertained the House; but as he has undoubtedly alluded to me as an Inspecting Officer, I must beg to offer a few remarks, and I think I should be undeserving of a seat in this House if I permitted any aspersion for a moment to be cast upon such an admirable, loyal, and efficient a body as the Yeomanry Cavalry of Great 385 Britain to pass without remark; and I cannot suppress my astonishment that any hon. Member of this House could have the hardihood to express anything but to their praise and honour. I trust I shall not be thought intrusive in my addressing the House, but I hope to remove such an impression when I say I have had the honour of serving in the Cavalry at home and abroad for nearly forty years, and having been employed in inspecting Yeomanry Cavalry sixty-five times, I think the Committee will give me some credit for a knowledge of their formation, equipment, and efficiency. Sir, hon. Members are not aware of the great annoyances yeomanry are subject to during their period of drill and exercise, often to great pecuniary loss; but all those inconveniences, all those losses, are forgotten in the anxiety and zeal evinced by them to become acquainted with sufficient military discipline to render them useful should their Queen and country require their services, and show that loyalty and attachment to the Sovereign and institutions of the country and their officers. But how can they be otherwise than loyal and attached when they are so commanded? Have we not in this House the beloved and revered great authority in law, laying aside that judicial robe which he so much honours, periodically assuming the military costume, and adorning both professions as an accomplished soldier and enlightened statesman? Have we not in another place a noble Friend of mine, commanding the excellent corps the Yorkshire Hussars, whose enviable privilege is to excel in everything he undertakes? Have we not another noble Friend of the highest rank in the Peerage, after gallantly serving his country in the Army, reposing upon his well-earned laurels, and now commanding that admirable corps the Gloucestershire? Have we not other men holding exalted rank in the Peerage, commanding the Cheshire, the Lancashire, South Salopian, Royal Bucks, Taplow, North Devon, South Herts, Lanark, West Kent, Oxford, West York, Wilts, &c.? Have we not, Sir, in this House noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen commanding and serving in yeomanry corps, the enumeration of whose names the impatience of the House prevents mo from naming, but many of whom I see around me? And, Sir, such are the men—such are the officers the hon. Member would endeavour to calumniate and designate as useless; but, happily, Sir, his opinions on military subjects can have little weight in 386 this House. I have endeavoured to give my opinion of the yeomanry of Great Britain—an opinion not partially or casually formed, but founded on experience and actual observation, as will be seen by my confidential reports in possession of Her Majesty's Government—of a force unique in establishment, devotion in loyalty, and efficient in promotion.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
did not rise either to make an attack on the great country party, for whom he entertained much respect, or to eulogise the Government. He thought the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol would have been more judicious had he not raked up the Bristol riots, which ought to have been forgotten. But, on the other hand, the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Windsor, if it proved anything, proved too much; for it went to show that a yeomanry corps, with seven days' drill, are quite equal to a regular corps. Nay, they were even told that the yeomanry were so admirably manœuvred, that the inspecting officer himself adopted a manœuvre which he had witnessed. The hon. and gallant Member's argument, if it were good for anything, was in favour of reducing the Army, and setting up a cheap yeomanry establishment. He dissented from that argument; regarding one troop of regular dragoons as at least equal to two regiments of yeomanry cavalry. He rose chiefly for the purpose of making an observation with regard to the yeomanry dress. In the reign of William IV., he believed, a general order was issued, establishing the distinction of gold and silver, lace for the regular force, and the yeomanry cavalry respectively; but he now saw yeomanry officers at levees and fancy balls arrayed in the most extraordinary costume. He had seen one commander of a yeomanry regiment in a dress which made him look more like a foreign potentate than an English soldier. It must be very galling to officers of the regular force to see gentlemen who were called out for only seven days arrayed in these dresses, and styled captains and colonels. He wished to ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, why the general order to which he had referred had not been carried out—in other words, why these yeomanry gentlemen were allowed to array themselves in the same uniform as Her Majesty's regular troops?
§ MR. F. MAULE
was not aware of the issuing of any general order with respect 387 to the yeomanry. There had been one issued with respect to the militia, under which lord-lieutenants and deputy-lieutenants were required to wear silver instead of gold lace.
§ MR. BASS
said, that after thirty years' service in the regiment of yeomanry to which he had the honour to belong, his experience led him to the conclusion that the yeomanry corps did not deserve the opprobrium which had been cast upon them by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol. The instances to which the hon. Gentleman had referred were, he thought, more disparaging to Her Majesty's troops than to these corps. The hon. Gentleman had also said there was great delay in getting the men together; but it had happened to him (Mr. Bass) to be called out on many occasions, and he had known his regiment summoned at seven o'clock in the evening, and to have marched into Derby before eleven o'clock the same night; and they had afterwards the satisfaction of receiving the thanks of the magistrates for their services. In 1842, when at a great distance from home, he had been ordered to attend in his county, and his regiment, which consisted principally of farmers to the number of 600 men, cheerfully left their own labours, though it was in the middle of harvest-time, and served for three weeks. The only advantage he had ever had from belonging to a yeomanry corps was to spend 1,500l. of his own money, for he had never received 1s. pay in his life. If his corps deserved one-hundredth part of the opprobrium the hon. Member for Bristol had lavished upon the yeomanry in general, he (Mr. Bass) should feel it a disgrace to belong to it; but it did not deserve that opprobrium, and he hoped that until he had a son ready to succeed him, he should be allowed to remain in it.
§ MR. HUME
thought the country had no right to expect from any man sacrifices such as those made by the hon. Member who had last addressed the House. The reasons why he objected to the force were, that they were not placed under military law, and had not time for practice sufficient to make them steady soldiers when upon service. He believed that twenty troops of forty men each of the regular army would do more to preserve the peace than the whole of the yeomanry force of the country. If free trade continued, and wheat remained at 40s., the yeomen of England would have other business to attend to, and the young men would have to 388 attend to other business than that of learning their military exercise.
§ MR. F. MAULE
said, that the hon. Member for Montrose was under a mistake in supposing that the yeomanry, when on duty, were not under the Mutiny Act in the same manner as regular troops, who were in the receipt of pay.
bore testimony to the valuable services of the yeomanry corps, particularly to those of the regiment with which he was connected.
§ MR. EDWARDS
I much regret having to say anything at this late hour of the night, when the House is so anxious to divide, especially after so much has been said upon the question, and would rather have given a silent vote; but after the unwarrantable attack upon the yeomanry generally by the hon. Member for Bristol, and in vindication of the regiment to which I have the honour to belong, I feel called upon to state a few facts that have come within my own personal knowledge. There are few Members of Parliament representing constituencies in the north of England who will not remember the riots of 1842, when the whole of the manufacturing districts were in a state of disaffection bordering on rebellion, and most alarming disturbances took place, calculated to spread terror amongst Her Majesty's loyal subjects, owing to immense mobs having collected from all parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire, and uniting in Halifax; and the authorities no sooner became aware of their intentions, than a despatch was sent off for a reinforcement of troops to Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, and other places. Every application was refused; not a single soldier could be spared, nor was it possible to procure even a file of men from either of the two Yorkshire yeomanry corps. These fine old regiments, consisting together of nearly 1,000 men, so highly prized and so justly esteemed throughout the county for the valuable services they have so often rendered during the last century, were employed in their respective districts in aid of the civil power. The town of Halifax for two days was a scene of the greatest confusion, and appeared to be in the power of the rioters. At length they came in collision with the military; half a troop of the 11th Hussars and two companies of the 61st Regiment being the only troops quartered in the town. A battle was fought, and blood was spilt on both sides before they could clear the town. 389 After these disturbances had subsided, the inhabitants thought it necessary to provide, if possible, for the protection of life and property in the district; and as no reliance could be placed upon a sufficient sup ply of Her Majesty's troops on any emergency, the regiment to which I have the pride and pleasure to belong, was immediately raised, and in the autumn of 1847 we were on duty for thirteen or fourteen days, and for the services we then rendered we received the thanks of our Lord Lieutenant, and the approbation of the Government through the Secretary for the Home Department. The hon. Member for Bristol has stated, I believe, that it required forty-eight hours to assemble a regiment of yeomanry; and I will here mention a fact I consider a sufficient answer to such a statement. On the occasion above alluded to, our orders to march to Bradford arrived shortly before midnight, and although the Halifax squadron consisted at that time of 110 men only, and was dispersed over an area of four or five; miles, more than 100 men inarched out of the town before eight o'clock the following morning. I contend that the moral effect produced by the existence of 250 men, in this the most populous district of England, and forming a cordon of defence for one of the great passes between Yorkshire and Lancashire, ready and willing at all times to assist in enforcing order and supporting the authority of the Crown, is sufficient to disarm disaffection. As to the trumpery matter of expense, I think the Committee will scorn to take it into consideration.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
trusted that, when the hon. Member for Bristol should again he about to make so unpopular a proposition as that which he had made to-night, accompanied, as it was, by an attack on the protectionist Members, he would not select that (the protectionist) side of the House to make it.
MR. H. BERKELEY
believed the hon. Member for North Warwickshire commanded a force somewhere in the neighbourhood of Uxbridge. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: I do not.] At all events, the hon. Member belonged to that distinguished corps to which he had alluded, and which was commonly known in the country by the name of the "mournful and dangerous." He had been told lately of some half-dozen of them marching through Uxbridge with umbrellas over their heads. As regarded his (Mr. Berkeley's) selecting his seat on 390 the Opposition side of the House, that, he presumed, depended upon his own feelings, without the necessity of consulting the hon. Gentleman. But if the hon. Gentleman wished to know why he addressed the House from those benches rather than from the other side, which he should very much prefer, he begged to say that, from having a physical infirmity, he found it convenient to rest upon the table while speaking. With respect to the magistracy of Bristol, he hoped the present gentlemen who held the commission in that city would not be confounded with the past. The town of Bristol was now as perfectly safe from the threats of an ill-disposed mob as it would be from an ill-disposed yeomanry.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that as the hon. Gentleman had chosen, by inference, to cast an imputation against a sot of what he called unreformed magistrates, it would have been but common justice if he had stated that those gentlemen were brought to trial in the county of Berks, and acquitted.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that it was the last thing he should have thought of, to make any observation as to which side of the House it might be convenient for the hon. Gentleman to address the Committee; but he could not help feeling that, as the hon. Gentleman had indulged in language not highly complimentary to those around him, he (Mr. Newdegate) might be excused for having adverted to the circumstance. As to the "mournful and dangerous troop," he would not stop to inquire in what purlieus of Uxbridge the hon. Gentleman bad picked up that name.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 147; Noes 25: Majority 122.
§ Vote agreed to; as were the following:—
§ (7.) 8,112., to complete Charge for Rewards for Distinguished Services.
§ (8.) 29,000l., to complete Charge for Army Pay of General Officers.
§ (9.) 27,500l., to complete Charge for Full Pay for Retired Officers.
§ (10.) 196,000l., to complete Charge for Half Pay and Military Allowances.
§ (11.) 21,200l., to complete Charge for Foreign Half Pay.
§ (12.) 63,536l., to complete Charge for Widows' Pensions.
§ (13.) 40,000l., to complete Charge for Compassionate List.
§ (14.) 18,756l., to complete Charge for In-Pensioners of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.391
§ (15.) 633,711l., to complete Charge for Out-Pensions.
§ (16.) 20,000l., to complete Charge for Superannuation Allowances.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported on Monday next.