§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, in rising to perform the task which I have under taken, I have the satisfaction of knowing that, however feebly or incompletely that task may be performed, I shall have the sympathy of this House. I cannot doubt that all those who are concerned in, and who approve, the expedition that has been sent to the Crimea, will cordially join in acknowledging the deeds of valour, constancy, and fortitude which have been, and which they had a right to expect would be, performed; and I should say, still more strongly, that those who thought that the expedition was unwise, that it was undertaken with inadequate means, and that our army was exposed to duties for which it was unequal, will still more be inclined to admire the superhuman efforts that have been made by that army. I therefore, Sir, proceed with this task in full confidence that the House will heartily approve of the Motions which I am about to submit to them.
In performing that task, I may, perhaps, say at the outset that I shall endeavour, as far as possible, to avoid repeating the details of actions, a narrative of which has been given by Lord Raglan 379 in his own clear and admirable language. I shall also endeavour to avoid entering into any question of tactics, or of military criticism. I hold that we are none of us well qualified to perform that task—one which can only be adequately performed by those who are not only practically familiar with the art of war, but who also know all the circumstances of the operations which have been undertaken, and of the manner in which those operations have been conducted. If I were to give an illustration of my meaning, I would mention that in a History of the French Empire the historian, in recounting the operations which occurred at the battle of Wagram, states that the first Napoleon, having carried the battle to a certain extent, and seeing the victory incline in his favour, ordered certain manœuvres to be performed; but that he said afterwards that there was another manœuvre which would have been far more decisive, and would have led to far more splendid results, but that, as his army was not at that time composed of those veterans who were accustomed to war—as many of his troops were young and inexperienced—he could not rely upon their steadiness for the manœuvre, which was of a difficult and delicate nature. Now, Sir, a military critic, having discovered that such a manœuvre might have been performed, might have easily blamed that great commander for not having undertaken it; but he, knowing all the circumstances, and being aware of his position, the ground on which he was to operate, and the temper and disposition of his troops, was no doubt very correct in the tactics which he adopted. So, likewise, in regard to every military operation; unless you know exactly the nature of the ground on which the general is to operate, and unless you can count exactly upon the force which he has at command, and likewise upon the state and temper of his army, it is impossible for you to judge accurately with respect to the operations that are by him performed. Now, I say this, because it is my intention only to state what are the operations which have been performed, without making any comment upon them. I have no doubt that they were performed with very great ability. I have no doubt they were performed according to the best judgment that could be arrived at under the circumstances. But I do not intend, on this occasion, to meet any objections which may be made as to any particular course of 380 conduct taken by our army on any particular day.
Now, Sir, let me proceed to state the position of Lord Raglan. Lord Raglan was chosen by Her Majesty to command the expedition which was sent to the East. That choice was dictated by the reflection of the services which he had already performed both in the army and in other capacities. Lord Raglan, when he was a young man, might, under the influence of a very powerful family connection, have obtained any position he might have aspired to; but the only thing he asked of the Government of that day was to be attached to the staff of Sir Arthur Wellesley. He was attached to that staff; and from that time every step that he has gained in rank in the army has been due to his merit, and to his merit alone. I remember him perfectly well upon several occasions when I had the honour of being at the head-quarters of the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula, performing all the duties of military secretary to that great captain, at a time when he had not only to conduct the military correspondence of the army, but also the correspondence with the Government at home, with the Secretary of State, with the Secretary at War, and with the Portuguese and Spanish Governments. This was business amply sufficient to employ any office in this country which has the most business to perform, and yet it was all performed by Lord Raglan, owing to the clear head and facility of despatch which he possessed, amid the hurry of arms; and that without for a moment allowing his attention to be diverted from his duties in the field. After accompanying the Duke of Wellington in his long career, and being severely wounded, he was at length appointed to a position in the service in which he was called upon to perform other and more important duties to his country. And if the character of the army of this country has been in any degree exalted, and if the selection for promotion that has been made shows how much desert has been attended to, it is in a great degree to Lord Raglan that the country has been indebted for these results. Such was the man, therefore, who was appointed by Her Majesty to command the army in the East; and let me say, further, that having been so appointed, he at once commanded the confidence and affection of the British army, and in a very short time he obtained the entire confidence and the hearty co-operation of the 381 generals of our Ally, the Emperor of the French. When we have to consider that our operations were to be conducted in common, and that they were to be conducted in common with the forces of an ally with whom we had not been at all events accustomed to co-operate in the field, however intimate the alliance between the two Governments might have been during a period of peace, the House and the country will see that it was not only by his decision and valour in the field—and greater valour was never displayed—but that it was likewise by other and no less necessary qualities, that Lord Raglan has been of so much service to his country.
And now, Sir, I will proceed to that expedition and those contests in which some of the best blood of this country has been shed; and when I say the best blood of this country, I by no means intend to refer to any particular rank, military or social; for I feel that among the best blood of this country is the blood of those sons of labour who, having entered the military profession, have devoted their whole hearts to their duties—men who have stood in the field of battle without the hope or expectation of being distinguished by those rewards by which men in higher stations are often swayed, but who have performed their duty nobly, reckless even of their lives, at the same time with a feeling of religious obligation that all must admire; for while they have endured with the greatest firmness the assaults of their enemies, they have shrunk with the utmost avoidance from committing the slightest outrage upon any one. I am confident that these children of the peasantry of England are of no less worth in blood and courage than the sons of the highest and the noblest of the land. The embarkation of the British troops took place towards the end of August. In a despatch of the 29th of that month Lord Raglan mentions the acknowledgments that he thinks are due to the officers of the British navy (of which I shall take notice hereafter, when I come to that part of the Vote) for the assistance they had given in order to effect the embarkation of so great a number of troops. The expedition proceeded to the Crimea. There was some question with respect to the place of disembarkation. Lord Raglan himself preceded the fleet in a swift steamer, surveyed the coast, and found that some points which had been thought of as landing-places for the troops were 382 guarded by numerous redoubts and fortifications, and at length fixed upon a place for disembarkation, to which he obtained the assent of Marshal St. Arnaud, the commander of the French army. This selection was so judicious that the whole army was disembarked without opposition, and the important operation was effected safely and completely in the course of two days. Here was already a proof of the skill of Lord Raglan, which was calculated to give great satisfaction to this country. Having landed on the 14th of September, the army proceeded, and effected a march of considerable length on the 19th. On the 20th of the month they marched two miles further, and, finding the Russian army intrenched on the heights above the Alma, they attacked it, and in the course of two hours made themselves masters of those heights, the Russian army making no further attempt to retake and occupy that position. It was a position well chosen and of great natural strength—so strong that the right of the Russian position Was quite unassailable from the precipitous nature of the ground; and it is generally believed that Prince Menchikoff, who there commanded, said it was a position in which the allied army might be kept at bay for three weeks, and be thereby prevented from proceeding to the siege of Sebastopol. Yet such was the brilliant valour of the British and French troops that they carried those heights. The Light Division of the British army having encountered a heavy shower of musketry and grape which, for a time, thinned their ranks, the brigade of the Guards and the Highlanders came up and attacked the position with such vigour and determination that the Russians yielded the heights, never again to attempt their occupation. I have already said that, with regard to the details of this action, Lord Raglan has told them in the clearest and fullest manner. I may mention, however, some circumstances relating to that noble Lord himself. Marshal St. Arnaud carried at the same time the left of the Russian position. The charge of the French was so impetuous and so vigorous that the Russians yielded the ground, and the French army was established on the heights which they bad occupied. On the British side great masses of troops were collected. Lord Raglan, seeing the great force with which he had to contend, desired an officer of his staff to go to a height which he pointed out, and see if there was any 383 chance of approaching it with our guns. The officer returned and said he thought it was possible, and Lord Raglan immediately directed two guns to be carried to the height. The Russian artillery was so powerful and so incessant that many of the artillerymen who manned those guns were killed in ascending the height; but the guns were placed where Lord Raglan had desired, and an officer of Isis own staff fired the first shots that were discharged from them. They were not effective; but presently they got the range, and other shots were so well directed against the masses of the Russian infantry, and made such chasms in their ranks, that after a time the whole mass began to move, the columns were shaken, and the Russians compelled to retreat. This was a proof, as I think, conclusive of his skill as a general—his seeing with so much accuracy in what point the enemy could be assailed, and directing, with that coolness which belonged to him, and with that decision which is likewise his characteristic, the mode in which the vast forces of the enemy might be most successfully opposed. While I speak of the coolness of Lord Raglan, I may, perhaps, be permitted to mention what has been named by an officer of his own staff—that, thinking he exposed himself too much—that he had gone too far in advance, a place where the Russian fire was exceedingly not, and that the life of a commander ought not to be so risked—one of his staff said to him that he thought he was exposing himself too much; when Lord Raglan's answer was, "Don't speak to me now; I am busy." There is nothing of epigrammatic wit, there is nothing, perhaps, of heroic sentiment in these words, but they were the words of an English gentleman attentive to his duty, and quite regardless of any danger while he was discharging it. After the battle of the Alma the army halted for a time, while both the military and the seamen of the fleet were employed in assisting the wounded, in carrying the wounded to the ships, and in burying the dead. The English and French army then proceeded, and the river Katcha was crossed without any difficulty, the Russians having abandoned all defence of that river; but when they came to the Belbek they found on the course of that river certain works of defence which the Russians had constructed to prevent the disembarkation of the military stores of the allied forces. Great consultation was ac- 384 cordingly necessary, when it was considered whether those works should be attacked—whether the army should proceed, as had been originally intended, to attack the north side of Sebastopol, or whether some other course should not be taken? It was decided that, instead of occupying themselves in reducing these works, the army should at once and at all risks, march across the woods to the south of Sebastopol and endeavour to make themselves masters of Balaklava. That march was accomplished on the 25th of September with great skill, the army being exposed, of course, to the dangers of a flank attack while they were performing it; but it was most successfully performed. They seem to have surprised the Russian commander, for the rearguard of the Russian force was met on the right of Sebastopol, between Bakshiserai and that place. The English and French army proceeded without difficulty to make themselves masters of the heights and the country between Balaklava and Sebastopol—an operation which was performed with great skill and success. But immediately after this operation Lord Raglan had to lament that the officer with whom he had co-operated, with whom he had consulted both as to the original decision upon the undertaking of the expedition, the means of embarkation and disembarkation, and the fight of the Alma, was so reduced by illness that he could no longer continue the command. Marshal St. Arnaud, with that heroic spirit which distinguished him, determined to persevere to the last in performing his duty to his Sovereign and his country. He was determined that, though in a few weeks, perhaps in a few days, nothing but his cold dust might remain, that dust should not be without its laurels. He retired from the field, went on board the fleet, and in a day afterwards expired. We must all lament an officer who had shown so much gallantry and so much heroism, and with whom our own army had so much reason to be satisfied; and we shall always acknowledge him as an officer who, to the last day of his life, had performed his duty. I cannot omit here the words in which Marshal St. Arnaud spoke of the conduct of Lord Raglan at the battle of the Alma, because they are words coming from the chief of the army of another nation, and which, while they show the generosity of the writer, at the same time worthily show the character of him who was the object of them, 385 "The bravery of Lord Raglan," writes (Marshal St. Arnaud) "rivals that of antiquity. In the midst of cannon and musket shot he displayed a calmness which never left him." The command of the French army then fell into the hands of General Canrobert; and it is with great satisfaction I can state that, both in previous concert and ever since he has had that command, Lord Raglan and General Canrobert have acted together with the rivalry only who should best serve the common cause—with no other rivalry, with no species of jealousy, but each admiring and applauding the character and actions of the other. On the 28th of September the army occupied the heights in the neighbourhood of Sebastopol. About ten days had elapsed when, after a full examination of the ground, the impression of Sir John Burgoyne and other eminent officers—but I mention Sir John Burgoyne because he was best qualified to give an opinion on the subject—their impression was, that the task would be far more difficult than had been supposed. It had been imagined that, the regular fortifications of Sebastopol on the land side never having been perfected, the allied armies might have begun operations close to the town, and destroyed those defences—they considered that with such artillery as they had, the capture of the town might have been readily effected. When I look back to the letters that were written at that time by various officers and transmitted to us by our Ambassador at Constantinople, I find a confident anticipation that Sebastopol would soon fall. Sir John Burgoyne, however, on examining the ground, found that, as the hills where they parted and fell towards Sebastopol opened into wide ravines separated from each other, the troops that were placed on one part of a hill could not co-operate with those on the other: he therefore found that it would be very difficult to carry on the operations in the way originally intended, and that it would be dangerous, above all, to leave any part of the English forces unsupported on such ground as I have described this part of the neighbourhood of Sebastopol to be. It was accordingly resolved to bring as much heavy artillery into the batteries as could be brought, and our soldiers, day after day and night after night, laboured with singular perseverance in order to place in position a sufficiently large amount of heavy guns to destroy the defences of the place. But it was obvious that, from the moment that determination—that necessary deter- 386 mination—was taken, the prospect became one of a very distant kind; for the Russians, having a great quantity of heavy artillery in Sebastopol, having likewise all the guns of their large fleet which lay in the harbour, and having a considerable garrison, besides the crews of the ships, and without counting the population of Sebastopol, would have a force equal to, if not superior to that of the allies. From that moment, therefore, the task became one of very great labour and difficulty; but both on the French side and on the side of the British nothing was left undone in order to hasten on the works, and to open a formidable fire on the Russian fortifications. On the 17th of October that fire was opened, and produced very considerable effect. Many of the guns in the Russian batteries were dismounted, and some of their works were for a time nearly destroyed. At the same time the fleets, both English and French, came near the forts towards the seaside, and opened a most formidable fire for some hours against those defences; but, that fire not having produced the effect of leaving the place open to the immediate assault of the allies, the Russians occupied the night always in repairing the defences which had been destroyed, and in replacing other guns as substitutes for those which had been dismounted. In this manner, therefore, the siege went on till the 25th of October; when the Russians, coming round by the valley of the Tchernaya, made an attack on our outposts at Balaklava. These redoubts were occupied by Turks, and the Russians succeeded in making themselves masters of them. They advanced a great force of cavalry; but the heavy cavalry of the British, not regarding their superiority of numbers, attacked them with great gallantry, and forced them to retire. On the same day, by the misconstruction of an order that had been given by Lord Raglan, an attack was made by the light cavalry upon the line of the Russians, comprehending their batteries of artillery, which were guarded by other batteries in flank, and by large bodies of infantry and cavalry. Nothing could be more distinguished than the bravery of the British troops on this occasion. I believe at no time in the annals of the British army has courage been more signally displayed, We may lament the misconstruction that occurred—we may lament the fruitless result of the action, and that it did not produce the effect which, under different circumstances, it might have 387 caused; but that cannot be the least disparagement to the valour of these men, who were ready, at any risk, and with these immense odds against them, to charge the enemy they saw before them and whom they were directed to attack. The works of the siege continued, those works being in themselves very laborious, occupying a far more than ordinary proportion of the besieging force, and the more fatiguing because a great portion of the men had been taken away by sickness—cholera having not yet ceased in the camp of the allies. It was in this state of things that an immense effort was made by the commanders of the Russian forces—perhaps I should rather say, by the Emperor of Russia himself, for two of his sons were present—in order to overwhelm the forces of the allies, which remained on the one side, besieging a great fortified place with a numerous garrison and intrenchments defended by a prodigious artillery, and, on the other, confronted by a Russian army. That attempt was made, it has been said, by 60,000 men; but I think it probable that the number was not less than 80,000. They were troops who had not been present at the battle of the Alma—troops did not know the enemy they had to encounter. These troops, raised to the utmost pitch of fanaticism, and, it is said, their courage animated by other means, came in vast columns to the attack of the British position on the heights of Inkerman on the 5th of November. Lord Raglan has related the events of that battle. He has stated how, in the darkness of the night and in the fog of the morning, the Russians were able to place a very large artillery force—not less than ninety pieces—and to advance vast columns close to the English position. In that darkness and thickness of the fog it was impossible to exercise the powers and the discrimination of a commander. It was impossible to survey the field or to direct operations. There were only about 8,000 British soldiers in that field; but though their numbers were few—though they had been weakened by sickness and battle—though they presented themselves ragged from the labours and privations they had gone through—though, and the darkness, they could hardly recognise the companions and comrades of their own regiments—though a great portion of them came after twenty-four hours' hard work in the trenches—though they had not time even to take a scanty meal before they met this 388 powerful enemy, yet they retained unquenched and unquenchable the spirit of British soldiers, and that spirit bore them on to victory. It was, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War truly said the other night, the battle of the soldiers. But yet that band of heroes, exposed as they were to an artillery against which nothing for a very long time could have stood, might have been—not driven from the field or defeated—but might at last have been forced to lay down their lives on the heights, which the enemy, in consequence of their overwhelming numbers, might then have occupied, had there not at this very moment arrived, after the English had for hours withstood a most determined attack, a reinforcement of our French Allies, commanded by General Bosquet, one of the most distinguished chiefs in the French Army, who directed with great skill and valour the troops he led to the spot. The French soldiers rushed on with such impetuosity that they saved the day, and preserved both armies from disasters which might otherwise have overwhelmed them had the Russians gained any part of the position, and from that had been able to continue the attack against the Allied forces. Still, including these French troops, there were but 14,000 men of the Allies engaged in this famous action; and I believe, in respect to the destruction of the enemy, scarcely any battle has been equal to it. More than 5,000 dead were left on the field of battle by the Russians, and it would be a moderate estimate to say that three times as many must have been wounded; so that these 14,000 Allied troops caused a loss to the enemy of far more than their own number. I believe, Sir, that no modern annals contain the history of a battle which redounds more to the honour of those who gained it than the one I am now alluding to. It has cost, indeed, the loss of many a gallant man—it has caused desolation and misery to many families, but I am persuaded that the renown of that battle will last and its effects will be appreciated for generations to come. We have seen that in the course of that battle, there were many vicissitudes of success; but we have seen that the heroism of those brave troops prevailed; and they who had to meet such troops—they who have to give an account of what it is to attack such troops—will be slow to think that Russia can ever gain the advantage in the war she is now waging against soldiers so indo- 389 mitable. I will now advert only to the general operations of the siege, and to the assistance we have received from the Navy. The general operations of the siege, as I have stated, have been conducted by officers of great experience, and have been of the most laborious kind. The sufferings and privations of our troops have been such as never before were equalled; and, in alluding to the losses we have sustained, I cannot omit mentioning one name—the name of a general who fell at the battle of Inkerman—because, from his character, his talents, and his former services, the country had every reason to expect to see in him a complete military commander. I allude to Sir George Cathcart. Possessed of great ability and of a high spirit, he was so universally esteemed that, when the question of sending out a Governor to the Cape upon some emergency arose, that great military authority the Duke of Wellington concurred in thinking that no more skilful commander and no wiser chief could be selected than Sir George Cathcart. I remember witnessing last year, after he had just returned to this country from that important mission in which he had fulfilled the expectations of his Sovereign and his country, the joy and exultation with which he hailed his good fortune in being at once appointed to a command in the Crimea. To the last hour of his life—to the last moment of his life—according to those who saw him, that feeling of joy and exultation seems to have continued, and he appears to have had no other ambition and no other wish than to devote his life to his country, and to spend the last drop of his blood in her service. Such are the men who do honour to this country, and by this country the name of Sir George Cathcart never will be forgotten.
Sir, having said thus much with respect to the Army, I now have to state that it will also be my duty to propose a Vote of Thanks to the Navy for their co-operation. I have mentioned that Lord Raglan, at the commencement of the operations, said that the zeal and efficiency of the Navy in performing the service of embarking and landing the troops was beyond all praise, and that from Admiral Dundas down to the lowest sailor there were exhibited the same zeal and the same eagerness to discharge the duty efficiently. He notices especially the conduct of Sir E. Lyons. In relating the Battle of the Alma, and after expressing his deep feeling of gratitude to the officers and men of the Royal 390 Navy, he says, in words which I think I ought to quote—They watched the progress of the day with the most intense anxiety; and, as the best way of evincing their participation in our success, and their sympathy in the sufferings of the wounded, they never ceased from the close of the battle till we left the ground this morning to provide for the sick and wounded, and to carry them down to the beach, a labour in which some of the officers oven volunteered to participate—an act which I shall never cease to recollect with the warmest thankfulness. I mention no names, fearing I might omit some who ought to be spoken of; but none who were associated with us spared any exertion they could apply to so sacred a duty. Sir Edmund Lyons, who had charge of the whole, was, as always, most prominent in rendering assistance and providing for emergencies.Thus it is that he speaks of that distinguished officer, who, together with those men who so acted, is an honour to the profession to which he belongs, and from whom, I trust, we may expect, in the course of the war in which we are now engaged, great and brilliant services. A man of greater ability, in whatever duty he may be employed, I scarcely ever met with, and his meritorious conduct is well known to his country. After this operation, Sir Edmund Lyons was again most forward in the operations at Balaklava, entering the harbour at the same time that Lord Raglan was descending upon that place, and from that moment to the present he has been most prominent in rendering every assistance to the army. After the fire against Sebastopol had commenced, Lord Raglan and General Canrobert asked Admiral Dundas and Hamelin to co-operate with the fire of their ships on the batteries on the sea side. This service was willingly undertaken. The injury, as I have said, to the land batteries was not such as to justify the troops in attempting an immediate assault, and therefore the fire of the ships did not produce effect, except for the time; but had the army been able by their batteries on shore to lay open the place, as seemed to have been expected, then the diversion caused by the navy would have been most useful. I believe that every officer engaged on that service performed his duty most excellently, and to the perfect satisfaction of his superiors.
After moving these votes, I shall next venture to propose one of an unusual eharacter—one, perhaps, without precedent—but, considering the feeling of the country, one to which this House will no doubt readily agree. I mean to propose a 391 Vote of Thanks to General Canrobert, and to the French officers and men who have co-operated with Her Majesty's forces. Sir, such has been the feeling created by the gallant acts performed by Englishmen and Frenchmen conjointly—two manly nations that have always respected each other—that I believe the bonds of friendship thus formed between two nations will not be easily dissevered. These two nations, the most enlightened, the most intelligent, and the most spirited of Europe, may well act in alliance together, and give an example to the world of duties resolutely performed and of high principles adequately maintained.
Sir, I likewise mean to propose a Vote lamenting the fate of those who have perished in these actions; and offering the expression of our condolence to the families of those brave men who have died in the service of the country. I wish there was not a part of the task I have to perform which, though I think I cannot omit it, I cannot approach without some feeling of repugnance. All the accounts we have received from those who witnessed the battle of Inkerman—and there are some similar accounts with respect to the battle of the Alma; but all those relating to the battle of Inkerman state, that when the officers and soldiers of the allied army fell wounded on the field of battle, the Russians, instead of taking them prisoners, bayoneted these unfortunate men on the field. Lord Raglan and General Canrobert, deeming the introduction of such a practice so abhorrent from humanity, and a departure from the usages of civilised warfare, were of opinion that it ought not to pass unnoticed; and consequently Lord Raglan ordered evidence to be taken by the Judge Advocate on the spot. Twenty-four witnesses, officers and soldiers, were examined, and they deposed to having witnessed those acts of barbarity on the part of the Russian soldiers, instigated, as they thought, in some instances by Russian officers. The commander of the allies sent an officer with a flag of truce to Prince Menchikoff, to represent the circumstances to him, and to state that he felt quite convinced that such acts must have been committed against the Prince's orders, and to express a hope that the Russian commander would take measures to prevent such barbarities in future. I wish I could state that the answer of Prince Menchikoff expressed that horror which might have been expected from an officer in his posi- 392 tion at such inhuman acts. He stated that it was not the custom of the Russian army to give no quarter; but he added, that the Russian troops might have been excited, because a church had been sacked by some detachment of the allied forces. It is said—whether truly or not I do not know—that a church had been entered by some of the allied soldiers, and had been sacked; but that that circumstance should be mentioned as any palliation of acts so barbarous as I have alluded to, is, I must say, not to the credit of the Russian commander. We all knew what was the conduct of the French and English soldiers towards each other, when they met in conflict on the battle-fields of the last war. We all know that in the Peninsula, after a battle was over, they would meet on the banks of the same stream, with their cross-belts off, as the Duke of Richmond said, help one another, and converse together in the most friendly manner, showing that they mutually respected each other. We all know that when a vidette was seen by the advancing army, whether English or French, the troops approaching scorned to fire on or capture a man standing alone, but, helping him on with his knapsack, they told him to fall back on his own comrades. Such actions, Sir, are characteristic of civilised nations, and in such a spirit one would have hoped that this war in the nineteenth century would have been conducted. The atrocities I have alluded to show, not certainly that any Russian General would order such cruel acts to be committed—not certainly that the great Sovereign of the Russian empire would countenance them—but that the enemy we have to deal with, if they should ever obtain a dominion over any great part of Europe, would, instead of civilising and improving, not only destroy the arts of peace, but barbarise the practices of war. I therefore trust for this, among other reasons, that the cause of England and France may be triumphant, believing that it is connected with all the best interests of civilisation, with the progress of humanity, and with the spread of real religion. Men who had been thus excited by fanaticism, as we know the Russians were previously to the Battle of Inkerman, who were called upon in the name of the Christian religion to take up arms and go into the field of battle, were guilty, within a few hours, of acts such as I have stated. Let us trust that the Government of Russia, 393 ashamed of these deeds, will take some means to prevent their repetition.
Sir, there is one thing further I have to say, and that of a more agreeable nature to myself, and with respect to which I trust I shall have the concurrence of this House. It was said, in reference to one of the victories gained in the course of the last war, by Mr. Wyndham, that, for his part, he would rather have to celebrate a gallant feat of arms performed by the British army, than the conquest of a whole archipelago of sugar islands. I am convinced that that saying of his was as spirited and wise as it was forcible and pointed. It is in these things that the life of a nation is seen; it is by actions such as we have to commemorate to-day, that the spirit of a nation is maintained from age to age. It is by battles and victories such as we have the glory to record in our history—by battles such as the French have likewise to record in their annals—it is by battles and victories such as those to which I have had to call the attention of the House to-day, that each nation owes its separate existence; and it is such exploits that make each country ready to defend its independence at any cost. We have been for years, all of us, the Parliament, the people, every class, engaged in speculations and practices connected with the progress of wealth, the arts, machinery, and improvements of peace; and we have shown that these studies and that devotion to these pursuits have not in the least abated the courage which belongs to the entire nation. We have shown, whether English, Scotch, or Irish, that a similar spirit animates the whole United Kingdom, and that we are ready to peril in a just cause all that is most dear to men. I say again, Sir, that the victories which have been gained in such a cause as the present, and with such a spirit as the nation has shown, must not only redound to the fame and glory of the country for future generations, but enable it to present itself to all aftertime as an object of regard, respect, and admiration to the whole world. The noble Lord concluded by moving the several Votes of Thanks, which are identical with those moved by the Puke of Newcastle in the House of Lords—see p. 323.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, there have been occasions in the history of this country, when Votes similar to these have been proposed to the House, when Members have entered into criticisms upon the conduct of 394 commanders and the policy of Ministers; but I am sure that however much we may venerate Parliamentary precedents, the House must have sympathised with the noble Lord, when he said that to-night there would be no difference of opinion upon the Motion which he was about to submit to our notice. Sir, the noble Lord has treated the theme which he has introduced in a manner so entirely worthy of its interest, that it would be unnecessary and unbecoming in me to enter into any detail of those actions which recently commanded the admiration of the world. But, Sir, I feel that I am expressing the opinion of all present when I say that this is no common war, that will some day be covered with the mere dust of history. I feel, Sir, that this is a war which will rank with those great struggles that produce not only historians, but in time poets even, to celebrate their lasting achievements; like those famous deeds of the Crusades, handed down to the wonder and admiration of men—and many of which have been accomplished in the memorable region where these great exploits are occurring. If I may for a moment allude to what seems to me a characteristic feature, there is a singular completeness in this the first campaign of the allied armies which has scarcely attracted observation. The campaign commences by the allied troops taking by storm one of the most difficult positions in the world, an almost impregnable position; and it concludes virtually two months after by the same force defending a similar position from a similar attack by an immense force. Thus we see, both in assault and in defence, the same troops, exhibiting the same admirable and unequalled qualities. Between these almost epic events, I ought not to forget there is a brilliant episode—the fight of Balaklava—that was a feat of chivalry, fiery with consummate courage, and bright with flashing valour; and though I cannot presume, with the authority of the noble Lord, to single out the names of great commanders for the applause of the House of Commons—I cannot forget, I cannot refrain from calling to your recollection, that the two commanders on that memorable occasion almost recently sat amongst us on these benches, and that they, I am sure, will peculiarly value the sympathy of the colleagues whom they have quitted. Sir, the noble Lord has very properly said that it is not for us to criticise the tactics and the strategy of campaigns; but it is open to us to draw some moral conclusions 395 from the great events which are occurring around us; and we may at least draw this conclusion from the war which has broken out. I think what has occurred has shown that the arts of peace, practised by a free people, are not enervating. I think that the deeds to which the noble Lord has referred, both of the commanders and the common soldiers, have shown that education has not a tendency to diminish, but to refine and raise, the standard of the martial character. In these we may proudly recognise the might and prowess of a free and ancient people, led by their natural and traditionary chiefs. These are all circumstances and conditions which are favourable to our confidence in the progress of civilisation, and flattering, I hope, to the consciousness of every Englishman. Sir, there is one point on which I could have wished that the noble Lord had also touched—I know there were so many subjects which he could not avoid touching, that I share the admiration of the House at the completeness with which he appeared to have mastered all his themes; but when the noble Lord recalled to our recollection the deeds of admirable valour and of heroic conduct that have been achieved on the heights of Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman, I could have wished that the noble Lord had also publicly recognised that the deeds of heroism in this campaign have not been merely confined to the field of battle. We ought to remember the precious lives given to the pestilence of Varna, and to the inhospitable shores of the Black Sea; these men, in my opinion, were animated by as heroic a spirit as those who have yielded up their lives amid the flash of artillery and the triumphant sound of trumpets. No, Sir, language cannot do justice to the endurance of our troops under the extreme and terrible privations which circumstances have obliged them to endure. The high spirit of an English gentleman might have sustained him under circumstances which he could not have anticipated to encounter; but the same proud patience has been found amongst the rank and file; and it is these moral qualities which have contributed as much as others apparently more brilliant, to those great victories which we are now acknowledging. Sir, the noble Lord has taken a wise and gracious course in combining with the Thanks which he is about to propose tonight to the British Army and Navy, the Thanks also of the House of Commons to 396 the army of our ally. Sir, that alliance, which has now for some time prevailed between the two great nations of France and England, has in peace been productive of advantage; but it is the test to which it has been put by recent circumstances which, in my opinion, will tend more than any other cause to confirm and consolidate that intimate union. That alliance, Sir, is one which does not depend on dynasties and diplomacy. It is one which has been sanctioned by names to which we all look up with respect, or with feelings even of a higher character. The alliance between France and England was inaugurated by the imperial mind of Elizabeth, and sanctioned by the profound sagacity of Cromwell. It exists not more from feelings of mutual interest than from feelings of mutual respect, and I believe that it will be maintained by a noble spirit of emulation. Sir, there is still another point upon which, although with hesitation, I will advert for a moment. I am distrustful of my own ability to deal becomingly with a theme on which the noble Lord so well touched; but nevertheless I feel that I must refer to it. I was glad to hear from the noble Lord that he intends to propose a vote of condolence with the relatives of those who have fallen in this contest. Sir, we have already felt even in this chamber of public assembly how bitter have been the consequences of this war. We cannot throw our eyes over the accustomed benches where we miss many gallant and genial faces without feeling our hearts ache, our spirits sadden, and even our eyes moisten. But if that be our feeling bore, when we miss the long companions of our public lives and labours, what must be the anguish and desolation which now darken so many hearths? Never, Sir, has the youthful blood of the country been so profusely lavished as it has been in this cause—never has a greater sacrifice been made, and for ends which more fully sanctify the sacrifice—but we can hardly hope now, in the greenness of the wound, that even these recollections can serve as a source of solace. Young women, who have become widows almost as soon as they had become wives—mothers, who have lost not only their sons, but the brethren of those sons—heads of families, who have seen abruptly closed all their hopes of an hereditary line—these are pangs which even the consciousness of duty performed, which even the lustre of glory won, can- 397 not easily or speedily alleviate and assuage. But let us indulge, at least, in the hope—in the conviction—that the time will come when the proceedings of this evening may be to such persons a source of consolation—and when the memory of those who are departed may be mitigated by the recollection that their death is, at least, associated with imperishable deeds—with a noble cause—and with a nation's gratitude. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by seconding the Motion of the noble Lord.
§ The first Resolution having been put—
§ LORD HOTHAM
said, unwilling as he was at all times to trespass upon the House, he could not reconcile it to his feelings to refrain from expressing how cordially he was prepared to concur in the Motion which the noble Lord the President of the Council had made. The noble Lord had alluded to the time when he happened to be at the head-quarters of the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular war, and to the opportunity which he had then of seeing how completely our present Commander in Chief in the Crimea performed all the various duties of the office which he then held. He was sorry to say, for one reason at least, that he but too well remembered that time also; but having, also, constantly seen Lord Raglan by the side of his illustrious chief, he rejoiced to find that he had turned the lessons in the art of war which he had then received to such good account. He, therefore, hoped it might be permitted to him, as one who had long known the noble Lord, though not with any degree of intimacy as to induce a feeling of partiality in his mind, but simply having learned to respect him for the manner in which he had discharged his public duties—he hoped it might be permitted him to express the satisfaction which he felt at seeing the noble Lord placed in a position of such eminence, and that he had been enabled to render services to the country of such a nature as to merit the Thanks of both Houses of Parliament. It would ill become him, after the speech of the noble Lord—a speech which, indeed, comprehended everything necessary to be said on such an occasion—to enter into any details of the various matters to which the noble Lord had referred. He was confident, however numerous and however brilliant may have been the services which the armies of this country had heretofore been called upon to perform, there had been no British 398 troops ever exposed to greater difficulties, to greater privations, to greater dangers than those to which they were now about to vote the Thanks of the House. He was anxious, also, to say that he thought the House of Commons had good reason to be proud when it recollected how many of its own Members had shared in the triumphs which they were now acknowledging. They had unfortunately lost some of those whom they had been in the habit of seeing on those benches; while others were still preserved to them whom it was hoped would long be able to continue their important services. According to the rules of the House there could be but one hon. Member, who, from his situation, would be mentioned by name, in this Vote—he meant the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans). The hon. and gallant Member might be assured that whatever differences of opinion may exist in that House between the party sitting opposite to him, and himself, they were not disposed less readily than those sitting on the other side of the House to appreciate his distinguished services, and that the proposal now before the House would be concurred in by those on the Opposition benches with the same cordiality as it would be agreed to by his nearest and dearest friends. But he must not forget that they were about to vote their Thanks likewise to the sister profession. It would be presumptuous in him, having no connection with the navy, to say more than that it fully deserved their Thanks. The British navy had done what it had always done—rendered ready and efficient co-operation and support to the British army. And quite sure he was, that if the British army was ever engaged in any operation, however difficult, the success of which depended on the efficient assistance of the sister service, that that assistance would be rendered in the most ready, zealous, and meritorious manner. He would only add one word in allusion to another vote which the noble Lord intended to propose—that to the army of His Majesty the Emperor of the French. Whether that Vote was usual or unusual—whether it were sanctioned by precedent or not, he was of opinion that the occasion fully justified the course which the Government proposed to take, and he should as fully and cordially concur in that Vote as in the other Votes which the noble Lord proposed.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, that it had hitherto 399 always been his misfortune to act in opposition to Her Majesty's Government, and therefore it was now some consolation to be able to rise and join his voice in that of the general expression of gratitude and admiration for our army. As it had been his good fortune to be an eye-witness of the heroic conduct and sufferings of the army, he should feel that he was almost neglecting a duty if he did not express his cordial concurrence in this Vote. The noble Lord had given the House a detailed account of the campaign from the time of the landing in the Crimea to the battle of Inkerman; and he trusted that he (Mr. Layard) might now be allowed to mention to the House some few instances of individual heroism which had occurred in the course of that campaign, and which deserved especial notice. No sooner had our troops set foot on the shores of the Crimea, than, spite of the difficulties and discouragements to which they had before been exposed, they showed that they were made of the old British mettle. They wished but for one thing—to be led against the enemy. In the cavalry skirmish which took place on the day of the advance previous to the battle of the Alma, Captain Maude, of the Horse Artillery, greatly distinguished himself, and by the skilful management of his guns, completely drove back the Russian cavalry. On the following morning, a sight which had scarcely been ever before witnessed by most of those there, was presented to the British army. Those who reflected that the greater number of the men who were about to be engaged had never seen war before, trembled for the result. The storming and capture of the nearly im-impregnable position of the Alma was an achievement of unexampled valour. The combat on that day was worthily commenced by the French troops, and it was then that General Bosquet first displayed those great military qualities which had given him so high a reputation with both armies. The French soldiers under the command of that gallant officer scaled the almost inaccessible cliffs on the left flank of the Russians, and while they did so, the left of the British advanced on the centre and right flank. These gallant men carried everything before them, and in less than three hours the enemy was completely defeated and the position occupied. While they paid a just tribute to the valour of the British and French troops, he could not forget the services rendered by the British navy.
400 The representatives of those who fought under Nelson united, like their predecessors, the two great elements of heroism—the greatest courage combined with the greatest tenderness. On the memorable day of the Alma, though our sailors took no part in the action, they did all in their power to succour and sympathise with those who fought and bled in the common cause. On the day following the battle, the ships of the inshore squadron sent on shore their crews with hammocks, and before nightfall a large number of our wounded men were taken on board the fleet. After the celebrated flank march to Balaklava—on which, he would not dwell—the siege commenced, and then the conduct of men who from morn to night passed their time in the trenches without food or shelter, under a severe climate, and at the same time exposed to the heavy fire of the enemy, exhibited instances of the noblest fortitude and heroism. He was sorry the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had not alluded to the first battle of Inkerman, that of the 26th October, because it was a remarkable example of a small number of men defeating, with great loss, a very large force entirely on account of the admirable mode in which they were handled. This feat was due to the ability of General Sir De Lacy Evans, who had thereby increased the high reputation which he previously enjoyed in the British army. On the opening of the attack upon Sebastopol on the 17th October, the army and navy displayed equal courage; but his noble Friend having already spoken of the gallant actions of the army, he would mention two signal instances of heroism which had occurred in the navy. It would be recollected that that gallant commander, Sir Edmund Lyons, brought his ship, the Agamemnon, within 800 yards of such a mass of guns as was, perhaps, never before brought to bear upon any vessel, and, with only two feet of water under his vessel's keel, he received, from twelve o'clock in the day till nearly sunset, almost the entire fire of the Russian batteries. The depth of water in front of the batteries not being known, it was most important that soundings should be taken, in order to ascertain how near the Agamemnon could go to the shore. Admiral Lyons, therefore, sent for a young man named Ball, in command of a small vessel, used for transport and towing purposes, and addressing him said, "Will you go in before me and sound, and, if you come out, you shall have your 401 commission?" The young man, without hesitating a moment, went on board of his ship, and with the utmost calmness advanced before the Agamemnon under the most terrific fire, and, having performed the service required of him with the utmost coolness, escaped untouched and reported the result to the Admiral. A feat of intrepid daring like this was scarcely excelled in the annals of warfare, and showed that our navy was still a nursery of heroes; and he noticed it in that House because it was an instance of the display of courage by an inferior officer which did not find its way into any official despatch. Again, during the action, at one time Admiral Lyons thought it necessary that some other ship should come in and take off part of the fire which was directed against the Agamemnon, and with this object he made signals, which unfortunately were not seen by the fleet. The Admiral having expressed his wish on the quarterdeck to communicate with some vessel of war, his own nephew—and this made the incident a more touching trait of heroism—his own nephew at once volunteered to proceed in a small open boat to the Bellerophon. Having obtained his uncle's consent, he went to that vessel, amidst a most terrible fire, and brought her to the side of the Agamemnon: this gallant officer was Lieutenant Coles. Examples of this description showed how the old spirit of the British Navy still survived; and in further corroboration of this fact he would relate an anecdote which he thought peculiarly characteristic of the British seamen, and which was illustrative of the feelings with which Sir Edmund Lyons was regarded by the men under his command. Before the attack of the 17th a report prevailed that the Agamemnon, being at Balaklava, would not go into action, but that her commander was to take the charge of another steamer, and lead the attack. One day, therefore, Admiral Lyons was summoned to the quarterdeck, where he found the whole of his ship's company assembled. The man whom they had chosen as their spokesman then advanced and said, that the ship's company had mustered together because they had heard that the Admiral was about to take the command of the squadron which was to attack the batteries of Sebastopol, but intended to lead in another ship; and, said this man, speaking for the ship's company, "We think it very hard, sir, that having had all the work we should have 402 none of the sport." The gallant Admiral at once assured them that, wherever he went, there his ship's company should go too. The noble President of the Council, in describing the affair of Balaklava, had omitted an incident which was worthy of notice. The House was aware that our light cavalry charged between two flanking batteries—the one on its right and the other on its left; and that before them was drawn up, he might almost say, the Russian army—cavalry, artillery, and infantry. Our light cavalry fought their way under this terrific fire with a heroism and a courage that were hardly paralleled, but were terribly cut up by the batteries on each flank, and in especial by one on the left. It should be remembered that at this critical period a squadron of Chasseurs d'Afrique were ordered to attack the battery on the left, and with an indomitable valour, only equalled by that of our own troops, this small body of forty men advanced against it under the deadliest fire, carrying it, and enabled the survivors of our devoted band to come out of action and return to their tents. Out of the forty Chasseurs who performed this service two officers and fourteen men were left dead on the field. And, while upon the subject of the battle of Balaklava, he must touch upon a topic on which he would appeal to the House's sense of justice to listen to him for an instant. He alluded to the conduct of the Turkish troops, which had been most severely reflected on. It was easy to cast blame upon others when we perhaps deserved it in some degree ourselves; and, although he admitted the possibility of British troops being able to hold the redoubts which were occupied by the Turks for a longer period than those troops did, yet, in order to correct the misrepresentations that had been made relative to this matter, he begged leave to quote a passage from Lord Raglan's despatch describing the action at Balaklava, in which his Lordship seemed to justify the abandoment of these redoubts by the Turks. Lord Raglan wrote—The low range of heights that runs across the plain at the bottom of which the town is placed was protected by four small redoubts hastily constructed. Three of these had guns in them; and on a higher hill, in front of the village of Camara, in advance of our right flank, was established a work of somewhat more importance. These several redoubts were garrisoned by Turkish troops, no other force being at my disposal for their occupation. …. The means of defending the extensive position which had been occupied by the Turkish troops in the morning having proved 403 wholly inadequate, I deemed it necessary, in concurrence with General Canrobert, to withdraw from the lower range of heights, and to concentrate our force, which will be increased by a considerable body of seamen to be landed from the ships under the authority of Admiral Dundas, immediately in front of the narrow valley leading into Balaklava, and upon the precipitous heights on our right, thus affording a narrower line of defence.In fact, these redoubts were so hastily constructed as to have been untenable. The Cossacks jumped their horses over them, yet the Turks, though unsupported, did for some time defend them; and although, as he had said, they might perhaps have been defended some short time longer, no military authorities would be of opinion that they could have been successfully held for any considerable period. He had felt it only due to the Turkish troops to make that explanation to the House. He came now to the battle of Inkerman, which was indeed, as it had been described, one of the most glorious victories ever recorded. It would be recollected that General Sir De Lacy Evans mentioned in his despatch the names of three officers, among whom was Lieutenant Conolly, who bravely, at the head of their pickets, held their ground against an overwhelming mass of the enemy for nearly half an hour; and that he also commended the bravery displayed by a sergeant named Sullivan. Now, in Lord Raglan's despatch the names of the officers were specified, but that of the sergeant was omitted. He knew that this omission occurred by reason of a rule in the service, but he sincerely hoped that there would be some relaxation of the strict usage in this respect in future. At the second battle of Inkerman the Russians advanced against our position at daybreak in enormous masses. Our Second Division at first had almost alone to resist this overwhelming force, and yet regiment after regiment and company after company entered the field and remained there fighting incessantly until their ammunition was exhausted and they were almost borne down by force of numbers; at length General Bosquet came to their assistance; and he (Mr. Layard) could not refrain from bearing his testimony to the coolness and calm decision exhibited by that officer during this eventful day. Halting his division at first out of fire, he advanced with his staff to examine the position of the enemy, and then he sent his troops quickly into action to the assistance of our men in a manner which decided the 404 fortunes of the fight. The French troops then distinguished themselves beyond all praise. He could not, before he concluded, help referring to one other point. In the vessel which conveyed him homewards there was a large number of Frenchmen who had been wounded in the battles of the Crimea. Among them he saw many privates and non-commissioned officers, bearing on their breasts the order of the Legion of Honour and other orders of merit which had been conferred on them for their bravery. As these men stood before him, showing the pride with which they regarded the honours bestowed on them, he could not help feeling a deep regret that we had not some similar mode of testifying the country's approval of such services. It occurred to him that there were men in our army who, though but its rank and file, would feel as proud of orders of merit, if given to them, as the officers who commanded them could be. It occurred to him that men who returned wounded or disabled to this country, with orders of merit on their breasts, would be more likely to have their future course in life beneficially shaped, and influenced by sentiments of honour and of a just pride, than men who were hastily or indiscriminately rewarded in the field by small pecuniary donations and gifts of that kind; and he therefore earnestly hoped that some higher mode would be adopted by the Government for acknowledging the prowess of our soldiery. In conclusion, allow him to say, that he was one of those few who thought the time had come when, without questioning its political necessity, and however great might be the sacrifices imposed by a struggle of this character, war was almost necessary for our national safety and our national honour. There had been many who believed that the people of this country had relapsed into a state of effeminacy—that a long peace of fifty years' duration had destroyed that British spirit to which we owed our liberties and our high position in the scale of nations. The recent events in the Crimea must, however, have dissipated all such gloomy apprehensions—the troops who fought at Alma, though they had never seen a battle before, showed that they possessed the true British spirit. Would that that great Captain who had been the noblest exemple to the true British soldier had been permitted to tarry a little while longer among us, that he might have seen that the British soldier 405 had not degenerated! The feelings with which he joined in the Vote of that evening were greatly increased by the recollection that, united with the vote to the British army, was a vote to the brave troops of our French ally, and be trusted that that friendship which had been cemented between the two armies in the field of battle might be still further fostered by sentiments of mutual admiration, confidence, and respect, and prove of lasting benefit to the civilised world.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he wished to call the attention of the House to a practical point. This was a commemoration, not only of the living, but of the dead. It was impossible to forget how many eyes had been closed in death in the region of the Crimea. He wished, therefore, to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that they should take into their immediate consideration the position of the families of those British officers who had died in the battle-field. When we asked the British officer to sacrifice his life for his country, we made upon him a just demand. But when by our army regulations we asked him to go forth for the defence of his country's interests, and to leave his family in a reduced position, and in many cases in absolute penury, we asked more than a nation had a right to demand of any man. He (Mr. Milnes) was aware of the difficulties with which cases of the kind to which he referred were surrounded—he knew how the organisation of our army was mixed up with our social position—but he was sure that Her Majesty's Government would only be carrying into effect the desire of the country if they at least repaid to the family of those officers who had fallen, or might fall, in this war, the regulation price of their commissions. His right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had stated that more than one case had occurred of brothers having fallen in the present war. He (Mr. Milnes) begged to call the attention of the House to a case in which two brothers had fallen at Inkerman. Those brothers were officers in the same regiment, and both of them there sacrificed their lives for the honour of their country. One of them had loft a widow with several children. Those brothers had invested the whole of their fortunes, and the one the greater part of his wife's fortune, in the purchase of their commissions; so that this family, to whom the nation was now re- 406 turning thanks, was left with no other inheritance, and no other means of support, but the contributions of the benevolent and the glory of the name which they bore. This should not be. He could assure his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War that he could not do better than direct his attention to the cases to which he had referred. He trusted that this country would not, when next it had to return thanks to the officers of the British army, be troubled with the disgraceful reflection that no effectual requital had been made to those families, who had been ruined by the fall of their relatives in the battle-field.
§ MR. H. DRUMMOND
Sir, I was very glad to hear the tacit and well-deserved rebuke communicated by the noble Lord in his admirable speech to those dilettanti civilians who become critics upon subjects and upon men, being totally incompetent to form any opinion. I can, of my own experience, give another illustration similar to that given by the noble Lord. I remember at the close of the last war dining one day with Sir George Murray. Colonel Nugent and some other celebrated men were present. Marshal Soult had sent the plan of the battle of Toulouse to Sir George Murray, and he said—"I don't think that we have got it right; I wish you would correct it, if it be not; but it seems to me that the Duke of Wellington would never have made so false a move as he appears to have done." I asked Sir George Murray whether he was right, and in reply, he said—"Yes; but he did not know the moral character of the troops with which he had to deal. The whole depends upon that, and unless a general be informed of the circumstances which sway a commander's mind, he is incompetent to form a correct opinion upon the matter." Now, Sir, I am glad to find something like a return to penitence upon the part of the hon. Gentleman behind me who has just sat down; for he thinks it necessary to vindicate the character of the calumniated Turks, who were not only charged with running away from the enemy's fire, but also of helping themselves to the dinners of the British officers and men. I hope that the hon. Member will go on in the spirit of justice. I can only say to him—Macte nova virtute, puer.I hope, Sir, that we shall hear no more of his imputations upon admirals. I hope 407 that we shall have no more imputations cast upon the personal courage of our admirals. I hope, Sir, that we shall hear of no more instances of violated hospitality in a gentleman who took advantage of the kindness and the hospitality shown him, to write home anonymous attacks upon the conduct of Admiral Dundas. ["Go on!"] No, I am not going on. I shall wait to hear spoken in this House what has been written anonymously—then I shall go on. We have much, Sir, for which to thank our commanders and men both in our army and navy. We have, above all, to thank Admiral Dundas, who, despising the critiques of men who are incompetent to form an opinion upon his conduct—despising the bad advice of ignorant men—despising "Our own Special Reporters," has preserved his fleet in such a condition that, even though we are no longer the besiegers, but the besieged, it is nevertheless in a position which is both safe and honourable.
§ MR. LAYARD
Sir, I hope I shall be allowed to defend myself from the attack that has just been made upon me. ["Order!"] I know that I am out of order; but still, I think, after the language that has fallen from the hon. Member near me (Mr. Drummond), that I may appeal to the indulgence of the House. Sir, no person regrets more than I do myself the unfortunate circumstance that has occurred. I wrote a private letter—a letter which I had not the remotest idea would be published. Unfortunately, however, that letter was published; and its publication has caused me very great pain. The letter was written on board of the ship of a gallant officer who received me, as he receives everybody, with a kindness shall never forget. I went to that gallant officer and told him that my letter had unfortunately been made public, and that, if he were called upon, as I conjectured he would be, to ascertain the writer, he was at liberty to give my name to Admiral Dundas. Unfortunately, in that letter I had referred to a private letter from Admiral Dundas which had been shown to me by a gallant captain in the service of Her Majesty. I addressed myself to that gallant captain and said—As I have been guilty towards you of a breach of confidence in so far that part of the letter which you read in my presence has been published in a letter to a friend of mine, any reparation that you may ask and that is in my power to give, I am willing to afford.408 With regard to Admiral Dundas, I further said—Express to him also the deep regret I feel that a private letter should have been published containing a charge which I would only have made in the House of Commons, and not in a newspaper anonymously; but that as the charge has been made, the only reparation I can give him, if he insists upon it, is to reiterate that charge publicly, giving him the opportunity of meeting it, and that I am ready to do.I had hoped that Admiral Dundas's friends would not have been indiscreet enough to accept this challenge. Accusations such as that made by the hon. Gentleman on my left (Mr. Drummond) have been heaped on me, but I have held my peace—I have said nothing; but as the hon. Gentleman has challenged me this evening, I am ready in my place in this House, if called upon to do so, to substantiate the charges which my letter makes—to substantiate them from the despatches written by Members of the Government, and on the evidence of those who have served under Admiral Dundas and have witnessed his conduct in this campaign. I say this with deep regret, because I feel that the character of a British admiral is at stake; yet the character of England and of the fleet of England is at stake likewise; and as this insinuation of anonymous slander had now been thrown out, if Admiral Dundas's friends dare me to do it, I am ready to support the charges that I have made.
§ Resolutions agreed to, Nemine Contradicente.
§ On the fourth Resolution being read,
said, that after what had taken place he had expected that some Member of the Government would have risen to vindicate the honour and character of Admiral Dundas. He feared, after what had transpired, unless something were said to the contrary, the present Vote might, perhaps, be taken as merely a formal one. He regretted that the First Lord of the Admiralty had thought it consistent with his duty not to say a single word in vindication of that distinguished Admiral, who was now maintaining the honour of his country; and he (Captain Duncombe) could not, on the present occasion, refrain from bearing his testimony to the zeal, ability, and discretion that had, in his opinion, distinguished the conduct of that gallant Admiral.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Sir, I regret that the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken could suppose that we 409 have shown the slightest indifference to the charges made against Admiral Dundas. The opinion of the Government upon the conduct of the gallant Admiral may be fairly drawn from the Resolution that has been proposed by my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council. That Resolution contains an expression of thanks to Admiral Dundas for his efficient services in the war. I do not think it at all necessary, in the face of such a Resolution, for any Member of the Government, least of all myself, to state in his place here, and upon his own responsibility, that he is of opinion the thanks of Parliament are due to that officer. I am very sorry that any difference of opinion should have arisen between two hon. Members in respect to the peculiar merits of that officer. I can only say that if the hon. Member for Aylesbury should think it his duty to bring on the charge he has made against Admiral Dundas, I shall take care to be in my place in this House to vindicate the character of that gallant officer. I think the present moment a most unseemly one for interrupting the harmony of our proceedings by any such discussion.
SIR F. BARING
Having been at one time at the head of the Admiralty, and after the observations made by the gallant officer, I beg to express a hope that the hon. Member for Aylesbury will, on better consideration, not consider it necessary to proceed further in this matter; but should he do so, I am satisfied that any investigation into the conduct of the gallant Admiral will prove most honourable to him. I cannot omit this opportunity to point out to the House the painful position in which a man in command is placed at the present time. The hon. Member for Aylesbury has stated, and I have no doubt correctly, that his letter was published without his sanction or by accident. I have seen other letters, also, which should never have been published, and which, he feared, had come through officers who ought to have known better. But when one finds that an officer in command, serving his country at a distance, is liable every moment to have the tittle-tattle that is running about—the small stories current in a fleet, sent home and published, and taken by the good people of England as the opinion of the whole service—when the officer charged is at a great distance, and utterly unable to defend himself, and who, if present, would be by his duty prevented from doing so, 410 I think it is becoming on this House at least to show that the party aggrieved must not suppose that he is at all prejudiced by those stories. Sir, I think that published comments upon the conduct of our leading men at the seat of war have been carried to a great extent upon late occasions—and, indeed, I am afraid to a most mischievous extent. I am far from wishing to have any check placed upon these publications; but, if they are to be admitted, I must appeal to the justice of the House on behalf of our gallant officers, and remind them that the greatest caution should be observed in commenting upon the actions of those who are serving their country abroad.
§ MR. LAYARD
After what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Board of Admiralty, I must express my regret at what has taken place. But, with reference to what he had said of Admiral Dundas, he would read a passage from a despatch of the Duke of Newcastle to Lord Raglan, and see what is the language used by the Government themselves. This is a question involving the reputation of Admiral Dundas, but the question lies between him and the Government. Now, what is the sentence in the despatch?Your Lordships' cordial acknowledgment of the invaluable services rendered by Sir E. Lyons and the officers and seamen of the Royal Navy.So that in acknowledging, after a great battle, the services of the British Navy, the Government omit the name of the man in the chief command, and mention the name of the second in command. In the face of such evidence, what right have you to say that I should never have made the charge? The question is one that rests between the Admiral and the Government. As I have already said, I am ready to support the charges I have made. I am, indeed, compelled to do so; for I have no other way of removing any charge that may be made against my honour than by substantiating the allegations I have made. If the right hon. Gentleman will press it, I will attend in my place to make good the charge.
§ SIR. J. GRAHAM
Though it is not very regular, I think it necessary to offer an explanation, which I hope will be satisfactory to the House, though it may not be to the hon. Member for Aylesbury. The hon. Member has alluded to a dispatch of the Duke of Newcastle, in which special thanks are given to Sir E. Lyons and the 411 officers of the navy. Now, those thanks have reference only to the landing of the troops at Eupatoria. There are many traits in the character of Admiral Dundas which arc honourable and praiseworthy; but if I should be called upon to mention a single trait for which he is peculiarly remarkable, I should say it is the generosity with which Admiral Dundas, while commanding the fleet, has delegated the largest powers to Sir E. Lyons, the second in command, and has joined in the fullest approbation of his distinguished conduct. With reference to the present question, Sir Edmund Lyons was selected by Admiral Dundas to superintend the landing in the Crimea, who conceded to him the largest powers, and it was to the trust so frankly confided that the success of the operation was mainly owing. Lord Raglan especially bestowed his commendation upon the operations of the fleet in connection with the landing, and mentioned particularly the name of Sir E. Lyons. And therefore it was that the special mention of Sir Edmund Lyons was made in the dispatch. Without adopting the language of Lord Raglan, I can only say I think it is somewhat hard for Admiral Dundas to be thus treated. Having entrusted to an officer the performance of this important duty, I say I think it is somewhat hard that the thanks earned by Sir Edmund Lyons, under such circumstances, should be turned against Admiral Dundas. An officer having been selected to whom the gallant Admiral trusted the performance of a certain duty, the Government in speaking of that operation would not have been justified in mentioning the chief in command.
Sir, I trust I may be pardoned if I offer a few observations at the present moment. I am a naval officer, and I must say I never felt more wounded in my life than at hearing charges made against a gallant Admiral at a time when this House is assembled to record their thanks to the army and navy in the East, being the highest honour that could be conferred upon the United Service for the heroic actions they had performed. Sir, this honour is considered so great that it is handed down as a triumphant heir-loom to the 'families of those concerned. Good God! I am wounded to the quick at having lived to hear such a charge against a gallant member of my profession—a profession that has ever been my glory. It would ill become me to stand up in defence 412 of Admiral Dundas without the power of refuting the charges made against him; but I rejoice that the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty has had the manliness and proper spirit to avow his readiness, when suitably preferred in this House, to meet them, and vindicate the character of the gallant Admiral. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard), upon the letters written by the Admiralty in commendation of the services of Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, and of the officers and men under his orders, I will not allow that their Lordships meant for an instant to detract from the merits of Admiral Dundas, but that they had in view at the time they wrote it, the particular matter with reference to which they felt themselves called upon to pronounce that commendation. As an act of justice to my dear relation, Sir Edmund Lyons, it is right I should state that I received a letter from him about six weeks ago, in which, after addressing me merely in terms of affecttionate love, he adds these words, "I am indebted to my Commander in Chief for the perfect responsibility he has vested in my hands, and I cannot but ever feel, in the performance of my duties, that I carry with me that encouragement and support." For Sir Edmund Lyons, furthermore, I can say that he would scorn to encircle his 1 brow with a laurel at the cost of a brother officer. I again assure the House that I am really distressed and wounded at having lived to see the hour that I should hear an Admiral of the British Navy stigmatised as a coward, and I hope the House will pardon the warmth of the few words I have addressed to it.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
Perhaps the House will allow me to state that I received a letter from my gallant friend Admiral Dundas, just before the publication of the "Letters from the maintop of the Agamemnon." Even at that time my gallant friend was perfectly sensible of the unfair comments that were made upon him, and in so expressing himself stated that it was impossible for him to notice them. He felt them deeply, however; and I have no doubt whatever that they were undeserved; and I do say that it is cruel in the extreme at the present stage of our proceedings—when we are about to vote our Thanks to the Army and Navy—to pull in such a subject as this for the purpose of traducing the character of a gallant man—as 413 I believe him to be—who is still absent on service. If such comments as all our Admirals have been subjected to during the recent naval campaign continue to be indulged in, it is my firm opinion that the service of the navy will be greatly impaired and sustain irreparable injury. I have no doubt they will be able to vindicate themselves in the most satisfactory way, when the opportunity occurs, against all these comments. But with respect to the instance cited by the hon. Member for Aylesbury, that Sir Edmund Lyons and the officers and men under him only were mentioned in the despatch from the Admiralty, why nothing can be more obvious than that Admiral Dundas could not have been properly alluded to on the occasion. No commander in chief ever takes upon himself a subordinate duty. It was not Admiral Dundas's duty, therefore, to go and land troops. He would have been totally out of his place had he done so; and you might as well ask Lord Raglan to take a detachment of his troops for the purpose of executing some special service which it is the duty of some other gallant officer under his orders to perform. It is always the custom of the service—and right and proper it is that it should be so—that the commander in chief should take some officer who is under his command, send him on special service, which, though important, is small as compared with the superintendence of the whole fleet. Why was Lord Nelson detached from Lord St. Vincent's fleet when he gained the battle of the Nile? Because he was one of the acting admirals under Lord St. Vincent, and was, therefore, sent on that particular service. I can mention many other instances in which officers, detached on a given duty, have succeeded in reaping a rich harvest of reputation, in which, however, the commander in chief could not participate by reason of the very position he occupied; and this 1 believe to be the case with my gallant friend the Commander in Chief of the Black Sea fleet.
§ MR. OTWAY
I deeply regret this interruption to the unanimity of the Vote we have now before us, and it is only just to recall to the recollection of the House the circumstances under which it occurred. Admiral Dundas's name was not mentioned until the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Drummond) rose in his place, and brought an accusation of a most serious nature against my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury, to which my hon. Friend sub- 414 sequently replied. It was not the hon. Member for Aylesbury, therefore, who first introduced the name of Admiral Dundas into this discussion.
§ Resolutions agreed to, Nemine contradicente.
§ House Adjourned at half after Seven o'clock till Monday next.