§ MR. H. HERBERT
Sir, in rising to move that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, in answer to Her Most Gracious Speech, I am unable to urge the appeal which is often put forward by Members standing in the position which I do, 93 of having never addressed the House before, inasmuch as on several occasions I have had to acknowledge with gratitude the indulgence and forbearance of the House. But I trust I may be permitted to remind the House that on those occasions to which I refer, I have confined myself to those discussions which affected the social condition of that part of the United Kingdom with which I am more immediately connected, and with which, from previous habits, I might he supposed to be better acquainted; but I have left to others the discussion of those larger and more important questions to which I have felt they were more fitted to do justice. I trust, therefore, that the House will believe me when I say, with all sincerity, that I feel no one ever yet asked the indulgence of the House who had greater need of it than the individual who now addresses it. I am sure the House will have heard with pleasure at a period when we are engaged in a fearful contest with an adversary of tremendous power, that Her Majesty has been able to contract a treaty which will draw closer those bonds which unite us to our Transatlantic brethren. I am sure, also, the House will respond to the sentiment expressed, that when measures shall be introduced bearing on the social condition of this country, hon. Gentlemen will endeavour to abstract their minds from the all-engrossing topic which now occupies their whole attention, in order to give those measures full and fair consideration. Sir, there is one topic which is alluded to in Her Majesty's gracious speech—a topic which absorbs the mind of every man, woman, and child in these dominions. I allude, of course, to the war. In asking from the House permission to make a few remarks on this important subject, I feel that I labour under great and peculiar difficulties; inasmuch as, in order to arrive at a fair appreciation of the position in which we now stand, it will be absolutely necessary for me to take a short glance at some of the more prominent events of the war. I can appeal to the experience of every hon. Member how, in the intense anxiety with which we look forward to intelligence, and in our anxiety for the future—how little of interest are the details of the past. Yet it is absolutely necessary that I should ask your permission to refer to them. And in making a retrospect, I think I may say in the outset, that the country has ample cause to congratulate itself on the important results that have already been at- 94 tained, as well as the splendid success of our arms. In making that assertion I hope I may not be misunderstood—I hope I may not be understood to undervalue the great sacrifices that have been made—I hope I may not be understood not to lament the loss of those brave soldiers who have fallen so gallantly in battle—I hope I may not be understood not to appreciate the loss of those sailors who have recently found a grave in the stormy waters of the Euxine—I hope I may not be understood not to sympathise deeply with those who are now lamenting the decease of those who were near and dear to them. I believe that we are able to offer to these last this—the greatest worldly consolation—that their country not only appreciates their bravery and devotion, but can say that the sacrifices that have been made have not been made in vain. It was on the 27th of last March that Her Majesty informed us of the failure of her constant and patriotic endeavours to secure to Her subjects and to Europe the blessings of peace. It is not my intention to make any allusion to what preceded that period—there were ample discussions upon it in this House and out of it, and I feel, therefore, that it would be impossible for me to enlist the attention of the House, even if it were necessary—which I do not consider it is—to enter into any detail of the negotiations which preceded the war. But what was the position of affairs when Her Majesty made the announcement to Parliament to which I have referred? War had commenced. The winter had been passed in a series of skirmishes between the Russians and the Turks. It was perfectly true that the Turks had shown a degree of energy for which we were little prepared; it was perfectly true that Oltenitza and Citate could bear witness that, if properly led, and under circumstances suited to their military character, they had in no way degenerated from the valour of their ancestors; but, Sir, I believe that there were few who were sanguine enough to think that those efforts could be protracted for any lengthened period. I believe there were few who would have ventured to assert, notwithstanding the successes of the Turks, that they would be able to meet their gigantic antagonist in the open field, and that the result of a regular campaign would not be most disastrous to their arms. In the month of February previous, Sir John Burgoyne had been sent to Constantinople. I believe I speak the sentiment of the House when I say, that an abler officer, 95 and a man more capable of forming a sound opinion on the actual state of affairs, does not exist than Sir John Burgoyne. He went in conjunction with a distinguished French officer of engineers, and he had there the benefit of constant communication with Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, a man probably more able to form a just estimate of those matters than any man alive. He had also the benefit of the assistance of Mr. Colquhoun, our Consul at Bucharest, who was then getting the best possible information with regard to the resources of the enemy, and the forces he was likely to bring into the war. Well, this was the result bring into the war. Well, this was the result that Sir John Burgoyne came to—not that we should be in a position to make an offensive movement upon the Danube, but that our first and principal effort must be to defend the Dardanelles and Constantinople. It was supposed that the Russians were advancing with at least 200,000 men, and he came to the conclusion, that the first move that we might expect would be the advance of the Russians over the Balkan, and their reappearance at Adrianople. The Russians passed the Danube on the 27th of March. Our troops were in the meantime sent out. They first went, as the House is well aware, to Gallipoli, where energetic preparations were made to resist the enemy if he should arrive so far. Silistria was besieged; and who, at that time, could have predicted that a third-rate fortress could have resisted successfully the armies of Russia? But, Sir, the gallantry of an Englishman, the gallantry of the brave Butler, now, unhappily, no more—added to the warlike character of the Turks, which some had been accustomed to decry, commanded, as it were, by him, although not officially, was able to stop the whole of the Russian army. In the meantime our forces were ready to advance, and although the enemy retreated without our being able to strike a blow, yet who can doubt that the moral effect was produced? Who can doubt that the presence of the Anglo-French army at Varna had a moral effect on the resistance of the Turks at Silistria? Well, about the time that our army was preparing to march, the Russians retreated. And I think it fortunate that the advice of some who advocated the immediate advance of our troops into the Dobrudscha was not complied with. When I recollect the great mortality at Varna in consequence of the mysterious dispensation of Providence, our troops being attacked by a frightful disease, 96 I cannot help thinking that we have reason to be thankful that the fell disease attacked them when it did, instead of when they were engaged in the pestilential marshes of the Dobrudscha. Well, Sir, threatened on the one hand by Austria, and on the other by the Anglo-French army, the Russians retreated. The campaign, which had been ostentatiously begun by the declaration of the Emperor of Russia, that he was marching in defence of the orthodox faith—which could mean nothing else than that he was going to Constantinople—the campaign, which began by crossing the Danube, ended with the Russians retreating across that river, and behind the Pruth. And thus, without a blow being struck, without a man being lost in actual combat with the enemy—although we deplore the loss of a great many from the attacks of a more terrible enemy—yet without a blow by the enemy, the first and immediate object of the campaign was attained. The Emperor of Russia was forced by the pressure of circumstances to do that which he had refused to moderate remonstrances, namely, to give up those provinces that he had so unjustly seized; and the Anglo-French army was sent forth to prosecute the second and not less important portion of its destiny, namely, to obtain—and we may thank the enemy for the phrase—a material guarantee against these aggressions of Russia being renewed. I may now be permitted to glance very shortly at our naval operations. I am very well aware that there are some who perhaps in some degree are disappointed that the countrymen of Nelson, and of those heroes whose exploits adorn our naval annals, have fought no great battle, that the recital of no brilliant results have been added to the already brilliant chronicle. But, Sir, we must remember that on former occasions when those great battles were fought, we had an enemy to deal with who did not skulk behind impregnable fortresses—who never refused to meet us in the field, with whom it was an honour to be allowed to cross arms—who, in many a well-fought engagement, gave us proofs of his valour, devotion, and skill. We are apt to forget, in the remembrance of those brilliant victories, of which we are all so justly proud, the long period of time that intervened between them, the long period over which they were extended—we are apt to forget the blockades and the hardships that were endured before any of those great results were accomplished. And we are also apt, I am sorry to say, to underrate the services 97 that have been performed. I may fairly ask, is it nothing for our sailors to have navigated with success in dangerous seas—is it nothing to have swept the flag of our enemy from the seas, and to have offered him combat in those waters which he was accustomed to call Russian lakes? Is that service nothing which has enabled our commerce to continue undisturbed—which has enabled Her Majesty this day to inform us that she views with satisfaction the general prosperity of the country? Is it nothing that our flag should be as safe now with a war raging as it has been in time of profound peace? Is it nothing that an unarmed pleasure yacht should be enabled to navigate the waters almost within range of the guns of Cronstadt, and that another should depart with perfect safety, laden with necessaries for our troops in the Crimea, and land them within a few miles of the great fortress of Sebastopol? Nor can I quit this subject without congratulating the House upon the attitude which has been assumed by our sailors during this war. Almost as far back as I can remember prophecies have boon made with regard to the impossibility of manning our fleets. It was prophesied that whenever a war should break out, it would be found necessary to resort to the press-gang. But what has really been the case? In time of peace our sailors may have been unwilling to join the fleet, and there may, perhaps, have been some difficulty in manning the ships; but the instant danger menaced their country, there they were as ready as of old to maintain the honour of their native land. But to return to Varna, where I left our troops. We know that the greatest possible difficulties were experienced, and that much time was necessarily spent in making those gigantic preparations essential for the expedition in which we were about to engage; but at last everything was ready for the expedition to the Crimea: in the midst of disease, and under the greatest possible difficulties, the army was got into a state of preparation for that memorable expedition. On the 3rd of September the allied forces left Varna, and in eleven days they landed at Old Fort. Not having myself any military experience or knowledge, it would be presumptuous in me to criticise the instructions which Lord Raglan issued to the forces on their embarkation; but I think that the most ignorant amongst us could hardly read those instructions without being convinced that in Lord Raglan 98 we had a commander in whom the country might repose every confidence—a commander who both inherited the hereditary gallantry of his race, and who was gifted with a prudence, a discretion, and a foresight, which would command success, if success were possible, and which were worthy of that great school in which he had been trained to arms. On the 20th of September was fought the memorable battle of the Alma—a battle memorable, not only for the valour displayed by the allied forces, but for the fact that it was the first occasion in modern history on which French and English soldiers had fought together. In many a painful field had they learned to respect each other's valour, but never before, in modern times, had they fought side by side; and I trust that that battle set a seal upon that alliance which, if it shall continue, as I trust in God it may, will be the best guarantee for the peace of Europe, and against the aggressions of any one Power upon the people of another country. I will pass over shortly, because I feel it impossible to do them justice, the details of the famous flank movement of the Allies after the battle of the Alma, and I will remind you that great difficulties were experienced in getting up the guns necessary for the siege of Sebastopol; but on the 17th of October the first shot was fired; and it soon became evident that the difficulties which the allied forces would have to encounter had hardly been foreseen by the commanders. On the 25th of October occurred the battle of Balaklava. I shall not enter into the details of that day. It is a mournful subject for us to consider. It was a mournful day for England—that day on which the gallant light cavalry brigade rode to their death. But if a mournful day, it is also a day to which we may look with pride—for I believe there is not an Englishman who would not feel proud of being the countryman of but one of those heroes. I believe there is not a parent who mourns the loss of a son on that ensanguined field, who, when time shall have dulled the first poignancy of his grief, will not, as he wipes away a tear and checks the rising sob, say with feelings of pride, "My boy was one of those 600 brave men who rode to death that day." Well, Sir, the siege progressed. On the 5th of November was fought the memorable battle of Inkerman. On that occasion 8,000 of our countrymen, who were alone engaged, well and bravely sustained 99 the honour of old England. Well and bravely did they maintain the reputation of that Army that never knows when it is beaten. Since that time it must be allowed that we have been unable to prosecute the siege operations with the same vigour as before. The Russian flag, according to the latest advices, still floats over Sebastopol; and it may be frankly admitted—though I make the avowal without any official authority—that both the Government at home and the allied commanders abroad underrated the difficulties they had to encounter, and were not sufficiently aware of the great resources which our enemy would have at his command. I will not ask if that is any reason why we should relax in our endeavours, or why the House should refuse to the Government those supplies which are necessary to carry on the campaign with vigour. I will not do so, first, because I think it is a question unworthy to be put to a British House of Commons; and, secondly, because it is a question which has already been loudly and distinctly answered by the unanimous voice of the British people. Never, Sir, in our history, has there been such unanimity displayed; never has the spirit of our people been so roused. Does a want occur, instantly a subscription is made to supply it. Are our soldiers supposed to suffer privations, either in the hospitals or in the field, instantly a thousand hands are stretched out to supply that need. I am sure—I most firmly believe—that on no occasion has there been such unanimity. As an Irish Member, I may be permitted to congratulate the House on the state of Ireland at this particular moment. Sir, it was no novelty that Ireland should fill your ranks with soldiers who, to use the words of a leading journal, "Never in the hour of danger were craven or untrue." It was nothing new that the shout of the Connaught Rangers should mingle with the cry of the Cameronians; or that the Enniskilleners should charge side by side with the Scots Greys. But, Sir, there have been periods in our history when an English Minister would have hesitated to withdraw troops from Ireland—there have been times when it would not have been safe to have done so. Those times, I hope, are passed for ever away. I have recently come over from Ireland, and I can bear my testimony to the patriotic spirit which animates every class of my countrymen. I have seen persons of different creeds and of different 100 parties vieing with each other in patriotic efforts to respond to the appeal which has been made to them by Her Majesty. I believe, Sir, that your hopes are our hopes—your sympathies our sympathies—and I trust I may soon add, your triumphs our triumphs. If such, then, is the state of things at home, what is the state of things abroad? We are in alliance with the bravest and most powerful nation in Europe. In conjunction with our gallant Ally, we have established a position which I believe to be impregnable, and from which, indeed, it would be an insult to our troops, who have held it against such odds, to fear that, with the reinforcements they are receiving, they will not be able further to maintain it until the great object of our hopes and desires shall have been attained. We have obtained a position, moreover, into which we shall be able to throw any quantity of ammunition, or of such supplies as may be necessary to mitigate the calamities of war. Her Majesty has informed us that she has concluded a treaty of alliance with Austria, and that that treaty will shortly be laid upon the table. Until the details of that treaty shall have been laid before us, it would be quite presumptuous in me to attempt to discuss them; but I may say this—that if we had learned that Austria had concluded a treaty with our enemy, we should, no doubt, have considered it as a fearful disadvantage, and it would have been received by us as a severe blow. I think, therefore, that I am not asserting too much, even without knowing anything of the details of the treaty, when I say, that we may consider we have gained a very considerable advantage. But, Sir, what is now the condition of our enemy? He is left with the unanimous public opinion of Europe against him; his flag has been swept from those seas which he has been accustomed to call Russian lakes, and even in Asia he has been unable to resume the offensive, for after gaining a victory he was so weak that he has been obliged to continue on the defensive. Still it is necessary that we should not underrate our antagonist. That great and ponderous machine may be slow in its movements and not easy to move; but we do not know how severe a blow it may be able to give. It, therefore, behoves us to take every measure and to strain every nerve to forward the great object we have in view. I would appeal to the House whether this is a period for any man, however much he may differ from the Government upon the 101 details of the war, or with regard to some of the objects that might have been gained, and that have not been gained—whether this is a period at which to indulge in any party attacks, or whether all these minor differences of opinion ought not rather to be merged in a desire to support the Government in those great operations which we are carrying on? Sir, I hope that this appeal may be responded to; and that on this occasion all may show our enemy that he has made war not upon this Government or upon this party of Englishmen, but upon the whole English people. Let us show our foe that, regardless of danger and expense, we will prosecute the great enterprise in which we are engaged. Let us show him that we will send any number of men that may be necessary—men such as scaled the heights of the Alma, dashed through his ranks at Balaklava, and defeated his battalions against such fearful odds at Inkerman. I hope the House, by its unanimity, will be worthy of the people of England. The pride of all England is in arms. The people of England, humbly founding their trust in the Great Disposer of Events, have accepted the challenge so haughtily thrown down before them by the Emperor of Russia, and have chosen the fairest spot in his own dominions as the arena in which the great quarrel may be brought to an issue. The hon. Member concluded by moving—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey to Her Majesty the Thanks of this House for Her Majesty's Most gracious Speech from the Throne:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has called us together at this unusual period of the year, in order that by our assistance Her Majesty may take such measures as will enable Her to prosecute the great War in which we are engaged with the utmost vigour and effect:To assure Her Majesty that this assistance will be readily given, and that we fully agree with Her Majesty in the necessity of sparing no effort to augment Her Majesty's Forces now engaged in the Crimea; while we rejoice to learn that the exertions they have made, and the victories they have obtained, which are not exceeded in the brightest pages of our history, have filled Her Majesty with admiration and gratitude:We participate in the conviction expressed by Her Majesty, that the hearty and efficient cooperation of the brave Troops of Her Ally the Emperor of the French, and the glory acquired in common, cannot fail to cement still more 102 closely the union which happily subsists between the two Nations:That we learn with satisfaction that, together with the Emperor of the French, Her Majesty has concluded a Treaty of Alliance with the Emperor of Austria, from which Her Majesty anticipates important advantages to the common cause:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has also concluded a Treaty with the United States of America, by which subjects of long and difficult discussion have been equitably adjusted:To thank Her Majesty for the announcement that these Treaties will be laid before us:Humbly to concur in the hope expressed by Her Majesty, that, although the prosecution of the War will naturally engage our chief attention, yet that other matters of great interest and importance to The general welfare will not be neglected:That we rejoice to learn that the general prosperity of Her Majesty's subjects remains uninterrupted, and that the state of the Revenue affords Her Majesty entire satisfaction; while we humbly beg to assure Her Majesty of our desire to continue to promote the progress of Agriculture, Commerce, and Manufactures:To thank Her Majesty for expressing the hope that, in the Estimates which will be laid before us, we shall find that ample provision has been made for the exigencies of the Public Service:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for the confidence with which Her Majesty relies on our patriotism and public spirit, and for the conviction expressed by Her Majesty that, in the momentous contest in which we are engaged, we shall exhibit to the world the example of a united people; that we share Her Majesty's opinion, that we shall thus obtain the respect of other Nations, and may trust that, by the blessing of God, we shall bring the War to a successful termination.
MR. LEVESON GOWER
Sir, in rising to second the Address, I feel great diffidence in attempting the performance of the task allotted to me, although the able speech of my hon. Friend has greatly diminished the difficulty of that task. I do not consider that I have ability sufficient to do anything like justice to the subjects suggested by Her Majesty's Speech. I am sure that every one present must feel the deepest regret that he has lived to see the day when he has heard from Her Majesty's Throne a Speech delivered in which allusion is made to one topic only, and that one war. Still, Sir, under the circum stances of the time, and considering how the whole mind of the country is engrossed with that one topic, I think Her Majesty's 103 advisers will be supposed to have done wisely in confining themselves to that single question. Every Englishman will read with gratification the terms—worthy of the occasion—in which Her Majesty has expressed Her approbation of the services of Her troops in the Crimea. The speech of my hon. Friend has relieved me from the necessity of alluding to the events of that campaign, and I feel that I cannot embody in words my admiration of the services of that noble set of men. In whatever light we view their conduct—whether we view their gallantry in action, their humanity in the hour of victory, or their cheerful endurance under sickness and privation—we must consider it in every light worthy of our approbation. I am told that in the hospitals at Scutari, their beds extended miles in length—all filled with the sick and wounded—and yet was not heard one word of murmur or complaint from the lips of those men, who are comforted by the reflection that they have fought and suffered in the service of their country. We must all have been glad to hear the tribute which Her Gracious Majesty has paid to the bravery of the French troops. That the armies of England and France, who, for centuries, whenever they have met in battle, have been opposed to each other, should, now that they fight together, be moved by a spirit of emulation to outdo all their former deeds, need be a matter of no surprise; but that in that spirit of emulation there should be mixed not a particle of jealousy—such a spirit as was displayed in the impetuous rush of the French in our support at Balaklave and Inkerman—I confess exceeds my expectations. Sir, the fact of my seconding the Address implies that I have confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers, and I hope I shall not be deemed presumptuous if I state why I consider they have deserved that confidence. In the first place, by maintaining as long as possible the policy of peace, they have not only united all classes in this country in support of the war, but they have turned the whole opinion of Europe in their favour. Then, by revising the practice of the laws which regulate belligerents and neutrals, they have obtained the goodwill of neutral Powers. By a straightforward policy, coupled with continued good faith, they have preserved the most complete agreement with the French nation during all the negotiations which have taken place with respect to this contest. In Germany what have they done? I 104 believe that by the assistance of their unacknowledged allies, the German people, they have gradually drawn the German Governments towards the Western Powers; and we have heard, with great gratification, that a treaty has been signed with Austria—a treaty which, we are told, promises advantage to the common cause, and which has caused the greatest irritation to Russia and to her partisans throughout Europe. At all events, it is a treaty on the right side of neutrality. In Greece the firm attitude assumed by the Allies has put down an insurrection which presented a most anxious question, and on which the Emperor of Russia placed the greatest reliance. As far as I am able to judge as a civilian, I think the conduct of the Government in respect to its military operations has, in many of its features, been bold and energetic. I think that if, at the beginning of the year, the Government had come forward and stated that they intended to make themselves masters of the Baltic, to keep the fleets of Russia shut up in their ports, to fetter the commerce of Russia in every part of the world, and to take possession of and destroy the important fortress of Aland—I think that such a programme would have fully satisfied the expectations of the country. If Government had come forward with the promise that during the year they would send an expedition of 55,000 men, well disciplined and well equipped to the Crimea, I think their ability to do so would have been little credited. If a year ago we had been told that we should be in possession of Balaklava, and in a position from which we cannot be driven out, and from which, as I have been told, we certainly shall be in possession of Sebastopol, the last thing any one would have urged against Government would have been want of vigour. If, Sir, they had been accused of anything in that respect, it would not have been want of energy, but rashness. What does rashness mean? Engaging in any enterprise without taking precautions to ensure success. Now I believe there has been no want of energy on the part of the Government to ensure our getting possession of Sebastopol, and if you do that you destroy the power of the Emperor of Russia to put into execution those schemes of mad ambition which have caused the present war. I am sure the House of Commons will be united on this occasion; and though some may differ from the views I have enunciated, I venture to say to the dissentients that, unless 105 they are prepared to put another and a better set of men in their place, they ought to support the present Government. I venture also to remind those dissentients, that every word that shall be spoken in this debate will be read with the greatest avidity not only in St. Petersburg, but throughout Europe; and that every symptom of division or petty criticism among us will serve to encourage the enemy, and will have a most injurious effect on neutral and wavering States. Therefore, considering the sacrifices this country is ready to submit to for the purpose of bringing this war to the hoped-for conclusion, and considering that we have soldiers in the East cheerfully laying down their lives day after day for their country, I think it is not too much to ask that the House of Commons should unite themselves as one man in support of whatever Government has the war in charge, and by that means carry them through the deplorable and inevitable but triumphant struggle in which they are engaged to a successful issue.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That," &c. [See p. 101.]
§ SIR J. PAKINGTON
said, that if he was desirous of availing himself of an early opportunity of taking a part in the debate on the Motion which had now been submitted to the House, he did so because he had a strong impression that in the present state of public affairs it was the duty of men of all parties in that House frankly to state their sentiments, and not because he entertained the slightest desire to criticise, and especially in any hostile spirit, the speeches which had been delivered by the two hon. Gentlemen opposite, the Mover and Seconder of the Address. On the contrary, he recognised readily the fairness of the tone in which those hon. Gentlemen had spoken. He took no exception to the spirit in which they had addressed the House, and he would readily admit the ability with which they had discharged the duty intrusted to them. He confessed, also, that it was to him a source of the greatest possible satisfaction on that occasion that he found himself unable to take any serious exception to the Address to Her Majesty which had been moved and seconded by the two hon. Gentlemen opposite in answer to the gracious Speech which Her Majesty had delivered from the Throne. In contemplating the first paragraph of that Speech and of the Address, namely, the paragraph in which Her Majesty had appealed to Parliament for support in the great war in which She 106 was now embarked, he entertained the sanguine hope that among every party in that House there would prevail a degree of cordial unanimity, such as was never exceeded in any popular assembly. He was sure he might say, in the name of the great Conservative party, both in that House and in the country, that they did not yield to the Gentlemen who had framed that Address, or to any body of men in that House or in the country, in the firm resolve to extend to Her Majesty that support which She desired. The next portion of the Speech appealed to the House to sanction an augmentation of the Army. He felt himself equally unable to take the slightest exception to this demand on the part of Her Majesty's Government. On the contrary, he believed the feeling of those Friends with whom he had the honour of acting was not that they should now hesitate in acceding to the desire of the Government for increasing the Army, but that they should rather be disposed to find fault with the Government for having so long delayed that increase. The question had not been, "Why do you increase the Army now?" but rather, "Why have you not sooner adopted that measure?—why have you not sooner taken precautions to show that you were aware of the magnitude of the struggle in which the country is now unhappily engaged?" He feared the only construction that could be put on the policy adopted by the Government, and on the course which they had taken, was, that until lately—until the last month, when they appeared to have awakened as from a dream—they had been entirely unconscious of the magnitude, the difficulties, and the perils of the struggle with Russia in which they were embarked. There had been no fault on the part of that House. In the last Session of Parliament, whatever demands the Government made were freely and liberally granted; and the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell), on more than one occasion, frankly admitted the spirit in which they were met. It was, therefore, not from any want of support from that House that the Army was not sooner augmented. But he believed be might trace what he called the crippled state of our military armaments mainly to the financial arrangements of the Government during the past Session, and to that attempt announced on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—to the principle of which he and his Friends took no exception, but of the impossibility of which they warned 107 him—that in so great a struggle they were to pay all the expenses of the war entirely from the revenue of the year. To this part of the speech then, he was sure no one on that side of the House would be disposed to take any exception. He now approached two passages of the Speech from the Throne to which he could not but advert—he alluded to the paragraph in which reference was made to the conduct of our army in the East, and to that which referred to the conduct of our noble Allies, the French. He approached this portion of the Speech with a feeling—which he thought every man must entertain who touched upon it—of the difficulty of expressing his opinion as he could desire. No language could exceed the debt of gratitude which we owed to the British army. Well did the language of Her Majesty's Speech say, that "the exertions they have made and the victories they have obtained are not exceeded in the brightest pages of our history, and have filled me with admiration and gratitude." Not only did he hold this language to be just—not only did he think the page of history recorded no parallel to the gallantry shown by our army in the field—but fiction had hardly imagined, we had not read in fable or in song, anything equal to the gallantry of that noble army. And brought, as he was, by this paragraph of the Speech to a consideration of the deeds of the army, he was naturally led to think of those who had bled and suffered in the sanguinary struggles in which our army had been engaged. He hoped that in that assembly and at that moment it would not be considered inappropriate or improper if he paused for a moment to pay a tribute of respect and deep regret for the memory of the gallant Colonel Blair. They all valued and esteemed him as a friend—he said this because he was sure no party feeling could mix on such a subject as this—he was esteemed by all; and he was sure that all must feel deep and heartfelt regret that one so full of promise, and with regard to whom there was so much reason to hope that a career of distinction and usefulness awaited him, had been so soon and so prematurely carried off. There was another name connected with that House—a gentleman long familiar with them all, of whom he could not refrain from making one passing remark. Colonel Blair was no more; but he did hope they would again see amour, them in renewed health and vigour the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans). In 108 naming these names, no man, he trusted, would feel that he was making invidious distinctions. Where all had earned honour, to them honour was due—but he was now referring to Members of that House—men with whom they had all daily mixed—to men whom they all knew well—and he thought that every one who heard him would agree with him, that among the noble deeds that had distinguished the gallantry of the British army in the Crimea, there had been nothing more gallant, nothing more heroic, than the manner in which that gallant veteran left his bed of sickness on the day of Inkerman to share in the dangers of that terrible contest—an act of gallantry exceeded only by the generosity he showed when he refused to resume the command of the division which, unhappily, he had been obliged to resign into other hands. He hoped the House would pardon him for having stepped aside for a moment from the strict business before them, and expressing the hope that they would soon see the hon. and gallant Gentleman to whom he had made reference once more restored to his place among them. On this passage of the Speech too much could not be said; but so much was felt in the breast of every Englishman with respect to the noble deeds of the army that to dwell on them would be superfluous. Honour to all! They had saved the honour of their country by their gallantry, and deeply were they indebted to them for their heroic achievements. In the same spirit might he speak of the conduct of our Allies, the French; and he was glad to hear the language used by the hon. Gentlemen opposite—especially by the Seconder of the Address—on this subject. The hon. Member referred in terms most just and proper to that noble emulation and total freedom from anything like jealousy, and that unparalleled gallantry with which the French army had borne their share of glorious deeds in the Crimea. And here he would mention, in passing—for he could not refrain from doing so—the superfluous, the unnecessary gallantry, as some might think, and the noble spirit, with which General Canrobert rode side by side with Lord Raglan during the early portion of the day of Inkerman, and the ready gallantry with which General Bosquet—whose division was so placed as to be most at hand to aid the British troops when necessary—had ever shown himself willing to render assistance. He had heard with unqualified satisfaction the reference made in the Speech to the conduct of our Allies, and 109 he hoped it would be known, not only to the French nation, but to the French army, that the Parliament of England acknowledged and appreciated their conduct. The next paragraph in the Speech to which he felt bound to refer, and on which he found himself unable to speak in the unqualified terms he had hitherto had the pleasure of doing, was undoubtedly one of the greatest importance—he meant that which referred to the treaty of alliance with Austria. The House must bear in mind that they were at present in ignorance of the nature and purport of that treaty. The noble Lord, he thought, had intimated that that treaty would be laid on the table forthwith; but the bearing of that treaty on the present state of affairs in the East, and on the future prospects of the war, was so important that he could not help hoping Her Majesty's Government would think it not inconsistent with their duty to give, as soon as they could, some statement of what the real scope and nature of that treaty is. Public feeling on this question, with respect to Austria, was very strong: it had been greatly excited with regard to the conduct and the intentions of Austria; and her conduct and intentions had been watched with an anxiety proportioned to their importance. An impression prevailed that we were very little informed as to what the real position of Austria in the East has been, and that we were very little informed as to the nature of the treaty concluded between Austria and the Porte; and impressions also prevailed, that Austrian influence had prevented Omar Pacha from keeping in check the Russian forces in Bessarabia, and so left free the division of General Osten-Sacken and the forces under Prince Gortschakoff to swell the Russian force in the Crimea, and to increase the risks and dangers of the British army at Inkerman. Now, these were serious matters. They could not fail to recollect what was said upon this subject at the commencement of last Session of Parliament by the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, in the discussion which then took place on the negotiations that had been pending. The right hon. Baronet, if he remembered right, claimed as one advantage which had resulted from the conduct of the Government and from the delay that had occurred, that we had secured the co-operation of the German Powers. How had that been carried out? Where had been the co- 110 operation of the German Powers from the time when the right hon. Gentleman spoke up to the present moment? This country had viewed—and naturally viewed—with suspicion the conduct of the Austrian Government—conduct which, he believed, had been marked by great ability as regarded the objects of that Power, but which had not been considered as equally conducive to the objects which the Western Powers had in view. Under these circumstances, the treaty which they now heard had been entered into with Austria was regarded in this country as a matter of no common interest, and, therefore, he hoped the noble Lord would think it consistent with his duty to inform the House as soon as possible of its contents. In the meantime, he trusted that it would be distinctly understood—and he confessed he had watched with some degree of anxiety the wording of this part of the Address—that the Address to which they were now asked to agree did not pledge the House to any expression of opinion as to the treaty, which had not been laid before them. There was one other paragraph in the Royal Speech which he must notice—a very mysterious paragraph, which referred to measures which they were told would promote the welfare and interests of the country. These measures were not specified in the Address; but he would only express the hope that a Reform Bill did not form part of the programme. They could not forget that the noble Lord told them last year that the moment of a great war with Russia was precisely that in which they should promote a Reform Bill, as it would afford the noble spectacle of a country which was not only in a position to make war with Russia, but to reform its institutions at the same time. He hoped the noble Lord had changed his mind on that point, and that a Reform Bill, at least, was not one of the measures included in this mysterious paragraph. With that proviso, he might say that he agreed to that paragraph of the Address; for, notwithstanding the duties devolving on the British Parliament at this most important crisis of European affairs, and the anxious considerations connected with the war to which they must attend, he could not think it creditable to that House to be unable at the same time to devote attention to matters of domestic importance. Having thus stated that he had no fault to find with the language which the Government had advised Her Majesty to use in Her Gracious Speech, he felt strongly 111 with the hon. Gentlemen opposite (the Mover and Seconder), both of whom had rather appealed to the Opposition side of the House on the point, that the present was not a moment for party struggle. He did not wish to address the House that evening in any party spirit. He admitted the importance of our showing to Europe and to the world the example not only of a united Parliament, but of a united nation. He adopted this part of the language of the Address most cordially; and if they had duties to discharge which implied the existence of differences among them, let it be clearly and broadly understood that those differences referred only to the mode in which they best could support their Sovereign in the endeavours She was now making to conduct this great struggle to a successful issue. But, on the other hand, he would not admit that it could be consistent with the duty of Members of that House to abandon their right to criticise the conduct of the Government. On the contrary, he thought that now that they were about to intrust to the Government large powers and great resources—now that the Government were appealing to the House for the means of carrying on a European war of such magnitude—it became the duty of the Members of that House—a duty from which they could not shrink—to state what grounds of complaint they thought might exist against the manner in which the Government had conducted the war hitherto, and to call upon them for sonic explanation on those points in respect to which public anxiety doubts the wisdom of their course. This was a right and duty which he, for one, could not consent to abandon; and there was an impression strongly existing in the public mind, that whatever anxiety the Government might have had—as he questioned not they had been anxious—to carry on this war to a successful issue, they had not shown that wisdom, foresight, or prudence, in the measures which they had taken which were most likely to conduce to the great end which they must all alike have in view. In the last Session of Parliament, Members on that side of the House had found it their duty to criticise the conduct of the Government in respect to their negotiations. It was then averred, and he thought with truth—for it was never refuted—that at the time when, during those negotiations, which unhappily terminated in war, it was Most essential that the conduct of the Go- 112 vernment should be marked with firmness, energy, and decision, and by language the most intelligible, their conduct, on the contrary, was timid and vacillating; and now, when the nation was unhappily involved in an arduous war—more arduous than the Government have yet shown they deemed probable—when it was the paramount duty of the Government not only to show the boldness, decision, and courage, which were the common inheritance of Englishmen, but at the same time to temper those qualities with the caution, prudence, and foresight of statesmen, he feared they must be accused—as the hon. Seconder of the Address seemed to anticipate—of rashness and imprudence. The public mind was at the present time so entirely engrossed by the events passing in the Crimea, that for the moment attention was diverted from the great expedition to the Baltic Sea. But public attention would again turn to that subject; and when they considered the magnitude of the armament and its absolute fruitlessness—when they reflected on that magnificent fleet, composed of the combined navies of France and England, the finest that had ever floated on the ocean, and considered that it had returned without accomplishing any one act that could be named ["Oh, oh!"], they had a right to demand some explanation on the subject from the Government. He heard some expressions of dissent from Gentlemen opposite. Did they allude to the capture of Bomarsund, and think that the event was of importance enough to call for eulogies and thanks? Because, if they did, he must say that he did not recognise the capture of that place as forming any exception to the description he had given of the results of the expedition. In fact, knowing the gallantry, the zeal, and spirit, of our sailors, and believing that, both in the Baltic and Black Sea, they were actuated by a desire to emulate the brave deeds of the British army, he could only compare the whole history of the expedition to the Baltic to that well-known military exploit of which they had not lately heard much, but with which they were all familiar in their early days—The King of France marched up the hillWith twenty thousand men,And when he got up to the topHe straight marched back again.He would not allude in terms of censure to the Admirals of our two fleets, because at present there was no informa- 113 tion to justify it; and because, if he did allude to them, he might anticipate the discussion which he believed was expected to take place at a dinner at the Reform Club, which possibly might be given to those Admirals on their return to England, when no doubt the First Lord of the Admiralty, even in a more triumphant tone than he assumed last spring, would congratulate the club that both the Admirals belonged to it. He (Sir J. Peking-ton) intended to pass no censure on either of those Admirals, but lie thought he had a right to ask the Government what had been the causes of the failure which had undoubtedly, to a great extent, attended our naval operations?—what was the cause that so grand an armament had produced such small results? He believed that the real fault was, that the Government adopted an unwise course in sending so large an armament to the Baltic. The Russian fleet was not likely to come out. They all knew that the Russian fleet was not disposed to meet the British unless on very favourable terms; and with a fleet of the magnitude sent to the Baltic it was not to be expected that the Russians would contend. Then, again, our ships were so large, that they could not approach the coast; and for the purposes of blockade the armament was altogether on a scale, in his opinion, perfectly unnecessary. There was another subject on which the public mind was much excited—the conduct of the fleet, namely—owing, he presumed, to the instructions given by the Government—with respect to the bombardment of Odessa. The bombardment of Odessa, if he recollected aright, was accompanied by something like an apology from the Admiral of the Black Sea fleet, excusing the incivility which he had been obliged to show in attacking them as he did, and which he said arose from the sole ground that the Russians had fired on a flag of truce. But why had Odessa been left undestroyed? Had not subsequent events—had not the operations at Sebastopol—made it clear how unwise it was on the part of the Government to leave the town of Odessa untouched? Was it respected because it was a commercial town? But Odessa could hardly be regarded merely as a commercial town, when they found the extent to which it was fortified—when they found a large military force constantly established in it. Its peculiar situation, with respect to the Principalities on the one hand, and with re- 114 spect to the Crimea on the other, must be borne in mind; and it would be found that Odessa had practically been a great centre of military operations, and had mainly aided in sending reinforcements to the Russian army in the Crimea. His own impression was—and he believed it was that of the public—that the Government had acted unwisely in leaving to the Russians a place like Odessa, from which they could throw reinforcements into the Crimea, and which they could make a great centre of military operations. He should now approach the conduct of the Government in respect to the attack on Sebastopol. He did not think that the present was a moment in which it was proper to raise the question as to the policy of our attack upon Sebastopol, or for calling on the Government for an explanation of their policy in having made that attack. They had loudly professed, and only recently the noble Lord the Prime Minister had repeated the declaration in a marked manner, that theirs was a policy of peace. Now he (Sir J. Pakington) thought it very questionable whether by the attack on the Crimea war had not been greatly protracted; but he did not at present mean to imply any opinion of his own as to the policy of that attack, as the time for entering on that subject had not yet arrived, and he reserved to himself the right to concur in the wisdom of that course, if the Government could convince him, as they probably might, that it was the best course that could be taken. But there was another view of the subject which he thought they were in duty bound to take, and to which no answer could be given, and that was, that Government were not justified in attacking the Crimea at all unless in a manner which should, humanly speaking, ensure success, and that, whatever the abstract policy of the attack might be, the Government were bound by their duty to their Sovereign and country not to attack a great fortress such as Sebastopol with inadequate means. Such was the impression of the country, and Members of that House would depart from their duty if they did not call on the Government for explanations on this point. Public opinion directed three accusations against the Government—first, that they had attacked that great fortress with inadequate means; second, that the forces they sent to the Crimea for this purpose had been left uncared for and unsupported; and third, 115 that if anything could have added to the difficulties and dangers of the undertaking, it was the unwise manner in which the Government and the organs of the Government advertised, if he might so speak, and proclaimed the intended measures, and put the Emperor of Russia on his guard with respect to the attack which was to be made on his territory. He held in his hand an extract from a speech made by the noble Lord opposite on the 24th of July last. The noble Lord had not long since made a speech at a public dinner given to him at Bristol, in which he made a statement which, so far as his recollection served, had not previously been placed before the public—namely, as to the time at which the Government made up their minds to attack Sebastopol, and the time at which they communicated that decision to the generals of the army. The noble Lord stated at Bristol that the instructions of the Government to attack Sebastopol were sent out—he was now speaking from memory—so that the generals would receive them at Varna about the middle of July. The decision must therefore have been taken not later than the commencement of the month; and, looking to these dates, he presumed it was likely that when the siege of Silistria was raised, the Government then took into their consideration the policy of attacking Sebastopol, as, according to the noble Lord, instructions were sent out so as to reach Varna about the middle of July. On the 24th of that month the noble Lord seemed to have been unable to restrain his eagerness to communicate the fact to this House; and in these terms the noble Lord made the communication—But, Sir, there is another mode in which the position of Russia is menacing to the independence and integrity of Turkey. I mean the establishment of a great fortress, prepared with all the combinations of art, and containing within its port a very large fleet of line-of-battle ships, ready at any moment to come down with a favourable wind to the Bosphorus. I say that is a position so menacing to Turkey, that no treaty of peace could be considered wise which left the Emperor of Russia in that same position of menace."—[3 Hansard, cxxxv. 608–9.The noble Lord, upon the same day, when he found that all parties in that House had put that construction on those words, which in his (Sir J. Pakington's) humble judgment was the only construction open, endeavoured to qualify their force and remove the impression they had produced, and he (Sir John Pakington) well recollected the surprise that attempt produced. But repeating the words again, he (Sir John 116 Pakington) asked, what would be the construction naturally put on them, coupled as they were with almost daily declarations from one leading paper in London, that an attack on Sebastopol was the only means of humbling Russia, and that by the attack on Russia the great ends of the war were to be attained. He asked, not only what other construction could be put upon these words within the walls of that House, but what other impression could be made upon the Emperor of Russia? These words, of course, would speedily wing their way to St. Petersburg; and depend upon it that from that moment the defences of Sebastopol were strengthened, and not a moment was lost in preparing for our reception. On the 5th of August the Times excited a general feeling of wonder in the country, by declaring, in a remarkable paragraph, that on that very day the expedition was to sail. I maintain that in this way the Emperor of Russia had a warning that he ought never to have had, which in common prudence he could neither mistake nor neglect, and which they might rely upon it he did neither mistake nor neglect, which enabled him fully to provide for the defence of this great fortress. And he had ample time. The Government had sent out their instructions in the beginning of July, and the expedition did not sail till the beginning of September—a very late period for commencing such an enterprise. And what was the amount of force sent? 27,000 English troops only landed in the Crimea in September. He believed that the whole force, English and French, for the investment of Sebastopol, did not exceed 50,000 men. He also firmly believed—for the conviction was forced on him by the events which had taken place—that that force of 50,000 men was sent to undertake this great enterprise without the Government having any knowledge whatever of the Russian force in the Crimea, or the strength of the fortress which they were about to attack. The great error which had beset the Government, and which had paralysed and weakened all their measures, had been that of underrating the strength of the enemy with whom we were to contend. He was confirmed in this belief by the language used by the Prime Minister at a festivity which took place in the town of Aberdeen. The noble Lord, as usual, spoke much of peace, and he went on to say—Still, when war became inevitable, I declared that, so far as I was concerned, it Should be 117 carried on with the utmost vigour and energy of which the Government was capable. Gentlemen, perhaps the moment is not opportune to ask whether that pledge has been fulfilled? If, gentlemen, you will consider what has been done in the course of six short months, I think you will admit that this country never made an exertion at all comparable with that which she has just made. An army has been collected and transported from the shores of this country, such as never left them in preceding history—an army such as the Duke of Wellington never commanded, and appointed in all its parts in a manner which, humanly speaking, is calculated to ensure its success.He traced in those words the error which had pervaded the whole conduct of the Government. It was perfectly clear to him, front that language of the Prime Minister, coupled with the subsequent conduct of the War Department, that they were ignorant of or underrated the strength of Sebastopol. This force of 27,000 English was landed on the shores of the Crimea under the idea, that as soon as it was there, they had nothing to do but to march upon Sebastopol and take it. In this there was no foresight or prudence; and no allowance was made for the necessary casualties of war—for those who must fall in battle, and those who sunk under the climate of a foreign country. Lord Aberdeen said, that the army was appointed in all its parts in a manner to ensure success; and yet it was, when landed in the Crimea, deficient in artillery, and almost without cavalry, and with a most scanty provision of such equipments as are essential to the health and comfort of the men, and especially tents and covering for service in the field. Could the House forget the description of the suffering of our officers and men during the first three days after their landing? The Prime Minister, therefore, was anything but justified in his boast of the completeness of its appointments. The gravamen of the charge against the Government was, that they sent the army to attack the Crimea without any of the reserves essential for their support. He called upon the Government for an explanation on this point, and he thought the House and the country had a right to demand it. Were the Government justified, he would ask, in sending an expedition into the Crimea without providing a reserve for its support when it had landed? The conduct of the Government in this respect was open, he thought, to grave doubt—nay, more, he was afraid, to severe censure. The country had a right to call upon the Government to explain why the expedition in the Crimea had been left 118 without reserves and without reinforcements; and he hoped the Government would lose no time in giving this explanation. He was not in possession of any official information, but, speaking from those sources of information which were open to all the world, and speaking merely from memory, he believed he was perfectly correct in saying that the army in the Crimea received nothing worthy of the name of reinforcements from the time when it landed in the beginning of September, till the 46th Regiment landed in November, after the battle of Inkerman. He was quite aware that, shortly after the battle of the Alma, a body of 3,000 men, 1,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry, landed at Balaklava. He made no complaint against the Government for not having sent a larger force into the Crimea in the first instance, for he was quite aware that the difficulties of conveyance might be urged as a reason for not having landed a larger force than 27,000 men; but the 3,000 men landed at Balaklava a few days after the battle of the Alma did little more than fill up the gaps which had been created by the battle. Yet, from the time that the army sat down before Sebastopol, it was left there—numbers falling daily in the trenches, diminished in numbers by the loss experienced in the battle of Balaklava—decimated by disease and suffering from change of climate and exposure to cold and fatigue—without any reinforcements whatever, except some few draughts which were sent out to various regiments from time to time, but which in the aggregate made no serious addition to the army, until the day that the 46th Regiment landed. It was under these circumstances that this gallant band of men, dwindling away day by day, was on the 5th of November attacked at Inkerman by the Russian forces. What, he would ask, was the actual force with which we had fought at Inkerman? 27,000 men were landed originally in the Crimea, 3,000 men were landed a few days afterwards; but on the 5th of November—on the day of Inkerman—had they 20,000 men present? Had they 18,000, or even 15,000, effective men along the whole position from Balaklava to the heights before the town? He believed not; but this at least they knew on the authority of Lord Raglan himself, that the men who resisted time Russian army on that day did not exceed 8,000 men. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address talked of fearful odds; but how was it that they had had 119 to contend against those fearful odds? We ought to thank God that the British forces were not destroyed at Inkerman. But it was not to the credit of the British Government that there should have been only 8,000 men to resist the Russian force. The valour of our soldiers—and, as the Royal Speech has said, history hardly records such a struggle as that—alone saved us; and it was, indeed, little less than marvellous. It was only by the mercy of God that that gallant band had been able to withstand the power of the Russian forces. But why were there only 8,000 men there? Their valour was, indeed, such as to claim the highest credit. It was no common valour; it was not the mere courage of man fighting against man; but it was an enduring, indomitable courage, which enabled this band of heroes, hour after hour, to struggle against those heavy masses of Russians that were hurled upon them. 'T was nothing less than miraculous that we were now able to congratulate ourselves upon their victory, instead of having to mourn over the loss of our whole force. But how was it that there were only 8,000 men left to sustain this conflict? They had a right to demand from Government an explanation why those odds existed on that day? His firm persuasion was, that, if the Government had shown a proper degree of foresight, if they had been up to their own undertaking, if they had formed proper reserves for the army, if they had taken means to fill up the vacancies occasioned by battle and disease, and to keep up the army even to its original number of 27,000 men, in that case he believed no battle of Inkerman would ever have been fought. To parody a trite phrase well known in the sister country, "England's weakness was Russia's opportunity." The Russians had gathered together their legions. She knew the British army was reduced to a handful of men, and, brave as they knew the British soldiers to be, they had hoped to overpower them by the force of numbers; and under that impression she attacked them at Inkerman. This he firmly believed they never would have done had we been there in that strength which common prudence and foresight would have told us we ought to have been. But this was not all. What had been the sufferings of our men since that time? They had been on those bleak heights under canvas in the worst weather, the ground impassable around them, exposed unprotected to 120 the severity of the climate, and to the fury of that awful hurricane which had been so fatal to our shipping. But why was it so? Why were they left thus unprotected? By the improvidence of Her Majesty's Ministers. He thought he had a right to ask the Government to explain why this was so. The House of Commons had liberally granted supplies, and furnished them with the means of sending forth this great army—and it had a right to ask why the Government had left this army to perish of cold, exhaustion, and even of hunger? Within the last few days he had seen a private letter from a distinguished officer in the Crimea. Of course he was not at liberty to mention his name, but he pledged himself to the House that he was an officer of high rank in the army and a man of unimpeachable character and veracity; and in a letter of his to a member of his own family occurred these few but most important words, "the spirit of the men is good, but their sufferings are almost beyond endurance." He could scarcely advert with calmness to such a state of things, and he could see no excuse for it. Who could read the newspapers of that very day, who could read Lord Raglan's despatch, and the account which he gave of the state to which the weather had reduced the ground, and then say that the men ought now to be under canvas, exposed to the rigour of the climate? The Government could not, in answer to this part of the case against them, plead that they had been taken by surprise. They might have foreseen these things, they could have foreseen them, and they ought to have foreseen them. The expedition did not leave Varna until September. He was greatly inclined to believe that if they could dive into the real ideas of the Government it would turn out that they had expected to take Sebastopol by a coup de main. Perhaps it was possible that they might have so taken it; but, on the other hand, it was certain that the Government had no right to presume upon doing so. Whatever their views might have been as to the result of a sudden attack, they were bound to be prepared for the other alternative. They had no right or reason to expect a speedy capture of Sebastopol. It was a great fortress, and whether we were or were not prepared for the actual extent of the Russian resources, no man could think the Czar would consent to surrender his stronghold at the first summons; neither had they any reason to expect that the climate of 121 the Crimea would change simply because they had sent the flower of the British Army to be exposed to its severity. They had no right to expect a speedy capture of Sebastopol, for it must be recollected that the expedition was not sent to the Crimea until the middle of September, and then the Government did not send men enough to secure the speedy attainment of their object. They talked of the "siege" of Sebastopol, but it might almost be doubted whether we were justified in calling it a siege. Was I that a siege where the attacking army was so weak in numbers as not to be able to invest the fortress, but was only able to draw themselves up on one side of it, leaving the enemy free to come and go and to bring in their supplies and reinforcements just as often and as largely as they wished. Under these circumstances, what right had the Government to suppose that such a fortress would at once yield to an attack? We might ultimately triumph, and he hoped to God we should! We might capture Sebastopol; but under such conditions of attack, being unable as we were, to invest the place, but only to draw ourselves up on one side of it, it was certain, and must always have been certain, that the attack must be a protracted one; and it was equally clear that if it was protracted, and if our army were to remain there until the advent of winter, the men, if unprotected by better shelter than canvas tents, must be exposed to the sufferings to which he had already adverted and had described in the language of a man who had experienced them. But this was not all. The force was so reduced in numbers that these brave men did not suffer only from cold and privation. but were forced to endure fatigue to such an extent that it was wonderful that sufficient men were still left for the necessary labours of the siege. Why, it actually appeared that the officers have to spend two nights out of three in the trenches. Perhaps the Government might toll them that supplies of warm clothing and other articles had been sent, and had been most unhappily lost by the visitation of Providence in that unfortunate vessel, the Prince. That was, indeed, a most lamentable accident, and one for which the Government, of course, could in no way be held responsible; but then he had a right to ask how was it that the warm clothing which was on board the Prince had not been sent sooner? How was it that it had not arrived until the month of November 122 —until after we heard that the cold was so intense and unbearable that even the soldiers who slept under their tents could scarcely endure it? And when were the huts to be sent out to cover the men who would probably have to remain before Sebastopol to carry on a protracted siege during the winter? They were only now going—in December. Had any of the materials even yet left England? He knew not. He only knew that he that morning met an officer who was about to leave England to superintend the erection of the huts, and he believed it was impossible that these men should be covered by anything better than canvas tents before we were far into January. It was painful to contemplate the consequences which might ensue to the lives and health of these men, whose bravery they now acknowledged in high-sounding phrase, while they did not even extend to them the common care which was due to every one engaged in fighting the battles of their country. He thought he was justified in saying, that they would be abandoning their duty that day if they did not call upon the Government to explain these things. They were bound to call for an explanation, not only in the name of the people of this country, but also in the name of the army which was undergoing these sufferings. If the Government would give a satisfactory explanation—if they would show that hereafter the House of Commons might rely, not only on their good intentions—which he had never doubted—but also on their exercising that prudence and foresight which hitherto had not been manifested, they would have nothing to fear from the Conservative party. Hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House were not the Whigs of 1793, they were not the Coalitionists of 1853. They desired nothing but the honour of their Sovereign and the welfare of their country. If the Government asked for supplies, they should have them with no niggard hand; if they asked for Parliamentary support, they should be met in no factious spirit; but if this concession were made on the one hand, they must exact this condition on the other—that the war should be conducted with vigour, wisdom, and foresight greater than that which had hitherto been displayed. For these explanations, therefore, he asked, and the Government was bound, in duty to the country, to give it. Parliament would hear it. He asked them what was to be their future course, and by their answer it 123 must be judged whether the House of Commons would be justified, and whether the people could be satisfied that the future conduct of public affairs should rest in the hands of the existing Administration.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, the right hon. Baronet who had just addressed the House had thrown quite as much spirit into the character of his observations as the justice of his complaints required. He (Sir R. Peel) was not, however, going to quarrel with him for that. He liked every man to express his opinions with determination and decision; and, in fact, his own object in rising was to give expression to his own sentiments with some little spirit. The right hon. Baronet had made a very straightforward speech; but if that House was prepared to endorse the right hon. Baronet's opinions, he thought it would be far from reflecting the general sentiments and views of the country at large. The right hon. Baronet said, that he must do his duty here in expressing his opinions freely, and certainly he did not think that a full discussion on this subject would be distasteful either to the House or to the Government, for he believed the Government would be most anxious to listen to any complaints or criticisms that could be made, since it was from such complaints generally that investigations and inquiries arose, which, happily, in this country rarely failed to remedy what was deficient, and to better that which was wrong. They might perchance, as usual, have a little effervescence of party spirit that evening, but that over, he could not but think that the result of any discussion must be that that House would confirm the favourable opinion which had been expressed over and over again in the country with regard to the conduct of this war. If, however, it was to be the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite, as the right hon. Baronet has just stated, to find fault with the conduct of the war, he thought it was the duty of the supporters of the Government to endeavour to refute such complaints. Nor did he think that it would be difficult. For some of these attacks were unfounded, and some were mischievous. But at any rate we had of late had so little opportunity of seeing any serious attack on the conduct of the Government, that the announcement of the right hon. Gentleman was quite refreshing. Indeed, it must be welcome to the Government, for they were quite losing caste in the country for want of a sufficient opportunity to defend them- 124 selves. The war had only lasted a short period, but it must have struck every impartial observer that the hostile attempts made by the opponents of the Government against them had been singularly unfortunate. We had had sarcasms without end, and charges of the most awfully serious character, but evidently made, not in the idea that they were well founded, but merely to gratify a fanciful alliteration of terms, and to display a little opposition. This, however, was quite a new policy, for the recognised leader of the Opposition, in bringing forward his brilliant and well-conditioned attacks against the Government, had always avoided impugning the conduct of the war. From the commencement of the war the greatest valour had been manifested by our troops, and he did not believe there was a single man in that House or in the country whose breasts did not fill with sentiments of gratitude and admiration on reading of the chivalrous conduct of our officers and the indomitable bravery of our men. They were mostly men who for the first time in their military career had met the awful shock of battle, who had never before seen human blood spilled in deadly combat, but their courage and their steadiness in resisting the overwhelming forces of the enemy had been such as had never been equalled in the heroic stories of ancient Greece. This war had taken away from us some of the last-surviving heroes of the Peninsula. Cathcart and Strangways both fought in Spain and at Waterloo, and now after forty years' repose they had fallen together, and now he believed shared the same grave, surrounded by their companions in arms, whose exploits presented the most brilliant and enduring record of the character and reputation of the British arms. He did not see any reason for despondency in the position of our army before Sebastopol. We knew that in former times great military manœuvres had been carried out in the winter. It was then that Napoleon inaugurated that splendid campaign which, crowned with the victory of Marengo, freed Italy of the Austrians, by passing through the defiles of the St. Bernard. Nor did Wellington hesitate to engage in a campaign during a Pyrenean winter, in the face of such an army as that commanded by Soult. Therefore, he saw no objection to our present operations in the Crimea, but, on the contrary, regarded them in a favourable light, and for this reason:—Supposing 125 that we had taken Sebastopol at once by a coup de main, we should never have been able to keep it for any length of time; and besides, we should not have known the spirit of our men, after forty years of peace; and certainly we could not have known anything of the genuine character of our alliance with France. Instead of that, however, we had successfully met and conquered the best and bravest of the Russian troops and the ablest of the Russian generals; we had likewise cemented, as it were, by a baptism of blood, our alliance with the French; and now, if Sebastopol should fall—as he trusted it speedily would—it would not fall as the hazardous result of a sudden manœuvre, but as the crowning victory of a brilliant campaign. But he had heard with surprise the charge of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington), that the Government had left the troops in the Crimea to perish from cold and exhaustion. This was an accusation, he must say, that was most unfounded, and that must be freely repelled. True we had three of the worst scourges attacking us; namely, the ravages of actual warfare, the stealthy inroad of pestilence, and the fury of the elements. These combined evils had made sad havoc with our troops, and deprived them of those necessaries and comforts which the Government had forwarded to them; but still he was sure that there was no class of men in this country who would be so unpatriotic as to give the cue to the spirit of despondency, just because the inevitable casualties which invariably attend warlike operations had, from our inexperience, unfortunately outstepped our calculations. The right hon. Gentleman said, that only 27,000 were landed in the Crimea, but he (Sir R. Peel) believed that there were only 24,000 actually landed, which force at one time was reduced as low as 15,000, but if that number had since been thus greatly reduced, they must recollect that the losses that had been sustained did not exceed the unhappy losses incurred in the last war. If they turned to the pages of the concluding part of the last century, they would find that a large army was sent out to the West Indies in 1794, and that we lost in a single year no fewer than 18,500 men; while in the two following years, so heavy were the casualties, that they amounted to upwards of 40,000; and if, in 1813, after we had been seventeen years at war, with a population of only 13,000,000, we were able to equip the large force of 237,000 126 men, surely, with a population now far exceeding 20,000,000, with such resources as we now had at our command, and with a man, let him say, of the abilities of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) for our Chancellor of the Exchequer, was it possible, he asked, that we could have any difficulty in replacing our armaments? Why, none whatever; the only thing was, that we must set at once about it. Therefore, he thought the Government had acted prudently and wisely in calling Parliament together at present, in order to obtain powers for sending the militia to our dependencies abroad, so as to allow our regular troops at once to proceed to the scene of action. Looking at the aspect of affairs in an impartial spirit, it would be unfair to attribute our losses, grievous as they had been, entirely or even principally to the Government's want of foresight; because he firmly believed the present position of affairs was in a great measure owing to the vacillating policy of Prussia and to the dubious policy of Austria. They did not know exactly what were the terms of the treaty of alliance recently entered into with the latter Power; but, as the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) had acutely observed, there could be no doubt that the presence of the Austrian troops in the Danubian Principalities had enabled the Emperor of Russia to concentrate his forces in another quarter where he expected an attack to be made by the Allies. He sincerely trusted, however, that this treaty would be universally beneficial. As regarded Prussia, he did not believe that the Sovereign of that country truly represented the sentiments of his people. He believed they were far too noble a nation to sanction the policy which their Government had pursued. But the King seemed to be acting up to the character of his race. When Napoleon won the battle of Austerlitz, M. Haugwitz, the Prime Minister of the King of Prussia, went to congratulate him on his success; whereupon Napoleon turned round and replied in terms which were as applicable to the same quarter now—" What! you want to be the ally of all the world, without giving any pledge of your sincerity." Prussia had always been as unstable as water. She was the first to declare war against France in 1792, and she was also the first to conclude a hollow and ignominious peace with the same State. Pretending friendship to George III., she seized upon Hanover to gratify her own ambition, and in obedience 127 to the commands of Napoleon; but she scarce enjoyed her spoils, and, the following year, was cursed beneath the withering blast of war; and our King, George III., in declaring war in those days, observed, what can be again so justly applied to her—" It seems as if Prussia's ancient sentiments of honour were utterly extinct." But, whatever might be the policy of Austria or Prussia, let us have confidence in ourselves. Hand in hand with our French allies, let us put forth our whole power to vindicate in the face of the world the cause of justice and civilisation. There was nothing now to impede us; everything was in our favour. We have not been forced into this war, as Walpole was in 1739, by the people, who were led astray by the leading men of that time; no cry for war has forced the Government in vulgar haste to assume the offensive—on the contrary, the supreme appeal to arms has been adjourned until all efforts have failed to avert it. We have immense resources. The nation is unanimous about this war; but, having once thrown down the gauntlet to our enemy, he said, let us all pursue the contest with the utmost vigour. A French General once went to Napoleon when he was about to enter into a great engagement, and warned him that it would cost a great deal of money and men's lives, but Napoleon only rejoined, "Quand il est question d'une grand bien, il faut yaller rondement." So with this country at present. We have a great struggle on our hands, and we must go at it like men. Let the Government fully accept the responsibility which the confidence of the country devolved upon them, and let their supporters in Parliament show a little more spirit than characterised debates on this subject during the last Session of Parliament. But, Sir, whilst we are shaping the course of this great struggle in harmony with France, there is one topic to which he wished to draw attention, for he was sure there were very many in the country who, equally with himself, felt indignant at the continuance of the nuisance to which he was about to refer. He yielded to none as a friend of liberty, and sympathiser with the exiles of oppressed nationalties, but they must all have observed with disgust, that there were foreigners who had taken refuge within the hospitable limits of this country, who embraced almost every public occasion to abuse the Sovereigns whom the people and the Government of this country had 128 accepted as their allies. He went the other day to St. Martin's Hall to hear Kossuth, and, though we were just entering into a treaty with Austria, that individual, who was glad to find shelter in this country against the storms in his own, delivered a most brilliant invective against the Emperor of Austria, and told us that we had more need of Poland than Poland had need of us. We might very well despise all this trash in time of peace, but in time of war it was a serious question whether foreigners should be permitted thus to assail those who were in alliance with us. Victor Hugo also held forth in the same strain at Jersey. That individual had a sort of personal quarrel with the distinguished personage whom the people of France had chosen for their Sovereign, and he told the people of Jersey that our alliance with the French Emperor Was a moral degradation to England. What was all this to M. Victor Hugo? If miserable trash of this kind was to be addressed to the English people by foreigners who found a safe asylum in this country, he would appeal to the noble Lord the Home Secretary whether some possible step could not be taken to put a stop to it. There was only one other topic on which he wished to touch. He would not like to say an unkind or unhandsome word of anybody, but he thought that some explanation was required with regard to the operations of our Baltic and Black Sea fleets, and the persons in command of them, in order to clear up the feeling of dissatisfaction existing in the country respecting that subject. The Admirals had had, no doubt, a delicate task to perform, and he was not disposed to judge them in any harsh spirit; but he hardly thought Admiral Dundas had shown all that vigour that might have been desirable; and he could not help feeling that, if the flag-ship had been the Agamemnon, and not the Britannia, a different course would have been pursued. We ought, however, to bear with the course that had been adopted, and hope that the explanations to be offered would clear up this matter. With respect to Admiral Napier, although there might be a feeling of dissatisfaction entertained in the public mind, still it would be most unjust to cast a slur upon him and his fleet, as the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) had done, as if Bomarsund was their only achievement. He thought Admiral Napier had exercised a wise discretion in not risking his force if he had ina- 129 dequate means at his command. We must recollect, also, that in the last war—which was all that we had to refer to for examples—an army of about 20,000 men, under such experienced commanders as Lord Keith and Abercromby, sailed in a fleet of 120 ships for Cadiz, and attacked that place unsuccessfully. This showed how difficult it was with a large land force to conduct operations of this kind, and we know that Sir C. Napier had no sufficient means at his disposal for undertaking extensive operations. All he hoped, however, was, that next year, and even at the present moment, this contest would be carried on with increased vigour. We all knew now the kind of enemy with whom we had to deal—he had been unmasked. What a hypocrite! He had roused the religious fanaticism of his subjects, and encouraged his troops in the indulgence of sensual excesses to blind them to the perils to which they were exposed and the certain destruction into which they were often remorselessly sent. We know, also, the barbarities to which they resorted. It was to be feared, indeed, that the Czar was determined to carry on the war to the last extremity in justification of his own policy; and, indeed, he did not believe that a peace would now be cemented upon the ruins of Sebastopol, or when the triple standards of the Alliance floated on the turrets of St. Vladimir; but we knew whom we had to fight—we knew that our foe valued no friendship and respected no rights; and if he was contented to live without faith, without pity, and almost without respect, he hoped that Her Majesty's Government, in connection with the Government of France, and irrespective of any other vacillating or dubious Powers, would be enabled, under Providence, with the confidence and support of the British people, to teach the Emperor of Russia to feel that his lawless ambition and his aggressive aspirations would add neither dignity to his own Crown nor imperil the liberty or the independence of Europe.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
Sir, the charges which have been brought against the Government to-night are of a character so serious that I hope the House will grant me their attention while I endeavour to give an answer to the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, and to offer that explanation of the course of the Government which he claimed as a right, and justly claimed it, as a Member of Parliament, to exact from them. That explanation I will endeavour 130 to give by a plain and straightforward narrative of the events of the war as they occurred, so far as they came under the direction of the Government; and the House of Commons must then judge whether, when they have considered the past conduct of the Government in the prosecution of the war, the Government are entitled to ask for further powers and further assistance for the purpose of carrying it out with vigour. Sir, the charges, as I understand them, which have been made by the right hon. Baronet are many in number. He states that the army was originally sent out by the Government without any distinct plan or intention; that when at last the Government resolved upon a plan, it was not such a plan as was justifiable, considering the forces at their command, and the information they possessed of the power and strength of the enemy they were about to attack. The right hon. Gentleman says further, that the army was too small for its object, that that army was not a well-appointed, but an ill-appointed army, and he quoted instances in which it had suffered in its efficiency from the want of due preparation on the part of the Government. He says, also, that that army was sent out too late, that the reinforcements were not sufficient—that that army, too weak in the first instance, was allowed by the neglect at home to dwindle down till it was absolutely insignificant. Now, Sir, I cannot do better than state—and I will do it in a very few sentences—what was the intention of the Government at the time that this army was first sent into the field; and I will show next what efforts were made in order to produce that army on the field in the highest state of discipline and efficiency; and thus you will see how much truth there is in the allegations that the army was too weak for its purpose, and that it was suffered to become still weaker by the want of sufficient reinforcements. Now, it was in April that the Government sent instructions to Lord Raglan as to the course he should pursue with the army under his orders. That army was numerically very inferior in strength to that now under his command.
Let me here say that in every step we took at home or abroad, through our Ministers here, through our Generals there, we acted in concert with our Allies, whose good faith in council has been as signal as their gallantry in the field; and when I speak of instructions given or intentions 131 entertained, I speak of intentions entertained and instructions given, not by the English Government alone, but by the allied Governments acting in strict concert together. Well, at the time this army was sent to occupy a portion of the Turkish territory, we had a large fleet in the Black Sea. There was then a very powerful Russian army occupying the Danubian Principalities. There had been but few contests then between the Turkish and the Russian forces, and the strength of the Russian army had not been broken by disease and the deficiency of their Commissariat. Those who had the best means of forming a military opinion in this matter had not then very great confidence in the power of the Turkish army to resist the attacks which the Russians might direct against it, and thought—and I believe justly thought—that in the then aspect of affairs there was danger that a bold stroke might be made against the Turkish capital, and that the Bosphorus might fall into the hands of the Emperor of Russia. I am not now speaking of things that were probable, but in war you must also look to things that are possible, and guard against them. There was, also, the possibility that if the Turks failed to resist successfully the attacks on their position at Widdin and Kalafat, the Balkan might be turned, or that the Russians might, without crossing the Balkan range, go to the right of it, and advance down on Constantinople, and that that capital would in that way have been endangered.
Well, the English and French armies were occupied in ascertaining what would be the best line of defence, and strengthening it, in order to keep Constantinople safe from any coup-de-main. But Lord Raglan, in his instructions, was told that a portion of our army should be encamped at Unkiar Skelessi, not only on account of the salubrious and well-watered nature of that portion of the country, but also because it placed him within reach of Varna, should the line of the Balkan be attempted to be forced by the Russians; and, likewise, if any attempt should have to be made on the Russian territory, such as was ultimately contemplated, great advantages would be enjoyed there for carrying out that object. I mention this to show that the Government had a distinct plan, which was—first, to secure the Dardanelles; next, to defend Constantinople; next, that capital being safe, to defend 132 the lines of the Balkan; and, lastly, to be ready, should opportunity arise, to strike a blow at some vital part of the Russian Empire. That which had been foreseen took place—the Russians forced the Danube, Silistria was invested, and Omar Pacha considered that he was in great danger, and that he should be unable to maintain that fortress unless the Allies made a combined advance that should threaten and menace the Russian army, and so force them to raise the siege. We all recollect the events of that siege. We all recollect the gallantry of our own countrymen in a miserable outpost of that fortress—but it was not their gallanty alone, or their valour, but it was a consciousness on the part of the Russians, that an advance of the French and English armies from Shumla and Varna would render it impossible for them to maintain their position, that caused them to raise the siege. We are very apt, after the fact, to underrate the value of successes achieved, and I have to-night heard hon. Gentlemen speak of gallant exploits elsewhere in a tone that I did not expect to have heard. Silistria, however, was relieved. An argument may be advanced, as to whether the importance of such relief should have been allowed to interpose before other military operations. No doubt that interposition lost time, but you gained immensely by it; you gained for the Turkish army a great moral prestige, and destroyed that prestige which had so long throughout Europe been attached to the Russian army. It was the first great enterprise of the Russian arms in this war, and it failed. Do not undervalue the importance of that at the outset of a contest. Well, that accomplished, it remained for the Government to decide on the next enterprise which would most tend to strike some effectual blow at the power of Russia in the Black Sea, and so place her neighbours for the future in a state of comparative tranquillity. On the 22nd of June the siege of Silistria was raised, and on the 29th instructions were sent to Lord Raglan—who, from the first, had been desired to ascertain, by every means in his power, the amount of the Russian forces in the Crimea, and to ascertain how far, with the powers at the disposal of the Allies, an attempt on Sebastopol would be successful. The officers who commanded those two armies were men of great military experience, and the Government reposed in them—one of whom 133 is now no more—as it does now in the survivor and in the successor of the other, unbounded confidence. The right hon. Baronet asks whether we gave them any positive instructions after we had received any positive information on which we could rely? If we had shown so little trust and confidence in those men who were selected to hold posts of such responsibility as the command of our armies, we being six weeks distant from the scene of action—if we had had so little confidence in them as to have told them, whether your information be favourable or not, you must wait until we have decided on it, and weighed the grounds of your recommendation—then the allied Governments would not only, as the hon. Baronet has said, have lost weeks, but months, and delayed so long that no expedition could have been attempted. Well, those officers took every means to ascertain the force of Russia in the Crimea. They held a council of war, and decided, as I think they had a right to decide, that the attempt should be made. They knew the forces at their own command, and, from information received, they also knew what forces they would be likely to meet; and Lord Raglan knew better than any man what accession to his forces he could count upon, for no man knows better what is or is not the military capacity of England. From the moment they had come to a decision, the allied Commanders applied every energy of their minds to make preparations for that immense armament which conveyed our armies to the Crimea.
Right hon. Gentlemen talk of the lateness of the expedition, and think nothing so simple as the embarkation of 50,000 men, and of carrying them across the sea, and landing them in face of an hostile army, with boats built and prepared for the landing of horses and siege guns. Right hon. Gentlemen talk of this as of landing at a pier in a time of profound peace. These preparations took much labour, and reflect infinite credit on those engaged in them, and I do not know that any expedition ever sailed so perfect and complete in all its departments, and with the exception of that confusion which must of necessity arise in moving so vast a body of men on so capricious an element as the sea, I do not think that there was ever moved so immense a force with so little loss and with so great success. Now, I ask, was the army landed in the Crimea so insufficient for the purpose for which it was 134 intended? Lord Raglan took with him 27,000 men to the Crimea, which, together with our Allies, formed a force of more than 50,000 men. What had they to meet? Nearly the whole of the Russian force in the Crimea, and they met it in an entrenched position, which gave to their numbers an advantage almost equivalent to doubling their force. They held on the heights of Alma a position as strong as that which we held at Inkerman; but they held it with a very different result.
Let me now inquire whether there was nothing else that delayed this expedition? Before it sailed from Varna there broke out a fearful pestilence among our troops; that pestilence thinned their ranks most grievously, and our troops had to meet an enemy worse than any human enemy, and far more dispiriting and terrible to the soldiers. We were, unfortunately, not the only sufferers; our Allies suffered also from this disease, and among them its ravages were more fearful than among our own troops. I do not exactly know the extent of the loss they suffered, but I know the loss from disease was far greater than any which we sustained in action. No sooner had that disease culminated, and commenced to decline among the troops on land, than it broke out in the fleet, which put to sea, as it was thought that the disease could so best be remedied; but the fleet soon returned, having in a few hours sustained a loss the mortality of which, from its rapidity, was fearful in the extreme.
Lord Raglan and Marshal St. Arnaud had now to recruit their army, and to raise them from that depression consequent on sickness, while making the preparations for the invasion of the Crimea. It is quite clear that, had they been able to land in the Crimea earlier, they would have been enabled to have gained much as compared with the enemy? The difficulty which the Russians had to contend with in receiving reinforcements arose from the difficulty of passing over a soil which became broken up in wet weather. Therefore, the longer the fine weather, the longer could the Russians pour in reinforcements; that they made good use of their time none could deny, and I suppose that there never was an army moved on land so skilfully and rapidly as was the corps of General Dannenberg which was brought from Odessa. The right hon. Baronet has said, that we have underrated the power and skill of our enemy. I recollect that last Session I 135 made some observations on that head; and I said that the public opinion of the country was doing that which the right hon. Baronet now accuses us of doing. From the campaign on the Danube, which had this peculiarity, that there was not one pitched battle fought during it, the public chose to assume that the Russian power was waning, if not extinct, and that there was nothing easier than to conquer whenever we chose. I pointed out that the Russian soldier, who is a Russian peasant, is a man of a primitive nature, and, like all primitive people, is strongly and ardently attached to his native country. We are apt to think that those of a country who have no free institutions like our own are unable to feel that patriotism which we feel; but we have had a lesson in this respect, and others will admit, now that they have seen the defence made of Sebastopol, the tenacity with which the Russians defend their country, a tenacity to which, when I formerly alluded to it, I was accused of connivance. But the right hon. Baronet states that the army was insufficient in number, and has been utterly without reinforcements. Now, the army, when first sent out, was composed of four divisions, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and light division, besides cavalry and artillery, and it consisted of 22,680 men. In June, before the orders were given to make a descent on the Crimea, if circumstances were such as to justify such an attack, a fifth division was formed and placed under the command of the lamented Sir George Cathcart. Now, let me state the reinforcements that were sent out to the army:—In June, there were 941 men; in July, 4,588 men; in August, 2,032 men—yet the right hon. Baronet tells us that from the moment that the expedition was decided on no reinforcements were sent to the army. [Sir J. PAKINGTON: I did not say that.] Then I was so unfortunate as to have misunderstood the right hon. Baronet; but, perhaps he will admit that, subsequent to the orders and subsequent to the landing in the Crimea, he said no attempt was made to reinforce the army. But to continue: in September there were 1,286 men sent out; in October, 2,855; and, in November, 7,037. Now, these were before other reinforcements, which I admit were called for by subsequent events, and which were requested by Lord Raglan; but I do not count them, or seek to take any advantage from them, but, month by month, state to you the number of troops 136 which were sent out. But you may argue that these reinforcements were small for a Power like England, that can pour out its battalions like water. But I ask, on whom rests the responsibility that England, at the commencement of a war, must make small wars? It has been the fault of every Parliament; we have always had the same stereotyped system of economy in military affairs. I am speaking the whole plain truth in this matter. I am as much to blame as any one. I have held for some years the responsible situation of Secretary at War, and I know what have been my own shortcomings in this respect, but whenever I have brought forward, as I have done, what are called Peace Estimates, I have constantly been met with Motions for large reductions. I say, therefore, that it has been the fault of all parties, all Administrations, and every Parliament. I am afraid I cannot give my assent to any exception, however eager I may be to do so. I have seen Administrations formed of various parties—I have seen them taking different courses on almost every conceivable subject, but on one they have all agreed, and that has been the one to which I have alluded—one of improvident economy. What has been the result? At the commencement of the war we had to make means and to create an army, and to use it at the same time. I recollect at the time when the Militia Bill was brought forward by the right hon. Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole)—and every year that has passed has confirmed the opinion I entertained of the wisdom of that measure—we had a great many discussions on the military available strength of the country, and hon. Gentlemen used arguments to show that after deducting the troops necessary for the occupation of our garrisons, we had not 10,000 available bayonets left in England. I have shown the number of men originally sent out, and of the reinforcements since sent; I will now add to them those that have been ordered to embark from the different Mediterranean garrisons, and which are sent from home, including also 1,700 men still waiting for ships. I am not now speaking of what have been actually under Lord Raglan's command, but of those which are passing under his command, which when they have passed there will, from first to last, have been, in cavalry, infantry, artillery, and sappers, 53,044 men. This is the number of 137 non-commissioned officers and privates, exclusive of officers; if you add them, the numbers will he between 54,000 and 55,000 men. I do not believe that the country is aware of the efforts that have been made—they have seen it stereotyped through leading articles that Lord Raglan has been left with 16,000 bayonets. But what does 16,000 bayonets mean? It means all that are left, after deducting all the men on detachment duty, all the cavalry, artillery, engineers, and all officers and non-commissioned officers; and the 16,000 bayonets are put forward as the whole available army. Why, the Duke of Wellington had at the battle of Waterloo only 18,000 British bayonets, and, if you subtract all the officers, non-commissioned officers, cavalry, and artillery, and men not actually engaged, you will attain your object in making a small show upon paper, but you will deceive yourselves and the country as to the efforts she is putting forth.
The right hon. Baronet has said, and with perfect fairness and truth, that the Government has no right to complain of the House of Commons, and they have behaved with fairness and liberality, and have not made objections to any call or demand which the Government has made; but the right hon. Gentleman says that the question is, whether these powers or further powers should be intrusted to the hands of those who have shown so little wisdom, prudence, and foresight? The right hon. Baronet drew a picture of a Member of Parliament's duty: it was his duty to give his support to a war which he felt to be just, and to give his support also to any Government he thought capable of conducting it efficiently. But, according to the right hon. Baronet's own statement, he has given extraordinary powers to the present Government, whom he thought incapable of using them with sufficient wisdom, prudence, or foresight. If that be his rule, it is not mine. If we are to derive any advantage from this strange proceeding on his part, I reject it; if he thinks the Government incapable of carrying on affairs, it is not his duty to intrust them with power, but to transfer it to some other men more honest and capable of conducting affairs, so as to satisfy himself and the country. The right hon. Baronet has also asserted that they had neglected to supply the army with proper appointments; he founds his charge on a proceeding which, in a military point of view, was necessary, and on which the 138 Government could not have dictated, and neither did they pretend to dictate, to military men. The right hon. Baronet says they lauded without tents, and he conceives that the Executive were in fault for having sent out a great army without a sufficiency of tents; but every regiment that went out with its arms and munition took also tents, and I do not believe that any army ever before went out so perfectly appointed in these respects. There is no doubt about their having the tents, but it is said Lord Raglan landed on the 16th of September without tents. The night was wet, and the men were exposed to a great deal of suffering, but they only did for a few days that which the Duke of Wellington and the Spanish army did for four years. No doubt much sickness was caused by this—it is very easy to judge of this after the fact, and Lord Raglan is blamed for having landed without tents, and having brought them so unprovided to Balaklava. But let me put another question, and then let any one judge whether Lord Raglan is to be blamed. He knew that they had to meet a very powerful army, which had intrenched itself, and it was very obvious that within a short time of landing, and probably at the time of landing, they would have to meet an energetic, determined, and skilful enemy. Lord Raglan might have brought all his tents, but then he would have left behind him all those battalions the space for which would have been taken up by the tents. A powerful force is stationed at the Alma, and nothing can be done until their position is forced or turned. Now, if the result of the battle of the Alma, instead of being a glorious victory, had been an undecided success in consequence of the want of two or three battalions, the expedition would have been lost, and what would then have been said of Lord Raglan? It would have been said, "Why did you fill your ships with ambulances and tents when you had men, and such men, lying idle at Varna? You were going upon an expedition in which you knew that the first blow was everything, and to take men with you, and plenty of them, should have been the one and the only consideration." But now the battle of the Alma has been won, it is easy for the right hon. Gentleman to say that it might have been won with fewer men. Just so. The right hon. Gentleman thinks nothing of the expedition to Bomarsund. There was certainly, he says, 139 a blockade, but you sent your great ships into the Baltic upon an expedition ending in nothing. One right hon. Baronet thinks nothing of the capture of islands almost inaccessible, held by a very powerful enemy, in which buildings had been marked out for erection which would have made them into another Cronstadt or another Helsingfors, so that there might be in the Gulf of Finland another perpetual menace to another capital. This is the result which the right hon. Gentleman treats with such supreme contempt; but the Emperor of the French differs from him in opinion, for he gave a marshal's bâton to the general who commanded the French troops engaged in the expedition.
I now come back to the Alma, and the right hon. Gentleman's charge, that tents were not provided for the troops. I hope the explanation I have given will be obvious to every one and satisfactory to the country. I do not believe that one iota of blame attaches to Lord Raglan for that proceeding. I believe he did what every man in his place ought to do—he judged of the circumstances as they then stood, he did not pretend to prophecy the success of the army, but he took every means to ensure it. It is now easy to say that his success was certain, and that he should have left men behind and taken tents with him instead.
I must here diverge for a moment to meat a charge which the right hon. Gentleman has not made, but which has been frequently made elsewhere, and I shall make a very frank statement on that subject to the House; nor shall I, in defending what appears to me to be defensible, condescend for one moment to conceal what I think, with respect to details which have been in my opinion, unsatisfactory. Last Session we had a great deal of discussion as to the merits of the Commissariat, and the Commissariat was then subjected to much popular criticism. I believe that the opinions then formed with regard to the Commissariat were exaggerated, and not founded on fact, but I am not prepared to say that at the end of a long peace the Commissariat or any other department of the army was necessarily, or could be, in as perfect a state as experience arid practice could make it. I have no doubt, therefore, that there was ground for a certain portion of criticism upon the part of those who were determined to find fault; but the Commissariat has outlived those criticisms, and I believe it is now 140 universally admitted that there never was an army better fed than the army of Lord Raglan. Their rations have been increased, and they are now 50 per cent larger in meat than the rations of British troops have been at any previous time. When fears arose as to their health from the nonuse of vegetables, immediate steps were taken to supply them from Trieste, Venice, and Smyrna with fresh vegetables; and when I beard that they were being sold to the men, I wrote to Lord Raglan, that, in my opinion, whatever was necessary to make the soldiers efficient in the peculiar position in which they were placed with a view to the public service ought to be supplied at the expense of the public. But it has been stated that there has been great mismanagement with respect to the medical department of the army during the campaign, and I am very anxious that the House should know the exact truth upon this subject, because, I think, nothing can be so detrimental to the public service as for the public to imagine that when our bravest men were laid prostrate by suffering, be it from wounds or be it from sickness, they met with heartless neglect, at a time when they had earned for themselves a right to the utmost care and solicitude. Let me first state what was the amount of the staff which we sent out. For a long period no army had left the shores of England so large and so well appointed; and certainly none had ever left it to conduct operations so important, but so hazardous, as the army of Lord Raglan. It was felt that, going to a climate so doubtful, the efficiency of the medical staff was a matter of paramount importance. When, therefore, the army was first organised, the Government took the opinion of a gentleman upon a matter of detail, which I instance in order to show the care and attention with which these matters were looked to; they took the opinion of Dr. Guthrie, a surgeon of great eminence and talent, who had stated that there was an error in the organisation of the medical department. He said—You have but three medical officers to a regiment; you have a large staff; the staff surgeon has none of that local interest in a regiment which the regimental surgeon has. In the field, the regimental surgeon has the strongest interest in bringing his men to a state of health as rapidly as possible, and getting them back to their battalions, while the staff surgeon has no interest, one way or the other, in clearing the hospitals, and therefore do not give so many men to your staff, but give a fourth surgeon to every re- 141 giment, and your medical department will be more efficient.Dr. Andrew Smith, the head of the medical department of the Army, differed from Dr. Guthrie upon that question. He said—In no battle is every regiment engaged; and, if you give a fourth surgeon to every regiment, those regiments which have suffered most will not have enough, while those who have not suffered at all will have too many. Those who have suffered must depend on the staff; but the staff will be weakened, and the colonels of the regiments which have not been engaged will not let a surgeon of their own go, for they will say that their own regiments may be engaged on the next day.I consulted Lord Raglan as to which system he preferred, and he said he thought Dr. Guthrie was right. But there was great authority on either side, and we said to Dr. Guthrie, "Take your large regimental establishment;" and to Dr. Smith, "Take your large staff establishment." Dr. Andrew Smith had devoted himself to the work night and day; he collected all the purveyors of hospitals who had had experience in previous wars. They met at his house, and drew up a report as to the proper amount of stores to be sent out for the use of the army. They drew upon their recollections of the Peninsular war, and made their calculations at so much per head. Well, we trebled it. The Government felt that since the period of the Peninsular war great improvements had been made, the comforts of the soldiers were now more attended to, and more must be done than had been done in the campaigns of Wellington. I mention this to show that it was our object to make these preparations for the army as good and as ample as possible. I am not saying that all has been done successfully, or could not have been done better, but that we spared no exertion to make it as efficient as we could.
But now, what number of medical gentlemen were appointed to the army? Of staff medical officers there were 280, of regimental medical officers 192, and of ordnance medical officers fourteen, making a total of 486; or, with the nine medical officers of the 5th Division, of 495. I think it only fair to state, that upwards of 100 of these have been added since the battle of the Alma; but at that time also it must be recollected that the force was much smaller. At that battle the medical establishment, as it was at first fixed for the army, amounted to 275. On looking at the Moniteur de l' Armée, I 142 find that the medical establishment for the French army amounted to exactly the same number, although their army was numerically—I speak of the two armies as sent to Turkey—larger than ours. If we had chosen to limit our medical staff to the number engaged in the Peninsula, we should have sent out one surgeon to every 145 men, while the number we have sent to the East is one to every seventy-seven men, or very nearly double the number. Much complaint has been made upon this subject, and a great deal of the blame which has been cast upon it is just in this sense—that when sickness makes its ravages upon an army which is at the same time engaged in constant operations against an enemy, the strain upon the medical officers becomes so great that no number you can send out will be sufficient. But was there no difficulty in getting together this large staff? It was necessary to send all the most experienced men we could find, and we drew from the depôts all the regimental surgeons of military experience to send to the East; but it was also necessary to keep some at home, because we had the cholera in England as well as in Turkey, and we could not trust entirely to civilians for attendance upon the troops, because, when any virulent disease such as the cholera arises, a civilian, who has a large practice in the country, and whose clients are very important to him, says, "It will not be honest in me to receive your pay, as I can no longer attend to your regiment." We had great difficulty in getting these men together, for they were scattered about in emigrant ships, in merchant ships, and in various other vocations in different parts of the world. We also employed numbers of civilians, giving them a temporary rank in the army, and they did not wish for more, as they were only desirous of the opportunity of getting practice and experience. I think the House will do me the justice to admit that, as far as the medical staff is concerned, the Government cannot be charged with looking at it in a niggard spirit, or with not anticipating great drains upon that establishment, which was just double in number that which had ever before been sent with an English army. I must not take up the time of the House by reading the long lists which have been published of the matériel which was sent out. I am not speaking to that which is the weak point in the department—namely, its distribution, but to the fact of its having 143 been prepared and sent out—to the fact that Dr. Smith was indefatigable in his endeavours to supply the army with every possible comfort, nay, with every possible luxury, that could be of use in a hospital. The list contains the items of blankets and bedding, of good cotton sheets 19,000, and everything upon that sort of scale. I will not say more on this part of the subject, but I wish to impress upon the House and upon the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) that it has not arisen from heartless indifference to the sufferings of the troops that they have been exposed to privations.
I have already alluded to a statement, that after the battle of the Alma a great deal of unnecessary suffering was inflicted on our troops in consequence of the bad arrangements of the medical staff. I can refer upon this subject to documentary evidence, but I think I can put the case to the House in a manner which will convince them that there has been great misapprehension and great exaggeration of the evils which have existed, and which at the commencement of a war always must exist. It was stated, for example, that the wounded of the British army at Alma lay upon the field of battle untended for two or three days—that they were brought down to the ships with their wounds undressed, and put on board one of them in such numbers that it was rendered unsafe. I believe that a great deal of this misapprehension arose from ignorance of what happened in places beyond the observation of those who made the allegations. The French army took fewer men than we did, and carried their ambulances with them; they had, I rejoice to say, fewer wounded than we had, and, being nearer to the sea, all their wounded were carried immediately to the ships. Our troops were some of them four or five miles from the sea, and a field hospital was established at some farm buildings at or near the spot where they had fallen. All the men whose cases permitted them to be moved were moved into it, and those who could not be moved were treated on the field, their wounds were dressed, and as much comfort afforded them as possible.—little enough that is. All such plans after a great battle, and upon the battlefield, are necessarily rough and inefficient for the comfort of the men, but this is one of the stern necessities of war. The men were brought down the next day, or the day following, from the field hospital, or from the field, and placed 144 on board ship. It was supposed that those who were thus carried down were being brought for the first time from the spot at which they were wounded, and that no treatment had yet been afforded them; but I have evidence which satisfies me that in not one single instance was a man allowed to leave this field hospital without his hurts being dressed; but I will take a previous case, namely, that of the Kangaroo, after the landing at Old Fort; but it is quite true that a number of men, far beyond what she could possibly carry, were in the first instance placed on board the Kangaroo. The statement, however, that 1,500 persons were placed on board is an exaggeration, for I believe that the number did not much, if at all, exceed 700. It was stated that the officer in command made a signal that he was overloaded, and that the medical officer remonstrated against so large a number being placed on board, and 450 only were sent in her. The medical department was free from blame; but persons commanding transports, and those who are without the same responsibility as medical men, are often very unwilling to put themselves out of the way for a department which is not their own. But the wounded were immediately removed from the Kangaroo to another vessel. It was also stated that 100 died of the cholera during the passage; the number, I believe, was really twenty-two, and that is a small proportion, when it is recollected there were many cholera cases, and at that period the proportion of deaths to sickness was greater than it had ever been before in any of the London hospitals. I admit that there was great discomfort, but I maintain it could not be avoided. The men could not be left on the field, Lord Raglan was obliged to remain two or three days on the spot, because he was aware that if he left them they would be massacred by the Cossacks; and, of course, their sufferings on board ship were great before they reached the general hospital of Constantinople. But it is said that their wounds were not dressed during the whole time that they were on board ship. I am informed by surgeons accustomed to the treatment of gunshot wounds, that no surgeon would think of dressing or re-dressing a wound of this description within three or four days after it had been made; the great object being not to disturb the wound, and to keep the dressings wet. It may, therefore, most likely be true, that the wounds were not dressed on board, and yet that the sufferers 145 did not experience any unnecessary neglect. I have dilated rather at length upon this subject, because I do feel that, if it were true that anything like systematic or heartless indifference had been manifested by any department, but above all by the medical department, it would produce a terrible reaction in the spirit of the people of this country, and destroy that confidence in the administration and management of the army, which has of late years made it so much more easy to recruit its ranks.
As I am upon this point, I will now say a few words with regard to the general hospital at Scutari, and this is a subject which, I admit, has caused me much anxiety. The distance at which we are placed from the scene of action is such, that we are helpless to assist in any great emergency; we can send out stores and men, but we cannot direct their immediate application. I will not conceal what I consider to be the real truth with regard to this hospital, although I have seen evidence upon both sides so contradictory that I would defy any man who was willing to give credit to either party to know what conclusion to come to. We have been told, for instance, that it was not possible to procure lint in the hospital, and the greatest indignation has been expressed against the persons charged with these matters for leaving the hospital so unprovided. I have accounts from medical men, which I will not read. They are the persons who have been impugned, and unjustly impugned, by public opinion, and their statement is, that there never was for a moment a deficiency of lint, of linen, or of anything else; but there had been the greatest mismanagement as to their distribution. At the time the army left Varna the general hospital was there, and orders were then given that the stores should be sent down to Scutari, but that order, in the hurry and bustle of the departure, was never executed. The principal portion of the stores remained at Varna, while the whole mass of the wounded were sent to Scutari; fortunately there was, with the assistance of the Turkish Government, a sufficiency to meet the difficulty of the moment. There never was a deficiency of these things, but, such a deficiency being apprehended, the medical officers accepted a loan of a quantity of lint and other articles from the Turkish Government for the use of the hospital. Therefore there was at one time an apprehended deficiency; there never was a positive de- 146 ficiency; but I will tell you what there has been—there has been a system engendered during the peace which has greatly incumbered the hospitals of check and counter check for the purpose of economy. There have been all manner of forms to be gone through before stores could be issued to the medical officers. Every account I get says this; the medical men in their vocation are beyond all praise, says the gentleman at the head of the establishment; they work night and day—their tenderness to the sick, their humanity, their zeal, their energy, are mentioned by every one, friend and foe. But it does appear to me that the deficiency is this, that, with plenty of stores, no one seemed to know where to lay their hands upon them; with plenty of materials at their disposal, the forms were so cumbrous that they never could be produced with that rapidity which was necessary for the purposes of a military hospital. The moment we heard complaints of this kind we sent out a commission with authority to inquire into the causes of these evils, and set them right. We thought there might be timidity on the part of some of the officials in asking for what they might require, and we telegraphed to Lord Stratford, telling him the supplies were to be unlimited, and that the hospital was to be provided with everything. We did everything we could, and I am glad to see, by the accounts I get from persons on whose judgment I can depend, that things have been set right. One gentleman, whose letter is private, but whose name alone would be a guarantee that he was not disposed to criticise too favourably upon this subject, says—I see there much to blame and much to praise. But day by day I see manifest improvement. To manage more than 3,000 casualties of the worst nature is indeed a task to be met in an entirely satisfactory way by nothing short of a miraculous energy.He says—With regard to the past, I could pick many a hole, and show where head has been wanted and duty neglected; but I see so much exertion being made that I will throw a veil over that; if the wheel is in the rut, at any rate I can say every one is putting his shoulder to the wheel to get it out again.I do believe that those who have been so free to blame have not really considered and made allowance for the difficulties of the case. When 1,000 or 1,500 sick and wounded men are simultaneously brought into a hospital, if you had all the order and all the appliances you could wish, you never could prevent a scene of confusion 147 arising from the sudden influx of so many disabled men. I hope the House will do me the justice to acknowledge that in speaking on this question I have not concealed my honest opinion. I might have read to you flat contradictions of everything that has been advanced, written by men who made their statements in perfect good faith, who could give the dates of the particular cases with the greatest accuracy, and I have no doubt they would give to the House the exact facts, but they would not give to the House what I should like it to have—a fair general view of the real circumstances of the case. If I might be allowed to say one word on this subject before I leave it, it is this:—one thing which the Government did to ensure the comfort of the sick and wounded has been eminently successful. The House will recollect that, some time ago, a lady, Miss Nightingale, undertook to carry out to Scutari a number of nurses for the purpose of alleviating the sufferings of the sick and wounded. I have received, not only from medical men, but from many others who have had an opportunity of making observations, letters couched in the highest possible terms of praise. I will not repeat the words, but no higher words of praise could be applied to women for the wonderful energy, the wonderful tact, the wonderful tenderness, combined with the extraordinary self-devotion, which have been displayed by that lady, and I am glad to say that the characteristics which have been shown by that lady, the force and influence of her character, seem to have penetrated all those working with her, and I believe, not only the patients themselves, but every person connected with the hospital will be benefited by the admixture of this new element in the management of a military hospital.
I have been led away from my subject in this digression, but I hope the House will pardon me, and I will now come back to What I was saying in answer to the observations of the right hon. Baronet. I have stated what was the force of our armament—I have shown the amount of the army which was originally sent out, and which is now about to be sent to Lord Raglan, taking the reinforcements due to him, and adding them to those already in his possession, and a letter has just been put into my hand from Sir Henry Ward, stating—and I was delighted to hear it—that he had letters from Admiral Boxer, in which he mentioned that 24,000 148 English and French troops had passed through the Bosphorus up to the 5th of last month. I have shown you the number of the reinforcements; I have shown you that they amounted, first, in June, to 941; July, to 4,580; August, 2,032; September, 1,286; October, 2,855; and November, 7,037; making altogether 18,739, exclusive of the reinforcements since sent; and I have shown you, including the original army and the other reinforcements, we have sent out 54,736 men; and I ask you whether, consulting our history, England, in the first year of any war in which she was engaged, ever sent forth such an army as this? You say, and say with truth—and I believe you— "You have absorbed our reserve." We have done so. The right hon. Baronet says the questions he put to-night were not all, and that on another day he might call us to an account for sending an expedition against Sebastopol at all. I will not wait for that time, but I will tell him why we did so. Because we knew that Sebastopol is the stronghold of the power of Russia in the south; we knew that the blockade of Russia, however effectual, will not strike home in a manner that will be sensibly felt; and we knew that the destruction of her fortresses along the Circassian coast, although it shakes her power to the centre in those provinces of Asia which she has of late years appropriated, is not still such a blow as would be inflicted if by any means at our disposal we could destroy her fleet and arsenal at Sebastopol. It was a great undertaking; I admit it was a great hazard, but I tell you next year it would have been impossible. Round that mighty fortress, day by day, and night by night, have been rising chains of forts; and if we were to give them time, they would continue to rise until the fortress would be absolutely impregnable. If Sebastopol is not taken or destroyed in this campaign, it will never be taken or destroyed. There was a great risk in the undertaking, it is said. 1 say there was. But I recollect an hon. Member in the last Session saying he had seen a gentleman of influence in the City who had told him there was but one feeling there of unanimity as to the way in which the war should be carried on. He said, "We all hope that the war will be carried on with the utmost vigour and determination, but no risk must be run whatever." Now, if we can conduct a war with that happy mixture of energy and determina- 149 tion, combined with no risk to ourselves—that happy mixture of prudence and boldness which would inflict all the loss upon the enemy, and none upon ourselves, truly we might say the golden age of war has come. But in carrying on war, you must run great risks if you would acquire great advantages. It is said it was a great hazard. Unquestionably it was; but I know that many military men with, in many respects, opinions adverse to my own, have said, "They must do it now, or they never will do it at all." I admit that there was very great hazard, but it struck me that the prize was of such enormous importance that we should have been unworthy of our places if we had not attempted, while we could with any chance of success, to strike a blow at the only vulnerable place, which is the very centre and heart of the power of Russia in the Black Sea.
Well, I hope, Sir, that the right hon. Baronet will be satisfied with this answer, which is the only one I can give him, and that the result will prove the wisdom of the proceeding. We know the hazards of war; but it is easy to judge of events after they have taken place. But let the right hon. Baronet reflect on the course which was taken by certain parties with reference to this subject during the last Session. I confess that all last summer, when I heard the language in which the Government was urged to make an attempt upon Sebastopol—they thought the subject had escaped the attention of the Government, I suppose—but the language in which it was urged was in itself so arrogant, so ignorant, and so presumptuous, that I used to feel when I heard it a sort of superstitious fear that such arrogance and such presumption would bring down the vengeance of Heaven upon us. They talked of Russian power, judging from the weakened, dispirited, and demoralised army, that could make no progress in the campaign upon the Danube. They talked of the power of Russia as if it were nothing. We did not enter into this war in that spirit. We knew the great resources she possessed, and we did everything in our power to ensure success. It is true that I have heard a criticism made by some military men upon the whole proceeding. They say, "You have sent out more men than you can well maintain, you have sent out a number that you will find it difficult to feed and to clothe; it is 150 much more than you can manage." That was the difficulty I spoke of before—of making a great start in the first year of the war. It is a difficulty which you have had to encounter when you have had to make an army, when you have it not ready made. But recollect this—we have not well-seasoned soldiers in this country. See the difficulties we have bad to encounter. We have no conscription in England; we have no compulsory service whatever in England; we have to trust entirely to the voluntary system. You cannot make an army as other nations may. You cannot make an army by a stroke of the pen, or by an ukase raise 100,000 soldiers. We must get men willing to come; but on the other hand, when they do come, you have got the materials which no conscription in the world can furnish, you have got for your materials men not dragged from their reluctant homes against their wills, and from their peaceful pursuits, to be forced into scenes of blood and scenes of horror to which they were totally averse. You have got free men—men animated by high spirits, young adventurers, full of life, full of enthusiasm, full of ambition—men whom no suffering can break, who can never complain that one hardship or suffering to which they have been exposed has been forced upon them by a tyrannical Government. You have had that difficulty, but you have had another—at least when we are talking of augmentations—we have had a difficulty which has pressed very hardly upon us; for some time past emigration to a considerable extent has been going on from this country, and more especially from the sister country—Ireland—which has dried up to a certain extent the sources of our military supply. You have, at the same time, had great prosperity in trade and agriculture, which has produced an enormous demand for labour and consequently created high wages; now all that would not be in favour of the recruiting sergeant. But when I look back to the records of history, and see what were the means by which in former wars we attempted to get men, how we persuaded men into the militia by a bounty of 10l., and draughted them out of it by a bounty of 11l., and, after all, we could only raise something like 24,000 men in one year, and when I look at what has been done during this the first year of the war, I must confess the contrast is not unfavourable. Taking into account the enlistments, 151 both in the regulars and the East India Company's service, and all other additions, we shall by the end of the month have added by free enlistment something like 40,000 men, such as I have described, to our army. I do say, then, I reply with confidence to the inquiry as to the augmentation of the army. We are getting men not faster than they are required, but faster than we can form them into regiments, drill them, and make them skilful and useful soldiers of their Queen and country.
On that point I will stop to say that Lord Hardinge, the Commander in Chief, at the very commencement issued a regulation in regard to the troops for the East, that he would not allow a single man to go out unless he was previously practised in the use of the Minié rifle. It has been the fashion, I regret to say it, for some time past to depreciate the value of the services of Lord Hardinge. I have served with Lord Hardinge as Commander in Chief, and with others as Commander in Chief, and I have been able to see what Lord Hardinge has been able to accomplish under circumstances of great and extraordinary difficulty. If you look at the nature of the successes which our arms have achieved in the Crimea, I think it will strike you that the next thing to be noticed, after the indomitable courage and fortitude of the men, is the skill with which they have used their weapons, and the superiority of the weapons which have been placed in their hands. If it had not been for Lord Hardinge, I do not believe you would have had a single division armed with Minié rifles. I do not mean that Lord Hardinge sent them, but, if he had not during the short time he was at the head of the Ordnance Department insisted upon their introduction, that they would not have been in use now. Many officers of high military rank were notoriously prejudiced in favour of the old regulation muskets, and could not be got out of the routine, and even such men as the late gallant Sir Charles Napier had said, "There is nothing like Brown Bess; for God's sake don't take away Brown Bess." But Lord Hardinge had laid down a regulation that not a recruit should leave this country unless he was properly instructed in the skilful use of this formidable arm. And what is the opinion of the men of the division who are armed with the Minié as to the use of this rifle, and what was the 152 opinion of the rest of the men from witnessing its effect? That opinion was manifested on the dreadful day of Inkerman, where, whenever a man, not having the rifle, saw a man fall who had, he ran, seized his Minié, and used it for the rest of the day. It is not only the superiority of the weapon, but the consciousness which it gives the man who has it that he is dependent upon his skill, and must devote his mind to exercise that skill. The result is, that, instead of firing at random, and only one ball in 600 or 700 taking effect, they saw the soldier using his weapon with the facility and activity with which a gamekeeper would his fowlingpiece, and taking the proper precaution to make every shot tell. Well, Sir, we have had this army to create, to drill, and to send out. Men are coming in rapidly; we shall be able to augment the regiments largely, and thus establish a reserve, so that another year it shall not be said, as it has this year, "You have put our all upon one great effort." It has been said, we should have sent out, earlier, two, three, four, five, or six regiments; but could we have done so? What will the right hon. Baronet say when he is told how long it takes to make a soldier? What were the regiments that have been sent out? Three months ago regiments that have been sent out were in our Colonies, or returning from a tropical climate, mere skeletons of regiments. They were to be engaged in Crimean duty, and had to be totally reformed. Some of these regiments were not in England at this time; some were in Canada; others in the West Indies. How, then, can it be said to us, reinforcements should have been sent out three months ago? We could not get a man of those regiments which the right hon. Baronet says ought to have been sent out, and he must recollect that we cannot create an army, we must get the men first, then make them into soldiers by drilling them and instructing them in the skilful use of their weapon; for nothing would be so injurious to the reputation of our army as sending men into the field inefficient for their duty.
I hope, Sir, that this House will believe that the Government have not been neglectful of these considerations, and have made every exertion to raise and strengthen our army. Look back at the history of all previous expeditions, at the commencement of our wars and show me one which has been equal in strength to that which 153 has now been sent out. Show me one in which at the end of the first campaign they had come out with a higher reputation. Can it be said now, as Sir Henry Banbury says of our army before the expedition to Egypt, that the public had lost all confidence in the skill, and even the courage, of our officers and men; and that one of the greatest benefits of the successful campaign of Sir Ralph Abercrombie was to restore the reputation of the armies after the disastrous disgraces which England had undergone. But I want to know what is our position at present. I want to know whether, at any period in the history of England, our military character stands higher than it does at present. I want to know what is the effect upon the public opinion of Europe of the manner in which our battalions have conducted themselves. I want also to know what is the effect upon Russia, and upon its armies, of the manner in which our battalions have repulsed every attack they have made; and I must say I think that those persons who take upon themselves to criticise our operations, and to say that Alma ought to have been turned instead of stormed, could not have studied the map of the country on which their opinions are offered, or they would see that the ground on the right of the Russians on that occasion was so steep and so inaccessible that its commander did not even think it necessary to strengthen it; and if Lord Raglan, whose conduct has been attacked and whose reputation has been assailed for not turning that position, had adopted the course which has been so suggested, he could have done nothing which the commander of the Russian troops could have more desired. He would have desired nothing better than to have separated the English and French armies, and to have placed his own army between the English forces and the fleet which formed the basis of our operations. So, likewise, it has been alleged against Lord Raglan that he ought to have assaulted Sebastopol immediately after the march to Balaklava. But, Sir, I don't think that we, sitting here, are very good judges of such operations. I know that many eminent military men thought the army was not sufficiently strong, and were highly averse to such an undertaking. Talk of leading flesh and blood against batteries, and that that ought not to be risked, because the position might have been turned! What would such men have said if he had led the troops 154 against a town of which we knew nothing of the interior, where it was impossible to say how much of Prince Menchik off's array might have been, of the defences of which we knew nothing, and where our soldiers might have been exposed to massacre in detail in a town, every house of which was a fortification. I confess I do defer to the opinions of the eminent men who commanded the French and English armies on that occasion.
But now, Sir, is it true, as has been asserted by the right hon. Baronet, that we took no precautions with regard to warm clothing. Warm clothing was sent out, and that brings me to another point. It has been, as we all know, a matter of time greatest regret that the ship Prince, conveying those stores, was unfortunately lost. But I must say that that loss has been greatly exaggerated. The value of the cargo of that ship was estimated at no less a sum than 500,000l.; but I understand that it was not more than 180,000l. This was, no doubt, a great loss, but much less than has been reported. However, immediate steps were taken to remedy that loss; supplies were obtained from Constantinople, and there is reason to believe that that loss has not been seriously felt. With regard to the clothing of the army, it so happened that when Lord Raglan applied for clothing, the answer was, "it has been already ordered and a great part has been already embarked." So that the letters of Lord Raglan, in asking for supplies, had already been anticipated Then the Government have been charged with being ignorant to the severity of the climate of the Crimea, and had not adopted those means which are best calculated to protect the troops from its injurious influence. Now, what is the position in which we have been placed? I have a letter from a gentleman a Member of this House, but whom I do not now see in his place, who says—"Experto crede, I know the climate of the Crimea well; don't believe the accounts that are published about the temperature; but whatever you do, follow the custom of the country; they must know best, and they clothe themselves in skins, and not in woollen.I then requested the opinion of a gentleman of great experience in Arctic researches, and he came to me and said— "Don't dress the men in skins, stick to wool, that is the only thing to keep them warm." Now I ask the House, how was I to decide between these two eminent au- 155 thorities? Without attempting to do so, I thought the safest thing—and in that view the Duke of Newcastle coincided—was to take the advice of both, and to send out both skins and woollen; and my hope is, that before long, every man in the army will have a change, both of woollen and of skins, from top to toe. But, besides that, we have sent out seal-skin caps, which are so made as to cover the face and ears; waterproof leggings also are supplied; likewise an outer coat of waterproof, under which can be worn a long vest made of tweed lined with hare-skin, rabbit-skin, cat-skin, and every other kind of skin. Besides this, we have sent out a peculiar description of coat—not lined in the usual style, but according to what is called the Canada fashion; and lastly, there will be a sheepskin coat I hope for each man. Thus, I think it will be seen that the men will be supplied with ample means to clothe themselves both with skins and woollens that must keep them warm.
Then with regard to providing huts for the troops, what have the Government done? They felt that, in this particular, time was everything. To have them built here at home and then send them out to the Crimea was felt to be a process that would occupy much too long a space of time; but the moment the requisition for huts arose, we telegraphed to Lord Westmoreland at Vienna and to Lord Stratford at Constantinople, desiring them to send out instantly such huts as they could have constructed in those countries. Lord Westmoreland immediately forwarded all the huts he could procure by way of Trieste; and huts, and materials for constructing them, were also forwarded from Malta and Constantinople. If, therefore, any huts or buildings should be sent out by us from this country—and which I hope will be the case—whenever they may arrive at the Crimea, they will be rather accessories and additions to what have already been supplied, than that of furnishing an article not yet possessed by the army.
It is thus, then, that I answer the charge brought against us of having shown a heartless neglect, and a gross indifference to the comfort and safety of what I believe to be the noblest army in the world. I have alluded to the manner in which our army is raised, and which I consider to be the best mode that any nation can adopt. What is the proof of that? Witness their conduct at the battle of the Alma. I do 156 not believe that any action was ever more difficult in point of attack than the carrying of the heights of Alma. Nor do I believe that you ever before heard an instance of such self-reliance, of such self-confidence, as was displayed at Balaklava, especially in sustaining the charge of the Russian cavalry by the 93rd Highlanders, under that tried soldier, Sir Colin Campbell. Every man remained in his place as they stood, two deep; as it has been well described—" As the Russians came within 600 yards, down went that line of steel, and before that fire and those immovable ranks the Russian horsemen turned and fled." Well, what have you at Inkerman? The commencement of the battle at Inkerman evidently showed that it had been in preparation weeks before. So far back as the 24th of October, a council of war was held by the Russians, and the whole of the battle was well arranged. The country, for upwards of 100 miles round, was swept of everything. Every cart, every bullock, every horse, every carriage, was appropriated to bring troops to this action. I believe the course taken by the enemy watt unexampled in the history of military warfare. It was preconcerted that this attack should take place. Everything was to depend upon it; and the Emperor of Russia was assured that the result was certain. Our men, who, on coming back to the camp after keeping their lonely watch, said that they heard the bells tolling in the churches of Sebastopol, and that the murmuring voices of great masses of men were heard. No doubt the religious ceremonies of the Church were used—it were to be wished that they had been used for an occasion of a more sacred character, but no doubt appeals were made to the patriotism and religious feelings of those large masses of men. In the night heavy artillery was moved up to heights commanding our camp. As at Talavera, it was a surprise; men in the guise of deserters drew our sentinels from their posts, so that no alarm was given. At last came that terrible onslaught of 40,000 men on 8,000. Yes. Well, the morning came, clouded by a heavy mist. There were 8,000 men—as one right hon. Gentleman has said, who brings a charge against the Government for that fact, as if the whole army consisted only of 8,000 men. Those 8,000 soldiers stood for hours, hurling back, with a fortitude and a courage more 157 like gods than men, the attacking force that had come against them, and whose numbers were so great, that, as one body was repulsed, another and another came up and took its place. Sir, I do not believe, if we were to go back to those battles of old which have attained a sort of mythical position in history, that any instance could be found of such courage, such unshrinking valour, as those 8,000 men displayed under such trying circumstances, for so long a period, and against such immense odds. It was a thorough soldier's battle. There was, there could be no manœuvring. There you saw the character of the English soldier—led, no doubt, by regimental officers, but it was the battle of the soldier standing in the ranks, and dying or conquering where he stood. Who were the men who displayed such signal courage? Why, Sir, they were the soldiers themselves. I rejoice at the number of the letters that have been published in the newspapers written by soldiers. I rejoice that the people of England should know of what materials their armies are composed. The people of England are apt to look at a soldier as only fit for parade, and at an officer as exclusively possessing the moral and intellectual qualities of a soldier; but, after seeing the courage, and good conduct, and the patience displayed by these men under unheard-of difficulties and sufferings, that opinion can no longer be entertained. I ask the House to look at that army which is without a crime, in which the office of Judge Advocate is a sinecure, and mark the simple piety shown by the men writing to their wives, saying to them that they are sure their children's prayers are heard, that God may protect them in the hour of action. Another speaks of eight officers being buried in one grave, and that there was not a dry eye among all the men who witnessed the solemn ceremony. These were the men who showed mercy to the vanquished, and that under circumstances of the most horrid provocation.
But now, Sir, comes the picture too truly drawn, I admit, by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, of the melancholy losses which our army have sustained. Among them is one, Sir George Cathcart, who, to the qualities of an accomplished soldier, added the enlightened views of an able administrator. There was no man whose single life was more valuably used. He had qualities of the highest character, 158 and his loss is a public loss, which will not be easily repaired. It is impossible not to he struck, in reading the names of those who have fallen, with the numbers of those who have gone to the war from a sense of duty, and who have shown in these latter days how little even high position and those luxuries which wealth commands can enervate the spirit of men who are devoted to the cause of their country. This spirit has animated the army from the lowest to the highest ranks. It is, however, a painful subject to dwell upon. I lament, as much as the right hon. Gentleman can do, the losses which we know that many even in this House have sustained. I cannot look around me without knowing that there are the parents, and brothers, and other relatives of many of those gallant men who have so cheerfully laid down their young lives for the service of their country. But I turn from this painful subject, and say that, at any rate, it is satisfactory to me to know that after all the great loss during these operations, that loss has not been so large as on former occasions. England has undergone far greater losses at Talavera and Albuera than it has sustained in the Crimea. At Albuera, out of 6,000 or 7,000 men, only 1,800 escaped unwounded, whereas in all the engagements in the Crimea, from the beginning to the end, there has not been a greater loss by the sword in battle than 1,350. More have died—our whole loss amounts to no less than 4,456; but this number includes 2,782 who have died of disease and of wounds, as well as 1,350 who have been killed. Now, sad as that record is, still it is much less than what the exaggerated statements I have seen make our losses to be. I have, therefore, thought it my duty to make this statement in order to remove any more painful feeling than the truth really warrants.
In conclusion, let me say here, that we hope that the most public recognition will be made which we can give, of the assistance we have received, and of the gallantry with which that assistance has been given by our powerful Allies. I can assure you that it is a pleasure to me to read those private notices which have passed between General Canrobert and Lord Raglan, in which they speak in terms of the greatest praise of each other. It is delightful to know that our army cheered most enthusiastically the advance of General Bosquet's division when 159 they came up at that opportune moment and relieved the shattered battalions that had been resisting for so fearful a period the attacks of the almost overwhelming enemy. I believe it is impossible to overrate the good which will result from the union of the French and English armies on the field of battle; the effect will be far greater to both countries than the most skilful diplomacy could have accomplished, and I am glad to see such frequent public recognition of the services which our Allies have rendered us. We are now in alliance with the most military nation on the face of the earth—long our rival, once our enemy. She is now bound to us in the strongest bonds of friendship. While we shall be acquiring the dash of the French, the French will be acquiring the firmness of the English. I believe in that union of the two armies we see the best prospect of attaining that great end we have in view in this war. I ask those who, two months ago, were looking despondingly at the state of things, to look at the position of England now; and also to look at what has been the effect of the war already upon our enemy? In previous wars we had alliances with countries who took our money, but the Governments of which too generally intrigued against us. We are now in alliance with the most military and chivalrous nation in Europe, and we see the opinion of Europe day by day coming nearer and nearer to us, while Russia is placed in a state of degradation and isolation. Her hostile army is now entrenched above her own chief arsenal, and her fleet has been sunk by her own act, while her forts on the Caucasus have also been destroyed by her own hand. These are the effects of the first campaign. I ask, where can you find, in the history of this country, a campaign of not more than a few months' duration attended with such results? But still I hope to see our army considerably increased, and if you, the House of Commons, think it ought to be, tell us so. I tell you that the country is determined, at all hazard and at all cost, that the army of Lord Raglan shall be supported. If the House of Commons does not answer to that feeling of the country, then the House of Commons must take the consequences, for, depend upon it, there is but one feeling upon this subject. We are engaged in a war which was entered upon with reluctance; we must carry it on vigorously to obtain that 160 which is the object of all war—namely, peace; for peace to be obtained must be obtained by conquest. Let no exertions be spared which will enable us by vigorous operations to gain that end. I say further, if you think the Government worthy to be intrusted with those powers, then intrust them; but I would sooner a thousand times sink ten Governments rather than any other policy should be adopted. I care not in whose hands the war is placed provided it be carried out with vigour and determination; and provided the representatives of the people honestly and truly carry out the will of the nation, that the noblest of armies shall be assured of the means—so far as human means can avail—to obtain a perfect and a glorious triumph.
§ MR. LAYARD
* Sir, few Members of this House have risen to address you under a more painful sense of responsibility than that under which I labour at this moment. My embarrassment is considerably increased by having to follow the speech of consummate ability and great eloquence which we have just heard from my right hon. Friend. Every man who loves his country, and exercises an influence, however humble, in her councils, must feel that, at a moment like the present, an act of indiscretion, or an error of judgment, may be attended by the most serious consequences. No one can be more persuaded of this fact than I am. At the same time I am labouring under those conflicting feelings which must agitate, more or less, every Member of this House. I cannot but ask myself whether at such a critical period as the present it were better to avoid all allusion to the past—to hope that the lessons we have received may enable us to do better for the future—to overlook all the instances of mismanagement and neglect which have undoubtedly occurred, and to support the Government, without any reference whatever to their policy, past, present, or future, and to their conduct of the war? or whether it be not the duty of those who may yet have it in their power to raise their voices once more in this House, to warn the country of the calamities which may still be in store for it—to point to the misfortunes under which we have suffered, in the hope of avoiding similar misfortunes hereafter—and to obtain from the Government, once for all, such a declaration of the policy they intend to pursue as may warrant this House and the country in placing confidence in 161 them for the future? Did I believe that this momentous Eastern question would end with the capture of Sebastopol, I should have little difficulty in making up my mind as to how I ought to act, I believe that Her Majesty's Ministers will make every effort in their power to accomplish this object. I have no doubt that the Government are at this moment making every human exertion to prosecute with vigour the war in the Crimea, and to capture that vast stronghold which we are now besieging. But it is, at the same time, my conviction that the capture of Sebastopol, however gigantic that undertaking may be, is only the first link in the chain—only the first step in that great war in which we are now engaged. I believe that whether Sebastopol fall or not, we shall have to choose between a hollow— I might almost say disgraceful—peace, utterly inconsistent with the great sacrifice of blood and treasure that this country has been called upon to make; or a struggle which, for its severity and the magnitude of its results, has, perhaps, been unequalled in the history of the world. Such being my conviction, how can I after that which has passed, by words express, or by silence infer, any confidence in Her Majesty's Government? If I could bring myself to believe that the calamities over which we have to mourn—for calamities they undoubtedly are—were the results of mere mismanagement or mere inexperience, and that in future those who have the direction of affairs would profit by their former errors, even then I would not withhold my confidence from Her Majesty's Government. But I am convinced that the greater part of what has occurred is to be attributed to a want of principle in the conduct of the war, to a want of definite policy. And how could it be otherwise? It is impossible that a Government constituted like the present could act upon any political principles, or with any definite policy. How could that be expected from a Cabinet the Members of which embrace every shade of political opinion—from that of the Holy Alliance down to the most advanced stage of modern liberalism? It must be evident, that to come to any understanding between themselves, men of such conflicting and opposite views must surrender at least half their opinions to meet half way. A half-and-half policy and half-and-half measures are consequently inevitable. But, Sir, this is not a moment for half-and-half measures or a 162 half-and-half policy. We cannot conceal from ourselves that the country is in danger, and that we are in a most momentous crisis of our history. If at any time vigour and decision were necessary, it is surely at such a time as this. I am perfectly well aware of the weight of the appeal that has been made to us this evening, and which has over and over again been made to us in this House and out of doors. At such a moment of national difficulty, we are told, it is the duty of all to work as one man. This is not the time to oppose the Government, however wrong or incapable its Members may be. Support them now, and they will do better for the future. But what has been the case for the last two years? When we were in the midst of those unfortunate Vienna Conferences and negotiations, I was told, when I wanted to warn the country against the inevitable result to which they must lead, that as we were trembling between war and peace, it was better to remain silent, and not by any unwise discussion or exposure impede the action of the Government. I need scarcely recall to the recollection of the House the result of our silence. Again, at the end of last Session, when I ventured once more to warn the House against the calamities that were inevitably in store for the country if we persisted in the doubtful and uncertain policy which we were then pursuing, I was urged, even by persons in whose judgment I had great confidence, and to whom, therefore, I looked for advice, to abstain from any attack or observations upon the Government, which at such a time might lead our enemies to believe that we were not an united people. I listened, to a certain extent, to this appeal. Would that I had been able to avert those calamities which I then foresaw! Would that I had had that influence in this House and in the country which might have compelled the Government to listen to the words of caution which I ventured to address to them! The confidence of this House was most generously and liberally accorded to Ministers. We have seen the results. Nothing whatever have they done, except after the strongest possible expression of public opinion—I might say of public indignation—it is only then that they have been driven into doing what is right. But, let me ask, is this statesmanship? Are our Ministers to remain idle until they are afraid of losing their places, and then only to do just as much as the public voice may 163 demand? If so, any twelve men we could collect between Westminster Hall and Charing Cross would be just as capable of administering the affairs of the country as as those who now form the Cabinet. But before I proceed to make any remarks upon what has passed, or to suggest any policy for the future, let me be distinctly understood upon two points:—In the first place, let me be foremost to declare that there is a duty incumbent upon all—a duty from which no man who values the character of his country, and who can appreciate the noblest examples of devotion and courage, could shrink—that of giving the most efficient and immediate succour to that band of heroes—for heroes they are, Sir, such as the world has never seen, or may, perhaps, never see again—who, thrown upon the inhospitable shore of an enemy, are engaged in an undertaking of unexampled magnitude and difficulty. I will support the Government, heart and soul, in any effort they may call upon us to make for this object. They may command me as they would one of their most ardent and devoted supporters. In the second place, let me declare that I am faithful to those principles upon the profession of which I was elected to this House. Although it has been my misfortune to differ completely from Her Majesty's Ministers on their foreign policy, and in their conduct of this war, I still look up to my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, and those who hold his political opinions, as the great leaders of the party to which I belong. With regard to those charges, of a personal charge, of faction, and of disappointment, which are liberally thrown abroad, and I regret to find encouraged by some Members of the Government, I can afford, from a conviction of my honesty of purpose, to treat them with the contempt they deserve. There is one other point which I do not wish to overlook. It has been said, with the sanction of Ministers too, that any attack or criticism upon the policy or conduct of Her Majesty's Government will be at the same time an attack and criticism on that of our ally. Feelings of delicacy, which I believe the House will appreciate, prevent me going as fully into this question as would be necessary to refute the charge altogether. The same insinuation was thrown out last year, and I met it by proving from State documents, published by ourselves, that the French Government had taken the initiative in every single instance in the 164 policy which the British Government was reluctantly forced to adopt. I should have no difficulty in doing the same now; but I will content myself in calling to the remembrance of the House, that there is a wide difference between the position of the Government of the Emperor, our ally, and our own; and that considering the very great difficulties with which he has had to contend, instead of making any reflection or criticism upon him, we should express only admiration and gratitude at the courage, consistency, and ability with which he entered and has subsequently maintained an alliance, the result of which may confer greater lustre upon that name than even those mighty deeds which have rendered it immortal. I cannot omit this opportunity of again bearing my humble testimony to the extreme integrity and ability with which his Minister (M. Drouyn de Lhuys) has seconded a policy, which, from his knowledge of our national character and our language, he is so well calculated to carry out; nor would it be pardonable in me to omit an allusion to the great debt the country owes to that noble Lord (Lord Cowley) who has so well represented at the French Court, during a time of such extreme difficulty, the interests of this country.
If I may refer without presumption to anything that I may have said last Session, I will remind the House, that on one occasion, after drawing the public attention to the state of affairs and the policy of the Government, I declared that I had at least the satisfaction, melancholy as that satisfaction was, of having twice warned my country against the calamities which were impending over it. Would that I had proved a false prophet! But it was too evident to those who were acquainted with the East, and with the mode in which Ministers were dealing with this question, that that which has occurred was inevitable. Although I should have no difficulty in showing how utterly deficient were our preparations for war—how completely the Government rejected all advice and neglected every precaution—how the commonest foresight might have prevented the gravest misfortunes—I do not wish to enter into details, nor would I even allude to them, unless almost challenged to do so by the statements, so much at variance with the facts, which we have just heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War. I shall, however, only refer to these statements incidentally, and as the occa- 165 sion may require. I wish to avoid mere matters of detail, in which there is always much to criticise and to condemn. Unlike the right hon. Gentleman, who has avoided the great points and principles at issue, and has endeavoured to blind the House by a cloud of details, I wish to treat this question in a manner worthy of its immense importance, and as one of general policy.
Sir, I have always divided the so-called Eastern question into two distinct phases —that during which peace was possible, and that during which peace was impossible. They are separated by the passage of the Pruth. I have still, and ever shall have, the solemn conviction, not founded upon mere conjecture, but upon the impression I received when present at Constantinople during the mission of Prince Menchikoff, that had the Government assumed a proper tone, the war would have been avoided. Now that we have learnt the vast power of Russia, increasing from day to day, and the extent of her ambition, it may, perhaps, be considered fortunate that peace was not maintained. This, however, is no justification of the conduct of the Government. The Pruth once passed, war became inevitable. Most unfortunately Her Majesty's Ministers shut their eyes to the fact. They still believed that war could be avoided; not perceiving that Russia had embarked in an enterprise, and taken a step, from which she could not recede without either obtaining advantages and concessions, to which we could never accede, or forfeiting that influence in the East to which she attached such immense importance, and which was the fruit of so many years of steady and persevering labour. It was then that the Government, instead of adopting a policy worthy of the country, and taking a line of their own, threw themselves into the arms of Austria, who became at once the arbitress of the question. Hence those Vienna Conferences which so greatly embarrassed us and gave rise to many of the most serious difficulties which have arisen. Even still hoping in peace, we declared war; but we were both unprepared and unwilling to take any serious steps towards prosecuting a war. We began by sending a few troops to Malta—believing, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted, that we should soon have to bring them back again. This step did not, as we had vainly expected, intimidate the Emperor of Russia. Something else was therefore 166 to be done. We determined upon moving our troops a step onwards, and they were sent to Gallipoli. Let me remind the House that all this while, in our belief that we should escape war, we had utterly neglected even the commonest precautions. It is scarcely credible that we had not even ascertained the number and condition of the Turkish troops opposed to the Russians on the Danube—that we were completely ignorant of their position, and of the probable nature and duration of the defence they were able to make. It was not until the spring of this year that Sir John Burgoyne was sent to Omar Pacha's camp. He declared, on his return, that the line of the Danube was untenable, and that the Turkish troops bad only to retire behind the Balkan. His opinion was far from being borne out by the result; but, unfortunately, our troops were detained at Gallipoli, and had now commenced entrenching themselves in the expectation of the Russians advancing on Constantinople. However, the Turks maintained their ground, and it was necessary to take another step. Without any regular plan whatever of campaign having been determined upon, the Government now ordered our army to be sent to Varna. I earnestly entreated the Government, as soon as I heard of the destination of our troops, to reflect upon the step they were taking. I pointed out to them that Varna was one of the most unhealthy spots in Turkey in Europe, and that pestilence and disease would inevitably fall upon our army. The right hon. Gentleman who has spoken this evening met my warning as such warnings are usually met by him. From that Pandora's box before him, from which issues every manner of delusion and deceit, he pulled paper after paper, return after return, to prove that Varna was the most healthy place in the world, and that our troops had never been so well even in English barracks. While the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, the Angel of Death was already hovering over our devoted men. Ere long our army was decimated. I loath these official returns, which will prove everything and anything —which would prove, like a lawyer's plea, to the dying man—neglected and alone—first, that he was not dying at all; and secondly, that, although dying, he was surrounded by every assistance — every comfort. Fortunately for us, the siege of Silistria was raised; and, in alluding to Silistria, I trust I may remind the 167 House that, although the hon. Member who moved the Address only spoke of Captain Butler, yet there was another British officer there to whose courage, ability, and energy the successful defence of the place may partly be attributed: I mean my gallant friend, Major Nasmyth. But, had the siege not been raised, we could not have relieved the fortress. I had warned the Government that our army would find no means of transport in Bulgaria. And so it proved. Our movements were paralysed owing to this want. As yet we had done nothing. The Government felt that the popular feeling was against them. Fearing that this feeling might lead to their fall, they determined upon doing something, and hastily resolved upon the expedition to the Crimea. Now, I do not intend to enter into any military criticisms. I have neither the knowledge nor the experience to enable me to do so, and I confess I think it would have been wise in the right hon. Gentleman to have abstained from defending those military manœuvres which have never been attacked. But this I may be allowed to say, that either one of two things must have been contemplated by the expedition to the Crimea—the taking of Sebastopol by a coup de main, or by a regular siege. Supposing it had been possible to take Sebastopol by a coup de main—and I do not deny the possibility—and it had thus fallen, what would you have done? Abandon the place, as you did Bomarsund? If so, what would have been the use of taking it, except merely for the satisfaction of destroying it? Even in that case you must have moved your armies somewhere. But you could not have given up at once the only guarantee you had in your hands. If, on the other hand, a regular siege was anticipated, it could scarcely have been commenced before the winter. In either case, therefore, our army would have to be supported and maintained during the winter. Is it, then, credible that, such being the case, our troops were sent to the Crimea without any reserve—any depôt—any base of operation? They were entirely dependent for everything upon this country. The Government had been warned over and over again that supplies could not be procured from Bulgaria. The country had been depopulated and devastated by three armies. Sinope had been pointed out to them as a port on the Black Sea nearer than any other to the Crimea, and communicating with the fertile pro- 168 vinces and large cities of Asia Minor, from which not only cheap and abundant provisions, but supplies of all kinds might be obtained. But these warnings and recommendations were made in vain. I know nothing more reprehensible—I had almost said more wicked—than this abandonment of a gallant army on an enemy's shore, without a reserve, and without supplies; whilst those who bad thus sacrificed them appear to have given scarcely one thought more to their fate.
The right hon. Gentleman, in describing the armada which conveyed our troops across the Black Sea, and which I willingly admit to have been the most magnificent that ever sailed upon the face of any sea, attributed the admirable arrangement and disposition of the ships to Lord Raglan. I feel certain that Lord Raglan would be the last man to wish to appropriate to himself that credit which was due to my gallant friend Captain Mends, of the Agamemnon. It was he who drew out those directions and instructions which have deservedly excited so much admiration, and who, with remarkable energy and skill, superintended their execution. The right hon. Gentleman then described the landing of our army, and, in doing so, he dwelt upon the sufferings our troops had endured during the first night, exposed to a heavy rain without tents. He then accounted for this want of tents, and explained to the House, with great apparent candour and his wonted skill, the reason why they were not at hand. The explanations given by the right hon. Gentleman illustrate so remarkably the mode in which the House and the public are deceived in matters of this nature, and the value of Government statements, that I cannot but allude to them. We were told that the importance of tents to the health and comfort of the men was well known, and by no man more felt than by Lord Raglan; but that as he had to choose between bringing over tents or battalions, he did not hesitate. Would the House, continued the right hon. Gentleman, blame him for doing so. Had he preferred the tents, what might not have happened at Alma, and then what would the country have said. But the troops, too, with true English feeling, preferred enduring every discomfort and suffering to embarrassing the movements of their general by asking for their tents. The House cheered this explanation; and it well deserved their cheers, supposing it to be the true one. But, what was the 169 fact? Neither the tents nor the battalions were left behind. The tents were not only brought, but they were landed, and our troops slept for two nights under canvas. The difficulty lay in want of transport—a difficulty felt throughout the campaign, owing to inconceivable neglect—and the tents were reshipped because there were no means of carrying them. The troops might have had their tents every night except perhaps one, that of the forced march; as it was, they were without them for nearly three weeks, a want of proper protection to which may be attributed much of the cholera and disease which visited the army after its landing in the Crimea. Now I am upon this subject I will allude to several other statements of the right hon. Gentleman, winch I regret to say are of similar value. He has entered into an elaborate defence of the Commissariat. I really know not why, as no one has attacked it. I do not wish now to go fully into this question, although I am far from agreeing in all that has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, and cannot certainly admit that the answer we hear so often, that our armies are as well off now as they were in the Peninsula, is a sufficient excuse for that which has occurred. Amongst other merits he attributed to the Commissariat was, their having been able to supply—unheard-of luxury!—vegetables to the troops. Now, what was the fact? Vessels with vegetables had certainly arrived at Balaklava, but, owing again to the utter want of transport, their cargoes could not be conveyed to the camp, and few, if any, of the regiments ever received them. The right hon. Gentleman told us, too, that in order to bring battalions to the Crimea, the ambulances had been left behind, and that Lord Raglan was quite right in doing what he had done, as the ambulances might have impeded our advance at a moment when promptitude was of the utmost importance. What was the fact again here? The House will not forget that the day after the battle of the Alma, Marshal St. Arnaud proposed to Lord Raglan to follow the enemy at once, a step which might have been attended by the most important results—perhaps the total rout of the Russian army, and the fall of Sebastopol. Why did Lord Raglan decline to advance? Because he had no means of moving his wounded. Had the ambulances been there, as they ought to have been, this might not have been the case. The history of these 170 ambulances will illustrate the manner in which the Government has managed details during this war. Instead of young and active men having been sent out to attend to the wounded, old pensioners, who after long service had retired to pass the remainder of their days in the sanctum of the public-house, and most of whom were suffering from delirium tremens, were selected for this duty. They were expected to take charge of mules—animals of all others the most difficult to manage, and which they had probably never seen before. The result was, that the woods about Varna were soon full of wild mules and fragments of harness, the pensioners were found dead by the roadside, and the ambulance corps became perfectly disorganised and useless. Notwithstanding all that is known in this country, the right hon. Gentleman denied the stories that have been current with regard to the medical staff. He contradicted the statement that many of the wounded had been left for two nights on the field. On this subject I can speak with some confidence, having myself been a witness to the fact. I should be the last man to condemn the medical staff, which, with one or two exceptions noticed by Lord Raglan himself, has nobly done its duty. But I think it unwise in the right hon. Gentleman to deny such established facts, and to justify neglect of duty which Lord Raglan himself has condemned. He has endeavoured to explain away that lamentable story of the transport so laden with the dead and dying, that her captain was compelled to hoist a signal of distress. To this fact, too, I can bear personal testimony. The medical officer, through whose neglect the vessel was detained twenty-four hours, was tried by a court martial, and acquitted on a technical point; but Lord Raglan, in confirming the decision, which he did most reluctantly, administered a severe reprimand, both to those who formed the court and to the medical officer. Whilst having thus to speak of the misconduct of one medical man, I cannot refrain from calling the attention of the House to an act of true heroism and devotion on the part of another. Dr. Thomson, with his Irish servant, one Magrath—and his name well deserves to be recorded—was left in a miserable half-ruined village, after the battle of Alma, with 700 wounded Russians. His only protection was a note written by Lord Raglan to any Russian officer who might chance to come to the spot. For five days and nights those two men re- 171 mained amidst the dead and the dying, burying with their own hands nearly fifty every day, dressing their wounds, administering to their wants, and feeding them from the small stock of provisions which had been left for their support. On the fifth day they were relieved by the officers of Her Majesty's ship Albion, when, almost exhausted, amidst a heap of dead and dying, they were watching the approach of a body of Cossacks, the advanced guard of a Russian division. I can scarcely picture to myself a position more truly worthy of compassion than that of these two men. It grieves me to add that Dr. Thomson fell a victim to his devotion the day after he rejoined the army. I cannot but think that, if there be any members of Dr. Thomson's family living, some acknowledgment of this noble act would be well bestowed, and would not be distasteful to the Crown or to the country. After the victory of the Alma—a victory which for the glory it has shed upon our arms and upon our national character has scarcely a parallel in our history—the army, by a forced march, suddenly appeared before the southern side of Sebastopol. Had the Generals who commanded the allied forces deemed an immediate assault either advisable or possible, the time for attempting it would have been when the Russian garrison and Russian army suddenly found that we had turned their flank, and had appeared before a part of the town which had been scarcely defended—which was, indeed, almost open. It was only by taking advantage of the panic which appears undoubtedly to have prevailed in Sebastopol, that a coup-de main could have been successful. When one day had been allowed to elapse without an assault, it was evident that a regular siege became absolutely necessary. The Government must or ought to have been aware of the fact within a very few days. How was it, I ask, that no exertions were then made to send out reinforcements of any kind? How was it that every effort was not made to enable our army to undertake the siege of so gigantic a fortress? One would have thought that after such a battle as that of the Alma even the Government would have seen the absolute necessity of immediate reinforcements and a reserve. Were we in a condition to embark upon such a siege as that of Sebastopol? Were we provided with even the necessary materials? I remember two or three days after our batteries had opened their fire, reading the report of a speech 172 made at a public meeting by a noble Friend of mine, and a Member of Her Majesty's Government (Earl Granville), in which he declared that if he only ventured to tell his audience the number of guns and amount of ammunition sent out to besiege Sebastopol, he should be laughed at as inventing a Munchausen tale! This seemed like mockery to those who now stood almost inactive before that stronghold bristling with cannon. It may astonish the House to learn, and the fact is strictly true, that had we continued the fire we opened the first day, and which barely sufficed to keep down that of the enemy, our ammunition would have been exausted in six days. Against an inexhaustible supply of materials of war of every kind—against the greatest arsenal in Russia—the united Woolwich, Plymouth, and Portsmouth of the empire, we could only bring sixty guns and mortars without having recourse to the armaments of our ships of war. After the first two days, consequently, the siege was virtually suspended, and from besiegers we became besieged. Our difficulties now increased from day to day. Deceived by the assurances of the Government that Austria was faithful to us, and that Russia could not withdraw her troops from Bessarabia, our Generals trusted in a false security. Day by day, unknown to them, reinforcements were arriving from Odessa. The corps d'armée which had recently occupied the Principalities, and which, if Austria had acted with common good faith, would still have been required on their frontiers, marched into the Crimea. Nearly 100,000 men were gradually collected on our flank. Then was fought that fatal battle of Inkerman, a battle which, glorious as it was, is yet one too many in our annals. Great as was the sacrifice—great as may have been the mourning and sorrow which it may have brought on many a home—yet that grief may be somewhat alleviated by the reflection that with one voice the civilised world has proclaimed its admiration, which history will re-echo, of the unparalleled courage and heroism that were shown by those that fell on that memorable day. The House, too, has to mourn more than one of its Members, and to rejoice over the gallant deeds of those who are still spared to it. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington) has alluded to the distinguished services of my gallant Friend the Member for Westminster, who rose from a bed of sickness, and hastened 173 to that terrible scene where his high sense of duty called him—whose calm courage and eminent military abilities were never more displayed than in the expedition he has now unfortunately been compelled to quit, an event which must be regarded as a public misfortune. I cannot omit a reference to another Member of the House, and a gallant Friend of mine, the hon. Member for Ludlow (the hon. Percy Herbert), whose chivalrous bravery and indomitable energy have secured for him the confidence and admiration of the British army. But, as General Bosquet has so well observed, to speak of those who distinguished themselves would be to speak of all who fought on that day. And in mentioning the name of my gallant friend (General Bosquet), let me bear my humble testimony to the display of those eminent qualities which have rendered him the object of admiration—I may well say of enthusiasm—to the British army, as it has more than confirmed the opinion which his country had already entertained of his fitness for a great commander. Never were those qualities more signally displayed than on this memorable day. With admirable coolness, judgment, and courage, he led his division to the support of the British army, overpowered by numbers, decimated by the severest of fires. Well might our gallant troops, when he had redeemed the fortune of the day, look upon him as their deliverer, and cheer him with that hearty English cheer, which, as he has told us himself, made so deep an impression upon his noble heart. I trust that Her Majesty's Ministers will not forget that upon no one could be conferred a mark of Her Majesty's favour that would cause greater satisfaction to our army or to the country, and I may confidently add, to the French people. This great battle has been already well described. It was, indeed, a battle of heroes, and "a soldiers' battle." The highest military authorities have declared, that in war bayonets have rarely, if ever, been crossed. But on the heights of Inkerman, from early dawn to the middle of the day, it was one terrible struggle hand to hand. Our weary soldiers stood as ramparts before the overwhelming columns of the enemy; it was only by opposing their bodies to them that they could check their advance. Terrible as were the losses of that day, they were not, I trust, suffered in vain. At Alma, the British and French troops fought apart; 174 but at Inkerman theyf ought side by side. They charged in one line, and their cheers of victory were mingled together. A mutual feeling of confidence, of esteem, of admiration, was thus engendered, which, I trust, may last through many generations, and may cement for ever an union which may be the source of boundless security and happiness to the human race.
The enemy were defeated at Inkerman, but was our position changed? No, we remained, and still remain, the besieged. We are still before a fortress of gigantic strength, with an army outnumbering oar own upon our flank. Nothing but almost superhuman exertions can maintain our position. Of this I am certain, that everything that courage and devotion can accomplish will he accomplished. Upon those gallant and devoted men who are struggling with unparalleled constancy and long-suffering against dangers, privations, and difficulties, which might appal the firmest mind, I have every reliance. But it is for the Government to do its duty. No exertion should be spared to relieve and assist them. The country will never permit them to be sacrificed. Let them be properly succoured—let the resources of this great country be rightly applied—and Sebastopol must fall.
Having thus reviewed the conduct of the war in the East, let us turn to the policy of Ministers in the West. Again we have that same want of any definite policy, of any well-matured plan, of any well-directed effort. What has been done in the Baltic? I do not wish to criticise the deeds of our Navy, and of its Commander, which my right hon. Friend has, I think, somewhat needlessly defended. I am quite willing to believe that they have accomplished all that was practicable. I do not wish to underrate the importance of the capture of Bomarsund, or the difficulty of that undertaking; but what I wish to ask is this, what fruits has the country gained by this feat of arms? You have destroyed the fortifications of Bomarsund, but have you prevented their reconstruction? Have you any pledge that in a few years hence they will not be rebuilt? and in a manner which may not admit of their being again captured with so little trouble and loss? I cannot understand the policy of deserting the place the moment we had captured it; nor can I understand the mockery of addressing a proclamation to the unfortunate inhabitants of the Aland Islands, 175 scarcely 20,000 in number, whom you had inveigled into joining you against their Sovereign, warning them at their peril from entering into any future relations with the Emperor of Russia! Your conduct with regard to Bomarsund, so far from having had any good result, appears to me to have been productive of great mischief. You have shown to Sweden, who might have proved a most valuable ally, and who might have become a real check upon Russian ambition in the north, that our policy consists merely in isolated acts, and has no definite object. You have led her to believe, and very justly, that if she were to declare for you, and engage in war with a powerful neighbour, you would desert her as soon as you found it convenient—probably addressing her a recommendation such as you have insultingly and in mockery addressed to the in-habitants of the Aland Islands, not to have any future relations with Russia! Can you then expect that Sweden will be your ally, or that you will obtain any definite result by your ill-digested expedition in the Baltic?
But, Sir, to whatever quarter of the globe I turn, I find the same want of design and of principle in the policy of Her Majesty's Government. It is really so important that this state of things, which must inevitably lead to misfortune and disgrace, should be properly placed before the House and the country, that I venture to claim the attention of the House to the few remarks I think it my duty to make upon the subject. I will take Greece as my first instance. We have not forgotten that the Greeks, at a time when the Ottoman Empire was in its greatest straits, made a wanton and scandalous aggression upon the provinces of Thessaly and Epirus. They ravaged these provinces, drove off innumerable flocks and herds, and plundered the property of the unfortunate inhabitants. The sufferers were principally Greeks and Christians like themselves. is it not natural that, after the world had declared this to be a most unjustifiable and unprovoked aggression, we should support the Porte in a most just and legitimate claim for indemnity? Have we done so? No! on the contrary, we have used our influence to make the Porte withdraw its claim for indemnity, and, on a shallow pretence, we have released Greece from paying that penalty which she had most justly incurred. What has been the in- 176 evitable result? Why that the Christian population of Thessaly and Epirus, whom, above all other Christian subjects of the Porte, it was of the utmost importance to conciliate, have found that they can hope for no protection or relief from their Government, and that their only chance of safety hereafter would be to join with the invaders. The inhabitants of Greece at the same time see that they can commit an act of wanton aggression on a neighbouring State with impunity. Do you not think that, if we should experience any reverse in the East, such a state of things will inevitably lead to fresh outbreaks of a most formidable and embarrassing nature, in Turkey in Europe?
Look again at our policy in Asia. It was of the utmost importance that the Circassians and Georgian tribes hostile to Russia should be aided and encouraged in assuming the offensive, in order to prevent Russia removing her troops and garrisons from Circassia and Georgia and throwing them into Sebastopol. What have we done to effect this object? We sent to Circassia two utterly incompetent agents—unacquainted with the language and the manners of the people. Their mission, as might have been expected, proved a complete failure. We have opened no communication with Schamyl, and we have completely overlooked the importance of a flank movement upon the operations of our enemy in the Crimea. Again, with regard to Persia. It was of no less importance that that Power should be induced or compelled to declare itself. Like Prussia, it wished to maintain a neutrality which could only be dangerous or inconvenient to us. It would have been of incalculable advantage to us if Persia could have been brought to join us against Russia. With such an enemy on her flank, the movements of Russia in Asia Minor would be paralysed. We know the importance she attached to the neutrality of Persia during her war with Turkey in 1828. I repeatedly called the attention of the Government last Session to the state of our relations with Persia, and an hon. Friend of mine, the Member for Poole (Mr. H. Danby Seymour) placed a notice of Motion upon the books of the House on the subject. It is only at the last moment that the Government have thought it necessary to send a fit agent there, who cannot arrive at his post before the mischief is well nigh done. Again, we left the Turkish 177 army in Asia to perish, without taking a single step to ascertain its condition—without offering to send one officer to aid in perfecting its discipline or directing its operations. When that army is defeated and almost destroyed, we despatch a British Commissioner to report upon its condition! Had it not been for the diversion made in the rear of the Russian army by the indomitable Schamyl, the whole of Asia Minor might even now have been in the power of Russia. As it is, our culpable neglect will probably entail upon us an immense loss of life and treasure. Such having been the policy of the Government in all parts of the world, such having been its results, I again ask what, with the exception of having obtained an uncertain footing in the Crimea, has been done towards the true and satisfactory settlement of this great question?
As I have ventured thus to criticise and condemn the past policy of the Government, I may be reasonably asked what I have to suggest for the future. But before pointing out what might be done, what policy might be pursued, it is of the utmost importance to ascertain the true position of Austria. Without some positive and definite assurance upon this point we cannot act with decision or upon principle. Not only for the sake of our future policy, but to set at rest the anxiety felt in the country, we should be fully informed on this subject. We hear that there is a probability of fresh negotiations, under Austrian superintendence, which may lead to peace. After what has passed under similar auspices, it is but right the House should know something about the probable nature of these negotiations. We are about to separate, and may not be called together again for one or two months. After the experience we have had of the diplomatic capacity of the Government, can we with any confidence permit them to engage in fresh Vienna Conferences? I am again told, as we were told last Session, that we have at last succeeded in obtaining the alliance of Austria. The right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty will not, I should presume, go so far now as to add Prussia. But if such be the case, as I conclude we are bound to assume by the expression in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, I should like to know why the treaty, which we are told has been concluded with that Power, has not been laid upon the table of the House. The other treaties referred to have been—why 178 not, therefore, this treaty? We must infer that the Government have some good reasons for wishing the contents of the treaty not to transpire whilst this debate is pending. But before we vote the Address in answer to Her Majesty's Speech, it appears to me to be of the utmost importance that we should know what the provisions of that treaty really are. As the Government has not thought proper to inform us upon this point, I must assume that they are such as I have been able to ascertain than to be from reliable sources. If so, I will venture to assert that your treaty is worth little more than waste paper. Instead of leading to a solid alliance, it will only prove a fresh obstacle and difficulty in your way. I believe the effect of the treaty to be this, that unless Russia should consent before the end of the year to certain propositions as the basis of a peace, Austria will enter into an alliance offensive and defensive with England and France. What are these propositions? They are founded upon the four points of which we have heard so much. Now I, for one, believe that these four points are most mischievous—that they contain admissions on questions of principle to which this country ought not to accede. I am convinced that if they are received as the basis of negotiations, and form the grounds of any peace with Russia, the whole question for which we are now sacrificing our best blood will be left completely as it was when we began this war, and that we shall only be deferring to a period when we may be far less able to meet it than at this moment, the settlement of a question of the most vital importance to the civilisation and liberties of the world. What, let me ask, are these four points, the concession of which you deem sufficient to repay us for the sacrifices we have made? The first converts the sole protectorate of Russia over the subjects of the Porte professing the Greek faith, into a quintuple guarantee in favour of all Christians in Turkey. After all, a guarantee in such a case can amount to nothing else but a protectorate. If you cannot enforce your guarantee, it is of no value. Will any one believe that this quintuple guarantee will not eventually enable Russia to resume her former influence in Turkey, and to push her former claims in favour of the Christian subjects of the Porte professing the Greek faith? They would look up to her as their real protector, and over them she would still exercise that influence which, founded 179 upon a similar creed and mutual sympathies, we have admitted to be so dangerous to the independence and very existence of Turkey. Moreover, we all know what the result of a triple protectorate has been in Greece, what mischief it has caused, how fatal it has been to the advancement and prosperity of that country. Can any one believe that a quintuple protectorate in Turkey will create anything else but interminable squabbles and dissensions, and may not lead to a more serious state of things than has even hitherto existed? No more effectual means could be devised of defeating our own object with regard to Turkey, of checking the progress of the Christian races, and of rendering them incapable of governing themselves. I am as ready to admit as any man, that, after what has been done for Turkey, after the sacrifices we have made in her behalf, we have the fullest right, in fact I may say it is our duty, to demand that the fullest protection and liberty should be granted to her Christian subjects. But if a protecting power be absolutely necessary to enforce the guarantee, then why not have recourse to a second-rate Power, which has no great political interests in Turkey, and whose influence in that country is neither the object of fear nor of jealousy? Why not vest the right of protecting the Christian subjects of the Porte, of all denominations, in Sardinia—in whose liberal and enlightened policy we have the best security for its fair and just exercise? Let us now turn to the second point—the one which contains to my mind the admission of a principle of the utmost danger. It converts that which was a mere guarantee on the part of Russia—a guarantee of so uncertain a nature that politicians of high authority believed it to have long since ceased—into a quintuple protectorate over Servia. With regard to the quintuple protectorate over Wallachia and Moldavia, mischievous and inconvenient as it may prove, I believe to be of such immeasurably less importance than that over Servia, that I shall not do more than allude to it. But if you give Austria the power of interfering in the affairs of Servia, you will destroy every prospect of the only ultimate settlement of this great Eastern question which has so long, and which will yet for many years, threaten the peace of the world. Let your protectorate be quintuple or separate, it must inevitably get into the hands of either Russia or Austria. Servia is too remote 180 from England and France to permit of our supervision or interference. Austria already assumes that she will be your delegate, and will exercise for you the protectorate. In your name she will crush those germs of liberty and independence, and that inherent love of free institutions which distinguishes the Servian, and to which I look with confidence for the true settlement hereafter of the Eastern question. You know, by the protest laid upon the table of this House last Session, how the Servians view Austrian interference, and, depend upon it, that by sanctioning that interference, you are committing a terrible act of injustice and wrong, besides defeating your whole policy. The third point is the free navigation of the Danube. But how can you make the navigation of the Danube free without any territorial change? By the Treaty of Vienna, Russia binds herself to maintain the free navigation of the Danube, and she asserts that she has never impeded it. If one treaty be of no avail, what will a second do? Nothing. With Bessarabia in the hands of Russia, every stipulation for the free navigation of the Danube is a mere farce. My only hope, Sir, is in the fourth point—the revision of the treaty of 1841. It is of so vague and indefinite a nature that we may include anything in it—the destruction of Sebastopol, the cession of the Crimea, the independence of Circassia, and I cannot believe that, under it, Ministers will dare make proposals to Russia which will not give effective guarantees of a substantial peace, and which, consequently, Russia cannot possibly accept.
These negotiations, founded upon the four points, will be carried on through Austria. Again you have made her the arbitress of the fate of Europe. Again you have resigned yourselves into her hands. Austria may turn round upon you, and say that Russia having accepted these propositions—and I can tell the House she has done so without reserve—she, Austria, cannot admit any construction that you may choose to place on the fourth Article; that she is consequently relieved from all further obligations; and that, as far as she is concerned, the casus belli ceases. And can we expect any other course after the policy she has pursued? It is not by what we may wish her to do, or we may think that she ought to do, but by what she ever has done, that we must form an opinion upon the policy she is likely to pursue. The true policy of Aus- 181 tria was admirably summed up in a sentence spoken scarcely two months ago by her representative in the Principalities, Count Coronini, at a public dinner in Bucharest, at which the British representative was present. "Austria does not wish you success in the Crimea, nor does she wish you failure!" No! she neither wishes the allies success nor failure—but she eagerly waits until we, as well as our enemy, may be weakened, when she can step in as the arbitress and carry off the spoil. What has her conduct hitherto been? Have we derived any assistance from her? Far from it. She has so treated the inhabitants of the Principalities, as if they were her conquered subjects, as to make them pray for a return of even the Russians. She has impeded or checked the movements of Omar Pacha and his army; and though she knew that we were fighting her battles, she has had the selfish, mean, and cold-blooded policy to allow the Russian Government to withdraw its troops from Bessarabia in order to pour them upon our devoted bands in the Crimea. How many times during the last year might a word, a movement on the part of Austria, have spared us the worst calamities of the war! Can we hope now that Austria will turn round and adopt any other policy? I, for one, cannot believe it. You tell us that this treaty with Austria anticipates negotiations for peace—that there is a possibility of negotiations for peace during the recess—will not this House be wanting in its duty to the country if it separates without obtaining from the Government some distinct account of the nature and object of this treaty. But, whatever the Government may wish, I be-believe peace at this moment, and upon such conditions, to be utterly impossible. There are no terms we can offer, after the sacrifices we have made, and the lengths we have gone, that the Emperor of Russia can, consistently with his honour and his dignity, accept.
Peace being then, I believe, impossible, it remains to be seen how the war is to be conducted, and what policy we are to pursue. Ministers are not, I am convinced, aware of the magnitude of the struggle in which they have embarked; nor are they alive to the difficulties and dangers which await them. Up to this moment their policy has merely consisted in providing for the emergencies of the moment, or in waiting until they were pushed into action by the pressure of public opinion. But this 182 will not do. It is full time to look this great question in the face, and to be prepared to deal with it in a manner worthy of its magnitude and of its vital importance to the country. If we are not prepared to do so, we should not have entered into this war. As yet, you have not looked beyond the Crimea. But you must now do so. The vigorous prosecution of the siege of Sebastopol is not the vigorous prosecution of the war. Suppose Sebastopol taken—what then? The Russians may shortly have 200,000 men in the Crimea. ["Oh, oh!"] An hon. Gentleman cries "Oh, oh!" Well, let him give his attention to the matter for one moment. Last Session I was laughed at for saying that the Russians could send reinforcements into the Crimea. The march from the Principalities would, I was assured, take at least three months—if, which we were told was not to be contemplated, Austria would permit the departure of the Russian troops. What has happened? In our camp before Sebastopol we acted as if such were really the case. Our generals unfortunately relied upon the assurances of the Government, and in one night we found that Russia had at least 100,000 men on our flank. The Secretary at War has gone into details respecting small matters—let me ask the House to go into details for one moment upon great matters. According to Lord Raglan's despatches, and according to the estimate of the French Commander in Chief, there were 60,000 men engaged in the attack on the heights of Inkerman. Amongst these troops, we are told, on equally high authority, there were none which were engaged at Alma. Now, estimating the remainder of those who had been at Alma at 3,5,000 men, we have 95.000 men. But there was Liprandi's corps, recently arrived from the Principalities, amounting to between 20,000 and 25,000 men, which made the feint on Balaklava; 10,000 men, it is believed, were engaged in and supported the sortie on the French lines, at the extreme left of our position; the batteries, continuing their fire as usual, must at least have required 5,000 men more. If these numbers be correct, and I take them from official despatches, the whole number of troops on the 5th of November, in and near Sebastopol, must have amounted to nearer 150,000 than 100,000 men. We have since heard that another corps d'armée is advancing. What is there then, I ask, to prevent the Emperor sending 50,000 men more into the Crimea? 183 We have taken away our fleet from the Baltic, and, consequently, released the Russian troops from the defence of that portion of the empire. What is there to prevent the Emperor from sending his Guards into Poland, to relieve such troops as might at the same time be marched towards the Crimea? It is very well to say that we are now in the winter season—that the roads are bad—that armies cannot be moved. But the fate of an empire—the results of the policy of a long line of great monarchs—the fruits of years of wisdom, cunning, and toil—are at stake; and will they be sacrificed without almost superhuman exertions? No. The roads might very well be impassable under ordinary circumstances, but we have seen that they are not impassable now. Even post-horses and waggons have been employed to bring down one division of the Russian army, and similar efforts will be made to move other reinforcements. If you are determined to make war upon new principles, you must expect such results as these. The only mode of preventing Russia moving or feeding her troops was by dealing with Odessa differently from the manner in which you treated that great station and granary, in that absurd and useless attack you allowed our fleet to make upon it. Had Odessa been Rome, Naples, or Athens, I can well understand the feeling which might have prompted us to spare it. But Odessa has no historic fame—it is not the repository of art. It is nothing else but a great depôt: one of the granaries, not only of Russia, but of Europe—a station for troops, and the place from which the Russian armies, both in the Crimea and Bessarabia, and, consequently, those engaged in an attack upon Turkey, and in war with us, are supplied. I respect that feeling of humanity which might have led you to avoid, if possible, a bombardment. But what, under the circumstances, would have been the proper course? It appears to me that you might, consistently even with your principles, have summoned the garrison to lay down their arms, and to surrender the granaries and military stores within twenty-four hours; and have declared that, in the event of refusal—giving them that period to send out their women and children—you would have used force. Do you think a Russian fleet would have spared Liverpool or Hull? Again, up to this very moment, there has been no effective blockade of the Russian ports in the Black Sea. On the 24th of September, 184 after the British troops had landed, and when the Russians had sunk their seven ships of war in the mouth of the harbour of Sebastopol, so ignorant were we of what was going on, and so lax and ineffective had been our blockade, that, although we were actually within sight of the place, a great part of our fleet was ordered to prepare for action, and to put to sea, to follow eight Russian vessels, which were supposed to have sailed for the purpose of making a descent upon the Turkish coast! The trade between Constantinople and the Russian ports of the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azof, is, and has been, carried on as usual, notwithstanding the war. The only difference has been that the export of wheat has been, very naturally, prohibited by the Emperor of Russia; but that of linseed—a most important branch of Russian trade in the East—is carried on as usual, and the article regularly quoted in the Constantinople market. Thus, whilst British merchants have been compelled, by the uncertainty and inconveniences of a nominal blockade—and, perhaps, may even have been induced by national feelings—to withdraw from the trade, at great loss and inconvenience, Greeks and others, our enemies, have profited by their withdrawal, and have made large fortunes at our expense. It is impossible to carry on war effectively on such a system.
I will suppose Sebastopol taken. Will that settle the question? Certainly not. The Russians may withdraw their troops from the fallen fortress, and, leaving a sufficient number at Perekop to prevent you quitting the Crimea, at the risk of losing the fruits of your hard-earned victory, they will march the remainder into Asia, to reinforce those they have already collected there. At this moment they are preparing for such a measure. They hold Bayazid, a place of great military importance, from its position at the junction of the frontiers of Georgia, Persia, and Turkey, and as commanding the high roads to Tabreez, Erzeroum, and Bagdad. General Bebutoff is now collecting troops and supplies at this point, and there is nothing to prevent him next spring from overrunning the whole of Western Asia. Should he obtain possession of large portions of Persia and Asia Minor, with the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris, what would be the effect upon our Indian possessions? Could we then treat, on anything like advantageous terms, with Russia? Could we leave these countries in her hands? 185 Undoubtedly not. She would hold as vast and as substantial a material guarantee as we should have in the Crimea. I do not wish to weary the House by entering fully into this question—notwithstanding its enormous importance—but I warn the House and the country that, unless we do something more than we have hitherto done to meet the difficulties which are arising in that direction, we shall have fresh disasters and calamities in Asia, far greater than any that have hitherto befallen us. We do not even know at this moment what number of troops the Russians have collected upon their Asiatic frontiers. We are utterly unprepared to meet any army, however small, in that part of the world. As for the Turkish army, which was defeated in Asia Minor last year, it has dwindled down to nothing. Had we sent out proper officers to assist the Turks in that quarter last year—had we sent fit agents to Circassia and to Schamyl—had we placed our relations with Persia upon a proper footing, we might have prevented Russia collecting an army at Bayazid by threatening her on her rear and flank; but it is now too late; and whatever will have to be done hereafter will have to be done, as heretofore, with terrible sacrifices and loss.
But supposing that we could successfully undertake a war in Asia, and that Russia could even be driven out of those provinces which she has torn from Persia and Turkey, will any definite and permanent result be obtained? Will any additional security be afforded for the protection of Turkey, and for the effective control of this colossal Power? Certainly not. Did we enter into this war, let me ask, for a great end? Is it one on which the very existence of this country may be at stake? Is it one which we are waging on behalf of the liberties and independence of Europe? If, as I believe it ought to be, such be really our object, then any hollow, unsubstantial peace will be far more dangerous, far more fatal, than any loss or any disaster we can contemplate in the struggle. I believe this war to be such as I have described it to be. I believe that no war was ever waged in which were involved such vast results, not only to Europe, but to the world. We now find that this gigantic Power has been advancing silently, but securely, from year to year—that it extends with a consolidated strength which almost defies us from Kamschatka to the Baltic Sea. It would, indeed, seem 186 that Providence had willed that Russia should have chosen such a time as this to defy France and England, when, united, they may still be able to check, ere it be too late, the progress of this mighty Power. Had she waited until she could have availed herself to the fullest extent of all her vast resources—had her railways been extended to Odessa and Sebastopol—had she been provided with all the inventions of modern science applied to war, who could have foretold the issue of a struggle which would have threatened the independence of almost every nation in the world? But do you think now that you can ultimately cripple her, and prevent her assuming that dangerous preponderance by making an isolated and ill-digested attack here—destroying a fortress there—invading an Asiatic province or half checking a lucrative trade? It is in Europe alone that you can effectually stop her progress and prevent the accomplishment of her object; it is by establishing an independent kingdom, with free institutions, on her frontiers—a kingdom embodying the Sclavonic element, and becoming the rival of that vast Sclavonic Empire in the north. I know that false enthusiasm and ill-advised efforts have, unfortunately, brought discredit upon the cause of Poland in this country, and have, I fear, caused us to look upon it with indifference, if not with stronger feelings; but, depend upon it, that it is alone by erecting Poland again into an independent kingdom, that you can obtain the only results which can justify your baying entered, as you have done, into this terrible struggle.
Now one word as to the management of the war. Ministers are determined upon carrying it on upon three new principles—the greatest economy, the greatest humanity, and the greatest publicity. They must consequently be prepared for the inevitable results of such a system—immense sacrifice of life and money. What is their greatest economy principle? To do everything on the smallest scale at the greatest possible expense. I could cite instance after instance in proof of this to the House. I saw a letter a few days ago from a merchant at Liverpool, who, being himself a gainer by the prodigality of the Government, would not have written as he did were not the facts of the case as gross as he stated them to be. After describing the manner in which, at the last moment, transports had been taken up by the agents of Government in the most reckless man- 187 ner, and contracts for horse-boxes entered into without any stipulations whatever, he ends by saying, that this lavish expenditure of the public money had almost turned his hair grey. I need scarcely remind the House of the fate of those horse-boxes. The first time the vessels in which they were fitted up were exposed to a slight sea, they all gave way, and above 200 of our cavalry horses were thrown overboard, at a time when cavalry was of the utmost importance to our operations in the Crimea. Scarcely a day passes that I do not receive from some quarter or another letters from persons who bring to my notice, because I have taken a part in this question in the House, similar instances of wanton extravagance and culpable neglect. Up to the present moment the Government have endeavoured to carry on this war upon principles of economy utterly inconsistent with its objects, and the magnitude of the undertaking. Now they find that the nation is indignant at the shameful instances of mismanagement and negligence which have occurred, they are rushing into the wildest extravagance. Any proposal, however ridiculous, any invention, however absurd, is taken up. I verily believe, that if a man were to propose to make cannon out of green cheese his offer would at once be entertained. But this is not the way to carry on a great war. Is there to be no statesmanship, no forethought, no precaution? Then there is the greatest humanity principle, of which I have already given an example in the treatment of Odessa. This principle appears to me to consist in sacrificing ten British lives for the sake of one Russian, and destroying our trade for the benefit of that of our enemies, a principle to which, however generous and noble, I cannot, I confess, subscribe. There remains the greatest publicity principle. Now I should be the last man to say one word against the freedom of the press. The Government, on the other hand, has certainly no reason to complain of the press, for the Government itself has given it that importance and influence which it enjoys, and the existence of which Ministers find so inconvenient. The public find that it is only by pressure brought to bear through the press that Ministers can be brought to do their duty. It has been the press which has roused public indignation by descriptions of the sufferings and wants of our gallant troops, and which has compelled the Government to provide a tardy 188 remedy. It is the press, too, which, by its descriptions, in some instances—and I allude especially to those of a leading journal—most truthful and graphic of the deeds of our heroic countrymen, has cherished the national enthusiasm and brought recruits to our ranks. It is not for us then, or the Government, to complain of the press. Yet how have the statements put forward by the press been denied by the Government, nevertheless they have proved too true. Let me take the medical staff as an instance. The right hon. Gentleman had again to-night, with his wonted ability, entered into an elaborate argument to disprove the statement made with regard to that department. Again he tells us that all those medical stores and comforts of which the army stood so much in need had been sent out. But where were they, I ask? I know that a medical man stated that he could dispose of all his medicines and medical stores for half-a-crown, and be a gainer by the bargain. At the last moment, in consequence of the repeated representations of the press, the Government has sent out a commission to inquire into the conduct of the medical men attached to the army. But we do not blame them, they for the most part have done their duty; it is the Government that we blame, who entered into war without making any proper provisions whatever for the safety and comfort of our troops; who appear to have imagined that battles could be fought without killed or wounded; who neither provided means of transporting the sick and maimed, nor established a proper hospital for their reception, until, as usual, it was too late. But do you think that you will obtain any reliable information, or get at the truth, by your commission? I doubt it. I heard a medical officer say that if he gave such evidence before it as he conscientiously believed to be true, he would probably find himself soon afterwards gazetted to Cape Coast Castle, Demerara, or some equally healthy and desirable station. Unfortunately the Government by their conduct have compelled the public to seek for the truth in the press. But whilst the country thus reaps the benefit, it must also be prepared to meet all the disadvantages of publicity. We must have accurate descriptions of the dresses of our generals—the result is, that when the next battle is fought we lose eight generals killed and wounded. We must know at what time our reliefs are sent down to the 189 trenches and in what number—the enemy avails himself of the knowledge to inflict considerable loss upon our troops. We must be told that our position has weak points, and that our guns can only fire so many rounds—the besiegers are naturally encouraged in their attack and persevere in their defence.
As to the materials we have for carrying on this war, they are such as this country—indeed, no country—ever possessed The great battles which have been described this evening sufficiently testify to the courage and devotion of our soldiers. Our navy is not inferior. Never, perhaps, have the two services been more efficient, nor men more admirably officered—never has there been a more cordial unity existing between them. From various circumstances the navy has had less opportunity of engaging in active operations than the army, and, consequently, less opportunity of distinguishing itself. But it has nobly shown its devotion, and the deep sense it has of the conduct of our soldiers, by the manner in which it has treated the sick and wounded. It would be difficult to describe all our gallant seamen have done in this respect—indeed it would be difficult to say what we should have done without them. With that gentleness and kindness so peculiar to the British seaman they brought down the wounded from the field of Alma, tended them like nurses, and carried them on board our ships. The officers, with indefatigable zeal, directed their exertions and shared in their labours. Where all have done their duty so nobly it is almost impossible to single out a name for special mention. But there is one name dear to the House and the country which I cannot omit—that of my gallant friend (Captain Peel), one always foremost in the work of humanity and in the hour of danger, whose calm and undaunted courage are only equalled by his tenderness—those two elements in the character of a hero. Nor can I, upon such an occasion as this, pass over the name of that gallant and able Commander who has been the soul of this expedition—who, in the midst of difficulties and dangers, has inspired our army as well as our fleet with hope and with confidence. I allude, of course, to Sir Edmund Lyons, to whom, indeed, this country owes a deep debt of gratitude, Not only on sea, but on land, has he ever been ready to share in the dangers and sufferings of all, and has 190 shown that indefatigable zeal, that undaunted courage, and that deep sense of duty, which distinguishes that great school of British seamen, of which the immortal Nelson was the type. And while speaking of our army and our navy, let me not overlook a somewhat humbler, may be, but certainly not less useful or honourable, class of men—I mean our merchant service. Both officers and men have distinguished themselves, no less than the navy, in the zealous and punctual discharge of the arduous and responsible duties which have devolved upon them. They have always been foremost in danger as well as in every good work. If I were to mention one name amongst many deserving the highest commendation, I might cite that of Captain Methuen of the Colombo, who, at all times ready to undertake any duty which might be considered necessary for the public service, offered to tow a man of war into action on the day of the bombardment of Sebastopol,
I feel that it would be impossible to speak too highly of our army. It was argued at one time, that if we educated our soldiers we should render them less brave—less efficient. The result of this campaign has for ever destroyed this narrow-minded prejudice. Their heroism in the field—their high sense of duty—their forbearance under unequalled provocation—their tenderness to the wounded—have excited the admiration of their countrymen and of their allies. Would that the regulations of the service and our antiquated official routine were not opposed to the mention in public despatches of the names of those who specially distinguished themselves! This omission is a proof of narrow-mindedness, and is an act of injustice utterly intolerable, utterly inconsistent with the spirit of the age. It cannot be continued. I wish others would imitate the example of that gallant officer (Sir De Lacy Evans), who, with true good taste and feeling, recommended to the notice of the Commander in Chief a sergeant (Sulivan) who had shown remarkable courage and coolness in action. It has hitherto been the custom to reward a man who has distinguished himself in the field by giving him a five-pound note, or some such reward; but do you not think that the heroes of Alma and Inkerman would set far greater value on an honourable badge than on a mere pecuniary recompense? You are endeavouring to raise the moral and intellectual standard of your men; let the mode in which you 191 will in future show your sense of this improvement be more consistent with it. Can any one doubt that those who have served their country so well, would not be proud to have their names brought to the notice of their fellow-countrymen in a despatch? Let us devise some mode similar to that introduced by the French Emperor into his army, of recompensing the soldier for his services on the field. Let there be an order of merit—some badge—to which shall attach an honourable distinction, and which, not given indiscriminately, a man may be proud to wear. Such a recognition of their services would elevate the character of our soldiers, and render them still more fit to rise from the ranks. I could relate a thousand anecdotes to illustrate the courage and devotion of our troops in the present campaign, but I will only refer to an instance of a noble sense of duty which particularly struck me. A sergeant in the artillery, lying on the ground, with both his legs taken off by a cannon-ball, turned to his commanding officer, and asked him whether he thought he should die. "That is in the hands of God," was the reply. "But whatever He may will, you will have the satisfaction of feeling that you have done your duty." "I am proud to hear you say that, Sir," was the noble answer. "If I die I shall die happy; if I live I shall remember what you have now said to me to the end of my days." Does not such a man as that, I ask, deserve a place in a despatch? And such was the noble feeling—the feeling that they were doing their duty, and that in the knowledge of having done their duty was their chief reward—which enabled 8,000 men on the day of Inkerman to wage a hand-to-hand fight with an overwhelming enemy from the dawn to the middle of the day. It was this high sense of duty—this consciousness that the eye of their country was upon them—which has made them brave every danger and patiently submit to every privation. What reward could we find too exalted for such men? Be assured that the more consistent those rewards may be with that high standard of education which you wish to introduce into our army, the more will they be prized. Do not fear, as some would fain make you believe, that such a mode of treating the soldier will be destructive to discipline—would destroy the necessary distinction between officers and men. These are the narrow prejudices of narrow minds. While speaking on this subject, let me also 192 advert to the officers of regiments. They are almost as much overlooked as the noncommissioned officers and rank and file. The Commander in Chief's despatches are but too frequently the records of the imaginary deeds and virtues of generals, aides-de-camp, and officers of the staff. The more humble individual who does the real work, who has the greater share of the danger, who endures all the privations, and is exposed to all the sufferings, is but too generally forgotten or overlooked. Let us remember for a moment what our battalion officers have gone through in this expedition to the Crimea; and in alluding to those officers, I include those of the battalion of Guards also. They have been landed without any means whatever of transport. They have had to carry upon their own backs all their baggage, together with provisions for three days; a hardship, I believe, never before endured by the British officer, and to which the French officer has not been exposed. Had proper precautions been taken, they would have had at least the means of transporting such things as were absolutely necessary. It may be said that the common soldiers have been subjected to the same hardship; but it must be remembered, that from their previous condition in life they are far better able to bear such fatigue than their officer; that, moreover, as soon as they reached the end of their day's march they would throw off their packs, whilst the officer was obliged to place the pickets, see to the comfort of his men, and to perform many other necessary duties before he could relieve himself of his burden, or obtain a little rest. The sufferings of the officers in this campaign have been unequalled. I remember hearing one say, that out of seventy-six hours he had only slept four. They have had not only to lead their men to battle, and to go through all the ordinary duties of a camp, but they have had to pass hour after hour, night and day, in the trenches, exposed to a heavy fire, and suffering from wet, cold, and hunger; and yet all these hardships and privations have been borne patiently and unostentatiously, with the knowledge that they are never to be mentioned in despatches, brought to the notice of their country, or to share in the rewards of their more favoured companions in arms. Their only reward has been the feeling that they have done their duty. The description of their sufferings, and those of their men, and the testimony to their heroic conduct 193 in the public press, have justly excited the sympathies and admiration of the country, and have led to most laudable exertions towards giving them some consolation and relief. I trust I may not be considered impertinent, if I warn the public not to run into extremes, as is somewhat too frequently the practice in England. Our Government has been allowed almost to leave our men to perish through want, and then, when a sudden reaction comes, we overload them with indiscriminate kindness and charity. Let us not forget that in all human probability we are only at the beginning of a great war, and that yet much will have to be done by the country. Let us not waste our money in sending out jams and marmalades, and such like delicacies, or in objects which will perhaps arrive too late, and prove utterly useless. Let us husband our resources till they are required; and, above all, let us not, by doing too much, relieve the Government from the responsibility of doing their duty. Our Commissariat, as well as the other departments connected with the provisioning and maintenance of the Army, must be improved; and it is only by a strong expression of public opinion, or by compelling the Government to do that which they ought to do, and not by doing it for them, that we can hope for a better state of things, or for more than temporary amendment. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that our troops are as well provisioned now as they were during the Peninsular war. Has no progress been made in the space of nearly fifty years? Have the public profited by every modern invention and improvement, and is the Commissariat alone to stand still? Let us hear nothing more of the Peninsula, but let this department, and all those connected with the public service, be administered as any private undertaking would be if it had the slightest chance of success. I cannot see that that Government deserves much credit which can only say that our Army is as well provisioned now as it was in the Peninsula. I do not hesitate to declare, that in this, as in every other department, you must change your whole system. This is not a moment to stand upon punctilios of etiquette, upon precedence, and upon official routine. The public interests—the safety of our troops—are at stake, and they are of more importance than red tape. I tell you plainly, although such plain speaking may be unpalatable, that you must cut down boldly to the root of the 194 evil. Service in the Peninsula must no longer be the qualification for high and responsible posts in the Crimea. Men of seventy years of age may have been most gallant and able officers, but nature, at that age, will no longer support the fatigues, privations, and hardships which those who are charged with arduous duties in war must of necessity go through. To place men of that age in such positions is as unfair to them as to the public. You expose them to the loss of a well-earned reputation by entrusting them with functions which they are physically incapable of discharging to their own credit, or to the satisfaction of the country. We want younger and more active men. We may shut our eyes to these facts for the time, but depend upon it they will be forced upon us sooner or later with terrible reality. Our fear to look them in the face has already been the cause of great misfortunes, I may say calamities. I do not wish to mention names; the Government know well that there are men at the head of departments who are, I will not say incompetent, but physically incapable, of doing the work required of them. If any private establishment were to attempt to carry on business as Ministers have attempted to carry on this war, it would be bankrupt in a week.
I must apologise to the House for having intruded myself upon its attention so long. I have endeavoured to treat this question as a great question, and to go beyond mere details; into which, however, I have to some extent been dragged by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I am aware that these discussions are not palatable to the House; but I trust I may venture again to warn it, that unless the Government be forced, by some expression of our opinion, to take a more vigorous and definite course, equal to the magnitude and importance of the struggle into which we have entered, or to adopt a policy more intelligible and defined, calamities even more terrible than those which have fallen upon us are yet in store. All those from which we have hitherto suffered have arisen from the want of a definite policy, and from the absence of those ordinary precautions which any well-digested plan would have enabled us to take. I do not hesitate to say, that at least one-third, if not two-thirds, of the lives that have been lost in battle and by disease might have been spared had the Government done its duty. Let Ministers take warning in time by what has passed. Let them, although it 195 is now late, adopt some policy, and take a larger view of this great question. I entreat the Lord President of the Council, by the illustrious name he bears—I implore him, by the position he holds as the head of the great Liberal party in this country—to use the influence which he so justly possesses to prevail upon his colleagues to adopt, ere it be too late, a policy which may not, perhaps, be so well calculated as that they have hitherto unfortunately pursued, to reconcile the conflicting opinions of a Coalition Ministry, but which will be more consistent with the honour, the true interests, and the immortal traditions of this mighty empire.
said, that he would not have risen to address the House were it not that no Member of the Government had attempted a reply to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had directed the defence of the Government upon the attacks which he assumed to have been made upon the officers in command of our forces in the East; but he (Colonel Dunne) denied that any attacks had been made upon our officers, or even upon those officers who had the direction at home. The real attack that had been made, and one which was supported by the country, was directed against the Ministers of the Crown for the manner in which they had carried on the war. He would abstain from entering into the cause of the war, although he believed it to be now generally admitted that it was mainly owing to the vacillation of the Premier and the weakness of the Government; and therefore their conduct of it ought to be strictly scrutinised. The first subject touched upon by the Secretary at War was the accusation that the army had been unduly detained at Varna. He (Colonel Dunne) believed that the delay at Varna was the result of no policy whatever—that there was no military ground for it—and that the simple reason for the step was that the army was not prepared to go elsewhere; no means of conveyance were provided for an advance into the Dobrudscha or Moldavia, and Sebastopol was then comparatively undefended on the land side; there could be little doubt that the time we wasted at Varna was employed by the Russians in strengthening the fortifications, whilst our army was greatly weakened by disease during their detention at Varna. The right hon. Secretary at War stated that the number of men at first sent out 196 was 22,680; and that, subsequently, in the months of June, July, and August, reinforcements of 941, 4,588, and 2,032, respectively, followed. Now, the fact was, that these three so-called reinforcements were no reinforcements at all, but were parts of the army originally sent out, which was intended to be a force of 32,000 men. Again, the requisite proportion of cavalry and artillery was not furnished for the support of the infantry, and we had a fewer number of guns in proportion to the amount of infantry than any other European army. Russia had three guns to every 1,000 men, while the practice of our service required that our army should have two and a half guns for every 1,000. Now, he asked the Secretary at War, had our army either the proportion of guns or of cavalry which was considered to be necessary, according to the recommendation of the Military Commission, which was appointed soon after the close of the last war? He (Colonel Dunne) admitted that the Commissariat had latterly done its duty well, but it was badly served at first. On this head he would not bear hardly on the Government; for he would admit that the long peace had made it extremely difficult to get together an organised corps of officers perfectly competent by training and experience for such peculiar duties as the Commissariat had to perform, and great allowance for their shortcomings ought, therefore, to be made. With regard to the medical department; it was a mistake not to attach the medical officers to the brigades in the first instance, as their services would thus have been rendered much more speedily and effectively available. Officers and stores were sent out in abundance by the Government; but, unfortunately, the stores did not reach their destination, and there was so much confusion that the stores were in one place and the wounded in another. Again, when the army landed at the Crimea, the Government had not prepared proper reserves. The Secretary at War said, that in the months of September and October 3,041 men were sent out as reinforcements; but nearly the whole of this number would be required to replace the loss at the Alma. Military men calculated that, after an action like that, the effective strength of the force would be reduced by one-third of the number engaged; but, after establishing a base of operations at Balaklava, we had only 3,041 men to replace our losses. The deficiency of the force of the British army was shown by 197 the fact that Lord Raglan had been obliged to relinquish a portion of his position because he had not men to bold it. He was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War had replied to some criticisms that had been made on those in command of the armies; but he thought there was one criticism that had appeared in the papers which was just, and that was with reference to the state of the position attacked at Inkerman. Sir De Lacy Evans had pointed out its danger, and why was it not fortified? Simply because Lord Raglan had not sufficient men to do so without stopping the siege; and this, together with passages in Lord Raglan's despatches, proved that he had not a sufficient number of men under his command. The right hon. Secretary at War said that the army sent out to the Crimea was well appointed in all its details. But the siege train, such as it was, did not reach Varna until June, and even then it was totally, inadequate for the attack of a fortress like Sebastopol, and our troops would have had no guns for the purpose had not the Russians, by sinking their ships, set free a portion of the armament of our fleet for use on land. He did think that all that could be done by the army would be achieved by our army in the Crimea—he thought that Sebastopol would ultimately be taken; but the fact was, that throughout the war every step had been taken too late, and the consequence was, that the success which he hoped and believed would ultimately attend our efforts would be purchased at double the cost at which it might have been secured by more efficient measures in the first instance.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I participate, Sir, in the surprise expressed by the hon. Member that none of Her Majesty's Ministers have thought it necessary to reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Aylesbury. He is not a supporter of this side of the House. He does not sit upon these benches, and he somewhat ostentatiously informed the Lord President that he was peculiarly attached to him. I have no wish to tamper with the allegiance which the Member for Aylesbury owes to the Lord President, but on the subject before the consideration of the House I have given him that respectful attention due to every Gentleman who is master of the subject on which he addresses the House. I could not also forget, in the individual instance of the Member for Aylesbury, that a man of genius addressed the House; and, remem- 198 bering that he has come from the scene of those memorable actions which now fill the minds and touch the hearts of the people of this country, and that he has risen to make serious charges against the Ministry, the fact that he has not been answered by the Government is not a circumstance which the hon. Member need consider as one which will depreciate him in the public estimate. So far as I can judge of the fortunes of a human being—so far as I can form an opinion upon the course of human life—I think the Member for Aylesbury will be remembered when the great portion of the existing Cabinet will be forgotten.
I did not expect, Sir—and I witnessed with regret the necessity—that I should have again felt it my duty on the present opening of Parliament to vindicate the freedom of discussion. Remembering the position of this country—remembering what has occurred since we last met—remembering that the fate of this empire is perhaps at stake—remembering the thrilling events that have happened—remembering that the people of this country expect, if not redress for their grievances, yet some sympathy with their deep emotion—I was surprised to find that the Government should have advised the Sovereign to assemble Parliament, and should have given instructions to their followers that discussion should not only not be encouraged, but resisted. That they should have attempted to conduct affairs—that they should have attempted to govern this country—without unnecessarily appealing to the sense of the House of Commons, I can easily comprehend. Their difficulties are great—their embarrassments are increasing. They might have thought that time and fortune might have so mitigated their position, that two months later they might have appealed with more advantage, but having felt it their duty or necessity to take this step, I was surprised that an hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, and the brother of a Cabinet Minister, should have impressed on the House the expediency of its silence. But this is not all. We have had the luxury of one Cabinet Minister on this memorable opening of Parliament, and while he has chiefly filled his speech with a vindication of his own office, which had been only partially attacked, he favoured us with the discreet admonition that the loyalty and discretion of the House of Commons would be best proved by not at the present moment expressing opinions in the face of an anxious country; to say no- 199 thing, Sir, of an absent army, which must, I think, under all its difficulties, under all its sufferings, under all its deeds of heroic achievement, have been sustained by the conviction that when the representatives of the people of England assembled they would have expressed their sympathy with their sufferings, and perhaps have criticised a Ministry, who, in their opinion, had not done their duty to relieve them. It may be clever in the Lord President to be silent, and the other taciturn Secretaries of State who surround him, but I doubt whether that silence is a proof of respect for public feeling, and whether a sense of duty ought to have impelled them to restrict that frank expression of opinion which is the soul of the House of Commons.
Sir, my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich has to-night taken a course which will be appreciated by the country; and had this debate terminated with the answer to his speech I should have been content to be silent, for I think that he has indicated the course which it becomes a Conservative Opposition to pursue. I am totally at a loss to comprehend how right hon. Gentlemen can bring themselves to such a pitch of feeling that they can rise and protest against the critical opinion of a Member of Parliament on the conduct of the affairs of the country. I had last year to refer to this; there was not an occasion on which the Government brought forward measures, in every one of which they were ultimately defeated, when Gentlemen on these benches expressed a criticism, that they were not challenged to propose a vote of want of confidence in the Government; as they had been challenged to-night by the Secretary at War, if they had not faith in the Government, not to trouble the House with factious criticisms—not to echo here what, perhaps, may be the opinion of the country —but to test the opinion of the House as to their trust in the Ministry. I had occasion last year to notice the unconstitutional course so freely adopted by these Gentlemen. I had occasion to show then, that such a course struck at the root of public discussions and public freedom. I held that it was a privilege of Members of this House freely to canvass the conduct of Government, without being forced to incur the responsibility of asking the House of Commons to sanction a change of Ministry. In 1803 we had a Ministry carrying on a war—we had an Opposition supporting the measures of the war; and when Mr. 200 Wyndham canvassed the policy of the Government—and he was no mean authority, and eminently qualified, from his official experience, to speak on such a subject—Mr. Wyndham said, that he trusted that the unanimity of the nation on the subject of the policy of the war would not for a moment be mistaken for a unanimity of sentiment as to the conduct of the war. So spoke Mr. Wyndham, and he was followed by eminent Members of the House, and no one impugned their privilege so to address the House; or, when they criticised the conduct of the Government, told them to refrain from such remarks, and to test the question by a vote of want of confidence in the Ministry. Yet this repartee of last Session has been brought forward again by the Secretary at War. Sir, I protest against these opinions. I see their object, and know what their consequence will be. It will stop debate, it will degrade the character of the House, and put an end to discussion, which is the soul of truth, and without which this House can never exist.
But an hon. Baronet, who bears an honoured name, also rose early and unexpectedly in the debate, and made a remarkable observation. Indulging, as I thought, in a misapprehension, to which I am surprised his acute mind could be liable, the hon. Baronet referred to a speech which I bad felt it my duty to make last year, in which I said, in speaking of the causes of the present war, that no captious criticism respecting the conduct of the war would ever, I hoped, be heard from us, and so seemed to think that he had established a case of inconsistency against my right hon. Friend in the course we are now pursuing. I think I then said, representing the feelings of my friends around me, that no future Wellesley, on the banks of the Danube, should ever complain, whatever other difficulties he might have to encounter, of the obstacles offered to him by an English Opposition. I need hardly say that observation referred to the military conduct of the war. I meant to say, and I think my meaning was understood by the House, that we had neither the presumption nor the wish to criticise the conduct of naval and military commanders—that we would place in them that unlimited confidence which we were sure the country was prepared to place in men who had been selected by the responsible counsellors of Her Majesty; and that, whatever might be the fate of their operations, they should not look back 201 with feelings of bitterness to the factious criticism of political parties as having prevented or retarded that success to which their genius and their labours might have entitled them, But surely the hen. Baronet the Member for Tamworth would not lay down for a moment that it is not the duty of the House of Commons carefully to scan, and severely even to criticise, the military expeditions conceived, and planned, and matured in the Cabinet of the Sovereign? The hon. Gentleman will not, I suppose, for a moment maintain that Walcheren expeditions are not to be criticised, that conventions of Cintra or Sarratoga are to be passed by a humble House of Commons in subdued silence? Why are we a House of Commons? What chance have we of commanding the confidence of the people as being the sacred depositaries of the national sentiment, if, when national disasters occur, no echo to the feeling of the people is to be found in this House? If here, of all places, we are to be met by a Minister who says, "If you disapprove of what has occurred, notwithstanding the emergency, notwithstanding the difficulties in which the Sovereign and the nation are placed, we call upon you to put your opinion to the test, whether or not there shall be a sudden change of the Ministers of the Crown." I am sure that Gentlemen, on whichever side they may sit, will see upon reflection that these are principles too dangerous to public liberty to be encouraged, and that we must not for a moment sanction the appeal of a Government that, upon their measures, whether successful or unsuccessful—however they may have been conceived, whatever may have been their objects or their consequences—it is the duty of the House of Commons, from a feeling of patriotism, to be silent, or to incur the responsibility of administration. Why, suppose that the House of Commons were silent—suppose that in this probably brief Session we had abstained from all criticism upon what has occurred and is occurring—suppose that we had met and adjourned, having passed those necessary and formal measures which the Lord President has ready to propose to our notice —should we prevent discussion?—should we prevent the expression of dissatisfaction and discontent in the country? You would have a dissatisfied people out of doors, who, feeling that they could not give a constitutional expression to their sentiments, would have recourse to agitation—more inconvenient, I should have 202 thought, to a Minister, than the discussion of public questions in this House, where observations are at least conceived in the spirit of patriotism and expressed in the language of gentlemen.
Having adverted to this remarkable expression on the part of the Government of a principle so unfavourable to public discussion, let me recall the House to the consideration of our actual condition. I want to divest the subject of that cloud of official statistics which the Secretary at War has found it convenient to throw into our faces. I find no fault with the Secretary at War for taking this his first legitimate opportunity to vindicate the conduct of his office with respect to many accusations which have been made against it, not in this House; but allow me to remind the House, that the Secretary at War has been most successful in answering the charges which have not been made in the House of Commons. We are called upon to-night to decide whether we will agree to this Address, which, as far as I can follow its language, is an echo of the speech in my hand—a speech in some circumstances most remarkable, inasmuch as I believe it is the shortest speech that ever yet was delivered from the Throne, and is confined almost to one subject. Let me remind the House, however, that this speech commences by an admission of great importance—by an announcement which is certainly calculated to excite the attention of the whole country. We have here, in the gracious Speech of Her Majesty, an announcement that Her Majesty is involved in a great war. Now, I want to impress the importance of this expression upon the notice of the House. This time last year, when we were virtually, though not formally, in a condition of hostility, no Minister acknowledged that the war, which was soon formally to be announced, was a great war, The most distinguished Member of the Cabinet, the Lord President himself, had his hands so full of business last year that he had hardly any time to think of the war. Far from its being a great war in the opinion of the Lord President when Parliament last met, it was scarcely a war at all; but, even if it did result in such a catastrophe, the noble Lord was almost prepared to carry on a little civil war of his own. I do not mention this to taunt Her Majesty's Ministers, but these are the only traits by which we can ascertain what were then their feelings and opinions with respect to 203 this immense event. But when it became a formal as well as a virtual war, when it became necessary that a message from Her Majesty should be delivered to this House, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, in consequence, to explain to the country and to the House how the war was to be carried on, it is quite clear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not consider it to be a great war, for he brought forward a very meagre estimate, which anticipated the expense of the transport of troops to foreign countries, and also the expense of their return, both included in the estimate of the year. I believe I am not misrepresenting the right hon. Gentleman when I say that we have upon our votes of last Session a sum of money for the transport of 25,000 men to Malta and back again, a vote proposed by the Minister of Finance, and passed by a subservient and uncritical Parliament. It is quite evident, then, that these eminent Gentlemen had not the least idea that they were engaged in a great war. The noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have thought we were engaged in war, but they cannot have believed it was a great war, when the noble Lord was so indifferent to these foreign and external circumstances that he was prepared to propose a reconstruction of this House, and when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when called upon in his official capacity to propose the first vote for the carrying on of the war, anticipated, not merely the expenditure necessary for the transport of troops, but the expenditure necessary for the return of those troops to this country, all in the course of the year. I think, therefore, Sir, it is necessary for us to consider the great importance of this phrase. Last year, according to the noble Lord, a war with Russia was a circumstance so insignificant that it ought not to prevent a reform in Parliament. The noble Lord now has found out that this is a great and not an insignificant war. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was of such a sanguine complexion, that on his first proposition of expenditure he anticipated that the troops would return to this country in the course of the year, proved that, in his opinion, the war would not be a war really, but a demonstration. I am not now imputing it to the Government as matter of blame; at the same time I reserve to myself the right to impute it to them as matter of blame—but I say it is quite clear that the Ministers of this country, at the 204 commencement of last Session, had no conception whatever of the position in which they were, or of the magnitude of the circumstances which they had to encounter.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich has, I think, indicated, under these circumstances, the course which a Conservative Opposition, rightly distinguished from other Oppositions to which he has referred, is justified in taking. When Her Majesty appeals for support—when Her Majesty announces She is involved in a great war, and asks us for our assistance—it is our duty to express to Her Majesty that there are no means at our command that we will not place at Her disposal; but surely, if it is so evident, so demonstrative, so transparent that Her Majesty's advisers find themselves in a position which they did not anticipate—which they had not the prescience or sagacity to suppose would occur—it surely is not an unreasonable or factious course that, while we say we are prepared to support Her Majesty in this great struggle by every means in our power, we reserve to ourselves the right of expressing an opinion on the conduct of the Government in respect to this war in the interval, and to judge from that conduct of the manner in which they may spend the resources which we may place at their disposal. We have had a speech from the only Minister who has condescended to address the House of Commons thus suddenly summoned. We have had a speech of detail—I may say of statistics—adverting to subjects which never have been introduced into our discussions, and which have really in no sense met the great objection which has been urged by my right hon. Friend. The Secretary at War has proved to us, according to his view, that the hospitals at Scutari at this moment are admirably attended to and regulated. I hope they are. I am willing to believe, upon the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that they are so. The right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to persuade us that the medical assistance which our army enjoys is sufficient, or, at least as great as any Ministerial ability could have supplied. I hope that it is so. All that the right hon. Gentleman says I wish to believe. But were it otherwise—if it were true that there had been this cruel suffering and apparent neglect—if it were true that the Commissariat (which no one has attacked, but which the right hon. Gentleman has so elaborately vindicated) has been so defi- 205 cient—if there had been too few surgeons, too few nurses, and a meagre Commissariat—I am sure that I should not have been one who would have attempted, from such circumstances, to bring charges against the Administration of this country. I remember—and I may refer to the words, for I dare say no one else remembers them—that, having last year to touch on this subject, I said myself that at the beginning of war, after a peace so prolonged as that by which the blessing of Providence we had enjoyed, the difficulties of inexperience must be so great that it would be most unjust and unbecoming for the House of Commons critically to examine the conduct of individuals a ho, after all, must be animated by sentiments as humane and influenced by responsibility much greater than ourselves. And tonight, Sir, I have not heard any expressions used in this House impugning the arrangements of the Commissariat or arrangements of a similar kind to which I have adverted: but to accusations that may have appeared in anonymous quarters the right hon. Gentleman has found time to make an elaborate answer, though no Member of the Government has found time to make an answer to charges brought in debate against the Administration by a Member of this House, expressed with a knowledge of the subject, and conveyed with ability and in a spirit deserving, in my opinion, the thought and attention of this assembly. I will advert in a moment to what was the charge brought forward by my right hon. Friend—a charge, let me again impress on the House, not brought forward in the way of ostentatious accusation as the foundation of Motions against the Government—not brought forward with any anxiety to damage the character of the Government—but brought forward necessarily from the position which we all occupy at this moment, from the sudden summoning of Parliament, which calls upon us, by the Address moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite, to express our opinion on public affairs. Before I advert to what was the distinct and really the only charge, yet so important that no other was necessary, which has been made by my right hon. Friend, let me for a moment take this great question out of that cloud of the details of office with which it has been conveniently incumbered by the Secretary at War, and place it in its true and rude simplicity before the consideration of the House of Commons and of the country.
206 It is some nine or ten months ago, after an agitating year of warning, that Her Majesty was advised by Her Ministers to send a Message to Parliament to announce a declaration of war against Russia. I say that no Ministers ever gave such important advice to their Sovereign under such favourable circumstances as my Lord Aberdeen and his colleagues. Why, look at the facts! They had a unanimous Parliament, and a unanimous people. The war was popular. This House had expressed its willingness to vote any supplies, without any reference to party confidence whatever, which Her Majesty's Ministers might propose. They had an overflowing Exchequer. They had a prosperous people. In addition to all these advantages, they had the most powerful ally in the world. Let it be understood you entered upon war under these circumstances. These circumstances are forgotten in the petty views and the petty details and the petty consequences which have been permitted to steal into our debates. We hear of the inconvenience of free government to powerful political action. It is said that, although the public spirit under a despotic Government may not be equal to the spirit of a free people—that, although the conscript (not too adroitly introduced by the Secretary at War) may not fight as the militiaman who has been voluntarily enlisted, a despotism has still the advantages of unity of design, of singleness of purpose, and of that decision, vigour, and effect which is the consequence of such antecedents. But Her Majesty's Ministers had both the unity of despotism and all the spirit of a free people on their side. What they wanted they might have had as readily as the Emperor of Russia when he signs a ukase. There was no number of men, no amount of treasure, which they might not have commanded, and the money was given freely by a free people, and the men were animated by that immortal spirit which has rendered their achievements the mark for the approbation of an admiring world. They had, then, an overflowing purse, a prosperous people, and a popular war. They had the most powerful ally in the world. They had this combination of circumstances in their favour, on entering into this war, which no Ministry at any period ever enjoyed before. I now ask the I House for a moment to turn round and consider, not whether there were sufficient nurses or surgeons at Scutari—not what was the number of pots of mar- 207 malade which should be sent out towards the support of our starving troops—but I ask the House to consider what have been the results which this Ministry, with these enormous advantages, have obtained.
You determined to attack the powerful ruler of a country against whom you had declared war in two opposite quarters of the world—the extremities almost of his vast dominions; you fitted out armadas to attack him in two seas; you sent out an army which was to encounter him on the most important European river. What have you done? The Secretary at War sneers at the notice which my right hon. Friend took of the achievements in the Baltic. If the ideas of the Secretary at War, that such success is a sufficient return for the efforts of this country are correct, then I confess I have little hope of the successful conduct of the war by the present Government. Why, Sir, let me recall to the house the strength of the united fleet that entered the Baltic. It was greater than any armada that ever figured in the history of our times; it was greater than the united fleets of France and Spain that met Nelson at Trafalgar. Let me recall to the House the circumstances under which the sailing of that fleet was inaugurated. It occasioned a debate in the House of Commons, and, therefore, I have no doubt it will be in the recollection of every one present. The head of the Admiralty of this country, the profound statesman and experienced senator who had so long presided, at various periods, over that department, himself was a guest at a public dinner which was given to the commander of that important enterprise. A veteran statesman, one who had presided long over the foreign affairs of the nation, a department which, it is supposed, imparts a peculiar character of discretion to human conduct—that noble Lord was also present upon that occasion, and in the face of Europe, and before an applauding country—these, two of the men of whom, in this House, we are most proud—statesmen to whom Europe looks up with respect and awe—were the principal guests at a public banquet given at a political club, in order to inaugurate the captaincy of this great enterprise. What were the expectations which these speakers permitted the country to indulge in? We are at this moment entirely engrossed in the important affairs which have taken place in the Black Sea. For more than two months 208 the feelings of every hearth in this country have been there absorbed; but at that moment no one thought of the Black Sea, or of Sebastopol. They were of minor importance and of diminutive proportions compared with those vast preparations and that enormous armament which was draughted from our shores under the blessings and the benison of our most experienced statesmen, and had the advantage, moreover, of being commanded by a true Reformer. Well, the Secretary at War pretends that the capture of Bomarsund was all that was intended or thought of at that moment. I will not say that the Secretary at War had then never heard of Bomarsund, because he is a well-informed Gentleman, and it might be personal; but this I do know, that I have read, in an authoritative document, that it was not only projected, but that at one time it was settled, that the half-finished fortifications in the Baltic should be destroyed by Russia preparatory to the entrance of our fleets into that sea; and, therefore, under those circumstances, and remembering tile policy which was afterwards partially followed, I hardly think it was worth while to send for a marshal of France and 10,000 French troops to destroy that which a company of marines would have finished in a few hours, and which, at all events, was not accomplished by that vast armada which had been sent out. Surely, then, my right hon. Friend was not irregular in alluding to the expedition to the Baltic, and saying that, although one of our greatest enterprises, it has not been attended by any results at all commensurate with the expectations of the country. If my right hon. Friend were not justified in this observation, why did not the noble Lord the President of the Council propose a Vote of Thanks to those who were concerned in that enterprise? Had the noble Lord proposed such a Vote, we should have been enabled to make inquiries, and the Ministers might have been able to throw some light on that perplexed and obscure subject, and have afforded some satisfaction to the public mind.
Then, Sir, I come to the second act of this war, which, let me impress upon you, was entered upon with advantages which no Ministry ever yet experienced, and with a combination of circumstances in our favour which never can occur again probably in the history of this country. What did you do with the army which you sent? 209 You explained your conduct, end you explained their course; but your explanations do not affect the result, and you cannot deny that they have accomplished nothing—that the plans which you had devised were barren and fruitless. The Secretary at War tells us that the Government were watching all that time the course of events, and that such troops as might have been spared by the pest, which was not contemplated, would have acted at the right moment and in the right quarter on the Russian forces; but he has not told us that if it was necessary to move those troops there were any means to move them. Whatever might have been the fate of Silistria—whatever might have been the conduct of the Turkish army on the Danube—you have not answered the question whether you had prepared adequate, or any, means to move our army from Varna to the scene of action; and I think the hon. Member for Aylesbury has fully demonstrated that you had not. What is your next act? You attack with a force of 20,000 or 30,000 men a fortress probably as strong as Gibraltar, and better provisioned. And under what circumstances did you undertake this enterprise? The Secretary at War tells you that their object was to strike at the heart of Russia in the south; and therefore they attacked Sebastopol. It was true, he admits, that in so doing our army was prepared with no reserve. Brave words, these! But why attack the place at the wrong time, and with ineffective means? It may be a question whether there should be a campaign in the Crimea; none that there should not be a winter campaign. But you have chosen a winter campaign, and what have been your preparations for it? In November you gave orders to build huts. You have not yet sent out that winter clothing which is adapted to the climate. My right hon. Friend (Sir John Pekington) fell into a slight error, which I am sure he will permit me to correct, in his allusion to time loss of the Prince. He said that the winter clothing had been despatched by the Prince, and that the Government were exonerated because that clothing was lost. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) speaks the truth, and frankly. He seems to think there is nothing like a clean breast for a Minister in a scrape, and he takes great credit for this specific clothing for the Crimean climate; but the fact is, that the cargo of the Prince did not contain any special 210 winter clothing. It was only the common warm clothing for the troops, and not a cargo in any way occasioned by the winter campaign, which your policy has rendered necessary. You have invaded the Crimea; you have attacked Sebastopol; but you have chosen to do so at the very worst period. You have commenced a winter campaign in a country which most of all ethers should be avoided. You have commenced such a campaign—a great blunder—without providing for it—the next great blunder. The huts will arrive in January, and the furs probably will meet the sun of May. These are your preparations!
But you say that time was of the greatest consequence—that if you had delayed fresh frosts would have been encountered. Surely, however, when a Ministry has so managed the affairs of a country as to bring it to such a condition that at last they have to go to war with one of the greatest military Powers in the world, you will agree that the decision should be arrived at after deep thought, with ample knowledge. Surely one would have thought that statesmen who arrogate to themselves all the ability and all the experience of this House would so have played their cards, that in trying this great issue they would have essayed it under the most favourable circumstances, and not have incurred fearful odds. It is now two years since you were dallying with Russia with your diplomatic overtures. You may possibly have supposed that your negotiations would terminate in peace. I believe the majority of you did; because I know that when a body of men of different opinions counsel together, they always take refuge in the consolatory conviction that they will not be called on to act. I believe, then, that this Cabinet of Coalitionists from the first flattered themselves that the tremendous circumstances they have to encounter, and which engage their most anxious thoughts by day and night, would never be a part of their lives. The First Minister of the Crown had never dreamt that at the termination of his career he would be acting against that Russia of which he was the cherished and almost the spoiled child. And another Minister, who has indulged in dreams of political Liberalism, scarcely thought that the latter days of his eminent career would thus approach his purpose. We know this from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Manchester, and front his Budget in the House of Commons. We know by your confession that not two of 211 you are of the same opinion; yet, as responsible men, it was your duty to have formed some policy two years ago. You appear to me not to have embraced any definite object or adopted any definite system. If you had, you would not have told us now that you are obliged to enter upon a winter campaign in the Crimea, because time is precious and that another month's delay would have rendered it impregnable. This I maintain—that the Ministry which has involved this country in a war with Russia ought not to have taken such a course, unless they were prepared for all those consequences which men of experience, ability, and knowledge must have known, unless they shut their eyes wilfully to those consequences, must have ensued.
I said just now that they had called Parliament together unexpectedly; but what I object to in the Government is, that they have done everything unexpectedly in this great affair; they have done everything too late; and in all they have recommended they have given signs of vacillation of opinion and uncertainty of purpose, and, necessarily, feebleness of execution. These are little things—they may be nothing; but the doctors came after the men were wounded, and the nurses appeared always after the wounded had expired. These things were never cared for until the indignant sorrow of the nation called upon them to exercise the duties of Ministerial humanity. But the same fate seems to await them in all their course. Now it is the surgeons that are too late, now the nurses; after the battle reinforcements arrive; and at last the storm and hurricane, that everybody had been expecting, overwhelms our navies. This is not an overcharged picture, for it is founded upon fact. Does the House think it is judicious that, under such circumstances, Parliament should meet sub silentio? But even the resolution to call Parliament together was taken too late. They prorogued the Parliament to the 14th of December, and then, so uncertain was their purpose—so vacillating their conduct—so undefined their object—that, having assembled and counselled the Sovereign to prorogue Parliament to the 14th of December, they find it necessary to invade the prerogative, and are obliged to avail themselves of the scurvy aid, comparatively speaking, of an Act of Parliament, to call us together on the 12th. I should like to know what influenced these 212 Gentlemen when they counselled the Sovereign to prorogue Parliament to the 14th? And yet these are the men on whom the fortunes of the country depend. What are we to think of men who, taking into consideration all the circumstances of the nation, recommend to the Sovereign to prorogue Parliament till the 14th, which, virtually, was a meeting after Christmas, and then, in a panic, avail themselves of an Act of Parliament, and call us together on the 12th? I want to know why they changed their opinions? I want to know why it is necessary to provide now for an immediate increase of the forces, and why that was not done when it was recommended and sanctioned by the Sovereign? It is in perfect keeping with the whole conduct of the Government, and adds another to the catalogue I have mentioned. I want to know, in the dismal and deplorable circumstances in which we are placed, and in which we are alone sustained by the unsurpassed heroism of the English troops, why they determined upon a winter campaign in the Crimea, without that assistance and support our soldiers ought to have received? Such a step would have been considered most unnecessary and unwise if Ministers had only ordinary foresight and sagacity. I will not say the disastrous position of our forces, when I recollect the glorious feats of arms they have accomplished—but certainly I may say that it is a deplorable state of things in which we find ourselves.
It appears that towards the end of Her Majesty's Speech there is a specific for our dangers. It is not from the deeds of daring of our own gallant countrymen, or the enthusiasm and loyalty of the country, we are to look for extrication from the position in which we have been placed; but rather, as it seems to me, from the fact, as Her Majesty informs us, that, "together with the Emperor of the French, I have concluded an alliance with the Emperor of Austria, from which I anticipate important advantages to the common cause." If the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) condescends to address the House, I would impress upon him that it is expected from him, by the House and the country, that on this subject he should speak with some degree of frankness. We are asked in the Speech from the Throne to maintain this great war, and to prosecute it with vigour and force. I maintain that it is impossible to form an estimate of what our means will be to enable 213 Her Majesty to prosecute the war, unless we have some idea of the assistance she is to receive from her Allies. We know the assistance she receives from her Ally the Emperor of the French. It is precise, it is generous, it is cordial, it is sincere. It is doubly generous, because it is accorded to a Government, many Members of which were distinguished for the vituperative language in which they have spoken of that Prince. I know of nothing more to the credit of the French people—I know of nothing more to the credit of the French ruler and the French people—than the cordial manner in which they have co-operated with the present Government in this war. I remember when the First Lord of the Admiralty inaugurated his manifesto against the Government of Lord Derby by a diatribe against the Emperor of the French—while I remember that another Member of the Cabinet, not so eminent, determined, in order to make Ids court in the proper quarter, to outdo the right hon. Gentleman; and, not satisfied with abusing the Emperor of the French, maligned and slandered the people of that country—when I remember these facts, and that the chief of the present Cabinet raised an opposition to the Government of which I was a Member on account of our indecent and precipitate recognition of Napoleon as Emperor, I must say that I admire the candour and generosity of our Allies. In his character, and in the character of his people, I have unlimited confidence. I believe the motives of our alliance are beyond the intrigues or the insolence of individuals; it is a principle of civilisation, and a question of high feeling, which the Government, in my mind, do not comprehend, which will continue to bind together France and England. France is an ally that does not want to be paid for the aid she gives you. She is not to be subsidised. She is a friend with whom a treaty need have no secret article.
A year ago, after the massacre of Sinope, when the Parliament met, and there were indignant demands from the Government of some explanation of their conduct, the First Lord of the Admiralty rose—and they could not trust a bad cause to a better man—and, with all his specious eloquence, came forward to the table, and told us then, "I will not defend the past; it is liable to much misconception. We may have been idle or vacillating, but we bad a great object to gain and to accomplish, and that is the alliance of the 214 German Powers." The massacre of Sinope took place in order that we might obtain the alliance of the German Powers. Well, have they become our allies? I do not see that there is a treaty yet with Prussia; but Austria, we are told, has entered into a treaty from which we anticipate great advantages to the common cause. Now, I say that we should be the most spiritless body of men that ever lived, if, recollecting that a year ago an attempt was made to excuse your backslidings by the alliance with the German Powers—when we recollect that a year has elapsed, and that this treaty has not yet been brought into action—I say that we should be the most spiritless body of men on earth if we did not demand from the Government some franker explanation than we find in this niggard notice in the Speech of the Austrian Treaty. The noble Lord may say that it is not yet ratified, and that it will be laid on the table, and then we may all read it, but I can hardly believe that a man of his ability and spirit will make such a wretched excuse. I may agree with him that it is unusual, but the noble Lord should make a precedent on such an occasion, when sacrifices are demanded from the country, and should frankly inform us of the terms of this treaty.
Sir, if the assistance we are to derive be of a provisional and contingent character, I should say that, although we are ready to support Her Majesty with all the means in our power, it will be the greatest hallucination if we imagine that Austria is going to supply any of those means. I should have thought, indeed, that the noble Lord and his colleagues had had enough of the four points. If I remember right, the present Government was formed upon four points. Was not there the preservation of peace—was not there there the extension of free trade—thirdly, was there not Parliamentary Reform—and then, as the fourth point, was there not national education? It was upon these four points that the Coalition Ministry was formed; but if we are to judge by this precedent—if we are to suppose that the four points which Austria is to secure are not easier of accomplishment than the four points which the noble Lord promised us, and for which some hon. Gentleman opposite sacrificed their principles, and some only sacrificed their party—but for which the noble Lord sacrificed both—I should certainly feel that we were not entitled to receive much encourage- 215 ment from this promise of the Austrian alliance. Sir, I maintain that it is the duty of the Government, on the subject of this Austrian alliance, to be frank. If they will not be frank with their opponents, whether they sit upon this side of the House or the other, I would humbly venture to say it would be wise upon the subject to be frank with the people of this country. The people of this country are not so blind to questions of this character as they were a few years ago. The people of this country are now beginning to comprehend the enormous issue at stake; and if they find that, with Parliament called together, their affairs in an unsatisfactory state, this old ghost of the Austrian alliances is again to haunt the Chamber of their representatives, as our main hope and aid, I think it is not at all unlikely that they will feel considerable disrelish at our condition, and think, therefore, it would be wise in the Government to tell us what Austria really means. I think the House of Commons ought to know whether Austria intends merely to watch the game, and profit by the first opportunity, or whether she means to employ her troops? Is she an ally in spirit and in blood, as our ally in France? Yes, England has a right to demand that from the Government which has the management of the crisis, and I suppose we shall hear to-night; for, if not, I am convinced that this meeting of Parliament, and this communication from Her Majesty, will not have the effect on the country which I, for one, earnestly desire. But if we are to have only an equivocal alliance—if we are only to have an interference that will serve but to bewilder and to mystify—if we are to negotiate when we ought to act, to stop the course of national conduct when the country, slow to enlist in questions of this kind, but when, as their blood is up, determined to accomplish their object, I say, if that is what we are to have, for me, at least, let there be no Austrian alliance—no four points, no subsidies, no secret articles—but let France and England together solve this great question, and establish and secure the liberties of Europe.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), in a speech of remarkable ability, and, at the same time, I think, of great fairness, asked for an explanation from the servants of the Crown with respect to the circumstances upon which he entertained doubt, and with 216 respect to certain points of policy that have been pursued; and he ended with saying, as I understood him, that, although he entertained those objections, it did not appear to him that they amounted to such a charge against the Government as would induce him to take part in any Motion for a change of Ministers; but that, if hereafter he did not find that those warlike operations were carried on according to what he believed to be the true policy of the country, he would himself join in any Parliamentary effort that might be made with reference to such a state of things. That declaration was in itself a satisfactory one, and with the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman I have no fault to find. But the right hon. Gentleman who has now spoken (Mr. Disraeli) has spoken in a totally different spirit. He has attempted by every means—while he, like his right hon. Friend, does not propose to displace Her Majesty's Ministers—he has attempted to weaken the confidence which the country may feel in their efforts—he has attempted to weaken the alliance between this country and France—he has thrown out every objection that can occur to his fertile mind with respect to the alliance into which we have recently entered, and he has, in short, said everything that could be calculated to damp the hope which this country, as I believe, confidently entertains of a glorious termination to the war. Sir, I cannot say, therefore—while I admire the speech of the right hon. Member for Droitwich, and especially the feeling with which he spoke of two hon. Members of this House, one of whom is now no more—I cannot say there was a single gleam of patriotism throughout the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. The right hon. Gentleman began with a most curious prologue, which seemed to me, at that late hour of the night, peculiarly unnecessary—namely, a protest in favour of liberty of speech in this House, and said it was his determination to resist any attempt by Ministers to suppress that freedom of speech, Sir, which you ask from Her Majesty at the beginning of every Session. Why, I am accused in certain not unpleasant publications of never speaking without uttering an encomium on Magna Charta, but an encomium on Magna Charta would not be more unnecessary or out of place than the eloquent protest of the right hon. Gentleman in favour of liberty of speech. But he is so indignant upon this subject be- 217 cause he imagines that certain directions have been given which have not been given or thought of—but given to certain Members of this House—orders given, the right hon. Gentleman says, to the creatures of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman, who respects freedom of debate, calls a number of these Members the creatures of Government. That is not very respectful to that part of the House to which he refers. We certainly have a very great question before us, and we are engaged in a great contest. The right hon. Gentleman says that we have never conceived the true magnitude of the war. The right hon. Member for Droitwich alluded to a speech of mine last year. In this very speech of mine I find that I most distinctly recognised the importance and magnitude of the enterprise. I said—It is in this mighty contest that Europe is engaged, and I should be misleading the House if I were to tell them that, when engaged in a conflict with such an enemy, with a Sovereign of immense power, of great influence, and of great talents, we may hope for an early termination of the contest." [3 Hansard, cxxxv. 611]That shows, at all events, that I did not attempt to diminish the greatness of the contest, or induce the House to hope for a very speedy termination. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War has so eloquently enlivened and unravelled the details of this subject, I will not attempt to go over the same ground; but I will touch on some of the greater points of this question before the debate is closed. In the first place, with respect to the army we have sent to the East. That army, at the request of Omar Pacha, took up a position in Varna and the neighbourhood, from which it was supposed an effort might be made to raise the siege of Silistria. But it is said that we have not shown that that army was provided with the means of transport. I can only say that the means of transport were collected, and that if the siege of Silistria had not been raised, those means would have been sufficient, and the army would have advanced, though it was by no means an easy operation at that season of the year. But is it such an easy thing at the commencement of a war to provide all the means for carrying it on? I remember the Duke of Wellington saying in private that he was obliged to leave a brigade of infantry at Lisbon for three months because he had no means of transporting it to head-quarters, although all the means of Portugal were at his command. But the hon. Member for 218 Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) said, you suffered the army to land on the beach of the Crimea without any provision for them on that occasion. Would he have had Lord Raglan to have sent word the night before, that the means of transport might have awaited his arrival? With an enemy in his neighbourhood, could he have said that be intended landing at Eupatoria? Still there were means provided at Varna and its neighbourhood. But the main question is, whether such an expedition should have been undertaken. In considering that question I beg the House to consider what must have been the alternative. We had sent an army to assist Turkey; not only an English but a French army was assembled in that country, and the Danube having been recrossed by the enemy, what was the course open to us? Should we have taken the army back to Constantinople, and allowed it to remain there the rest of the summer? No; it is quite obvious such a course would have been a great disappointment to the people of this country; it would have been a great disappointment to the army itself, and the national spirit would have been shaken by taking a course which implied so great a fear of the forces of Russia. Well, then, should we order the army across the Danube to act against the Russian army? If we had done so, we should have been met by the immense forces concentrated in Bessarabia, and, therefore, no such movement could have been undertaken with any effect. There remained, therefore, the question of the expedition to the Crimea, and although there were many parties against that expedition, there were some of the ablest men both in the French army and fleet and the English army and fleet who spoke with confidence of such an expedition. I confess I was one of those who felt confidence in it. I believed it was a great risk, but I believed there was a great object to be attained; that if we destroyed that stronghold of Russian power—Sebastopol—we should be enabled to give to Turkey that security which was the great purpose of the war. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich alluded to a speech of mine, and said that in that speech I gave notice to Russia that such an expedition was to be undertaken. But the tone of that speech was entirely misapprehended. It had often been asked what was the object of the war; and I was endeavouring to point out those guarantees upon which 219 Turkey, might again be enabled to resume her relations with Russia. I said that the Treaty of Adrianople could not be renewed, and that no security for peace could be had so long as Russia had a stronghold supplied with all arms, and a large fleet ready to sail with a fair wind down upon the Porte. But, Sir, with respect to the sentiments which I then uttered, I have referred to them now not merely for the purpose of showing what a wrong interpretation had been placed on them, but for the purpose of saying that what I considered to be necessary then I consider to be necessary now. believe no peace will be safe for Turkey, I believe no peace will be honourable to this country, which left Sebastopol in the same menacing position in which it had been of late years before the war. Well, if that is the case, how important it is that, by our success in the Crimea, we should attain the means of fixing these conditions. The question really was, whether an expedition should be sent against Sebastopol this year before any additional fortifications could be constructed for its defence; or whether it should be sent in some future year, when our own army might be stronger, but when not only Sebastopol, but the intrenchments of every landing place in the Crimea, would have been strengthened. I will not refer to what the right hon. Gentleman opposite said with respect to the Baltic fleet, except to say that I think the Admirals who have commanded both in the Black Sea and the Baltic have been very unfairly attacked. I believe that it would have been a great misfortune if, by an unsuccessful attack on a place like Cronstadt, which has great means of defence, we should have involved the loss of three or four of our line-of-battle ships. The panic caused by such an event would have been very injurious to us, and would have impeded the general progress of the war. Nor will I enter upon the question of reinforcements, as the subject has already been alluded to at great length by my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War. I will only say that, in the war of 1793, and in the war which followed the peace of Amiens, we were only able to send, in the first instance, 1,700 men, and in the second instance, 3,000 men, even after the war had lasted for four years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, and my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury, referred to the treaty with Austria; I do not pretend to give the House an accurate state- 220 ment of the terms of that treaty, but I am quite ready to say what I think has been the position, and what is the position, of Austria in regard to this country. I have never been satisfied that Austria has pursued that course which her duty to Europe should have induced her to take. I think that in this case, which concerns all Europe, and with which the independence of Europe is intimately concerned, Austria, as a great European Power, ought to have earlier joined the maritime Powers. I think, besides, that Austria was more nearly affected by the question at issue, and that her danger was greater than that of England and France; but, on the other hand, a cautious Power like Austria saw that the danger to her of a war with Russia was greater than it could be to England and France. Neither England nor France had anything to fear from an invasion of their territories by Russia. No one could expect a Russian army of invasion to land in France or England; but not so with regard to Austria. Austria had got a large army in Poland, and if Gallicia had been attacked by Russia, after one or two victories the road to Vienna would have been open. The military establishment of Austria was low, and had been reduced very lately, and her first step was to increase her military force. It was only at the end of July last that her preparations were nearly completed; and I remember perfectly well at the end of the Session that I stated, in answer to a question from the hon. Member for Montrose (whose absence this evening I lament)—that I said, though Austria was pledged not to make any arrangement with Russia, except on certain bases that had been laid down, she was by no means pledged to undertake a war in conjunction with the maritime Powers. She has now gone a step further, but she has not even yet gone so far as to say that, if before the end of the year peace be not made with Russia, she will become a belligerent. She has only gone this length—she has agreed that, if she should be at war with Russia, a treaty offensive and defensive should ipso facto exist between Austria, England, and France. She has likewise agreed that, before the end of the year, she will take into further consideration what steps she will be prepared to take with respect to the terms of peace with Russia. Now, I understand the meaning of that article—certainly as not containing anything very precise in itself—I understand, however, 221 the meaning of that article to be that, if England and France shall propose conditions of peace which are in conformity with the four bases, and which seem to Austria to come within the terms of those bases, and if Russia shall refuse her assent to such treaty of peace, then Austria will no longer hesitate, but take part in the alliance against Russia, and that an offensive and defensive alliance will take place. I do not wish to overstate the engagement in any way; and I admit that Austria might still, at the last moment, say that the terms proposed—these four bases explained in a way I did not expect —would reduce Russia too much, and diminish too greatly her weight in Europe, and that she could never be expected to agree to them. Such might be her language. She leaves herself at liberty to say this without any breach of faith, and one of the last things I should wish to do would he to impute to Austria a breach of faith if ultimately she did not form part of the alliance; but my explanation is that she does concur with us in respect to the bases that are absolutely necessary for the security of Turkey; and that if Russia does not consent to a treaty of peace founded on those bases, then that in the next campaign the forces of Austria will be joined with those of England and France. It may be said that we should have gone further and have got better terms. It is easy to say that these are terms which should not have been accepted; but we could not force terms on an independent Power; and it is better to have such a treaty with Austria rather than leave Austria unconnected with us and without any ties to bind her to us. That was the belief of Her Majesty's Government, and still more strongly the persuasion of the Government of the Emperor of the French—that it was wise to enter upon these engagements, such as they were, and that the success of the war was thereby promoted. I have always thought it was much to be lamented that Austria should be so tardy, and Russia had been enabled to despatch a part of her troops on the Danube to the Crimea, which placed our gallant troops there at so great a disadvantage. I would agree with much of what the hon. Member for Aylesbury has said with respect to three of the conditions, but that I never have been able to get anybody to tell me how we are to effect our object except by a long and protracted war. I cannot see how the Emperor of Russia, being of the same religious com- 222 munion as 11,000,000 of the subjects of the Sultan, and having their sympathy, how he is ever to be prevented from having a considerable influence over those subjects. I believe we may limit that influence, and prevent his having the power which the Menchikoff note proposed he should have. I believe by uniting the other Powers in a general guarantee, and accepting from the Sultan, instead of a treaty with Russia, a general declaration in favour of his Christian subjects, we may deprive Russia of her protectorate. But I do not believe that any articles that could be framed could entirely deprive Russia, in time of peace, of the influence I have mentioned. If that be the case, so much more necessary is it that we should not allow to Russia the means of invading or conquering Turkey. This appeared to me, in July last, to be the essential terms of peace, and I have not altered my opinion. I was sorry to hear my hon. Friend speak of the battle of Inkerman as a "fatal battle." Now, my belief is, that though the losses were heavy, and though the nation has great reason to deplore those losses, and although many families will spend the approaching season in affliction who might have hoped to pass it in joy and comfort, yet that, for a great national object, the victory has not been thrown away. The bravery, the unflinching valour, which were displayed upon the heights of Inkerman, will teach the nations of Europe to respect our character and the military prowess which we have shown, and it is as likely as almost any event that could be named to bring about the conclusion of an honourable peace. Deeds like these, you may depend upon it, though not followed by the rout of an enemy, or accompanied with the gain of a large territory, or the surrender of a fortress, will be fruitful of consequences. They maintain the character of the nation by whose soldiers they are achieved. While this country has such deeds of heroism to boast of, you may depend upon it that the mightiest nations of Europe will dread our enmity, and be anxious to secure our friendship. With this persuasion, I shall, on a future occasion, ask the House to vote its thanks to those gallant men, and to our gallant allies, the French army, who fought by the side of our troops at Alma and Inkerman, and assisted them to defeat the enemy. With such an alliance, with such prudent conduct in regard to other Powers, and with the determination in this country, which I believe is 223 strong, that the war in which Her Majesty is at present engaged must be brought to a just, and honourable, and glorious termination, I feel full of hope for the result of the contest.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee appointed, "to draw up an Address, to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution:"—Mr. Henry Herbert, Mr. Leveson Gower, Lord John Russell, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Viscount Palmerston, Sir George Grey, Sir James Graham, Sir Charles Wood, Mr. Sidney Herbert, Sir William Molesworth, Mr. Attorney General, Mr. Solicitor General, Sir John Young, Mr. Cardwell, The Judge Advocate, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Hayter, and Mr. Bouverie, or any Five of them:—Queen's Speech referred.
§ Adjourned at half after Two o'clock.