§ Order for Second Reading read,
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, in rising to move the second reading of this Bill, I have to state to the House that as so much prejudice has been excited against it, as so much exaggeration has been used to defeat it, I shall think it necessary to go somewhat at large into the scope of the measure, and also into the general question to which it refers. It would appear, from what has lately happened, as if many persons had completely forgotten during the long peace the objects for which the wars of this country have been undertaken, and the mode in which they have been carried 508 on. I shall therefore think it necessary to call the attention of the House to that which has been the general policy of this country in the great wars which she has undertaken, and the manner in which those wars have been carried, in many instances at least, to a successful issue. With regard to the first question, I should say that, if we examine the history of this country, we shall perceive, that her general course has been, whenever any Power has attained a preponderant force in Europe so as to threaten the independence of smaller States, to use her influence in the first place, and her force in the second place, in order to obtain the adjustment of the balance; or, in other words, to maintain the independence of the smaller States of Europe. Reference was made the other evening to Elizabeth and to Cromwell; and I wish only to recur to those times to show that they afford an illustration of the proposition I have laid down, because in those days the power of Spain having threatened the liberties of Europe, Elizabeth, as a wise Sovereign, and Cromwell, as a sagacious and bold ruler, formed alliances with the French at one time, and with the Dutch at another, in order to check the exorbitant preponderance of Spain. Passing over the disgraceful reign of Charles II., and coming to the period immediaately after the Revolution, we find that William III., adopting the same policy—which, indeed, he had pursued as Stadtholder of Holland—and perceiving the power and preponderance of Louis XIV. to be dangerous to the independence of Europe, engaged every Power with whom he could form ties of connection in one grand alliance in order to check that power and predominance. The time, however, was scarcely ripe for that confederacy which be had framed; but the then Earl of Marlborough, who obtained the confidence of the succeeding Sovereign, was a worthy representative of William III., and addressing himself to the same political objects, but with far greater military ability, he fought the cause of the liberties of Europe on the Continent. In so doing he followed that which, coming to the second question which I have raised, was the obvious policy of this country. I will not say that we are not a military nation, for I think that would be an untrue assertion. I believe, indeed, there is no nation whose people have more of the hardy and brave qualities of soldiers than the united nations of England, Scotland, and Ireland; but 509 we are not naturally a military Power. It is our boast in history, in speech, and in song, that our power is chiefly founded on our naval means; and whenever, therefore, we have carried on a continental war for such objects as I have stated, we have had recourse to other nations to assist us in the field. Did the Earl of Marlborough rely upon the English alone as the forces which should be brought into the field in his campaign? So far from it, that, having inquired into the proportion of the English soldiers who served in those great campaigns upon the Continent—in those great battles which have so much redounded to the fame of that great commander and to the reputation of the English nation, I find that it having been stipulated, in order to carry out the objects of the grand Alliance, that 60,000 men should form the army usually under his command, not more than 40,000 were contributed by this country, and of these 40,000 men only 18,000 consisted of British soldiers. I have here an exact account of the component parts of these 40,000 men, and I find that the number of the English troops was 18,328, and of foreigners in the English pay, 21,672. Of the foreign troops, the Danes were 16,136; the Prussians, 2,522; and the Hessians, 3,014. Such was the composition of the army with which Marlborough gained his great battles; and accordingly, in the accounts of the life of that great man you see, in relating, for instance, the battle of Ramifies, that the Danish horse distinguished themselves in the commencement of the engagement; that the Dutch horse distinguished themselves in the middle; and that towards the end the English horse came up and performed great deeds of valour. Such was the notion in those days with respect to battles—battles fought by a great commander—fought in the cause of Europe—and fought with conspicuous success. Was there, then, any of these feelings that foreigners were not to be employed—that they were not to fight by the side of Englishmen in the cause of Europe? No such idea seems to have entered into the minds of the great men who swayed the destinies of England at that time. Well, Sir, other wars succeeded, wars, perhaps, without so great an object; but in the battles which we fought in those wars, wherever we obtained distinction, foreigners likewise were employed in our armies. I do not intend to vindicate the employment of German troops during the 510 American war; that was an unjustifiable use of foreign troops; but when again we undertook the cause of Europe, when we were of opinion that the power of France was too great for the independence of other nations, then again we had no difficulty in having recourse to foreigners, in order to fight, not our battles, but battles in the front of which we were engaged, but which were, in fact, European battles. In 1804 an Act was introduced for the purpose of allowing the service of German troops, or what was afterwards called the German Legion; and observe that, though there was some debate upon that Bill, no person except Sir Philip Francis and Mr. Peter Moore took part in opposition to it. Mr. Fox spoke, indeed, on the subject of the Hanoverian troops, but he spoke simply for the purpose of imputing some blame to Mr. Pitt for not having sent over transports in order to bring the Hanoverian troops over to serve in this country and to take part in the war—so far was he from stating that he found it impossible to assent to the employment of foreign troops. It is quite true that Mr. Fox at a previous time—in 1794—found fault with the introduction of foreign troops into this country; but the ground of his complaint was, that they were introduced without the consent of Parliament, that being introduced without the assent of Parliament they might he numerically increased to an unlimited extent, and thereby become dangerous to the liberties of the country. Well, Sir, what were the deeds of that German Legion? I find them repeatedly adverted to by the Duke of Wellington in his despatches. I will not trouble the House with reading the passages; but with regard to Albuera he says, "the conduct of the German Legion was in every point conspicuously good;" and at Salamanca he speaks in terms of praise of the gallant charge of the heavy cavalry brigade of the Legion, and so on in other instances. I believe it is generally admitted that the conduct of that German Legion was deserving of the highest praise, and I am sure every one in those days testified to their gallantry and valour. No one then thought of saying, "True, they have fought in your cause and in the cause of Europe; but, at the same time, they are foreigners, and therefore they ought not to be in your pay, and they ought not to be allowed to fight your battles." Nobody mentioned such an argument. But, Sir, it was said at that time by a person of 511 great distinction and of great wit—it was Madame de Stäel who said it—"that we were fighting the cause of Europe, and that, in fact, the Tories of England were the Whigs of Europe." They were, indeed, engaged in fighting against a preponderating force, and so far resembled the English Opposition, who were contending against an overwhelming Ministerial majority.
But, such having been the case with regard to the general object of our wars, and with regard to the employment of foreigners in our service, I come now to the contest in which we are at present engaged, and I ask you, why are we to debar ourselves from our ancient policy, and from our established practice which has always been attended with success; and why are we to discover that every war which we carry on is in future to be carried on by the British Army? We are now again engaged in a war against a preponderant Power; in the present case it is not the power of Spain—it is not the power of France—but it is the preponderance of Russia that we have to encounter. But is there any reason because it is Russia, and not Spain or France, that we are not to adopt the same means as we have always adopted, and if we do not adopt the same means, are we likely to have the same success? I have heard, indeed, that it has been said, "Are we so soon exhausted at the beginning of the war?" Have we not means even now to carry on that war? But, in fact, it is at the commencement of a war that the greatest pressure will exist. Let us look to the facts—facts known, not only to this country, but to all Europe; and, therefore, facts which we need not hesitate to discuss. Whether our military system were wise or unwise—whether the numbers of our regular troops were sufficient or insufficient—whether it was expedient or not to rely so much as we have done on the militia—the fact has been that we have had a very inconsiderable regular army—not amounting until the last year to more than 120,000 men;. and that these men have been employed on every service that we required over the whole face of the globe; having at one time to secure and guard 12,000 miles of frontier in India, at another time to put down a formidable insurrection in Canada, and at another spread over a difficult country, to contend with every device of savage warfare at the Cape of Good Hope. Wherever they were called to perform those duties, they were expected by 512 the country, and justly expected, to be equal to the occasion and to accomplish the service which they were called upon to undertake. That certainly they have done; but when you attempt suddenly to increase this force of 120,000 men, when you have raised them, on paper, to 170,000, but, in fact, to the number only of 150,000, can you expect that they can furnish regiment after regiment, army after army, without any extraneous assistance or support? It was stated the other day by my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War that we had already sent to the East no less than 53,000 men. That appeared to the House, as it well might, a very considerable number of men; but the enemy with whom we have to contend would consider 53,000 men as only one of his corps d'armée, and I have no doubt that he has sixteen or eighteen of these corps d'armée which he can oppose at the different points of his frontier to the attacks of an invading force. Let us next consider what the points are which we have to guard. We have to guard Turkey at various points. We have to guard her frontier in the Principalities, a frontier which at present is not attacked, but which may be at some future time; and we have to guard her against that immense force which has been accumulating in the Crimea, and which was at all times—and which will, if some curb be not now put upon it, be still more so in future—a perpetual threat to the Turkish Government, menacing the very existence of the capital of the empire. But, thirdly, it is necessary to see that there is a sufficient force of Turkish or other troops on the Asiatic frontiers of Turkey, so that, while provision is made for her defence, either in the Principalities or in the Crimea, there may not be so considerable a hostile force on those Asiatic frontiers as that there will be no adequate opposing force to meet it. Well, but if you say that you will have none but British regiments—that for the first time in the history of this country you will rely upon British regiments alone, you then run the greatest danger that, while you are recruiting those regiments, and furnishing their depôts with young men who enter your army, you may be called upon, in order to preserve the force that you have already sent out, to order these young men to follow them before they are properly trained, and thus expose them to destruction, instead of allowing them to remain here for a time to qualify them to act with that vigour and efficiency which should 513 distinguish British troops in the field. I remember perfectly well having the honour to take a ride with the Duke of Wellington some ten miles from his head quarters to see a regiment that presented a splendid appearance—the 10th Hussars—which had just come out to the Peninsula. They seemed to be exceedingly well-appointed—everything they did was performed with regularity and precision, and any civilian could not fail to be struck with the brilliancy of the spectacle. I, however, remember that afterwards, while at dinner, the Duke remarked, "The regiment that we have seen to-day will, after a year or so, make a very good regiment;" thus showing that, in that great captain's opinion, a considerable training in the field was required, even after the training they had had at home, in order to make a regiment fully equal to its duty. Well, it is proposed by this Bill to enable the Crown to have a certain number of troops, of whom a part shall be trained in this country. That number will not be above 10,000 at any one time; but they will of course form a means for maintaining a larger force; and this force can be used in the field for the assistance of British troops, in preference, I should say—not to raising recruits in this country—but in preference to sending out raw levies newly raised which have not been sufficiently trained for the purposes of war. Now, I may be told, that this is a degrading practice—that it is unfit that we should have any foreigners serving in our ranks; but when this is said, I must take leave to refer to the high authority of whom I have already spoken, and quote a declaration which he made in the House of Lords. I allude to the speech of the Duke of Wellington on the second reading of the existing Militia Act, in the course of which his Grace said—Everything has its beginning, and this is a commencement of an organisation of a disciplined militia; in the same way as if you are to have a corps of reserve you must have a commencement, involving some months for disciplining them before you could have your corps of reserve ready. You must make a beginning here, and see that it will take some months before you can form reserve regiments. The armies of England, who have served the country so well—are your Lordships so mistaken as to suppose that they were ever composed of more than one-third of real British subjects—of natives of this island? No such thing. Look to all your great services. Look at the East Indies; not more than one third of the soldiers there are such British soldiers. Look at the Peninsula; not one-third of the men employed there were ever British soldiers. Yet I beg your 514 Lordships to observe what services these soldiers performed. They fought great battles against the finest troops in the world; they went prepared to face everything—ay, and to be successful against everything, or this country would not have borne with them. Not one-third of those armies were British troops, but they were brave troops, and not merely brave—for I believe every man is brave—but well-organised troops. Take the battle of Waterloo; look at the number of British troops at that battle. I can tell your Lordships that in that battle there were sixteen battalions of Hanoverian militia, just formed, under the command of a nobleman, late the Hanoverian Ambassador here, Count Kielmansegge, who behaved most admirably; and there were many other foreign troops who nobly aided us in that battle, avowedly the battle of giants; whose operations helped to bring about the victory which was followed by the peace of Europe, that has now lasted for thirty-two or thirty-four years. I say, my Lords, that however much I admire highly-disciplined troops, and most especially British disciplined troops, I tell you you must not suppose that others cannot become so too."—[3 Hansard, cxxii. 730.]That is the testimony of the Duke of Wellington, and I do not think that we could have a higher authority on this point, with regard to the troops he commanded and the battles that they fought. Am I to be told then, after this, that it is a degradation and disgrace to do what the Duke of Wellington did, to have similar troops to those which he commanded, and to have them assisted in the field by foreign soldiers.
Sir, I come next to the objections that have been offered to this Bill. The first of those objections, which I think has been somewhat dispelled by a mere statement of fact, is this—that the measure proposes an unconstitutional employment of foreigners, that those foreigners are intended to be put in the place of British troops in this country, and to perform the duty which would otherwise be performed by our own regulars or by the militia. The answer to this on the part of the Ministers was, that no such intention ever existed; that their intention was to allow them to come to this country only for the purpose of being drilled and trained; that it was never meant to employ them in any duty which our own troops and the militia discharged in this country; and that this should be made plain in the Bill itself. This has been since made plain in the Bill, and no one can now aver, by any possibility, that these troops are to be employed for any other purpose than being drilled and trained in order to proceed on that foreign service for which they are to be engaged. It is said, indeed, "Do not let them offend our eyes by coming here; let them go to 515 Corfu, or somewhere else, to be trained there." But, with regard to a large proportion of Europe, and particularly the northern part of it, you could hardly expect the troops obtained there to go off thence to Corfu. There are many foreigners—and no less, I believe, than 30,000 Germans alone—who pass through this country in the course of the year. They come to ports in this country, and they are to be found here; and to desire them to proceed to Corfu before they were trained would be such a discouragement to them that they could scarcely be expected to undergo it. To tell men whom you are about to engage in your service to fight your battles, that you will be offended by the sight of their presence, would really be such an insult as would effectually prevent them from coming to your assistance. But then I am told—and it is the great argument which is relied upon after so many ad captandum arguments have been swept away—I am told that these men will not be fighting, as the Hanoverians and as some other foreign troops were during the late great war, in their own cause, or in the cause of their own Sovereign, although they will be in British pay, but that they will be fighting as mere hirelings or mercenaries. Why, Sir, I say, if you use this argument, that you give up your whole cause of war; if you use this argument you say, in effect, that you are engaged in a purely British quarrel, and not, as we have maintained, in the cause of Europe. What we have always contended for in this House, and what I believe this House concurred in—as I am sure it is concurred in by the country—is, that we have embarked in a great European quarrel for the sake of the liberties of Europe. It is a quarrel in which France and England have had the manliness to stand forward and proclaim that they will not be intimidated by the power of Russia; that neither will they be seduced by the cajoleries of Russia; but that they will stedfastly fight this European battle. We have never said that there is any purely British interest, or, any purely French interests involved in this quarrel; but we have said, it is a cause in which every German, every Swiss, and every other inhabitant of Europe ought to take as great an interest as any Englishman. Why, what were the names of the legions that we employed during the last war? Were they all regiments of the King of Hanover, and therefore employed by him?
516 There were among them the Wallenstein infantry, the Dutch Artillery, the Royal Emigrants, the Royal Foreigners, and several contingents of Hessians and other troops, which, from the names they bore, could none of them have been British. Such were the troops paid by us during the last war. No doubt they felt that the cause was one in which they could take a part; but in the present struggle, likewise, the cause is equally one in which every European can sympathise. And though some of the Sovereigns of Europe—some of the Sovereigns, I regret to say, of the great States of Europe, and even of the great States of Germany—have each a stake in the momentous question at issue, and have, nevertheless, left to us the brunt of a battle which they ought to fight along with us; still that is no reason why the subjects of these and other princes should not take a part with us, and, entering into the service of Her Majesty, uphold side by side with the English troops what I have termed the general cause of European liberty, but which is not the cause of European liberty alone, but also of European civilisation. But it has been argued that this service will be so degrading that officers will hardly be induced to consent to enter into it, as they will not be serving immediately under their own Sovereign, and are not engaged by his special order in the service. Yet some of the men whom we have employed in the course of this year to fight our battles—our own countrymen—have not disdained to take up arms in the service of a foreign Sovereign. Sir De Lacy Evans, who is respected by every one of us, and whose name was mentioned a few nights ago by a right hon. Gentleman opposite with such due honour, and whom I trust soon to see here in restored health, receiving from you, Sir, the thanks of this House for his great valour and skill—Sir De Lacy Evans did not scruple, when the throne of an ally of this country was in danger, to proceed to the aid of that monarch, and went to Spain, to head what was now characterised as a band of foreign mercenaries. Another eminent British officer—Sir Charles Napier—once engaged in a similar service—in the service of the Queen of Portugal, at a time when this country did not take a part in the contest in which she was engaged.
Sir, having now touched upon most of the objections made to this measure, I may be asked, why it is necessary in order 517 to the carrying on of the war? I will answer to that, that if you thought it advisable utterly to drain your male adult population—if you thought it advisable, by offering bounties of from 30l. to 40l., or even 50l. a head, to obtain every man that you could possibly procure, and send them out without training or experience in order to fight your battles, no doubt you might raise a number of men sufficient to carry on this war for the present. But, Sir, I am looking to the necessities of a protracted war. I am looking to the policy which this country ought to pursue in the face of a prolonged struggle; and, in that case, supposing you had 150,000 or 180,000 British soldiers, I say that there would be a great advantage in having an additional force of 30,000 foreigners in order to aid your own army. If you had 200,000 British soldiers you could extend this foreign legion to 40,000, or even upwards of that number; and I say it is a gross misrepresentation to say that, if you had an army of 200,000 Englishmen well trained, and 40,000 foreigners, you arc thereby dispensing with the services of British troops—that you are relying solely on foreign swords—and that you can fairly quote against us those animadversions, in poetry or in prose, which have cast a brand upon those nations that depend entirely on foreign forces for their defence. I say again, that, though you are a military nation, you are not a military Power, I think it would be most unwise for this country to change the policy which all its great men have sanctioned—which has been approved by Cromwell, by Chatham, by Marlborough, and by Wellington—which has carried you through many a European struggle triumphantly to its close. I believe that whatever difficulties you may have to encounter during the war, the proclamation of such a principle would involve you in still greater difficulties in time of peace. We might think at the present moment that the maintenance of an immense standing army at all times would be desirable; but, depend upon it, peace would hardly have been restored two years before you would find so strong a popular feeling roused against the keeping up of so large a military force, that you would be obliged to renounce any such project. Well, if that be so, and you are not about to adopt new principles and new maxims, I ask you to rely upon your old principles and your old maxims, and to take into your service—in addition to 200,000 British soldiers, 518 whom you will no doubt be able to raise, and to have well trained in the course of a year or two—a certain amount of foreign force, which I am persuaded, under gallant leaders, will stand faithfully by your side, and bravely fight your battles with you. The Duke of Wellington has borne testimony that such was the case in a former war; the Duke of Marlborough's example is to the same purport; and I have no doubt that in the present war the result of the measure would be the same. Her Majesty's Ministers having recommended this as one of the means of carrying on the present war, of course, they could not, with the loss of the confidence of this House, attempt to conduct the contest any further if this Bill is rejected. This is one of the measures which, for no such reasons as have been assigned by others, but from a consideration of the amount of force which you will be able to raise at the present stage of the war, and in the beginning of the contest, we have thought to be necessary for carrying on the struggle vigorously and successfully. Its consideration is one of the purposes for which we advised Her Majesty to call Her Parliament together. If the Bill is adopted, I have no doubt it will lead to a most useful addition to your military force; and I own that I am surprised that any person should have imputed to those Ministers who have sent a British army into a country which, as I have already said, maintained such an immense force—who have relied upon their courage and fortitude to sustain them amid the difficulties they had to encounter, and whose confidence has been so amply justified in the heights of Alma and at Inkerman—I say, I do wonder that these Ministers should be supposed by any one to entertain any distrust of a British army. But, relying on a British army, we wish also to carry on this war most effectually; and any legitimate means by which the power of the Emperor of Russia can be crippled—any means by which his advances can be checked, appears to me to be a measure which the House of Commons ought to adopt. There is a man—nay, I would say every man—in our army ready to echo the words of him whom the Spaniards call the Great Captain, and who, when asked to retire from a post that he had taken, nobly replied, "No, I would rather have the grave by stepping a foot forward, than safety with a foot backward." There are many men in the British army who are inspired 519 by that sentiment—indeed, I believe that this is the spirit which animates every soldier in it; but give them every support, every addition to their numbers that you can. That is the object which Her Majesty's Ministers have in view; and they look thereby to a glorious termination of the war. I beg now to move the second reading of this Bill.
§ Motion made and Question proposed; "That the Bill be now read a second time."
SIR E. B. LYTTON
* Sir, in rising to oppose the second reading of this Bill, I feel, indeed, that I require more than the ordinary indulgence of the House; for if even upon trivial occasions it would be with great diffidence that I would offer any comment or reply to a speech from the noble Lord, that diffidence must be painfully increased upon an occasion so important, and when the task I have undertaken compels me to rise immediately after so eminent an authority and so consummate a debater. But I trust at least that it will not be necessary for me, or for any Gentleman on this side of the House, or indeed on either, to declare our readiness to support the Crown in the resolute prosecution of a war in which the honour of England is pledged to a cause which we believe to be identified with the interests of civilisation itself. But if the honour of England be pledged to this quarrel, I am not willing that other nations and posterity should receive our confession that, at its very onset, our own native spirit, nay, even our own military training, were incompetent to encounter the struggle. The noble Lord has carried us back to former wars, on which he has expatiated with complacency on the aid we derived from the employment of foreign mercenaries. I shall follow him, as I proceed, through the precedents he advances, and I trust to prove that they have served less to advance his argument than to divert the House from the question that is really at issue. Meanwhile, he cannot deny that in this war, at least, up to the present moment, with inadequate numbers, and at every disadvantage, we have sufficed to fight our own battles and earn our own laurels; and the noble Lord has vouchsafed not one reason to show why we should henceforth prefer to win our victories by proxy. That expression may seem exaggerated, considering the small proportion of foreign force to be employed; but honour is not so intolerable a burden that 520 we should fee foreign soldiers to ease ourselves of the slightest portion of that load. My objections to this Bill are very broad but very few, and I shall endeavour to state them in as few words as possible. What is it on which you now mainly rely to continue this war with vigour, no matter at what sacrifice and cost? Not so much on the extent of our territory, the amount of our population, the wealth of our resources, as on the ardour of the people; on that spirit of nationality which, we are told by the Minister of War, rises against every danger, and augments in proportion to the demand on its energies. It is that ardour you are about to damp—it is that spirit of nationality to which this Bill administers both discouragement and affront. The noble Lord says our difficulty is at the commencement. What is the commencement? One burst of popular enthusiasm! And in the midst of that enthusiasm, at a time when we are told by the Secretary at War that you get recruits faster than you can form them into regiments—you say to the people of this empire, "Your rude and untutored valour does not suffice for the prowess of England, and we must apply to the petty principalities of Europe for the co-operation of their more skilful and warlike subjects." I say that this is an unwise and, I maintain it to be, an unnecessary blow upon the vital principle that now sustains your cause, and brings to your army more men than you know how to employ. And if anything could make this war unpopular, it would be the sight of foreign soldiers quartered and drilled in any part of these kingdoms, paid by the taxes extorted from this people, and occupying barracks of which the paucity is your excuse for not having embodied more of the militia of our native land. Do you mean to say it will not make a difference in the temper of the middle and working classes, now nobly prepared for any pecuniary sacrifice, whether they pay the cost of an army of their own countrymen, who repay them by deeds which make us more proud of the English name, or whether they are to pay foreigners, who may be equally brave, may perform equal service, but whose glory will only compliment our wealth at the expense of our manhood—only prove that we were rich enough to consign to foreign hirelings that standard which a handful of English soldiers had planted on the heights of Alma, and rescued from barbarian numbers on the plains of Inkerman? What, Sir, is the reason assigned for this Bill 521 besides that learned array of historical precedents to which I shall come afterwards—that, whatever the ardour of our people, it requires time to drill them, to convert raw recruits into disciplined soldiers? Sir, there is some force in that argument, but it confers a grave censure on the Government; it proves all that has been said of their want of activity and foresight, that during the eighteen months in which war—this great, this "protracted war"—was foreseen by all England, except its chief Minister—that, during the nine months or so in which we have been actually engaged in hostilities, the Government should not already have raised and drilled a sufficient number of reserve to dispense at least with this first instalment of 10,000 foreigners. Why, if you will compute the time elapsed even since the battle of the Alma—the time devoted in preparing this thoughtful and deliberate Bill—in corresponding with foreign princes (if the Bill pass), in enlisting your foreign soldiers, bringing them hither, and then, it seems, fitting them for service—if you would compute all this time, from first to last, employed in getting together these foreign troops, you would have leisure to drill and send out double the number of your own countrymen. I ask you this question—I press for a reply—you say you require these foreign soldiers for an immediate emergency—that you want them to send out in the interval which you employ in drilling English recruits; that is your main argument—tell me then, plainly, in how short a time do you calculate that they will be raised, imported, organised, despatched to the Crimea? You are bound to show that it will be within a shorter time than you can raise, drill, and send out an equal number of native troops. Can you show this? I might defy you to do it; but until you have shown it, your argument has no ground on which to stand. But it seems to me strange that these practised warriors—so superior to ourselves in all military craft and discipline—are first to be imported to England, and finish their martial education upon English ground. As it has been pertinently said elsewhere, "this is not the shortest road to the Crimea"—you can send these troops from the Continent without coming to Parliament at all; why, then, not send them at once to the Crimea from whatever place abroad you collect them? Make your depôt anywhere you please out of the British dominions. There is this advantage 522 in that course—you have reasons of your own to draw these mercenaries from quarters which you do not think it discreet to state openly to Parliament. Well, then, you should have sufficient confidence in those reasons to act entirely on your own official responsibility; thus you will neither openly exhibit to the public that spectacle of foreign hirelings within these realms, always so intolerable to the national feelings, nor call upon the House of Commons to sanction, for reasons not plainly before it, a degradation to the spirit of the people we represent. Sir, now look to the extraordinary want of consideration, and, I must say, to the slovenly haste with which the provisions of this Bill are devised and matured. Its first introduction led at once to the alarm that these foreigners were intended to supply the place of the native defenders, not only of English honour abroad, but of English security at home; that, in short, they should supply the place of the militia and the British forces removed from this country. That supposition was indignantly denied. In spite of such denial, the Minister charged with the conduct of the Bill finds the public persist in that alarm, for he says that "he hears with surprise from several quarters that such an impression unquestionably prevails out of doors," and then he condescends to look into the Bill itself and is bound to confess that, by the wording of it, it might be perverted to such a purpose. What! in a Bill embracing such delicate questions, so nearly touching the keystone of all free institutions, surely the wording ought to have been so deliberately concocted that it should not harbour a phrase which a people jealous of freedom could misinterpret, and which some future Ministers, of more dangerous character than these, might distort into a precedent that would jeopardise the liberties of the country or risk the security of the throne. And then, even as to the number of men required, so little calculation was made, although the noble Lord tells us that this is a main reason why we are now summoned, and we might presume that your calculations would be somewhat carefully prepared, that it is an object of indifference whether it be 15,000 or 10,000, and the latter number is at once exchanged for the former. How, then, can you blame us if we presume to doubt your prudence, your deliberate foresight, your practical ability to conduct this war, when even in this Bill which you have had such leisure to prepare we see all this blundering 523 in the terms that involve a momentous constitutional principle, and all this careless indecision as to the amount of the force you require? And still more may we doubt your prudence, when, for the sake of so miserable a succour as 10,000 foreign bayonets, or rather for the object of landing and drilling them within these dominions, you, who tell us of the advantage of unanimity, resolve to force on a measure which you were blind indeed if you did not foresee would be unpopular out of doors—which at once necessitates the strongest opposition—which you carried by a petty majority through one House of Parliament—and which, if you carry it through the other, will be such a thorn in your side that I venture to doubt whether you will ever have the courage to use the power you now ask at your hands. Nay, Sir, so little had the Minister who introduced elsewhere the measure even examined the constitutional principles which it involves, that he prefaced the Bill by observing that the power to enlist and introduce into this country foreign soldiers, without application to Parliament, was formerly considered to be vested in the Crown. I am sure that the Lord President of the Council would warmly deny that our great constitutional authorities have admitted that this was ever, at any period of our history, the acknowledged prerogative of the Sovereigns of this country. We all know that William III. sent a message to this House, requesting, in somewhat humble terms, that his Dutch troops should be allowed to remain, and that the House of Commons refused the request. You may say, that was in time of peace; but I know that Lord Camden held the doctrine that, neither in peace nor in war, could foreign troops be admitted into this country without the sanction of an Act of Parliament. I know that Mr. Fox declared that, if the Crown ever did possess such a power, we had a constitution in words and not in reality. I can well conceive the indignation with which the Whigs of the last age, who are authorities so high with the Lord President of the Council, would have heard, if now living, such a doctrine—such a remark emanating from a Minister of War who sits in the same Cabinet with the leader of the Whigs. Sir, I could not pass over that rash assertion of a great officer of the Crown on a point essential to the vindication of the freedom of our ancestors and the principles of our ancient constitution. 524 But your Bill is amended—the more obnoxious clause is removed; I grant now that all constitutional forms are complied with; I find no fault with you there. But I say that, while adhering to all constitutional forms, you ought not to tamper with something so hostile to the constitutional spirit as the introduction of foreign troops, unless you can establish the closest precedent in parallel cases or make out a plea of paramount and urgent necessity. Now, first, as to the precedents cited by the noble Lord. I am almost ashamed to repeat what every one knows—namely, that the precedent you would draw from the enlistment of Germans in 1804 and 1806 is wholly inapplicable to the present case. Look to the period of the great French war. Our Sovereign was not only King of Great Britain—he was Elector of Hanover. His interests and ours were identified with the German Powers, except, indeed, Prussia, which at that time, influenced, first, by her guilty designs on the partition of Poland, and afterwards by the hope of obtaining Hanover as a reward for neutrality, did, in the opinion of all dispassionate historians, by her selfish inertness and procrastination, paralyse the arms of the other allies, and give to the common foe that gigantic power of which Prussia was afterwards the most signal victim. I trust that Prussia is wiser now; that she will not again amuse other and nobler confederacies by her tortuous diplomacy, cripple their energies by dissimulating lethargy, nor require, at the last, the assistance of their arms to free herself from the ruin in which selfish indifference to the common cause once involved her very existence as a nation. But at that time the enlistment of German soldiers in this country was, at least, natural enough, though even the memory of their gallantry in the field, which deserves all we can say of it, has not, you see, sufficed to render that enlistment popular. The noble Lord refers to the debate of 1804, in which Mr. Francis, afterwards Sir Philip, took part. Ay, but he did not tell you the excuse which the then Secretary at War made to the objections Mr. Francis indignantly urged. The excuse was this:—"The enlistment of German soldiers was only a measure of providing for a certain number of men who were subjects of the same Sovereign, and had been forced to leave their country." Who can say that this is a parallel instance? It is true that other foreigners were enlisted, but they were chiefly from 525 those German nations which had the most cordial sympathy with the English cause. But now, indeed, although we should be proud to have a sincere and hearty alliance with the German courts, it is at least premature to believe that their interests, their objects in the war, are cordially and permanently identified with our own. And if we would render the Germans as popular in England as I hope they may yet be, we could not more defeat that object thou by exhibiting German soldiers as substitutes for English valour upon English ground. But the noble Lord goes back to the time of Marlborough, nay, he says that in all our former wars foreign troops have been employed. Yes; but when they were employed with honour, they were the auxiliary forces of our open allies, and officered by the rank, the chivalry, the military renown of nations in the closest sympathy with ourselves, and were not mere free lances, under unknown and mercenary captains. I say, when they have been employed with honour. For where, indeed, an aid, similar to that which you now demand, has been obtained, wherever foreign princes have been subsidised, and their subjects hired by English gold to take part in the struggles with which they had no English sympathies—there the historian pauses to vent his scorn on the princes who thus sell the blood of their subjects, and his grief at the degradation of England in the blood-money she pays to the hirelings—these are not precedents to follow, but examples to shun. The noble Lord reads to us the speech of the Duke of Wellington, and, by a most ingenious perversion of logic, wishes us to believe that, when the Duke said only one-third of our army was British, the rest were mercenaries, like those whom your Bill would enlist. Why, Sir, they were the Spanish and Portuguese, fighting in defence of their native soil. Who rejects the assistance of worthy allies? who maintains that England should fight for the world single-handed? Can the noble Lord not comprehend the distinction involved? Here, armies of various states combine in a course dear to all. There one state contributes to the general standard, not its own native valour and zeal, but a mercenary band whose valour gives it no glory, whose zeal has no motive but pay. This is what I meant when I said "Honour was not so intolerable a burden that we should fee foreign soldiers to ease ourselves of its load." We are proud to 526 share honour with the Frenchman, with the Turk, with any people that co-operate in our cause and participate our feelings. That is to share honour with others. Here you ask us to sell a part of that honour which were otherwise our share. The noble Lord has stated the advantages conferred on our own Army by the German troops in the French war. I grant them fully. I have heard great military authorities say that the German cavalry—especially under the command of the consummate officers it then possessed, such as Arranschild and Victor Alters—taught us how to charge and when to pull up. But the times are changed. Surely since then we have learnt all that they could teach. us. How could German officers improve the charge of the Greys and Enniskillens at Balaklava, or that wondrous and stedfast gallantry of the Light Brigade, which brought 200 out of 600 men from the midst of the Russian cavalry, and squares of infantry supported by cross batteries of twenty pieces of cannon? Sir, we have learned more from the Germans than instruction in the art of war. We have been indebted to them for noble lessons in the arts of peace. Every cultivator of literature and science must cherish a deep and grateful affection for the German people, and a warm hope in their ultimate coalition with ourselves. Of this initiatory treaty with Austria I will say nothing at present; but if it does lead to an earnest and binding alliance, no man but must welcome a Power which can bring to the common cause from 300,000 to 500,000 men, and which—always assuming it to be sincere—would be our most convenient and our strongest guarantee for the maintenance of those territorial conditions on which ally future peace must be based. I should rejoice yet more to learn that Prussia adopts the example of Austria—an example alleged, but still prospective—and contrasts, by her future sincerity, the guileful policy her Court espoused at the commencement of the French war. Between ourselves and the German people, of which Prussia is One of the great representatives, there is so kindred a community of race, of commercial interests, of all that belongs to intellectual interchange, that it would seem to me something monstrous, something out of the course of nature, if Prussia, the great centre of Germanic intelligence—Prussia, with that glorious capital of Berlin, in which philosophy and science hove ripened 527 every thought that could most ridicule and abhor the fanatic pretences with which a mock crusader would mask usurpation—that Prussia should sink from the rank among civilised States to which she was raised by the genius of Frederick the Great, and affect to have no vital interest in a war that would roll back from the borders of Europe the tide of a Tartar inundation—the supposition is preposterous! And I will not yet believe that a people which boasts universal education could be induced by any King, however able or beloved, to desert the ramparts which now protect from Attilas and Timours the destinies of the human race. But if we are to bring about a cordial friendship with the families of the German people, in heaven's name let it be in a mode worthy of them and us. Let us have nations openly for our allies, and not this contraband levy from the surplus forces of their petty Princes. Sir, indeed, no one has yet told us where these troops are to come from, and, what is still more important, where, after all, these foreign soldiers have really learned anything more than the holiday part of war—where have been the recent campaigns and wars in which they have exhibited their prowess and acquired their military experience? To hear what is said of the superior merits and seasoned hardihood of these foreigners, one might suppose they were the identical 10,000 who accomplished the retreat of Xenophon, instead of being merely, I suppose, men who have gone through the formal routine of the Landwehr, and seen no more of actual service, nor encountered any greater trial to the nerves, than the stout labourers you enlist in Kilkenny or Yorkshire. But are you sure you will get even trained soldiers—even the men who have gone through the drill of the Landwehr? I doubt it. From all I hear of the composition of that body I suspect you will obtain only raw recruits—recruits as raw as you can raise in England at less cost and in a shorter time. But it has been sought to gain some sort of popular favour to this measure—sought not, indeed, by Ministers, for they will not condescend to court popularity, but by their friends out of doors—by implying that the furtive and ulterior object of the Bill is to enlist men who are actuated by a nobler motive than that of ordinary soldiers, and first among all unfortunate refugees, the exiled Poles. But this idea has been so completely scouted by the First Minister 528 of the Crown—it has been so expressly declared that the consent of foreign Sovereigns for the enlistment of their subjects is to be obtained—that I shall not waste the time of the House in arguing that supposition. I know not, indeed, what Sovereigns now sharing among them the ancient kingdom of Poland you could apply to for permission to form Polish recruits into separate battalions, with all the hopes that Polish recruits would entertain. But on this point I would only say, that if in spite of the present intention of Ministers—seeing that their intentions are more liable to change than those of ordinary mortals—if you do hereafter establish a legion of Polish or other refugees, at least beforehand make up your mind what are to be the definite objects of the war. If, indeed, among those objects, as the war proceeds, you do see your way to the restitution of Poland among the free states of Europe, say so manfully, and there are few Englishmen who would not rejoice at the possibility of such a barrier to Russian encroachment, and such a reparation to the fraud and violence of a former age. Then, indeed, Poles would be more than our soldiers—they would become our allies, and they would be as welcome to our country, as they would be to our brothers in the field. But, if you have no idea of such an enterprise, or if you would indolently trust the resuscitation of Poland in the pages of European history to that chapter in human fate with which you appear most familiar —the chapter of accidents—then I say, beware how you wilfully lend yourselves to false hopes, or incur the stain of insincerity with all whom you invite to your standard, not for the sake of pay, but from the expectation of freedom. It would be in vain to say you did not deliberately sanction such hopes; that the Poles must silence their beating hearts, and be but the unreasoning machines of your military drill. That idea is against the first law of human nature. Every Pole whom you form into regiments would say that you had led him to unavailing slaughter, unless you had made it one object of your war to plant your standard on the citadel of Warsaw. And, do let the House remember that the number of these foreign soldiers, from first to last, is unlimited. It is the peculiarity of this Bill that, while for the commencement of the war, in which you say they are alone required, the force is most paltry and inadequate, yet hereafter, when you say they will not be wanted, the 529 number swells and increases, and is altogether undefined; it is 10,000 men at a time; but the Bill establishes a perpetual depôt of reserve, and, as soon as one set are despatched to the field, another may be prepared here to succeed them; so that we can form no conceivable guess as to the number you will employ and ultimately disband. Suppose, then, hereafter, you do form Polish battalions; and peace comes, and the Poles have still no country, what is to become of the large bands of armed malcontents you will leave on the surface of Europe, and who cannot quietly melt, like your own soldiers, into the ranks of peaceful citizens? Whatever you do, then, I implore you, for the sake of justice to Poland—for the honour of English sincerity and plain dealing—and for the cause of social order throughout Europe—to decide before you may enlist battalions of exiled patriots, how far you will venture to extend the definite objects of this war. Sir, it may be quite competent to hon. Gentlemen to extend the discussion of this Bill, which is one cause that now brings us together, into a survey of the general conduct of the war, of which you call this an essential measure. I have no such intention. I do not desire to reiterate former charges, nor set into adroit display every casual detail of inexperience or omission; on the contrary, I heard with pleasure the eloquent speech the other night of the Secretary at War—a pleasure, not only at his eloquence, but caused by a feeling more worthy of him and me, because he seemed to me satisfactorily to dispose of many charges connected with his own department, not, indeed, made in this House, but which had excited a painful impression out of doors. I cheerfully recognise in the Cabinet many who have won those high names in the service of their country which give them the noblest stake in its honour and its welfare; nor is there, indeed, one in the Cabinet—I might say in all the Government—of whom I would speak in other terms than those of personal respect. But still, it is not always a motley, and, possibly, sometimes a discordant, combination of able and worthy men which suffices to constitute an able and worthy Cabinet, even in times of peace; and for the fitting and spirited conduct of war it does require a promptitude, a decision, a rapid and comprehensive foresight, which can only come from an unity of purpose and of object; and that unity the conflicting speeches of Ministers 530 have already notoriously belied. Take but a single instance—take the last—compare the sanguine terms in which the Treaty with Austria is paraded by one Minister elsewhere with the cautious scepticism as to its actual value, "its important results," which has been expressed by the organ of the Government in this House. And here I must make one observation in connection both with all that this treaty may lead to, and also with the conduct of the war. It has been assumed, on a recent occasion, by the First Minister of the Crown, that Government was blamed for its reluctance to go to war, as exhibited in preliminary negotiations. This is not strictly the fact. What we presume to regret, if not to blame, is that, in those preliminary negotiations, the sentiment of the people, which so deeply resented the first disguised aggression on Turkish independence, was never fairly represented to the Russian Emperor, and that, if the language held by our Ministers at the first, without being at all more threatening, had been more frank and plain spoken, you would have had a better chance of preserving peace than you could have by complimenting the Russian Czar on his moderation and sincerity, after he had openly proposed the subdivision of the Turkish dominions, and after he had deceived your credulity by representing large military preparations as an innocent mode of moral coercion. It may be well to remember this, should a treaty with Austria lead to new overtures for peace. If so, Government are sure of success. They have only carefully to remember the spirit with which they conducted former negotiations, and to conduct the future in a spirit diametrically the reverse. It is not true that we blame the Ministers for not going to war till all parties were prepared to support it; but what we regret, if we dare not blame—is, that the only persons unprepared for the war are the very Ministers charged with its conduct, and so unprepared were they, that the best excuse for all deficiencies is, that they engaged in an indefinite war against a formidable enemy, with military preparations so little raised above the ordinary establishments of peace, and on the niggard hypothesis that its cost could be defrayed out of our annual income. And now, when the public are perhaps indulgently disposed to receive your tardy assumption of energy, braced up at the last moment, at the commencement of winter, as a partial indemnity 531 for your, at least, comparative indolence during the precious months of summer and autumn—who could foresee that one of the gigantic efforts of your collective patriotism, reserved as a surprise, so pleasing and prodigious that, although we are now told by the noble Lord it is the main reason why we meet, it is not even alluded to in the Speech from the Throne—who could foresee that this gigantic effort—this grand surprise—was to be this begging petition to petty potentates for 10,000 soldiers? What, has it come to this? In an empire on which we are told that the sun never sets, the national Council is hastily summoned to prepare and parade all its military power. One Minister tells us his recruits are more than he can manage; another says we could bring a million soldiers in the field—some day or other; and, then, when all the world is breathless to know what you are about to bring forth, nascetur ridiculus mus—out creeps this proposal to borrow or crimp from the foreigner 10,000 troops to be drilled in these realms. This grand profession of redundant strength, and this curious confession of absolute want, remind me of the adventurer, who boasted to an acquaintance he picked up at a coffee house of the immense wealth he possessed at a distance—his castles in the north, and his lands in the west, and his shares in the copper mines of Cornwall and the gold mines of Peru—and when he had worked up his listener to the highest point of prospective gratitude as to what he might expect from the munificence of a friend of such boundless resources, suddenly clapped his hand to his pocket and said, "By the by, I have a little bill to pay at the bar, you don't happen to have such a thing as tenpence half-penny about you?" Whatever way I look at this proposed Bill I can see nothing to justify and excuse it. I have said that there is no parallel case of precedent. Now, let us ask, what is your plea of necessity? And here, Sir, I find my own opinions so lucidly and moderately stated by a great man whose authority must have the utmost weight with Gentlemen opposite, that I will read what was said in this House by the late Lord Grey, then Mr. Grey. He said—On urgent occasions it may be proper to introduce foreign troops into this country, but it should never be done except in cases of extreme and proved necessity, and never should be suffered to be done without being watched with that constitutional jealousy which is the best part of the 532 character of this House, and the best security for the rights and liberties of the people.Now, let me pause, and appeal to the generous candour of hon. Gentlemen opposite, if these words from one of the greatest statesmen who ever adorned your opinions, do not justify the jealousy with which we regard this Bill, and whether we are right or wrong in that jealousy, if they do not amply vindicate us from the unworthy charge of wishing to obstruct the general preparations for the war, because we cavil at the introduction of foreign soldiers. Mr. Grey went on to observe that—Though he was not ready to deny that for the purpose of our own defence we should sometimes employ foreign troops, yet he could not help thinking that the wisest course for us would be to rely on what had been emphatically called the energy of an armed nation.So, then, where is this case of urgent and proved necessity—necessity for our own defence? You have not argued it as a necessity; the noble Lord has not done so: he is too much of an Englishman for that. It is only argued at most as a question of convenience—the convenience of drilling or organising the troops in this country; and I say that it does not seem to me a convenience that is worth the purchase. Sir, it was not unreasonably asked elsewhere, "How will this proposition be regarded by the enemy?" What a pretext do you give to the Emperor of Russia to represent to his subjects the correctness of his estimate of the shopkeeping spirit of Great Britain. "Compare," he will say, "their braggart talk in their Houses of Parliament, their boast of the popular enthusiasm, their willingness to contribute their best blood to the cause for which they fight, with the simple fact that before the first year is out they are compelled to apply to the fifth-rate Powers of Europe for 10,000 foreign soldiers, on the pretence—nay, on the confession, that they are not a military nation; that they have not had time since this war began to drill a sufficient number of recruits for an army, which, at the battle of Inkerman, could only bring 8,000 men fit for service into the field." I do not desire to stand thus either before the enemy or before our allies, and I say that this is not the best mode to remove the hesitation of Austria and Prussia. I am convinced that we have men of our own, even at this moment, in spite of all previous delays, prepared to fight our own battle. You tell us you have already sent large reinforcements 533 to the Crimea. You sent them weeks and months ago. Of course, ever since you have been raising and drilling more. You have had ample leisure. You have leisure still to drill into active service the recruits you obtain from a population so brave, so robust, and so proverbially quick of comprehension as that of Great Britain and Ireland. I deny, altogether, that the drafts you will take from our labouring population will derange the channels of agricultural or other industry. We have plenty to spare from a population of nearly thirty millions. The suspension of many industrial occupations on railways and elsewhere, caused by the war, releases a large number of the stoutest portion of our labourers. You may find employment in the army for many more of the marines now idle at a distance; you may make use of the native forces in India; above all, you have only to rely on our militia—to give fair play to that magnificent nursery of soldiers. I do not presume to offer you advice in details—I say only, go into the market of war with the best spirit of trade. Your best and nearest market is at home. Get there the best article you can, it is the cheapest in the long run. I remember that in 1779, when the ports of France and Spain bristled with hostile ships, when American privateers were seen with impunity in the Channel, that Lord Harcourt offered to Ireland 4,000 foreign troops in lieu of a greater number sent to America. What was the answer of the Irish Parliament? Sir, they rejected the proposal; they declared "that they were competent to defend themselves, or that they were not worth defending." That noble answer which became the representatives of Ireland may equally become the united Parliament of the three kingdoms; and what was the practical result of that refusal? Why, the result of refusing 4,000 foreign soldiers was, that 50,000 volunteers immediately presented themselves. Talk of our men being raw recruits: why, how many of those who dashed through the Russian armaments, who braved with equal fortitude unparalleled sufferings, of disease, of climate, of a defective Commissariat, were the new recruits you affect to depreciate? That material which a British army has so successfully tested is the material on which a British Parliament may be content to rely. Those labourers and sons of labourers whom the leader of this House eulogised in terms of such just and such noble eloquence; those men—those raw 534 recruits, equally daring in the charge, and calm as veterans under the attack; those men so patient in their sufferings, and so humane to the foe; those are the material for your army. You have tried it, keep to it. Without disparagement to the soldiers you may collect from Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, anywhere abroad, I say we have proved sufficiently that this is not the moment in which we need tax our countrymen in order to arm the foreigner for our defence. Do you ask me what proof? Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman? I say that any deficiencies in the mere mechanism of the drill are quickly got over with officers so skilful as ours; I say that even the raw recruits, before they have joined your standard, have already gone through a more precious discipline than three years of lifeless ceremonials can give to the soldiers of a despotic conscription. They have gone, from their cradles, through the discipline of hardy habits, of patient endurance, of indomitable conviction in the strength of their own right arms—that is the discipline with which armies soon learn to be invincible, and without which men may be faultless in the drill, but valueless in the field. Sir, with these views, and trusting they may not be altogether distasteful to the patriotism of the House, I move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day six months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word "now" stand part of the Question."
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
was glad to be able to avail himself of that opportunity to offer some remarks in reply to the speech which had just excited so much admiration, and to arguments which were as sincerely offered as they were ably delivered. In dealing with this Bill, the hon. Baronet had gone into the whole policy of the war, but it would ill become him to follow the example of the hon. Baronet, and he should simply confine himself to offering a few reasons why he thought the House ought to adopt the original Motion in preference to the Amendment. During the whole speech, the hon. Baronet, although he had spoken of the German, Swiss, and Swede, had never once alluded to our gallant Ally, and a stranger in the gallery, hearing the hon. Baronet, and ignorant of the fact, might suppose that the war was a single duel between Russia 535 and England, instead of being a great European contest. The hon. Baronet seemed to forget that we were in alliance with the greatest military Power in the world, who had rendered us all the assistance in its power, and to whom we were not ashamed to own that we owed the salvation of our army on the great day of Inkerman. Those who remembered that circumstance, and bore in mind that the contest was an European one, must come to a different conclusion with regard to this Bill to that which the hon. Baronet had arrived at. It was only because we were not engaged alone in the war that the present measure was in any respect justifiable. This was an European war, and all Europe ought to be engaged in it. Not only were the German States, whose frontiers were most exposed to the power of Russia most deeply interested in this war, but every German must feel that the cause of the Allies was the cause of national independence, and that we were fighting on the hills of the Crimea, not only for the independence of Turkey, but for the independence of Germany also. Under these circumstances, he willingly accepted the Bill now before the House—he considered it, in fact, the fit complement of the Militia Bill—the one called upon the volunteers of England, while the other called upon the volunteers of Europe, to support the Allies. It had been said, however, by some that this Bill was averse to the principles and spirit of the British constitution, and that it would summon all the revolutionists throughout the world to the service of the British Crown. These were the two main objections urged against the Government, and there would be nothing averse to the English constitution in our asking foreigners to aid us in a struggle of civilisation and liberty, in which they were at least as much interested as ourselves. Nor did it follow that because Government were inviting the assistance of the volunteers of Europe that they were necessarily raising the standard of revolution throughout Europe. The hon. Baronet said, "If you want to do anything with Poland, proclaim Poland to be independent;" but could he seriously be earnest when he gave that advice, considering that we had already entered into an intimate alliance with Austria for the purposes of the war. Why there was not a single Pole in this country who would not be ashamed to owe the restoration of his country to such a step; it was a different thing, however, for 536 us to say, as we did by this Bill, that we would give to every Pole who felt a just indignation against the common enemy the means of sharing in the struggle. This we might well do without giving any offence either to Austria or Prussia. France had a foreign legion containing many Poles, and he did not believe the mere fact of their incorporation had tended in any degree to weaken the union between France and Austria. But it was said, why not trust entirely to our own people? So we did, but although he did not distrust the valour and energy of our troops, he would not be guilty of lavishing the blood of one Englishman unnecessarily for the want of reinforcements, which it was the object of this Bill to provide. He had felt no national pride at being told that at one period the English army in the East was more numerous than the French, for he thought that instead of the French having 100,000 men in the camp at Boulogne, there ought to have been more in the Crimea, and in such a contest as this it would indicate no want of patriotism to avail ourselves of the assistance of the foreigner in order to make the number of our troops equal to that of our Ally. The Government were blamed for attaching too much importance to this measure, and making their very existence depend upon its fate; but for his part he thought the Government did nothing but what was just, reasonable, and patriotic in saying that they would accept the services of the volunteers of liberty throughout Europe to assist us in the contest with Russia. They were also right in staking their existence as a Government upon the passing of this measure, for, if Parliament could not place confidence in the Government as to the principles on which the war should be conducted, it was much better that they should not retain the government of the country. England and France were fighting for the independence of the world, and not for any selfish aggrandisement, and therefore he thought an opportunity should be given to those natives of foreign countries who sympathised with them to give their aid in fighting against Russia.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he had no wish to call in question the necessity of the present war; he only questioned the fact that the period had arrived when it had become necessary for England to resort to foreign mercenaries. He did not at all mean to deny that in a protracted stage of this war it might be advisable for this country to 537 enlist foreign mercenaries in her service; but the question was, ought they to be called in in the first year of the war? He doubted the cogency of the noble Lord's reason for proposing the Bill, namely, that it was always at the commencement of a war that assistance was required by this country, though it by no means followed that the whole means of the country were exhausted in the first year of the war. He, however, differed with the noble Lord, while he thought prudence dictated that we should make use of all our national resources that were possibly available at the very first commencement of war, otherwise the enemy would be apt to form an inadequate notion of our power. We were not yet reduced to the necessity of having recourse to foreigners, and he wanted to know why the Government preferred hiring foreign mercenaries to using the national resources? Why should we have recourse to foreigners while the British Colonies were offering to reinforce the army in the Crimea? They were assured by the Colonial Secretary the other night that there was no intention whatever by this Bill to express distrust in the loyalty and attachment of the Colonies; but surely, after the Canadian Parliament had made an offer of its assistance, it was, to say the least of it, ungracious to accept this measure in preference to their offer. He was assured upon excellent authority that a letter had recently been received front a Canadian gentleman, stating his readiness, in conjunction with other gentlemen, not only to raise a Canadian regiment, but to maintain that regiment during the time it served with the British army. While such offers as these were being made, coming as they did from Canada, which could furnish the best troops in the world, did it not convey a feeling of distrust to reject them in favour of German mercenaries? It seemed to him to be a downright insult to the Colonies to refuse their aid under such circumstances, and most impolitic to do so, it being the policy and duty of the Government to fan by every possible means the flame of loyalty thus manifested, for the purpose of cementing more closely their connection with this country, and retaining that respect and good feeling which such offers prove at the present time to exist between the Colonies and the mother country. He (Mr. Adderley) recollected the other day the noble Lord the President of the Council, at a Meeting at Bedford, whilst addressing the Mechanics' Institution 538 established there, telling them that there was no subject more worthy their consideration than the cause of a nation's decline; and as one of the symptoms of such decline, he said that there was none more sure than a nation being numerically less than the country with which she was to deal. Now, if the noble Lord was correct in that view, as no doubt he was, it would almost seem from this Bill that England was in the decline; but he denied that she was numerically inferior to the Power with which she had to deal, or that she had exhibited the symptoms of a declining Power. If this country was to look only within the limits of this island for support, its numerical force would indeed be inferior to that of Russia, and it would be manifesting the symptoms pointed out by the noble Lord as that of a nation in its decline. Nothing could be more unjust, not only to this country, but also to those nations whom she had planted in a wider hemisphere, and who were animated, like ourselves, with the feelings and spirit of Englishmen, by thus confining the resources of England, to allow her to exhibit the symptoms of a declining power, whilst the offers of assistance from her colonial possessions were refused, and the expression of their sympathies treated with neglect. Those offers, doubtless, were strengthened, if they did not originate in the accession of freedom, by removal of disabilities which our colonial possessions have lately obtained;—from that moment the Colonies had begun to feel a warmer attachment towards the mother country, and it would be the height of folly to weaken that feeling, by rejecting their offers of assistance in the present war; rather let them encourage it now when they could do so with so much advantage to our nationality, or a golden opportunity for still further cementing the Colonies to the British Throne would be lost to us for ever. Better troops titan could have been sent from the Colonies could not, he believed, be found. What troops could excel the Canadian Rifles? Why, then, should foreign mercenaries be pressed into our armies when the services of more valuable troops were freely offered? The noble Lord who opened the debate wished to make it appear that there were numerous precedents in history for such a proceeding, and that if we rejected the present Bill it would be a deviation from the teachings of history; but, in point of fact, there was not the least appositeness in the two cases which the noble Lord 539 had quoted; the most apposite of the two, perhaps, was that of Spain; but did the noble Lord think England was reduced to the same state as Spain when she called in the assistance of the British Legion? Were the Colonies of England in the same position as those of Spain? Certainly not; and it would be most humiliating to the country, and crushing to her feelings of self-reliance, if the Ministers on this occasion were allowed to accept the services of foreign mercenaries in preference to the noble offers of the Colonies. Such a measure as this could be only justifiable in the most urgent case of necessity; no such case had been made out, and therefore, without trespassing longer upon the House, he thought he had said quite enough to justify his voting for the Amendment.
§ MR. WATSON
said, he believed he spoke the opinions of the large constituency which he had the honour to represent when he said it was in favour of supporting the Government in a strong and vigorous exercise of their power for maintaining the present war; he believed, indeed, there was hardly a man in England who was not prepared to say, at this moment, he would give his support to the Government for the energetic prosecution of the war. He must say he had great doubts as to the wisdom originally of sending the army into the Crimea. He had no doubts that there had been shortcomings in the matter, not so much on the part of the Government, as on the part of certain departments of the Government. Whether it was the fault of the gentlemen at Woolwich or those at the Horse Guards, he thought the war might have been waged much more energetically. Those departments were not equal to the exigencies of the occasion. He must be allowed, however, to say that never in the history of this country had more energy been exercised than had been displayed in bringing forth the Navy of this country; in bringing forward and in manning our ships; and the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty was entitled to the highest possible praise for the energy with which the Navy had been manned and completed for the war. He gave his support to the present Bill. Whatever doubts he might entertain of the wisdom of the original measure of sending an army to the Crimea, practically he was bound to look to the state of affairs at the present time. A war had been undertaken, an army had been 540 sent to the Crimea, that army was now in front of Sebastopol, subject to all sorts of privations and dangers, both from the climate and from the enemy; and if the Ministry of the day, whether Whig or Tory, came forward in the House and told him that they considered it necessary that support should be given, either in the shape of militia or of foreign troops to be enlisted, he felt bound as an Englishman to support that Government under those circumstances, without regard either to political distinctions or to party spirit. Supposing that, by reason of any want of support of the Government, any great disaster should befall our army now before Sebastopol —supposing it should be by any vote of the House of Commons that night, refusing the Government the support of 10,000 or 15,000, or any number of foreign troops, our brave and noble soldiers should be sacrificed—the names of the persons who should be the cause of that disaster would go down with execration to all posterity. As an Englishman, and a friend of his country, he declared that they ought at that moment to abandon all party distinctions and political feelings, and unite on one point, and one alone—namely, to ascertain how were they best to maintain the war and support the army in the Crimea? There were many modes in which the army might be reinforced. Every means ought to be adopted for that purpose. He supposed the Government had come forward with the consent of the general commanding in chief to say that it was necessary that we should have the support of foreign troops. As a citizen of this country he would not stop to inquire whether he liked foreign troops, or what kind of troops he liked best. What he said was, that if the Government told him on their responsibility, sanctioned by the Commander in Chief, that the army required the support of foreign troops, not by substitution, but as auxiliaries, he would at once give that Government his support, and he felt sure that he should be backed by the whole people of England in so doing. He must suppose the Government had had some communication from which they learned when and where they could raise foreign troops; and they knew, judging from the existence of the Landwehr and other modes of military organisation on the Continent, that troops ready formed for the purposes of war were much more likely to be got abroad than by enrolling men in England. But he gave his support to the 541 Government, not only because he thought that troops taken from Germany would be much sooner efficient troops than levies of English lads of eighteen or twenty, but because he thought this a most wise and judicious measure. He spoke from some experience in these matters. It was suggested on the opposite side of the House that the Government might recruit from this country, that the people of this country were all enthusiasm at the present moment; but how long would that enthusiasm continue? At the outbreak of a war, when we had gained two or three victories, everybody was anxious to enlist; after a time it would be difficult to get recruits, it was well known that towards the end of the last war, it was most difficult to get men particularly for the cavalry, but by recruiting up to a certain extent you pressed on the population. The population of a country could only bear a certain number of recruits to be sent to the army; generally speaking, he believed ten in 1,000 to be as many as the population could bear. If more were taken, you would press upon the productive industry of the country, the effect of which would be a rise in the price of labour and consequently commodities of every kind would become dear, and general distress in the country at large would follow. He did not want to check the enthusiasm of the people to enlist; but who were the people who were enthusiastic to enlist? Young men of eighteen or twenty, who would only go out to be destroyed. He had a letter in his hand from one who was now and had been from the commencement of the siege, under the fire of Sebastopol, but wino never complained, in which he stated that in his company of artillery they could only muster eighty men out of 150; that the drafts that came out could not stand the weather at all. The truth was, that young soldiers would sink under the labour and exposure, and only old-seasoned soldiers could stand. They must have seasoned troops. This was a maxim of the Duke of Wellington as might be seen through his despatches. He presumed the Government had some definite nation from which they were to obtain these foreign troops. They could not get them from Spain, nor yet from Italy, nor from the greater States of Germany, and certainly not from Russia. Whence, then, were they to get them? From the small German Principalities, which would furnish soldiers as good as any to be got in the world—brave, seasoned, obedient 542 to command, and led by experienced officers. He could speak from some experience in these matters. He was a lawyer now, but he had been a soldier once, and had seen service. He had seen the German Legion, of the Chasseurs Britanniques and other foreign troops in the field, and better troops than some of those were never commanded by the Duke of Wellington. He had the honour to have served with the German Legion. He was quartered at Canterbury, in 1812, with the 3rd regiment of German Hussars who did duty in that garrison, and on the coast, and no regiment could behave better, and they discharged their duties without the slightest jealousy on the part of the British soldier or of the people. It had been said that there would be jealousy on the part of our soldiers against these foreigners. The British soldier was jealous of none but cowards, and always liked a rivalry with brave men in the field. In these days gentlemen would sit at their tables and discuss the impossibility of squares being charged by cavalry. That problem had been solved by the German heavy dragoons, who cut through French squares at the Ford at La Serna, and with the approval of the whole British army; and with the assent of the nation, for this charge the whole German Legion obtained permanent rank in the British army. Besides that, they had all heard of the glorious Light Division, the Tenth Legion of the Duke of Wellington. Who commanded it in the Peninsula, after the death of General Robert Crawford at Ciudad Rodrigo, until the end of the war? General Charles Baron Allen—a German mercenary, if you please. They had also all heard of General Darnberg, another German "mercenary," if they pleased. They were told that the British soldiery could not bear the idea of fighting with mercenaries; but when those troops were doing their duty in the Peninsula and at Waterloo, where could they point to any jealousy? Every person acquainted with the old Peninsular war, recollected that noble regiment the 1st Hussars, led by the fine old soldier Colonel Arranschild, who entertained any feelings but admiration of such soldiers. He was told that at the beginning of a war it was dishonourable to this country to say that we were unable to carry it on without the assistance of mercenaries. He would answer, that there was no case so good as the case of truth. They had emerged from a state of peace with an army on a 543 very long peace establishment—they now required to have an army in the field—but troops could not be raised in a moment, and he took it that the foreign troops that might be obtained would be much more trained to the use of arms, and be sooner ready for the field, than any young Englishmen that could be brought forward. Look what it was to train a soldier. The British infantry man, the easiest trained soldier in the world, required months and years before he would be a good soldier. When first caught, the raw material was as unlike the article ultimately produced as could possibly be. You had to teach him the use of his weapon—you had to drill him, to accustom him to act as platoons and in companies, next in battalions, and, lastly, in brigades; you had to season him on guard; you had to season him by night and season him by day; and it was only by that long-continued and necessary process, you made him a part of that great and powerful machine, a body of British infantry; and you gave him that combination and steadiness in action so well expressed by General Canrobert by the word solidité. And if you had all that trouble with your infantry men, how much more was necessary to produce a cavalry soldier? He must be taught to take care of and ride his horse, as well as the use of his weapon. And then the artilleryman, above all—he had to be taught everything belonging to an infantry soldier's training, and much of that of a cavalry soldier; he had to be taught gunnery, and the repair and movement of his guns. No doubt our artillery proved to be excellent in this war, but certainly, all our artillery was so far short in point of numbers, that a great accession of strength would be required. The best thing that could be done was to drill a portion of our infantry as artillerymen, for they had to meet not a small Power, but the whole power of Russia and the largest artillery in the world. Every one who knew anything of Eylau and Friedland, and the battle of the Moskowa, must know that the great force of Russia lay in her artillery; and, instead of our having but six weak companies to begin the attack on Sebastopol, we ought to have had six times that number in order to produce the slightest effect. The same with our cavalry. If we had had 3,000 good cavalry, with five troops of light artillery, mortal man would never have seen Sebastopol on the day of Alma to tell the tale of the 544 defeat. It was from the weakness of our force established on a peace basis that we are now emerging. You cannot bring young men into the field; you require time to season and drill them; but it was as auxiliaries, and not by substitution, that you should have those foreign troops. Whether your army consisted of 30,000, 50,000, or 60,000, your 10,000 or 20,000 auxiliary foreign troops would be of immense service against the Russian masses. It had been said that those forces would be excellent troops, but that they would not win for us such battles as Alma or Inkerman; but, on the contrary, it had always been found that there could be no more valuable soldiers than well-drilled auxiliary troops, acting in concert with the best of all troops—for, he was proud to say, we had shown that no nation excelled us in war at the present time in the quality of our infantry and cavalry, and also in our engineers and our artillery—but we wanted numbers, and it was an axiom in war that numbers must at last prevail. It had also been said that the employment of foreign troops was unconstitutional. That was a very vague and general term. All standing armies had been considered unconstitutional. They had become necessary standing evils—they must be kept up; and though, no doubt, there would be less sympathy shown by foreign than by native troops for the liberties of the country; and it would be more unconstitutional to maintain them in this country, the Government, as he understood, did not intend to maintain those troops in England; they only meant to maintain depôts for the purpose of collecting and drilling them for foreign service. If the Government, under any mask, should employ foreign troops to coerce public opinion in the country, they had in the House of Commons power and public spirit enough to know how to deal with a Ministry that should be foolish enough to attempt such a wicked design. There was not the least danger in bringing those troops here to be drilled; the old German Legion, and other foreign troops, were drilled here in the last war. The only instance in which he knew foreign troops to act here was at the siege of Carlisle, in 1745; the town surrendered on the very day on which the Hessians opened their batteries against it; and well it was that that surrender took place; but he would not now speak as to the wisdom of their having been employed on such a service. There was one real objection to 545 foreign troops that he knew of: in the foreign corps in the last war the men were given to desertion, particularly in the Brunswick corps and in the Chasseurs Britanniques. The reason was, that they were recruited from sources from which they ought not to have been recruited—namely, from deserters and prisoners. What he would impress on the Government was, never to recruit their foreign legions either from one of these classes or the other. Deserters, generally speaking, came over under a great semblance of detestation of the war, or something of that kind; but the men who deserted to you to-day would desert from you to-morrow. They were, generally speaking, skulking cowards, afraid to face the dangers of war, who placed themselves in the hands of the enemy in order to escape those perils. Then, again, men in the urgency of a prison would give you the idea that they would fight in your ranks; but they would only enlist in order to desert and to return to their own army—therefore it was worse than useless to enlist them. But he counselled the refusal to receive a deserter into the foreign legion for a still higher reason—one of humanity; it was well known that, if taken by the army from whom he deserted, he would certainly be put ignominiously to death. It had also been said that there was a great difficulty arising from a different scale of punishment for the auxiliary and for the regular troops; that an Englishman might be flogged, but not a foreigner. He had a remedy for that state of things—flog neither. Treat a soldier as a man, and depend upon it he would do his duty as a man. They might depend upon it there were no truer or better men than good soldiers when properly treated. He had now stated the grounds on which he based the course he intended to take. He could not, consistently with his duty, do otherwise than support the Government under the present circumstances, seeing that it had been stated that the forces in question were necessary for the support and maintenance of the war. He acted from a conviction that this was the best measure that could be brought forward for a vigorous and energetic prosecution of the war, and for securing a speedy return of the blessings of peace, which they all most devoutly hoped shortly to obtain. They had to meet a strong Power—strong in men and in territory. The fortress they were now under was not in itself a strong one. Its 546 strength lay in the army which it sheltered within its fortifications; for we were not properly besieging Sebastopol, but fighting a large army protected by its walls. Had it had but an ordinary garrison, the place might have been reduced very easily. With its immense forces and reinforcements of men and material, it might hold out some time; but, depend upon it, it would fall before a French and English army. We should drive the Russians from the Crimea, and relieve Europe from their domination in the Black Sea; we should deprive them of the great arsenal whereby they maintained their conquests in Circassia and Georgia; till that had been done, Turkey was at every moment at the mercy of the Czar. This attack on Sebastopol was a most arduous undertaking, the object was great, and he trusted the result would be glorious to our arms; but we required an increase to our army to enable us to succeed—he hoped this might be obtained by the enlistment of foreigners under this Bill. For the reasons he had stated, he should give his most cordial support to the Government.
§ MR. E. BALL
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, seemed to think that, wherever he went, there was the strongest determination to support the Government in all their measures for the carrying on of the war; but wherever he (Mr. E. Ball) went, he found that all classes, whatever might be their opinions as to the merits of the war, universally condemned the manner in which the Government had carried it on, and especially the Bill then under the consideration of the House. There was a clear distinction between the feeling which we, as Englishmen, entertained as to the necessity of carrying on the war now that it had been commenced, and as to the plan of the Government for carrying it on by means of mercenaries who were willing to murder for hire any party against whom you might employ them. He regretted that, disastrous as the war had already been, the Government had thought fit to add to the evils already existing, by introducing this new element as to the mode of carrying it on, and by proposing that we should have resort for succour to those who had no sympathy, feeling, or interest with us in the war. All war was dreadful, but none so much so as that which was waged by mercenaries perfectly regardless to which side they sold their swords. It 547 was impossible for any hon. Member to speak on this subject without feeling great embarrassment. One could not express his feelings of abhorrence of all war, without, at the same time, saying something that might be calculated to diminish that sympathy which the country was entitled to in carrying on the war with all possible vigour, now that it had been commenced—for it was one thing to justify a war, and another to push it vigorously when we are once in it. There was no man in the country who regretted more than himself that the war had been commenced, but at the same time there was no man in the country who was prepared—now that we had entered upon it—to make greater sacrifices than himself in carrying it on with unflinching courage, with indomitable perseverance, and without any regard to cost, danger, or difficulty. He was only sorry to hear the noble Lord say, at the commencement of his speech, that although we were prepared to resort to the services of foreign mercenaries, yet there had been no applications for assistance to the Emperor of France—and that, if such application had been made, he (Lord John Russell) was quite sure it would not have been successful. He (Mr. E. Ball) was very glad that so noble and gallant a people as the French were not to be hired, and that when they fight, they fight from principle; but if any foreign troops were to be employed, he should have been more glad to have had French assistance than any other, because they would have been fighting in a cause in which they had a sympathy with us, and because they were a gallant people who were worthy to fight side by side with the men of England. Such troops would have felt that they were engaged in a contest in which their own nation and that of England had a common interest, and it was one happy consequence of this war, that it had secured the kindly feelings of the two greatest nations on the earth. He thought it was very lamentable that, at the very outset of this war, we should be obliged to avail ourselves of mercenary troops. The proposition which had been made by the noble Lord for the hire of such services must be very encouraging to the Czar, who would treat it as an acknowledgment, on the part of this country, that, at the very outbreak of this war, she was so poor in soldiers, and so destitute of the elements of warfare, that the 50,000 soldiers whom she had sent out to the Crimea had exhausted 548 her military strength, and that she was obliged to obtain the subsidiary assistance of foreigners to enable her to carry on the war. But he (Mr. E. Ball) was afraid that Austria would not receive intelligence of this proposition of the Government with the gratification that would be felt by the Czar on this subject. Austria might imagine that there was some intention on the part of the British Government to employ certain Hungarians, of revolutionary principles, who might be ready for any acts of murder, and she might therefore feel great jealousy as to our inviting those persons to enlist under our standards. But he was the more surprised that such a proposal as that under the consideration of the House should be made, because the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department had said the other night, in answer to a question, that the Government had the nation to resort to as a reserve for the army. If that were so, why had the noble Lord the President of the Council that night asked the House to consent to the Government resorting to foreign mercenaries for a reserve? The Government need not fear that the nation would not always be willing to support them in the carrying on of the present war, for it was a popular war—the nation, in fact, had urged the Government to commence it. He had even heard ministers of religion urge war. He had heard the war advocated at that place where our most sacred meetings were held—Exeter Hall. He had heard men do their utmost to sanctify the war, if that were possible, and urge its prosecution with the utmost vigour. He was afraid that from Government as now constituted the country must not expect much vigour in the conduct of the war. He believed there were many clever Gentlemen in the Cabinet, who, in their individual capacities, were fitted for almost any pursuit, who had destroyed their usefulness by their amalgamation with other elements. In the same way as he believed there were substances containing properties valuable in themselves, which became neutralised as soon as brought into contact with others; so the diverse and varied opinions of the Gentlemen opposite had so tended to diminish their mutual influence, that, collectively, they were one of the weakest Administrations that had ever sat on the Ministerial benches.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had concluded 549 his speech to the House with a very important announcement, to the effect that if the Bill were defeated, the Government would feel it necessary to resign their offices. He felt, after that announcement, they approached the question under considerable difficulty; and he did take upon himself to protest against the system of overawing the deliberations of the representatives of the people of this country, by telling them that if they did not, after a few hours' notice, make up their minds to support a measure of this character, the Government would feel at liberty to retire from office. He could not understand why resignation was to be the consequence of the defeat of this Bill. Had they not seen, during the last Session of Parliament, important measures of domestic policy, involving the principles of a great party, proposed by the Government, and yet defeated; but at the same time the Government considering that they could honourably continue to administer public affairs? He said then, that it was not fair, upon a measure of this character, which was, after all, but a minor part of the proposals that had been made for the carrying on of this war, that the rejection by the House of this legislative proposal was to necessitate the resignation of the Government. He, in voting, whichever way he might think proper to vote on the measure, should vote in reference to its merits and his own conscientious convictions. He felt there was a great principle at stake in the Bill—a principle that he valued more even than the stability of a Government. What was the measure they had before them? They were invited to pass a measure to enable Her Majesty to enlist foreigners into the British army to fight the battles of the country, and to become the enemies of Russia. Now, he wanted to know whether it was consistent with a sound view of public law that Parliament should make provisions for the Government of this country to communicate with the individual subjects of foreign States? Are not Governments to communicate with Governments? He would appeal to any hon, Member in the House, whether in the law of nations it was a sound principle to separate peoples from their Sovereigns, and to give power to the Crown to negotiate with individual subjects of Powers without saying one word as to the recognition of their Governments? Had we not a law upon our statute-book that made it a 550 misdemeanor for any one to come here, and, without the consent of the Queen, to enlist troops to serve in foreign countries and in a foreign war? He said it was not consistent with sound principles that private subjects of a State should make war against a country when their own Government was at peace with that country; and it appeared to him that they could not give their sanction to such a doctrine. The House could not recognise such a principle. Not a word had been said about any treaties having been entered into with any foreign Government; not a syllable had been said about any alliance or understanding—but her Majesty was merely to be empowered by this Bill to throw her recruiting officers into any foreign country or any neutral State, to enlist forces to carry on the war with Russia. Now this was either to be done with the consent of those neutral Governments or against their consent or without their knowledge. If it was to be done with the consent of those foreign Governments, then he maintained that those Governments would forfeit their neutrality, and there would be no necessity for the Bill; for these Governments would be belligerents against Russia, and they were bound to declare war openly, and in the face of Europe. They would then be bound to enter into an alliance with this country, and to send their forces as their contingent in support of the common war. Such a course of proceeding would be straightforward, and would, moreover, be consistent with the public law of Europe. If, on the other hand, it was to be done without the consent of those Governments, or against their wishes, then he maintained that the British Parliament ought not to sanction any such course of public policy. The Government of Switzerland, and other Governments throughout Europe, had already passed laws—municipal laws—to prevent the enlistment of their subjects as mercenaries. The noble Lord the President of the Council might quote the precedents of past times in favour of it, go back to the Middle Ages, and tell the House of precedents of Indians with their scalping knives and tomakawks; but as civilisation advanced, nations and Governments were endeavouring to improve the customs under which war was carried on; and he (Mr. M. Gibson) maintained that the whole course of public treaties and municipal law in particular States had been to utterly condemn 551 the system of carrying on war by hireling mercenaries, who would serve any side, and could not be said to have any interests or sympathy in the war beyond the payment which they received. If it was pointed out that some Power, or some foreign nation, was willing to allow its subjects to be enlisted by this country for the purpose of making war with Russia, and yet maintain its neutrality—which was a principle contended for by some—then he asserted that it was a dangerous principle to lay down. If this were the principle of the Bill, what could we say—if Russia were to hire privateers from the United States? Should they not be told that any country might "let out" its men and forces without breaking its neutrality, and that we had ourselves laid down that principle by a deliberate Act of the British Parliament? He had heard it said that a country may lend its troops to carry on war with another country without forfeiting its neutrality, provided there was some existing treaty antecedent to hostilities, and which had not been made with reference to the particular war then pending. If this was the case, where was the country with which this nation had such a treaty that it was entitled to go into that country and raise troops for the war with Russia? That country ought to be named, for it could be no secret. It ought not to be difficult to be found, for we had only to search our collection of treaties with a little diligence to discover it. He said that either Government had no treaty with any such country which entitled them to enlist its subjects to carry on the war with Russia, or if there were no such country with which treaties of this kind were in existence, they were about, by this Bill, to embark on a course of policy most dangerous to the future interests of England—to multiply wars beyond all precedent, and to involve persons who desired to be neutral, in spite of themselves, in existing hostilities. They might involve some small neutral State in a war with Russia, and if we did that we should incur obligations to send troops to defend that small country, and have other duties besides those of defending the Ottoman Empire; or they would have to leave that country to take care of itself, which had brought on it the indignation of the Czar by lending its troops to carry on the war. A case of necessity, no doubt, was endeavoured to be made out by the noble Lord who moved the second reading of the Bill. He told 552 the House that this country was engaged in a war with a great military Power, and that it had with it a just cause and the sympathy of the world, but that it wanted numbers. This country, the noble Lord said, was not a great military Power, which had, as it were, inexhaustible armies, and must avail itself of every mode to carry on the war. The noble Lord appeared to forget that they had a great military Ally. The noble Lord forgot to mention the Ottoman Power, with its immense forces. He (Mr. Milner Gibson) could not believe that two great countries like England and France, with the forces of Turkey, were reduced to such a state that they were dependent upon the importation of a diminutive supply of German mercenaries. The case spoke for itself; it was so mysterious that it could not be explained, and he must leave it to the imagination of hon. Members to supply the real explanation. No Member of Government had given a sufficient explanation to the House to justify him (Mr. M. Gibson) in giving his support to the Bill. He believed that the measure was unsound in principle, and calculated to be injurious to the permanent interests of the country. He had asked himself if he should be justified in abstaining from voting, and he was inclined from a desire to do nothing which might be embarrassing to Government, in the present state of affairs, not to vote; but he had come to the deliberate conclusion that it was his duty to record his vote against this Bill, and to use every Parliamentary means in his power to prevent its passing into law.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he was anxious to explain the reasons which influenced him in giving his vote against the second reading of the Bill, which he looked upon as an extremely pusillanimous expedient at the very commencement of hostilities; but if it were true that the Bill was necessary, what a picture did it give of the condition to which the country was reduced by the way in which the war had been administered. He could conceive no severer censure on the conduct of the war than to say that a war in which every heart and every hand in the country was engaged—a war supported with the utmost enthusiasm—to say that, in spite of that enthusiasm, in spite of a just cause, in spite of the support of the armies of a great nation, in spite of the boundless confidence of the House of Commons, the country was so reduced 553 that 10,000 Germans could alone stand between us and destruction. Where were they to come from? If it had been proposed to enrol a Hungarian legion instead of making that miserable treaty with Austria, about which he took the same view with the noble Lord the President of the Council, that it was not worth the paper on which it was written, he could have understood it. If we had taken a bold and manly line, and had intended to enlist a Polish Legion, he should not have opposed it; for we might have said to them, as Marshal Schomberg said to the French Huguenots at the battle of the Boyne, when opposed to the soldiers of Louis XIV., "Gentlemen, there are your persecutors before you." But when they were told—when we proposed to enlist German soldiers—that the interests of the German States were identical with our own, they must know that that was a mere pretext of debate. The only thing which could induce them to join us was the hope of the pay which they were to receive from this country; and, instead of hiring those mercenaries to shed their blood, would it not have been better to have availed ourselves of the willing services of the injured and oppressed nations which would have joined heart and hand in the cause? The Dutch Guards of William the Third had been disbanded by a vote of that House, although those troops had fought side by side with us in the great war which was terminated for a short time by the peace of Ryswick. The hon. Member might say the gallant Member for Hull had attempted to throw some ridicule upon the objections which had been taken to the present measure upon constitutional grounds. Now, he did not say that in a case of urgent necessity such a measure might not be desirable; but he agreed with the opinion of Mr. Grey, referred to by the hon. Baronet opposite, that it was only desirable in cases of extreme necessity; and unless such necessity could be shown to exist, no constitutional statesman would, in his opinion, be justified in bringing forward a measure to bring foreigners into this country to be drilled and trained, who did not possess one sympathy towards, or one feeling in common with the people among whom they would be placed. It was no doubt true that 10,000 foreigners could not overthrow the constitution of the country; but was the precedent which would be established to be entirely disregarded? What abuse had 554 ever exhibited itself at first in all its deformity? All precedents, which had ended dangerously, had, when established, appeared to be of slight importance; and, although this measure might be at present only a scratch on the political system of the country, that scratch might end in fester. It would not be safe to abandon constitutional principles, and allow a Bill like the present to pass into a law as a matter of course, and until the necessity was made out he did not think the House of Commons would abandon that constitutional jealousy which always characterised it. There was another point which he thought was worthy of the consideration of the House. No reason had been assigned why German recruits should be better drilled than English recruits. Why should not this country be as capable as Germany of producing well-trained soldiers? The population was abundant, and there had been no hesitation in coming forward; and, to recruit foreigners when there was no real necessity, would be to return to an old system, which had, he believed, brought discredit on the country—the system under which Hessians were sent to support the cause of this country in America. It was vain to imagine that German Princes would allow their subjects to enlist without its being made a source of profit to themselves; and, if that were the case, they would be selling the lives of the subjects that they were bound to protect, and this country would be taking part in an action so scandalous. It was impossible to describe the deep scorn and loathing which this system had excited in Germany—every one acquainted with German literature knew the eloquent passages in which great writers had held it up to the contempt and abhorrence of mankind. In the very last volume of Marten's History of France, a most excellent and instructive work, a letter is cited from a German Prince to the commander of his mercenaries, begging him not, from a false humanity, to prolong the lives of those who were wounded, and to recollect that every death was so much clear gain to his Sovereign. If this was the system which we were about to revive, a system which made the army what Johnson had described London—The needy villain's common home"—for what could be baser than the trade of a mercenary soldier, without one feeling 555 that could embellish his calling, or "make ambition virtue?" There was no real difficulty in obtaining recruits in this country, and as many could be obtained as were required if the service were made more eligible. The English soldier shared the sentiment expressed by a great Grecian warrior of old, who said, "Let me fight in the light;" and, if the cold shade which prevented him from aspiring to the highest honours of his profession were removed, the ranks would soon be filled without the mercenary zeal of Germans, and the ancient vital principle which had been efficacious in every other Government, and had made England what it was, should be applied to the army. He had spoken with regret, as he was aware that what he had said might seem intended to harass those whose good opinion he did not affect to undervalue; but he had spoken in the sincerity of his heart against a measure which its advocates admitted to be an evil, and which he considered degradation.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. Milner Gibson) in the speech we have this evening heard, has complained that Her Majesty's Government, in the speech of the noble Lord the President of the Council, acting as the mouthpiece of the Government, have assumed a tone which is not justifiable, inasmuch as he had, by a threat of resignation, endeavoured to influence the decision of Members of this House in a manner contrary to their own opinions and convictions. Sir, I am one of those who hold at its highest value the right of individual Members of this House to hold their own opinions. I consider that every Member of this House has a perfect right to act in each case on his own opinion of its merits, in whatever way he may choose, without any regard to ulterior consequences; and I have that confidence in the merits of the measure which we are now bringing forward, that I ask, nay challenge, every Member of this House to give his decision upon it in accordance with his convictions as to the necessity of the case. But, Sir, it is equally true that in this assembly, consisting of men free to take what course they may think fit, there should be no exception to this rule, and, least of all, such an exception as that Her Majesty's Government should be compelled to forego a measure which they consider of vital importance to the public interest, that they 556 should be compelled to abandon that which they feel to be essential towards carrying on the conflict in which we are engaged, or be compelled to do that which they think to be fatal to the public interest, because other Members of this House entertain different opinions and different convictions as to what course it is best to adopt for the public good. Let me attempt to discuss this measure in perfect fairness. I do not wish to tell any Gentleman who differs from the views taken by the Government, that his motives are factious, or that he is acting out of hostility to the Government, or even that his objections are founded upon prejudice or misinterpretation of the measure. I believe that this House—as I believe this country—is willing to its utmost to give effect to proper measures for carrying on the war. I will believe this, and I will make every allowance for all differences of opinion; but I ask you to listen to the arguments which I shall endeavour to lay before you in support of this Bill, and which to my mind appear conclusive—first, as to the danger which it is supposed will threaten the constitution; and secondly, as to the danger which it is supposed will threaten the British army from the intermixture of foreign troops. First, then, I would point out the non-existence of those dangers which are supposed to threaten the constitution of the country, of those dangers which are supposed to threaten the British army by the admittance of any foreign troops into their ranks, and of those dangers which are supposed to threaten our social system if we appeal to foreign aid in the prosecution of a war, which is not simply an English war, but which is pre-eminently a European war. The hon. Baronet who has moved the Amendment made great use of some arguments with respect to the precedents which exist for the enlistment of such troops. I will not delay the House by going at any length into that subject; but the hon. Baronet, in referring to the precedents adduced by the noble Lord the President of the Council, said that the persons in those cases were subjects of countries with whom we were connected by treaties of alliance, and to pay the subjects of those countries with whom we were in alliance was a different thing; and he also said that the quarrel, then, was one affecting German interests, and therefore there was some reason for employing German troops. Now, as far as that question is concerned, I want to 557 know if ever there was a case in which an European quarrel was entered into which could be more a German cause than the cause in which we are now engaged? Take the English interests and the French interests—[Mr. BRIGHT: Hear, hear!] I know what the hon. Member for Manchester means by that cheer; he means to say, why are you going to meddle in a quarrel in which you are not concerned? [Mr. BRIGHT: Let them fight their battles with their own soldiers.] But has England no interest in this quarrel, she being one of the principal members of the European family? Do you mean to lay down the principle that if the law of nations be broken through, that if some crying injustice be committed by a strong State towards a weaker one, nations like England and France, professing to be at the head of civilisation, and who profess to be in some degree the arbitrators of the conduct of other Powers, should abrogate their high functions, should see injustice committed, and should stand idly by while that act of injustice is committed, and allow that Power to make such inroads over Europe, that at last, when their turn comes, and they are themselves subjected to aggression, they will be utterly unable to resist it? I tell you that throughout Germany you have sympathy with you in the war; and is this sympathy of Germany to pass away and bear no fruit whatever? The right hon. Gentleman says, we have no instance of raising an army in countries not in strict alliance with us. "We went to Hanover, for Hanover was then like Hampshire. You went to Prussia, because Prussia was in alliance with you." These, however, are not all the precedents. In the year 1813 an Act of Parliament was passed which appears to me not to be so chary of alliances. You, who think that no precedent exists for asking for power to enlist foreigners who are not subjects of a State with which we were in alliance, what do you say to an Act which was passed in 1813 to enable His Majesty to augment the 60th Regiment to ten battalions by the enlistment of foreigners? Under that Act the 8th, 9th, and 10th battalions were added to the 60th Regiment, and they were commanded by foreign officers, to whom letters of service were issued, telling them to try to obtain recruits in Hanover, in Prussia, or in Russia, but, if they could not obtain a sufficient number, to obtain them wherever they could. If, therefore, you want a precedent, you have a precedent. 558 For my own part, I think that in civil affairs precedents are of value; but I confess that I think that, in time of war, in the consideration of a question affecting the public good, we ought not to stand on mere questions of precedent, but we should do what is far better—exercise our own common sense, and if we see the means of getting assistance—if we see the means of obtaining ready—trained troops—in God's name let us do it, and not talk about precedents. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Watson) has asked what advantage is there in taking foreign instead of English recruits, and I will tell him the advantage. The English recruit makes the best soldier in the world; such is my thorough conviction, and late experience has shown how much more readily a recruit can be converted into a soldier than was formely supposed. It was formerly supposed that it took about six months to drill and train au English recruit, but recent experience has shown that it may be done in three months. [Loud cheers from the Opposition.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer, but I repeat the statement—that you can make an English recruit in three months; but the real question is, can you convert a boy into a man in three months? I would refer those persons who have studied this subject, and every one ought to do so before expressing an opinion, to a letter written by tho greatest military commander that, in my opinion, the world has ever seen; I mean Napoleon. In that letter, written by that great master of organisation, writing for reinforcements, he said, "Pick me out from the soldiers the older men; do not send me boys, who consume my rations, impede my marches, and in-cumber my hospitals." I think that we have had experience of this. I think that I shall be fairly stating the facts of the case, if I admit that we have committed an error in the reinforcements we have sent out. The House will see that in operations of this description errors will always be committed; after a long peace, our armies suddenly require to be rapidly recruited. The great difficulty to be overcome is the general age of those who enlist. The great mass of them are, comparatively speaking, boys. The lowest age for entering the service is fixed at eighteen, and not only do not the great majority exceed that age, but many even assert themselves to be eighteen years of age, when, in fact, they are considerably younger. It is no doubt true that in the higher and middle classes, young men 559 of the age of eighteen, who have been well fed and well cared for, are more advanced in strength than raw lads taken from the plough who have been poorly fed, and perhaps not eaten meat above once or twice a week; but it is from the latter class that recruits are taken; and how can they be expected to stand the fatigues of a campaign? Recruits have, no doubt, on the defensive, behaved in the most creditable manner, and, well fed and well lodged, so long as he is kept in the same position, the recruit will be as good a soldier as any one else. But when you send out lads of this age whose constitutions are not fixed and settled, you find that, under the constant exposure to the weather, your reinforcements, man by man, melt away, your rations are consumed, your marches impeded, and your hospitals incumbered. Then you recognise the truth which the Emperor Napoleon uttered, who well knew what he was talking about? I have stated without reserve the difficulty under which we labour. It is asked, what is the magic by which the German is excepted from these conditions? I think I can easily explain that matter. In Germany all the peasantry are subject to military conscription or military service in seine shape or other. Military service expires, generally speaking—I am not alluding to any State in particular—but in most German States military service expires when the peasant has approached the age of twenty-six or twenty-seven. The German Governments will not give the peasant permission to emigrate until he has completed the period of his military service, and he, therefore, cannot leave the country until he is twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age. Every year there pass through England German emigrants to the United States, to Canada, and to Australia, to the number of 30,000 souls, who proceed generally to Liverpool for embarkation. Throughout Germany, there is at times great social distress; provisions are high; and there exists in those countries, as we know there exists in Ireland, an intense desire to emigrate to another hemisphere. The amount of emigration to the English colonies is very great; and it would be greater but for this reason—that as the emigrants are for the most part persons of little property and with small funds at their disposal, they are obliged to take that voyage which costs the least. The great mass of the emigrants, therefore, goes to Canada and the United States, the latter, being the 560 larger of the two, naturally absorbing the larger portion; but if these persons had the means, I have no doubt, judging from the course taken by those Germans who possess the necessary funds, that a large proportion of them would give the preference to Australia instead of to the United States. Then, again, recollect that the German Government gives to these peasants a passport, a permission to emigrate, so soon as they have completed their term of military service. That permission is, in addition, an act of denaturalisation. In this country we have no process of denaturalisation, and the English citizen does not become denaturalised by foreign residence—he cannot get rid of his nationality. That, however, is not the case in Germany. A German can, and does get rid of his nationality. Well, but it has been said that the Government does not know where they will get these German soldiers, or how many they can get; and never was anything more truly said. ["Hear hear!"] Well, I am glad we are agreed upon that matter. At last we have come to a point upon which we are agreed. I think the Government must be endowed with wonderful powers of prophecy if they can tell how a measure will work with regard to which they have to procure the sanction of Parliament before they could even broach the subject in any quarter, and which they were not justified in putting in any shape before the persons who might by possibility accept their offer. It is obvious, therefore, that the Government cannot pretend to say how many men they can raise, or where they are to come from. We may have reasons for thinking what may possibly be the result, from statements made to us by those accustomed to deal with the German peasantry and who know their wishes; but we cannot pretend now to say in what numbers or whence they will present themselves. I say this frankly, because it would be absurd for the Government to declare that they could raise 20,000 or 30,000, or any other number. The number, indeed, is left very much to the option of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Baronet, in his speech to-night, took the case both ways. First he spoke of our raising in this way some 8,000 or 10,000 men—a force so insignificant as not to be worth the trouble of going out of our way to procure; but afterwards, when it was his object to conjure up the most fatal results from this measure, the number was magnified to 30,000 or 40,000, and 561 the hon. Baronet said that the worst of the measure was that there was no limit to the numbers. Well, there is no limit in one sense, but there is a Parliamentary limit to it. I apprehend that year by year the Estimates must be submitted to Parliament, and that these Estimates must contain a maximum number which the Government will have no power to exceed. Therefore, there is a Parliamentary limit, which is in your own hands; but there is no other limit, except the willingness of the people to come forward and accept our offer, upon which depends the whole success of the measure. What we say, therefore, is, "Give us the means to try this plan, which we believe to be of the utmost value for the efficiency of our military forces." I repeat frankly what I said the other day, and my words have been quite correctly quoted upon the point. We do get recruits faster than we can make them into soldiers. I hope we shall continue to do so. But this I know, that if we had the means at our hands to enable us to spare these men until they are fitted for service, we should then make of them soldiers who, not only if they had the good fortune to meet the enemy within the first few days of their being sent out, would fight and conquer as at Alma and at Inkerman, but we should make of them men who would stand the fatigues of the campaign; who would be able, besides fighting the first battle, to undergo all the fatigues and privations which intervene before they can meet the enemy in a second encounter. Recollect, that even when you have made a man able to conquer in battle, you have not made him a soldier. Battles are, after all, of rare occurrence. What you have to do is to overcome the difficulties which you meet with in order to enable you to fight battles. Well, then, I say, that if any Government, knowing the nature of the British troops, knowing their extreme youth, knowing the probability—nay the certainty—to which they are exposed of being before long laid up by fever and dysentery in consequence of their inability to stand the fatigues and changes of climate to which they are exposed—if any Government, knowing these difficulties, yielded to what may be general prejudice, and, endeavouring to catch a vote of the House of Commons, should neglect the means of providing another and an auxiliary force, whose services would give these men of ours time to recruit and strengthen themselves, and in the meantime have the services 562 of this seasoned and acclimatised force—I say, any Government who, knowing those things, neglected to secure such a force, must be considered as deeply culpable. Well, now, I ask, will it degrade the British army to send out to them these foreigners to combine with them in any operations which our service requires? I can imagine the feeling that might be entertained towards a man who places his sword at the service of any country who will bid the highest for him, and who is equally willing to fight for England or for Russia. But I wish the hon. and learned Gentleman would make himself the recruiting agent of the Emperor of Russia for a few days and would carry about to Germany offers of service in the army of the Czar. Do you think that the men of Germany would flock to such a standard? Do you think their feelings are swayed entirely by pecuniary motives? No, they would not come to those who pay the most. They have sympathies as well as other people; and if you talk about the ardour of our own countrymen in this war—and justly talk about it—are you going to deny to the inhabitants of all other countries a share in those honest feelings of indignation against the encroachments of Russia? Are you going to assert for Englishmen a monopoly of public virtue? Would our army be degraded, then, by the companionship of such men, having their sympathies in favour of liberty as well as ourselves? Did the British army feel degraded in former times by the companionship of such men in arms? We have heard much of that German Legion, which shared the glorious deeds of our army in the last war. You say that their companionship was not degrading to our soldiers, because you say that the State from which you took them was in alliance with England. Do you suppose that the privates in our ranks took much pains to enter into an examination of the question, whether such an alliance existed? Do you suppose that Sir Colin Halkett, now in honourable retirement at Chelsea, felt degraded when he was identified with these men, who, under the greatest difficulties and in the face of the greatest dangers, rendered such service to the cause of this country and were of such assistance to our arms? I need not allude to the services of the German Legion in the last war, but will just remind the House that it was not composed entirely of Hanoverians. But it is said, that since 1804 there has been a great 563 advance in knowledge and in civilisation, and that the precedent afforded at that period cannot be accepted now. Well, I confess that I think it is a great humiliation, that after all our boasted progress since then, the identical arguments brought forward then are now reproduced, and not one single step in advance has been made. Look at all the alarm which found expression then and now as to danger to the constitution. There was another cry raised at that time—a cry that the Church was in danger from this measure. We certainly do not hear that cry now; but then the hon. Baronet (Sir E. B. Lytton) always comes back to this argument, that we were then in alliance with those German States from whom we derived our men. Well, what can be said of the Sicilian Regiment, of the Corsican Rangers, of the Greek Light Infantry, which we had then in our service? Why ours was the most motley army that ever was seen, composed of the subjects of almost every nation; and our fleets were the same. Was there any degradation to our soldiers then in fighting by the side of these troops, and will there be any now? But it has been said, "Why supersede the British soldiers by the employment of foreigners?" Well, if you show me where there is to be found an army of British soldiers consisting of seasoned men whom you may safely send to foreign countries to encounter there the dangers and privations which inevitably await them, that will be something in aid of your argument. But you do not attempt to show anything of the kind. You content yourselves with employing epigrammatical sentences about the inexpediency of superseding British soldiers; you assume—I wish you could assume with truth—that British soldiers of confirmed stamina and established constitution are at once forthcoming, and that the German forces whom we wish to employ are without these qualifications. I hope, however, I have satisfactorily shown you that in this respect you are in error. With regard to the English recruit, I have endeavoured to show you that the difficulty is not to convert him into a soldier, but into a man, while the German soldier is not a boy, but both a soldier and a man ready to your hand. There is no doubt that, enlisting at the rate we do, you may in two or three years raise a very large army. I say you may get up this army in the course of some four or five years; but if you do so, you must stand 564 upon the defensive for four or five years; but we want to operate immediately. Are you prepared to wait for three or four years until these boys become men? No. Well, then, we want you to do now that which you will put off until too late, if you do not adopt some such measure as this. That is what we ask you to do by this Bill. I do not pretend to state how many men will gather round your standard if you adopt this measure; but this I say, that you will be highly culpable if you neglect the opportunity of getting every man you can. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Milner Gibson) says you have no cause to do this, because you have for an ally one of the most powerful military nations in Europe, and that therefore you need not make any great effort to secure men to be produced at the shortest notice, and may leave our battles to be fought by France. Well, France is a very powerful military nation. It is not the most powerful military nation in Europe in point of numbers, because that State with which we are at war is, as far as numbers can make it, the most powerful in Christendom. But still I take France to be the most powerful military nation in Europe, taking into consideration not numbers only, but likewise the quality, the skill, the genius, the military aptitude of a people who seem to become soldiers almost by intuition. The French can muster a nominal force of 400,000 bayonets. Do they think foreign legions are quite unnecessary things? Do they think they are making an acknowledgment of weakness if they say that a foreign legion would be of great advantage to them? Why, from the earliest times they have been in the habit of employing foreign troops—and in the days of Turenne and Condé, the French had an Irish, a Scotch, a Swiss corps, and at this day they have in their service a legion composed entirely of foreigners. This great nation, therefore, whose strength, according to the right hon. Gentleman, is so great that it dispenses us from the necessity of all effort—this nation herself maintains in her pay a foreign legion as an auxiliary to her own French troops. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the march of civilisation, and said, that we are going back to 1804, to the Middle Ages, and are reverting from that state of civilisation which has distinguished the present century. Now, I confess that my views of the march of civilisation, and of the progress which has been made in the present 565 century, are not compatible with the system proposed, of neglecting these or any means of effectually carrying out the war against that Power which, by its proceedings, attempts to impede the march of civilisation. But I ask hon. Gentlemen who have difficulties about this subject which their forefathers never had—who seem to think that we are superseding English troops—who have this firm conviction that you can raise any number of recruits in a moment in this country, and can make them men in a moment—I ask these hon. Gentlemen, assenting for a minute to these propositions as laid down by them, to answer this question—What is the number of English troops, be they 150,000, be they 170,000 (which was the number we took last year), be they 200,000 or more, which would not be the stronger and the better for the addition of 30,000, 20,000, or even 10,000 foreign troops? Success in war, after all, is, to a great degree, after skill and material is considered, a question of numbers. It has been irreverently said that Providence is always on the side of the strongest battalions. If, therefore, you wish for success in this war, you must not neglect any means at your disposal for swelling your battalions, and bringing them against the foe. I do not care what the operation was, but never since the world begun did a general ever say his troops were too many. It is said that the Turks are at our disposal. I know they are, and the Turks are troops who fight extremely well under certain circumstances. The Turks fought very gallantly at Silistria. And here I wish those hon. Gentlemen who think that the use of mere mercenaries is so discreditable, and that we ought not to employ men who go with us from perfect sympathy with our cause and a thorough conviction that it is just—I wish those hon. Gentlemen would consider how many Germans—German mercenaries—have aided the Turks in their struggle. Who was it that organised the Turkish artillery at Silistria? A Prussian officer named Gratz. Who superintended the organisation of the whole Turkish artillery force? Again, a Prussian officer. What has become of them? Have the neutral Governments of Germany recalled these and other officers in the employ of the Turks? Not at all. They remain in Turkish pay with the full permission of their Governments. Who is Omar Pacha himself? Omar Pacha is, I believe, a man 566 of Austrian extraction, but is certainly not a Turk. Those are a few instances. I could mention similar ones in the Russian army. Thus General Schilders, an engineer officer of great distinction, who was killed before Silistria, was by birth a German, and his brother, a small artificer, is, I believe, still living in his native place in Germany. The Russian army is full of officers of this description. These instances I mention to show that you are not introducing for the first time, or newly reviving now, a system which existed in 1804 and the Middle Ages, but that the system is one which exists at this very moment, and has been already adopted by other nations in the very war in which you are now engaged. But I was remarking upon the behaviour of the Turks in action. They certainly behaved admirably at Silistria, and it is said the Turkish army always fights well behind stone walls. What is the meaning of that phrase? It seems to be only a milder and more courteous way of saying that they will not fight except behind stone walls. If, therefore. you want to strengthen your army by auxiliaries, it is evident you must take care that you strengthen it with men upon whose firmness and gallantry you can, under all circumstances, depend. Now, I have a thorough confidence in the firmness and gallantry of German troops, and I must say I regretted to hear them spoken of by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir E. B. Lytton) as the scum of Europe, or some expression of that kind. Now, these are not terms which ought to be used in this House with regard to a nation who are manifesting the strongest sympathy with us, and to whose assistance we must ultimately look. Depend upon it, that, whether with or without the assistance of their Governments, this great European quarrel cannot be ended without the intervention of the German people. I say, then, we must be careful, in discussing the merits of a measure upon which unhappily, much of prejudice seems to have been excited, how we use language and express opinions which may serve to prevent other nations from coming to our assistance. This is an European quarrel, and those who talk about this not being a German question must forget that the Danube is a German river—must forget that. Germany is in such close proximity to Russia that her liberties must be endangered by any encroachment of that Power. We may have taken the most 567 generous course—we may have been first in the field, but, depend upon it, their cause is one which must ultimately force them into the field too; and it is not for us, by any language used within this House, to disparage them. I have now endeavoured to show the House why we want this Bill; I have endeavoured to show that, although we can get men, we cannot produce a sufficient number in an effective state for some time to come; I have endeavoured to show, that the assistance of these ready-made soldiers would be invaluable—invaluable to us even when we have got men of our own. Let the House vote on this question upon its merits. I am not afraid of its decision. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Milner Gibson) that each Member of Parliament has a right to vote upon the measure according to his own impression of its merits. All I claim for the Government is this—that if you intrust us with the duties of carrying on this war, you will not censure us if we use our best efforts to do so effectually—that you will not say to us, "Even if we refuse our assent to the measure you propose, we chain you to the oar; we do not care what your opinion may be as to what is required; we are the best and the only judges of that; and it is for you to follow our behests with obedience." That is an arrangement to which no Government can consent. It is a position which, if any Government accepted it, would rightly entail the forfeiture of public confidence in that Government. We think this Bill is necessary. If passed, it may fail in its object; but, if it does fail, we cannot reproach ourselves, and you cannot reproach us, with having neglected means which might have been applied to attain the object in view. On the other hand, if it succeeds, this measure will be of incalculable assistance to us; and, believing that, we urge it upon the acceptance of the House as a measure which is necessary to the public interest.
Sir, I am generally unwilling to address the House, and to-night I should be glad to leave the question under our consideration in the hands of the hon. Baronet near me, whose speech was at once worthy of his literary eminence, and of the cause which he undertook to advocate. I came up to attend this meeting of Parliament, as I believe almost every Gentleman upon this side of the House did, with the sincere hope that 568 we should separate for the Christmas holidays without once having to walk into the division-lobby, without the occurrence of any circumstance which could tend to disturb the unanimity which at the present moment it is so desirable should prevail. No man who has the interest of the country at heart, or who possesses one particle of public spirit, can desire, at a period of great public emergency such as this, to throw any impediment in the way of the Government. Such a course would be the reverse of patriotic, and, looking at it in a lower point of view, would even be the reverse of prudent. It is obvious that, whoever, in such a crisis, finds fault with any measure of a military character, whether offensive or defensive, which Her Majesty's Ministers may propose, does not merely expose himself to the customary and inevitable attacks of those who are the supporters of Government, but, what is of infinitely more importance, runs no slight risk of being misapprehended and misunderstood by the public at large. There is, therefore, good reason why we should enter into this discussion with every feeling of reluctance and of regret. For myself, at all events, I may say that there is scarcely any measure connected with the conduct of the war, except that under our notice, which I should not have been most willing to allow to pass in silence. Measures might have been brought forward by Her Majesty's Government which I and those with whom I act might not have thought judicious—which we might not have thought the best calculated to secure the objects for which they had been framed; but under ordinary circumstances we should have been willing to content ourselves with protesting against such measures, with fixing the responsibility of their adoption on the Government, and under such protest we might have suffered them to pass without any further opposition. But in this instance it is the act of the Government which precludes that Parliamentary unanimity which we desire. It would seem as if, after all their professions of the necessity of union in the great struggle in which we are now engaged, they wished to secure, not so much an administrative success as a party triumph over their political opponents, by compelling us to what they hope may prove an unsuccessful contest. There is only one hypothesis on which I can explain the policy which Her Majesty's Ministers here have thought proper to pursue. 569 They have been taunted with weakness, and they are resolved to show that they have such a superabundance of strength as to be able to afford to provoke the universal opposition and hostility of the whole kingdom. They have been accused of implicitly following the dictation of the press, and they refute the charge by bringing forward a measure which, among the multitude of military projects discussed in the course of this year, has never, I believe, been suggested in any quarter—a measure of which, we must all confess, that the originality is beyond dispute. But what are the circumstances under which this Bill is brought before us? It is certainly somewhat singular that, summoned as we were to consider measures connected with the war, and summoned as we were for that purpose only, we did not receive in the Speech from the Throne the slightest intimation of an intention on the part of the Government to bring forward such a proposition as this. Yet that Speech was not filled with allusions to a variety of topics; to one subject, and to one subject alone, did it contain any reference; and Her Majesty's Ministers have introduced two Bills only for our consideration before we separate for the Christmas recess. One of these measures, which has already been discussed and assented to by this House, was alluded to in the Speech from the Throne; the other, and not the less important, was passed over in absolute silence—or, at the utmost, with an incidental allusion. When one recollects the by no means insignificant character of the measure, and the mode in which it has been brought under the notice of Parliament—considering also that there has been no sudden emergency, and that the Bill is one which the country were by no means likely to deem unimportant—one is tempted to entertain a suspicion—just or unjust—founded or unfounded—that your object was to smuggle the Bill hastily through the Legislature before the country at large could have had time to take it into consideration, and so to extort from Parliament in a moment—I will not say of panic, but in a moment of exigency—a sanction to its provisions, which the deliberate judgment of the nation would have refused. But what is the reasoning by which this measure is defended? I listened to the noble Lord who introduced it to the consideration of the House, with that respectful attention which he is always sure to command, and I certainly 570 thought—and I was not, I believe, the only person who thought —that he argued like one who was performing a distasteful duty. But what are the grounds on which this Bill is defended? Is it that you have not men enough in this country to supply the necessary reinforcements to our army?—is it that their services cannot be obtained without considerable delay?—is it that men cannot be obtained of an age which would fit them to encounter the toils and hardships of a campaign?—or is it that, all these considerations apart, you consider the measure necessary on some general grounds of policy? The noble Lord says that there is now a pressure on this country, and that that pressure is always felt by us at the commencement of a war. I have no doubt that such a pressure must exist whenever, in the midst of profound peace, a nation is called upon without warning to engage in a great war. But what was your case? Had you no warning? For upwards of a year—I will not say before any hostilities broke out—but for upwards of a year before any hostilities broke out in which England was engaged, was it not—I will not say certain—but was it not more than probable that the English army would have to enter the field? And if that were the case—if you were not taken by surprise—if the severe pressure of which we hear so much ought to have been mitigated by more than a year allowed for preparation, and if of that time for preparation you did not adequately avail yourselves—there are but two possible explanations of your policy—either—which I believe to be the case—either the Government voluntarily neglected to employ the resources which the public placed, or were ready to place, at their disposal; or else (that which no one asserts—that which no one contends for) there was a deficiency of zeal on the part of the country. Has there been the slightest backwardness manifested by the public to prosecute the war with vigour—has there been the slightest indication of a want of enthusiasm on their parts? I think that to that question there will be no difficulty in finding at once a most sufficient and satisfactory answer. We were all aware—what I never for a moment doubted to be the case—that there was in this country a vast amount of latent public spirit ready to be called forth whenever the emergency of the moment might require it; but I confess I did not anticipate the general—the more than general—the uni- 571 versal—enthusiasm with which this war has been taken up by every class of the British nation. When we read such stories as that which I saw only the other day in the newspapers—when we read of poor labouring men coming forward and contributing the carefully-hoarded savings of years to the Patriotic Fund—when we know, as I know of my own personal knowledge, that operatives in Lancashire—a portion of our people certainly not the most disposed to warlike pursuits, not boys, but men earning 25s. or 30s. a week in the manufacturing towns of that county—have left their homes to share in the ill-requited perils and fatigues of a soldier's life in the Crimea—I think we have sufficient evidence—if evidence were wanted—that the country is willing and ready to devote its best energies to the successful prosecution of this momentous contest. And if we wish for documentary testimony upon the subject, we have only to look at the statement made by the noble Duke the Secretary of War in another place. According to that statement, as soon as it appeared evident that the siege of Sebastopol was likely to be protracted, and that the undertaking was likely to be one of greater hazard than had at first been supposed—from that moment the zeal and readiness of the young men of this country had been manifested more and more—the number of our recruits had gone on increasing week by week until the last week, when it had more than doubled that of any preceding week since the commencement of the war, and when we had enrolled six or seven fold the number of men we had enrolled six or seven weeks ago. That is the evidence we have with regard to the state of public feeling upon this subject. I say, that, looking at these facts, you need not fear but that you will be able, in the long run, to obtain in this country ample supplies of men for your armies. The noble Lord spoke of the drain on the population caused by the war—a drain on a population of 28,000,000 to keep up an army of 200,000 men! I believe there are not at this moment in the United Kingdom less than 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 of male adults—that is to say, of men above 21 years of age. But will it be said that, large as that number is, you are withdrawing men from other occupations in which they might be more advantageously employed. Well, I meet that argument by a reference to a simple and notorious fact which the noble Lord—not 572 accidentally, I think—overlooked. I meet it by a reference to the Reports of the Emigration Commissioners. You tell me of German emigrants—I tell you of English emigrants. It is argued that there are many thousands of able-bodied persons passing through this country every year whom it is desirable that we should employ in prosecuting the war; but I say, on the other hand, that this very year, and up to this very time, you have had not thousands, but hundreds of thousand of able-bodied Englishmen and Irishmen emigrating from our shores. I deny, then, that we have any insufficiency of men, or that by recruiting among our own labouring population you would necessarily be diverting to military pursuits men who would otherwise be more advantageously employed. But then it is said, that although we do not want a sufficient number of men, it is impossible for us to render the services of recruits raised in this country available by the time they would be required. Now, upon that subject there is, I think, a little discrepancy in the various statements we have heard from the supporters of this measure. We first heard from an hon. and gallant Member opposite a good deal about the time necessary to make a soldier. But the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War set aside that argument, and told us that it was an antiquated superstition to suppose that one year or two years were required to make a soldier; according to the right hon. Gentleman three or four months are sufficient for that purpose. We have here a high authority upon such a point. But that authority does not stand alone. Two years ago our militia were embodied, and before the regiments were embodied they were drilled for twenty-eight days; and at the expiration of that period of drilling a military instructor, who went about to examine and report on the state of the militia regiments, complimented them on being almost equal in efficiency to troops of the line. Here we must, no doubt, make some allowance for the language of compliment; but even allowing largely for such complimentary exaggeration, it is impossible not to suppose that the men so praised must have acquired a considerable amount of military discipline. But I am informed, on good authority, that if you bring your soldiers from abroad you will not save as much time as you seem to anticipate. I pass over that question of the enlistment of intending emigrants pass- 573 ing through this country, because, after all, the depth of winter is not the precise time which emigrants choose to cross the Atlantic with their families. I am much mistaken if, at this particular period, we have among us any very large number of foreigners who propose to emigrate to some more distant land. I assume, then, that you will have to send over to the Continent for the foreigners whom you propose to employ in Her Majesty's service. You will have to recruit these men; you will have to bring them here, and large bodies are not to be so brought in a day; and even when all that shall have been done, it is evident that the Government do not rely on securing the services of trained soldiers, because they insist on having a further period—a period unlimited in point of time—during which they are to drill and train those men in this country. The question then arises, whether the rawness of the English labourer, unfamiliarised as he has been with the use of arms, will be productive of more delay in preparing him for foreign service than the delay which you must incur in the case of a foreigner, who must be enlisted in his own country, who must be brought over from Germany, and who, after having been brought here, must undergo a certain amount of drilling and training. That brings me to the next argument employed by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War, when he said that the question was not so much as to the number of men whom you could obtain, or the length of time that would be required for preparing them to take the field, as the amount of hardihood which they might possess for enduring the fatigues and hardships of a campaign. Now, speak with diffidence on military matters; but it does not seem a very recondite solution of the problem thus put before us, if your rules for enlisting are such that you cannot take men beyond a certain age—it does not seem a very recondite solution of the problem that you should for the moment relax those rules. Why should you not admit men into your army of somewhat more advanced age?—why should you not admit men who, I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War, will gain in point of endurance more than they can lose in point of activity? Relax your rule, and the difficulty of which you now complain will disappear—the number of men eligible for service in the army will be materially increased, and the difficulty on the score of insufficiency of 574 age will be in a great measure removed. There is another statement of the right hon. Gentleman which I venture to dispute, although I must dispute it with some distrust in my own knowledge. He spoke of the Landwehr system, with which we are all acquainted; and I understood him to state, that the foreigners whom the Government proposed to employ were men, who, having gone through the term of service, exacted from them by their own Government, are no longer liable to be called into the field, but are henceforth exempt from ordinary service, and only liable to be called upon to act as a reserve in case of invasion or on some such special exigency; that is to say, you are to select as recruits, expressly on the ground of superior eligibility, the very class whom their own Government reject—not absolutely, but as less fitted than younger men for military service—not as unfit for service—I do not wish to indulge in any exaggeration—but as being past that age at which men are considered to make the most efficient soldiers. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the age of those men as being about 26 or 27; but I can state on high authority—I may say on high diplomatic authority—that instead of 26 or 27, the average age of those men is about 33 or 34, or very nearly the age at which the English soldier retires from active service. It has been carefully impressed on us that this was merely a provisional measure, intended to guard against a temporary emergency. But if you want to meet such an emergency, I think you have resources at home of which you have not yet availed yourself. I do not admire the system of subsidies. I can very well understand that it would be very unpleasant—that it would be injurious to our national honour—to be permanently subsidising the troops of France to fight our battle; but if this is really a question of 10,000 men for a few months, I ask what possible objection can you have to call for that number of troops from the French Government, which, by your own admission, will be perfectly ready to grant them? It may, perhaps, be urged that the French Government is not able to spare that number of men, or would refuse to send them; but the noble Lord himself said that the only difficulty which the Allies experienced was the difficulty of conveying men out to the seat of war. If that is the case, however, I would ask whether it would be less difficult to send out Germans than to send out 575 Frenchmen? And I would further ask Her Majesty's Government why they had not long since applied to that great Ally who has, with so much cordiality and sincerity, supported us throughout the whole of those proceedings? Why have they not applied to him for temporary assistance in order to meet a temporary emergency? Why have they not addressed to him a demand which would have been granted without the slightest injury to our national honour, and which it would be perfectly easy for them to repay at some future time in one form or another? This question has not been argued as a question of cheapness, for no one asserts that the employment of foreign troops would be more economical than the employment of our own troops. I believe we are all prepared to admit that in a great undertaking, of whatever nature, whether of peace or war, there is never any real economy in employing second-rate materials. After all, the pay which you give to your own soldiers is hardly more than sufficient to supply them with the necessaries of life; and you could not offer a lower sum to foreigners, to whom even that sum could afford no great inducement to enter your service, and whom it would be your interest to place as much as possible on an equality with the troops of this country. Nothing, therefore, can be gained by this measure in the way of pecuniary saving. Then comes the question of the military capacity of the foreigners whom you would enlist in the Queen's service. Upon that point we are still at a loss to arrive at any very definite conclusion, notwithstanding the admissions of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War. Her Majesty's Ministers were asked in another place where the new troops were to come from, and to that question the only answer which they gave was, that the Emperor of Russia would be very much obliged to any one who would furnish him with that information. Well, Sir, that was a reply well calculated to draw a cheer in debate; but, as an answer, it is wholly unsatisfactory. Government may preserve the secrecy of their measure long enough to serve the purposes of this debate; but it cannot last much longer; disguise their proceedings as they may, their purpose will soon transpire through the medium of the recruiting sergeant, and the quarter whence they propose to draw their recruits must be known. The raising of 10,000 troops, and their introduction into England is not a thing that can be 576 done secretly. I speak from conjecture, but, judging from the relations which exist between Continental Governments and their subjects, I must suppose that you are in treaty, not with individuals, but with some foreign Government. In considering that question it is impossible wholly to lose sight of the Polish question; but that question is a very grave one, and I perceive that no Member of Her Majesty's Government has shown any inclination to introduce it into this discussion. I believe that to expect that we could afford any effectual aid to Poland by employing in our service Poles who have for the last twenty years been exiles from their native country, would be one of the wildest dreams that ever entered into the head of man. If you propose to restore the nationality of Poland, that will be, no doubt, a bold policy—a policy full of glory, but, also, full of hazard—a policy in which you cannot expect the sympathy of some of your most powerful allies; but, on the contrary, must be prepared to incur their hostility; above all, it is a policy from which, once adopted, there is no receding, and which involves you in a pledge permanently to guarantee and maintain the independence which you create. These are momentous considerations; and I confess I am glad that the Polish question has not been introduced as an element in this debate. But, after all, if Poland is to be assisted, it must be on the spot—among the people of that country—and not here. I set aside, then, the question of a Polish Legion. But is it Swiss or Germans whom you mean to employ? I am given to understand that in Switzerland you will not at present find any large supply of men prepared to enter your service, for there is at present a considerable demand for labourers in that country; and I believe, besides, that the Swiss Government has of late years passed a law, not prohibiting altogether, but in many ways restricting the enlistment of their people in foreign armies. With respect to Germany I must observe that I do not wish to enter into a discussion of that most invidious topic—the military character of the people of that country. I fully admit the services which were rendered by the German troops during the last continental war; but this I must observe, that forty years have elapsed since the Germans have had any practical experience of war, and that the events of the years 1813, 1814, 1815, can hardly afford a fair trial of their military capacity. Throughout that period 577 they unquestionably displayed great national enthusiasm in the prosecution of the war which they waged against the Emperor Napoleon; but in that war they had to fight, for the most part, against raw levies (for the French veterans, the men of Austerlitz and Jena, had mostly perished in the Russian campaign): they were fighting, moreover, in a national cause, for the defence of their country against invasion; and besides all this, they possessed in general an immense superiority in numbers over the enemy. And yet, notwithstanding these advantages, they were not uniformly, or even generally successful; and nothing can be more striking than the contrast afforded by their chequered fortunes and the splendid career of the Duke of Wellington throughout the same period at the head of the English and Spanish army. I do not disparage these German soldiers; I have no means of judging of their value; all I say is, that you cannot answer for their conduct in the field with the same certainty as you rely on the troops of our own allied armies. But another question arises, what will be the moral effect of this measure on the public opinion of Europe? The noble Lord at the beginning of the debate said, no doubt it would be a lamentable thing if we depended wholly on foreign mercenary troops; but he added that so small a proportion as 40,000 foreign soldiers in an army of 200,000 could not be attended with any very injurious consequences. The best way to judge what will be said of us, is to consider what we ourselves should say if our opponent were to resort to a similar procedure. Put the case in this form. Ask yourselves, what effect would it have on the public mind here? What would be the feeling of Englishmen it they were to hear that the Emperor of Russia was advertising for soldiers in every European city? Why, there would be a shout of triumph from one end of the country to the other. Every newspaper would be saying—"Oh! the Emperor is beaten; his cause is unpopular; his own subjects will not fight for him; he is driven to the last resource of a feeble Government and an unwarlike people, that of seeking aid from foreigners." So also, if this measure should pass, will the same language be used by Russia in respect to us. The courage of our troops will not be denied; it will be admitted that they are capable of doing their duty manfully in the field; but it will be argued, that by 578 great care and at great cost we keep a small standing army in a state of high discipline; that that army is small in numbers, and cannot easily be replaced; and that the feelings of the people at large are so unwarlike that in order to carry on with proper energy and effect the war in which we are engaged, we are compelled to call in the aid of foreign mercenaries. That will be the inevitable inference from the enactment of such a measure as that now before the House. But there is still a third ground on which I oppose the Bill. I say that its whole spirit and tenor are contrary to that in which you have hitherto carried on this war. You have put down privateering; you have declared that war ought to be carried on with the least possible injury to commerce or to private rights. It is even possible that you have pushed that principle too far; that relying on the justice of our cause, you have forgotten that something more than a just cause is required to ensure success, and that you have thrown aside a weapon which you might have used with effect. But be that as it may, you have affirmed in the face of Europe, that war is now to be waged on higher and more humane principles than have hitherto prevailed. This is a step in the contrary direction. This is to resort to a practice which for the last 100 years the opinion of European statesmen has not hesitated to condemn. Not only is it an injury to the national reputation—it is an insult to the national army. War may be the noblest of all professions—but practised as a trade, it is the meanest of all trades. The acts and the sufferings of a campaign would deserve all that has ever been said of them by any member of the Peace Society, were they not ennobled by the display of disinterested self-devotion, and by the voluntary sacrifice of life in a good cause. But in employing a hired foreigner who fights only for his pay, you strip war of these ennobling and compensating attributes, and reduce it to a mere butchery. I say, then, that this is a retrograde step; that instead of setting to the world the promised example, you are actually falling below that which at the present day is the recognised standard of public morality among European nations. I grant that an exception may be taken to this argument, and I do not press it beyond a certain point. I allow that the necessity of self-defence is paramount; and in the acknowledged impossibility of carrying on by any other means a war to which the 579 honour of the country stands pledged, I should not quarrel with the employment of mercenary troops. But this impossibility does not exist; it has not even been pleaded; and it is without cause or excuse that you are about to restore a system which Europe had all but abandoned. Then conies the question as to German neutrality. What is proposed by the measure Will the German States permit us to recruit our army within their territories? Suppose some German Sovereign should be opposed to such a scheme; I doubt very much whether you would, in the dominions of such Sovereign, obtain any large number of men, of whatever class. But suppose you do, under such circumstances, obtain recruits—of what class or condition in society will they be Either they will be men of such a character that the police of their own country is glad to connive at their departure—or if they do escape from its supervision, they have by that act rendered their own return impossible, having become offenders against the law of the land. In neither case will you have the most steady, the soberest, the best conducted part of the people. I doubt whether a force, composed of such elements, will be formidable to the Emperor, or, indeed, to any one except its own employers. Again, suppose the case of a small State, who may sympathise with us, and who may at the same time be afraid of the power of Russia—what will become of its neutrality? if there is any hazard in incurring the hostility of Russia, why that hostility will be incurred as much by, allowing the enlistment of soldiers as by declaring war against Russia. The Czar will declare the permission to enlist to be in itself a breach of neutrality, and in that declaration the law of nations will back him. Mind, when I say that we do not want any Foreign Enlistment Bill-that we can do without it—I am not contending that we ought to refuse the proffered aid of foreign troops. If independent States, thinking and feeling with us in this contest, come forward with voluntary offers of aid, by all means accept them; but let such States pay the cost of maintaining their own troops—let them share with us the expense and the danger, and we will freely admit them to their share of the glory, and of any advantages which success may open to the Allies. But nothing of the kind is proposed in this measure. It is simply a revival of the disgraceful practice of the American war, when German troops were 580 hired to cut the throats of our colonists. No friendship will be formed—no alliance cemented—by such a bargain as is here proposed; and if, as without shame to them may very well happen, the troops thus hired by us should prove inferior to their French and English comrades, the contempt which will be felt for their comparative inefficiency will be added to the contempt with which the profession of a mercenary is regarded. I deny, therefore, that this measure has any tendency to secure us the support, alliance, or friendship of the German Powers. I object to it on many grounds. I object to it because no sufficient necessity has been proved—because its success is doubtful—because it is calculated to injure us in the opinion of Europe—because it is a retrograde step in public morality—and because it will do nothing to secure us alliance or friendship on the Continent. We have heard something like a threat of resignation if this measure is, not carried. I have a word to say on that. I do not doubt the noble Lord's sincerity; nor is my Parliamentary experience long: but since I have sat in this House I never recollect any Ministerial measure of importance being threatened with defeat, when that menace has not met with a counter threat either of resignation or of dissolution. Now, I do not think this is a question on which Ministers will appeal to the country; and, as to resignation, we need not go back very far to see that defeats, even on the most important measures, do not necessarily bring about that result. Recall to mind the events of last Session. We had, in the Queen's Speech, a promise of Parliamentary reform, of national education, and 1 know not how many reforms besides. Not one of these was carried. In every single instance Ministers were unable to redeem their pledge; yet they have not resigned They can postpone an Education Bill indefinitely—they can sacrifice a Reform Bill—these things are trifles; but if they cannot induce Parliament to sanction the introduction of 10,000 mercenaries, they will hold it inconsistent with their honour to retain power. I repeat it, I have no wish to embarrass Government by the vote I shall give—they are the authors of this war—they are responsible for its conduct—the plan of operations is theirs; on all accounts it is infinitely better that they should be left to work out those plans undisturbed, and that the responsibility of their execution should not be divided. But when the Secretary 581 at War claims the right to resign, if defeated, I must say one word to the right hon. Gentleman on that point. I do not doubt or dispute the right of any man to do that which he thinks needful for the protection of his own honour, but I ask him and the House—is it patriotic—is it a public-spirited course for a Minister to say, "If you assert that we have made a mistake; if you do not admit our infallibility in every respect; if you attempt to interfere with any one, the most insignificant, of our plans, we will take advantage of the urgency of the occasion to embarrass the country by resigning, no matter at what hazard of impeding the course of public business?" I recollect to have heard something of the circumstances under which that party now at the head of affairs first came into independent political existence. The distinguishing principle which they laid down—one maintained by them with great energy and eloquence, and which gained them no little applause, was this, that the national interest, the pressure of a public exigency, not only sanctioned, but justified and required a sacrifice of personal feeling and of consistency on the part of individual statesmen, even approaching to the verge of that which was a sacrifice of public character. I will not now enter into the question, how far that is a safe and admissible doctrine. All I say is, you have laid down this principle—if you are sincere, if you were ever in earnest in its advocacy, now is the time to act upon it. Not much is asked at your hands. No great sacrifice of principle or of policy is demanded. You have made a mistake. Your own organs in the press say so: the supporters who sit behind you on those benches—nay, your very subordinates in the Government, admit as much in private. Persevere, and you will rouse a feeling fatal to your own tenure of power, and at this moment most dangerous to the community. Take a wiser course, abandon your Bill, admit for once that you have been in the wrong, and, in the frankness and honesty of that atonement, England will forget the folly of the design.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I confess I was never more disappointed—I may say surprised—than I have been at the course which the party opposite have thought it their duty to pursue in regard to the present measure. We have heard from them the most unreserved, and, I will do them the justice to believe, the most sincere declarations that they admit 582 to the fullest extent, not only the importance of the objects for which the present war was begun, but the justice and necescessity of that war. The Government has been reproached by their organs, and, I think, frequently by Members of the party, for nut having conducted the war with sufficient energy and vigour—with not having employed all those means which they might have applied for that purpose; and then, Sir, when the Government comes to this House, and asks this House to relieve them from a legal difficulty which prevents the Government from applying means of vigour to which they attach great importance, then, forsooth, we are met with disquisitions on constitutional principles, with the reproduction of antiquated arguments belonging to ages gone by, and we are refused the power of employing an instrument which we think, and with reason and justice think, would be conducive, to carrying on the war with vigour and success. Now, Sir, if what we ask were something altogether new and unheard of—if the method we propose for the purpose of adding vigour to the conduct of the war were a method which had never been practised by the Government or nation before—I could understand that objections might be raised by Gentlemen astonished, fur the first tune, at something which was likely to serve the purposes of their opponents, and that they might then, with some show of plausibility, object as to a novelty to that which we proposed. But, so far from this measure which we are now proposing to Parliament being a novelty, it is a method which has been practised by all former Governments in this country in periods of war, and by almost every other nation that has been engaged in a great and arduous contest. With regard to the conduct of this country, why, it is a matter of public notoriety—if it had not been in the utmost detail explained by my noble Friend (Lord Joint Russell) and my right hon. Friend (Mr. S. Herbert), who have spoken to-night—that the Government of England, with the consent of Parliament, in the great war which we were engaged with France, employed a great number and variety of foreign troops as aids and auxiliaries to the British Army. Why, we bad the German Legion—we had Hanoverians, and Branswickers, and Portuguese, and Swiss, and Greeks—we had the Corsican Rangers, a Sicilian Regiment, Chassears Britanniques, and I. know not how many more 583 fighting on our side. I myself saw men in the British uniform descending the southern slopes of the Alps, on the conclusion of the peace, on their way to their Italian homes, who had served with distinction and credit to themselves, in conjunction with British troops, and whose services had been acknowledged by the Government in whose cause they had fought. The French at this moment have a foreign force in their service. And what was the practice of that great general, Napoleon, who had at his command all the resources of the great French nation devoted to his cause, and ever ready to support and do battle for him in all the wars in which he was engaged with all the powers of the conscription which enabled him to draw from every province of France as many men as he might require? Why, his army was full of foreigners serving side by side with his own French legions; and did those legions ever think they were degraded by that companionship? There is a special reason, however, why England should adopt this system, and especially in the beginning of a war. Foreign Governments differ in their practice from us in two important matters in regard to this subject. In the first place, they maintain large military establishments in time of peace, and they are, therefore, prepared, when war breaks out, with adequate forces to meet the first exigencies of the conflict. In England, on the contrary, Parliament insists at the conclusion of a war, that we should reduce our military forces to the lowest amount consistent with the duties and exigencies of peace. War, therefore, finds us with a peace establishment, and not, like continental countries, with establishments calculated on the chances of war. But then we are told by the noble Lord who has spoken on the other side (Lord Stanley), "You have foreseen this war, and you ought to have been prepared to meet it." But, I ask, while negotiations were going on which might have led to an amicable settlement, would you have had Government come down to Parliament and propose a large augmentation of the Army. What, I ask, would Parliament have said to such a proposal? I say, Sir, that it would not have been wise to have pursued such a course. In another respect, also, foreign Governments stand in a different situation from us. They have the power of conscription. They can issue an edict for any given number of recruits, who must come to their post within a spe- 584 cified period, and those recruits must be of an age and description which their Governments choose to determine. Thus foreign Governments have the power of making large augmentations to their armies within a short period of time. We, on the other hand, wisely, I think, and advantageously, because it makes our army an army of infinitely better stuff than an army formed in a different manner—we, I say, trust to voluntary enlistment. But this advantage must be obtained at a certain sacrifice—a sacrifice of time in order to obtain a better quality. We go into the market of labour to compete against the industry of the country. We have been told just now that we have a population of 26,000,000 or 28,000,000, and that, according to statistical calculations, the males fit and able to bear arms amount to 6,000,000 or 7,000,000, and that, therefore, we can at once send to the Crimea any number of men we may want for the service. The answer to that statement is, that these men, who are of an age fit for military service, are employed in all the various branches of the industry of the country. We have to go into the market and to compete with that industry, and every man taken out of the market raises the price of labour to those that remain, because the demand is virtually increased by the diminution of the supply. Therefore it is obvious that the process of voluntary enlistment, while it furnishes an infinitely better soldier when you get him, must necessarily render more slow and more costly any great and sudden augmentation in the forces of this country, than is the case with the system of Conscription pursued by foreign Governments.
Well, then, I say, the practice of employing foreign troops in conjunction with our own is a practice consecrated, I may say, by the example of all former Governments in this country, and adopted by the Governments of other countries. But we are told that this may be a very good thing, but we should keep it for the end of the war. Now, if ever there was an instance of putting the cart before the horse, this would be one. It is at the beginning of a war, when we start with a peace establishment, and have at the same time to provide for the exigencies of a great and arduous campaign—it is when we are suddenly in want of a large force that this should be done, and not after the lapse of a certain number of years, when we have by voluntary enlistment augmented our ranks, 585 and are able to furnish an army of our own equal to the demands of the service to be performed. It is true, that at a former occasion one of these Acts which have been quoted was passed at a late period of the war, but that was because the war, at that time, assumed a new development, and required a sudden and great augmentation of the means of carrying it on. But it is said that this proposition is only the mountain bringing forth the mouse—that we make a great parade of the measure—and yet, after all, only ask for 10,000 men, and seem willing to take even a smaller number. That is a perfect misrepresentation of the measure. A man need not be deeply read in the constitutional laws of the country to be aware that the Crown requires no authority from Parliament to employ any number of foreigners out of the United Kingdom as troops; the Crown has already the power to do that without the passing of any new law whatever. That which we ask from Parliament is that which by the constitution cannot be done without the sanction of Parliament, namely, the introduction of foreign troops into this kingdom, it is undoubtedly contrary to the law and the constitution to introduce them without the consent of Parliament. Well, but hon. Gentlemen opposite; by a most extraordinary confusion of mind, run to this conclusion, that because it is contrary to the constitution that foreign troops should be introduced into this kingdom without the consent of Parliament, therefore it is unconstitutional that they should be introduced with the consent of Parliament. And thus, according to their argument, this Bill, which is a deference to the constitution, is represented as in itself a violation of the constitution. My right hon. Friend the Secretary at War has shown the great value of the recruits who might be obtained from Germany in consequence of their being trained men, whose constitution would render them more capable of supporting those fatigues and exposures necessarily incidental to the carrying on of a great war. But, then, hon. Gentlemen turn round and say, "If these men are such as you describe, and are trained soldiers, why do you want the power of bringing them into this country to train them—they have been trained already?" That is a very good civilian argument; but military men, like my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken (Sir John Fitz Gerald), and my learned and gal- 586 lant Friend behind me, who combines a know ledge of law and military tactics (Mr. Watson), know full well that, though you may get a great number of trained men, they would still require to be organised—to be formed into regiments—to be made acquainted with their officers—to be clothed, equipped, and armed; and to convert a number of men, however trained they may individually be, into regiments and corps fit for service, is a process requiring time, which must be performed somewhere, and it is a matter of impossibility to perform it anywhere else than in this country. It is, therefore, for the purpose of organising these regiments, to form these recruits into battalions fit for service, that we require the power of having, for a time, a certain number within the kingdom. But do we limit the number to be engaged and employed to 10,000 men? No; the number will only be limited by the amount of the Estimates which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will present to the House for the maintenance of the troops, and which the House may choose to sanction. There is no limit in this Bill as to the number to be employed, but only as to the number to be at one and the same time in the United Kingdom. I repeat, the limit as to the total number to be employed is the limit which this House may impose when my right hon. Friend proposes the Estimates providing for the expense of the troops to be so engaged. But then it is said, "You do not tell us where you mean to get them. We have a great curiosity to know, and there is some deep mystery about the matter." Why, my right hon. Friend has very well said that until the Government knew that Parliament would permit them to get these troops it would have been improper to engage in negotiations for the purpose. I should like to know what those great constitution reverencers would have said had they been able to get up in this House, and extract from the Government that we were entering into negotiations for the purpose of raising foreign troops without the sanction of Parliament previously obtained? They would have had a good right to denounce us as violating the principles of the constitution, but I doubt whether they would have chosen to adopt the doctrine of the noble Lord, and to have punished us, as he proposes to punish us, in the way, I think, Voltaire desired to see some delinquent Ministers 587 punished, in reference to whom he said, "If Divine justice wishes adequately to visit their offences, let it not sentence them to the infernal regions, but condemn them to remain at their post." Such, too, is the opinion of the noble Lord with respect to the present Government, and the proposition now before the House is one, in his opinion, deserving of the severest condemnation, but while he urges the condemnation, he would deny the Government the right to resign. I, however, say that we had no other course to pursue, and as to mystery there is none, except that mystery which I am unable to solve—namely, how it happens that hon. Gentlemen who have taunted the Government with inefficient measures should object to a measure proposed to give the Government ampler powers for carrying on the war. That is a mystery which must be unravelled, not by this side of the House, but by the other, and, therefore, the question with respect to mystery must be handed over by us to the Opposition.
I say, then, with respect to this proposed addition of troops—whether they be Germans, or of whatever other nation they may be (for I wish to preserve the mystery and to leave the Government at perfect, freedom to get good soldiers wherever they can), it is obvious to all persons who dispassionately apply their mind to the matter that the acquisition of 10,000, or 20,000, or 30,000, or 40,000 well-disciplined and trained troops —whichever number Parliament on the Estimates may choose to sanction—would be of the utmost value to our fellow-countrymen now engaged in arduous warfare. I think it is due to them to give them this assistance if we can. Sir, the deeds performed not only by our own troops, but by both armies—for I speak of the French in common with our own soldiers—there is no distinction to be drawn between them, both have rushed to assist each other, and to fight together—the gallantry, I say, and brave achievements of the allied army surpass anything we read of, either in history or in romance. But then, I say, these brave men deserve something at our hands. They have shown, as was well stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) on a former occasion, that the increasing progress of civilisation and the augmentation of wealth in this country during a long-continued period of peace have not enervated the British nation, but, 588 on the contrary, have only rendered them like a field in fallow, more fruitful in all those qualities which distinguish a nation when engaged in the arduous struggle of a war. We have seen men of the highest rank and the most ample wealth unaffected by those inducements which might have led them to remain at home in the enjoyment of all those advantages which their birth, condition, and fortune, enabled them to possess—we have seen them, from a sense of duty, "scorn repose, when Britain sought the field," and go to the contest, and distinguish themselves by the greatest acts of bravery. We have also seen our soldiers, men of the humbler classes, rivalling the chivalry of those who led them; and we have seen the valour and omulation of both to be such as to render it impossible to say whether the leader or the led was most deserving of the applause and gratitude of his country. Well, then, I say again, these brave men deserve that we should do whatever we can to assist them. And who is the enemy with whom we have to contend? It is a Sovereign who has, I comparatively speaking, unlimited means of filling the ranks of his army. We have seen and are seeing him bringing down division after division to the field of operations—Host impelling host, The blue-eyed myriads of the Baltic Coast;and reinforcements from other parts of his extensive empire; and are we to allow the comparatively limited means of England and France to be pitted against those progressively increasing numbers, and refrain, when we are able to give the allied army assistance, from doing so? Sir, I say it would be a cruel mockery of the constitution, a cruel abandonment of our duty, a cruel violation of what we owe to the country, if we were to restrict the hands of Government, and prevent them from furnishing to our men engaged in the war the means by which their services could be rendered more effectual. Therefore, if there be in this House any men who have friends and relations now exposed to the dangers and fatigues of this war, let them not refuse to those friends and relations that help which may give them victory in the day of battle—if there be men who mourn friends and relations who have fallen victims to their duty—let them not allow those friends and relatives to have shed their blood in vain, or to have sacrificed their lives as a fruitless offering on the altar of duty. If the House of Commons does— 589 as I believe, am sure, it does—entertain a proper sense of what is due to the national interests and the national honour, let it not refuse its sanction to a measure calculated to enable Her Majesty's Government to carry on the war with additional vigour and with greater chance of success. We are asked why we went to Sebastopol? We went to Sebastopol because it is the very centre and heart of the power of Russia it, that quarter; and, had we not gone to Sebastopol, we should have had to meet her armies on the plains of the Pruth—the greatest military mistake we could commit. We were told, "You might have waited until you had got your army up to its war establishment, which might have been accomplished in a couple of years." Why, if you had waited a year you never would have taken Sebastopol; for the delay of a year would have entirely defeated the object you had in view. If the blow is to he struck effectually—if the work is to be done efficiently—it must be done at once; and one of the means for effecting the object is that which we are now asking. Sir, we have engaged in a great war against a great Power, with great exertions, and for great objects; and it does not become this country—it is not either to the interest of this country or the honour of this country—that we should end that war by small and ineffectual results, we ought to have a result adequate to the sacrifices we have made, and in conformity with the interest and dignity of this country. But to attain that result recourse must be had to great efforts. Do not let the House deceive itself in that respect; it is not by small detachments or inefficient forces that we shall accomplish that result. [Cheers from the Opposition.] I hope that cheer will be followed by a vote, and that the vote will be in conformity with the cheer. [Cheers from the Ministerial benches.] I say, Sir, then, that the results which alone will befit the circumstances in which this country is placed require great and continued efforts. We are making these efforts at home; we have sent out to our brave army in the East every reinforcement which the national reserve affords. The nation, Sir, is our reserve, and we shall send out every reinforcement which that noble reserve, the British nation, may afford us, in sufficient numbers and sufficient condition to be useful and effectual in the field. But in a ease of this sort every method should be employed necessary to increase our force, and we ought to 590 seek every addition that can be made available. It is the duty of the Government to ask of Parliament at once to give them the power of making that increase; and I should be sorry, indeed, in the condition in which the country stands, and the circumstances in which we are now placed, if the Government had shrunk from asking from Parliament, on their responsibility, such means as they think will enable them to give additional vigour and effect to the operations of the war. But, sorry as I should be to belong to a Government who had shrunk from performing such a duty, I should be still more sorry to be one of a majority who had refused, under those circumstances, to carry out the very principles which they themselves had unjustly recommended.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, the noble Lord the Secretary of State, with that airy self-complacency which he knows how to assume when he has a very bad cause, commenced a reply to the grave and well-considered argument of my noble Friend the Member for Lynn in terms of good-tempered abuse. According to the Secretary of State the arguments offered by my noble Friend are antiquated arguments; I inn surprised the noble Lord did not call them" antiquated imbecility." Sir, I agree with the Secretary of State that the country is in a position of extreme difficulty and danger, and that it is necessary chat we should make exertions commensurate with that position. The noble Lord for a considerable time has reiterated that sentiment, in phrases of sounding rhetoric; but I have not yet heard any Gentleman on either side dispute the truth of the position which the noble Lord makes out with so much pains. What we have to decide to night is, not whether England shall make efforts equal to the exigency, but whether the measure proposed by the Government can come into that category. Now, Sir, the noble Lord, as well as the President of the Council, have, I think unwisely and unnecessarily, to-night entered into the general conduct of the war. The noble Lord told us that England is a great naval Power, and that her efforts must be devoted principally to maintaining the supremacy of the country upon the ocean. Of course he alluded to the important services of the Baltic fleet. The Secretary of State having to defend the proposal of Ministers for the levying of foreign troops and the enlistment of what I call foreign mercenaries, vindicates the conduct of the Government in attack- 591 ing Sebastopol. It is perfectly open to me, of course, to refer to such circumstances connected with that operation as I may wish to deal with; and if at the present moment I decline from dwelling upon this topic, neither the noble Lord nor his colleague the Lord President will, I hope, misapprehend me, or suppose I shrink from that discussion. What may be the cause, what may be the necessity, which has occasioned the Administration, suddenly I think, to appeal to the feeling of the country and of Parliament, I am free to refer to, but at present I wish to speak upon the merits of the measure which they have proposed.
Well now, Sir, we are at war with a Power which the Ministry have discovered at last to be a military Power of the greatest importance. I am bound to say that if that conviction has only recently reached their mind, with a spirit of liberal candour they lose no opportunity of imparting the result of their deliberation to the country. I believe the great fault of their conduct hitherto has been that there has been no desire on their part to discover it, and I think that on all occasions they have conducted the affairs of the country as if they were in total ignorance of the circumstances with which they had to contend. I will say very little, Sir, about the constitution, further than to remark that the noble Lord the President of the Council seems to me to have spoken of the constitution with much less of reverence than is usual with him. Certainly there is no constitutional objection to the Bill that is now on the table of the House, in consequence of the salutary amendment which it received in another place. Whether it is agreeable to the feelings of this country, that foreign troops should be enlisted, drilled, and disciplined, and that a large depôt amounting to thousands should be reserved in this country, is a question which really must be left, not to constitutional lawyers to decide, but to the nation. The country—whatever may be the alterations which have been made in another place in the Bill that has been so suddenly introduced by the Minister of War—will not look on such an arrangement certainly with favour, but I hope always with jealousy, and even with suspicion. I do not suppose that the noble Lords wish that the time should arrive when the people of this country would witness arrangements such as are contemplated by this Bill with exultation and satisfaction. They 592 are not circumstances that are calculated in a free country like this to excite such emotions. I shall not, therefore, dwell upon that topic. But when the Secretary of State, who is conscious of the great office which has fallen to the Government of which he is a Member—namely, that they are to conduct a contest with the greatest of military Powers—much greater in point of numbers, as the Secretary at War has impressed carefully upon us to-night, than France—that military and gallant France of which we have heard so much, and from an alliance with whom we are supposed to obtain so much support and strength—when the noble Lord and his colleague have impressed this upon the House, I have a right to ask myself, are the means they propose adequate to that great emergency on which they so frequently dilate? The noble Lord says, I cannot tell you, and I will leave in mystery whence we are to obtain those foreign auxiliaries which we are proposing to raise. The noble Lord says, "I cannot go into that; all we ask you for is to allow Her Majesty to have the power of raising these foreign soldiers and enlisting them in Her service, and we have by this Bill provided that you, as representatives of the people, may take upon yourselves the power and the responsibility of limiting the amount of those auxiliaries that shall be left in this country." But, Sir, when the noble Lord impresses upon us the importance of this measure as the only one which, after deep meditation, the Government deem adequate to the occasion with which they have to contend, namely, to carry on a war with a Power of unrivalled military resources, I cannot agree with the noble Lord that all great commanders have adopted this system, and that the plan proposed by the Government is one which has received the sanction of the highest authorities. It is not necessary for me now to take up that part of the subject which has been ably and completely treated to-night—namely, the distinction between these auxiliaries and the foreign troops that have been formerly levied from nations with which we were either in alliance or connected. That particular point has been brought before the House with great clearness to-night with reference to the German Legion and the troops of Hessians which were employed in the reign of a late King and to other circumstances of the same kind. It is admitted that, generally speaking, all those foreign troops en- 593 listed in the service of the Sovereign of England were, in fact, the subjects of allies, or the natives of foreign countries peculiarly circumstanced, where, by revolution or otherwise, they were brought into intimate sympathy with the people of this country. When the noble Lord read the names of the regiments that at the time of the French Revolution were paid by the Treasury of England, he read names which clearly indicated that they were regiments formed by the French emigration; and, with very rare instances, the whole of the foreign troops that were during the late great war in the service of His Majesty were, virtually speaking, allies, and not mercenaries. Why, Sir, I have no objection, and no one that has any sense or spirit in him has any objection, that our troops should fight by the side of foreigners who are bound together by sympathy in the same cause. That is not the objection that we have urged against the enlistment of those unknown and mysterious individuals, the source and origin of whom the Secretary, of State would throw no light upon. But throughout the speech of the Lord President to-night—a speech to which I listened, I must say, with great disappointment—though I think it was a theme which of all others he could do justice to—there was a great and pervading fallacy; the noble Lord argued the case to the House as if there was an objection by the Opposition to their fellow-countrymen fighting in the same field by the side of foreigners. "Why," says the noble Lord, "this is the most absurd of errors! There was the Earl of Marlborough, who succeeded as the principal patron and promoter of the policy of William III. against the Grand Monarque. The Earl of Marlborough was the author of the Grand Alliance; he won the great battles of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Malplaquet, not merely by British troops, but with an army of 60,000 men, a third of whom were foreigners. How ignorant and prejudiced of you, therefore, to urge such objections against the Government measure!" Now, of course the Earl of Marlborough, who was the author of the Grand Alliance, naturally reaped the fruits of it, and he went into the field with the grand allies, and we have not the slightest objection that any English general of the present day, placed in similar circumstances at the head of a great coalition, should again display the same brilliant military skill and prowess—should win victories of equal mag- 594 nitude, followed by results of equal importance, gained by the same legitimate means, which we should all honour and respect. The whole argument of the noble Lord, from the beginning onwards, was founded on this misconception—that we are objecting to the measure of the Government, because we have a prejudice against Englishmen fighting by the side of foreigners. But this fallacy of the noble Lord is of trivial importance, compared with the gross, and I may say dangerous error that pervaded the rest of his argument. The noble Lord imputes to us that we object to Englishmen fighting by the side of foreigners. Our objection is, that our countrymen should be fighting by the side of foreigners who are condottieri and mercenaries, but we do not object to their fighting by the side of foreigners who are allies. We honour, admire, and respect the achievements of the Earl of Marlborough, the conqueror of Blenheim and Ramillies, as much as if his troops had been entirely British. For this is the great error which pervaded the noble Lord's speech—he argued throughout the whole of it as if there were no such nation as the French nation, as if there were no such army as the French army, and as if that intimate alliance between the troops and that cordial friendship between the Generals on which he dilated a few nights ago with so much feeling and eloquence, were in fact dreams forgotten with the Thanks of the House of Commons which he proposed to those united armies. Why, if it be true, as the noble Lord tried to maintain to-night by his accumulated instances, that there is on the part of a large section of this House—the Gentlemen who sit opposite to him—and also a large portion of the country, a great prejudice against Englishmen fighting along with foreigners, how can he account for, not the cordiality merely, not the sympathy merely, but the enthusiasm, with which the French and English alliance is now viewed, not merely in this House, but in this country? The noble Lord says, "Do Gentlemen think that, because 50,000 troops have been sent from this country to the seat of war, we can sustain that effort, and that that force is sufficient to resist the power of the great Emperor of Russia." Why, I am very glad to hear, as I heard the other night, that we have been able in the first year of the war to send out 54,000 British troops on the expedition to the East. But we did not send out 54,000 British troops to 595 the Crimea to carry on a single-handed contest with the Emperor of Russia; we sent them to be the companions in arms and comrades in glory of our great and warlike ally, whom we all love and esteem, and who is a first-rate military Power. Surely the noble Lord, when he is making a calculation of the means of this country to carry on the war against Russia, is not—to use a word not very classical or English, but which a little while ago was very prevalent in this House—is not to "ignore" the existence of the French nation and army. He seemed to forget that we have the most powerful military ally in the world; he argued throughout his remarks that there was, on the part of the Opposition and the country, a great prejudice against Englishmen fighting with foreigners; and then he said, "If that prejudice is encouraged, how can you maintain so large a force as 54,000 soldiers to fight against the power of the Emperor of Russia?" I maintain that the noble Lord, in taking that view of the case, misrepresented the spirit of the measure he was bringing before the country, and conveyed to the House a totally false idea of the position we occupy as a State, in estimating our resources to carry on this great war in which we are now involved. Having vindicated the claim of our French allies to be remembered by the Minister who has brought forward this measure, I will make an admission to him and to his noble Colleague the Secretary of State, who supposed he would carry this Bill by that sort of good-natured bluster which he knows so well how to employ—I will admit that in in the course of the last war there were instances—a few instances—in which foreign troops were enlisted in the service of the Sovereign of this country, but enlisted under circumstances which cannot be vindicated by those legitimate principles which have been referred to in the course of this debate. I grant that in the late war there were instances in which the conduct of 1777, when the Hessians were engaged and sent to America, was imitated. I need not dilate on what happened in 1777; I am sure the circumstances are fresh in the historic memory of every Gentleman in this House. It is a shameful page in the History of England, and the words of Frederick the Great, when he heard how the Elector of Hesse and some other petty German Princes were bartering the blood of their subjects, that when they were passing through his dominions he would levy a toll upon them as so many 596 cattle, were as just as they were severe. I will admit that in the late war there were instances which the noble Lord and his colleagues may refer to as of a parallel character, though insignificant, with the enlistment of the Hessians. This leads me to the observation of the Home Secretary to which I before referred, to the effect that the greatest commanders, the Emperor Napoleon amongst others, had had recourse to this method of sustaining their military strength, and had always approved of the expedient. Now, I will quote on this subject the opinion of a commander not second even to the first Napoleon—that of the Duke of Wellington. Here is a passage from a letter of the Duke of Wellington to the Earl of Liverpool, dated January 19, 1811, which shows the value of those troops who do not join our standard from sympathy of political character or political conviction. The Duke of Wellington says—I am sorry to give you bad accounts of the Brunswick Legion. They continue to desert in large numbers, and on the night before last fourteen deserted to go to the enemy. Eleven were caught, one shot whilst making the attempt, and only two got off.Again, on the 23rd of April of the same year, the Duke writes to General Graham, afterwards Lord Lynedoch—and I beg the House to remark that these extracts from that great man's recorded opinions on such a point must be of the greatest service in guiding its opinion—I attribute the disposition of all foreign troops to desert from our armies to the regularity of system and the strictness of discipline which characterises it, and which must be upheld in order to keep a British army in the field in a state of efficiency, and their desertion is frequently very inconvenient as affording to the enemy the only information which he can acquire. Under these circumstances I am not desirous of increasing the number of foreign troops serving with this army.Now, I recommend that passage to the consideration of the Secretary at War, who said that no general whom he ever heard of was not desirous of increasing the number of his troops, and he will allow me, therefore, to give him this opinion; and perhaps I shall be able, when I finish, to quote him another of equal importance. In June of the same year I find the Duke writing to Lord Liverpool—Since the commencement of the siege of Badajoz, 52 men of the Chasseurs Britanniques have deserted, though we had with the army 597 only a selection of that corps, 686, who are suspected, being left at Lisbon."I am sure the House will excuse me for reading these passages from a work from which, upon a subject like this, every one wishes his memory to be refreshed; it is equivalent to having the advantage of the advice and counsel of the Duke himself in the present debate, and therefore perhaps the House will allow me to read another letter of the Duke to General Craufurd, in the year 1812—In regard to General Ross's complaints of the inclination of Watteville's regiment to desert, all general officers who have foreign troops under their command have the same cause to complain. In the part of the army under my command called British, there are between 6,000 and 7,000 of them, who desert whenever they can get an opportunity.Now, these are the "free lances" whom the Government would have us have recourse to. I was determined to meet the objections of those well-informed Gentlemen who got up and told me, "All those fine statements about foreign troops employed under the Crown being bound to us by common feelings of sympathy and intimacy are all nonsense, for we have had a great many free lances in our service." I will take the free lances that served in our Peninsular army—and, as regards the German Legion, I can only say I wish to speak of it with all that honour it deserves, and which it has earned in so many passages of our history. I will say nothing of those brethren in arms who served us really because the interests of their country were bound up with those of our own—who were the subjects of the same Sovereign, or of Sovereigns for whose cause we fought, and who, I believe, behaved throughout the great war that ended in 1815, with admirable fidelity, courage, and discipline. I confine myself entirely to those free lances, those mercenaries, those condottieri, who were engaged in the cheapest market, who had no political convictions or unison of sentiments to animate them in the cause, who were purchased by the power that paid them most, and whose achievements are immortalised in the passages I have read to you from the pen of their illustrious commander. I have taken passages from the Duke's letters in 1811 and 1812, and I may be allowed also to read an extract from a despatch written in 1813. The Duke writes thus to General Campbell at Alicant—Sir, I have received your letter of the 12th, regarding the conduct of the 2nd Italian Regi- 598 ment. I entirely concur in all the measures you have adopted, and I applaud the decision and firmness of your conduct. The foreign troops are so much addicted to desertion that they are very unfit for our army, of which they necessarily form too large a proportion to the native troops. The evil is aggravated by the practice which prevails of enlisting prisoners, although deserters are nearly as bad. The consequence is, therefore, that a foreign regiment cannot be placed in a situation in which the soldiers can desert, that they do not go off in numbers, and in the Peninsula they carry to the enemy the only intelligence which he can procure. With this knowlege I seldom, if ever, use the foreign British troops on the duty of outposts, and whatever you may determine regarding the 2nd Italian Regiment; I recommend the same practice to your consideration.But, says the noble Lord to-night in the address he has made to us, by which he was to put an end to all these antiquated arguments, "This is a most absurd opposition that has suddenly been raised to the plan of the Government; this cannot for a moment be tolerated; it is against the spirit of the age; a Government, which enlightened and practical men value, will not carry on the war without calling in assistance from every quarter. Every nation—even the French nation—at the present moment is employing foreign troops, and has a foreign legion." Well, now, I am going to quote a French newspaper, from memory, but I pledge myself that my statement of its contents is accurate, if not perfect. I would not, of course, quote a French newspaper had not those exploits been performed in France with regard to the press which only one of Her Majesty's Ministers can do justice to; but I shall attempt to convey to the House briefly the semi-official statement in the Constitutionnel, a paper which appears under the highest authority, and mar, therefore, be received with confidence. It is a statement of the cause of the surprise of the allied armies at the battle of Inkerman—that surprise which, to use the language of the Constitutionnel, "cost so much of the best blood of the finest armies in the world." What was the cause of the surprise at the battle of Inkerman, according to the semi-official Constitutionnel? It was a member of the Foreign Legion of France who had deserted to the enemy, and who gave to that enemy—to the generals of the Emperor of Russia—accurate information of all our weak points where our position could be attacked, and where our fortifications had been, unfortunately, but, perhaps, inevitably neglected. The Constitutionnel deplores this. It says 599 there is not a braver body of men than the Foreign Legion in the service of France—their courage undaunted—their achievements of the most desperate valour—but being foreigners, and not animated by the same feelings as Frenchmen and Englishmen, they took the first opportunity of giving information to the enemy, which has spread desolation through every home in this country. And here, perhaps, I may remind the Secretary at War, who said just now that there never was a general who complained of having too many troops—I am surprised that he cannot recall one of the most interesting despatches from the Duke of Wellington, written after the failure of the expedition to Walcheren. The Duke was then in a position of immense difficulty, at the head of a force of only 20,000 men in the Peninsula, and a magnificent army, in consequence of an ill-conceived scheme by the English Ministry of the day, had been destroyed and wasted, notwithstanding their valour and discipline, in the expedition to Walcheren. When 40,000 men had been put hors de combat, and when every one felt what immense advantage they would have been if sent to Wellesley, in the Peninsula, he wrote, I think, to Lord Bathurst, saying,Let me give you some consolation for the deplorable consequences of Walcheren, for if these troops had been sent to me, I could not have received them; 20,000 men was all that I could have managed in this country, with imperfect supplies and the immense difficulties I have to meet.That despatch the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War may think it necessary to read before he makes a similar statement to one which he made to-night.
Sir, I do not meddle with the constitutional objections to this plan proposed by the Government. That is an affair of sentiment for the people of England, and all we, as their representatives, have to do is to take care not to assent to anything that is illegal in the measure submitted to us. I think I have now stated facts which will make the House hesitate before they adopt the Foreign Legion at the value placed on them by the noble Lord. I do not think that the noble Lord the Secretary of State is a very high authority on the subject of Foreign Legions. I think his authority on the British militia is far more important than his opinion on the subject of the enlistment of foreign troops. The noble Lord greatly patronised the Foreign Legion which was sent to Spain. I do not think it operated very advantage- 600 ously as regards British feeling, or the throne of Spain; and when the noble Lord rises to eulogise the British militia, he does himself more credit than when he bestows praise on foreign mercenaries.
Sir, I will now refer to the policy of the present proposition, and I say that, under the present circumstances, looking merely to the merits of the proposition, it will prove totally ineffectual, and fruitless and barren of the results Government expect from it. Look at that policy. You are engaging in a very great war. You lose no opportunity of assuring us of the magnitude of the peril, and of the difficulty of meeting it adequately. The country has watched, during four months, with deep anxiety, the conduct of your expedition and of your army three thousand miles off. Parliament has been suddenly called together—so suddenly that Ministers must have changed their opinions on the necessity of summoning it. The attention of Europe has been directed to that sudden summons, as indicative of something extraordinary. It is announced that we were to be assembled together that Her Majesty's Ministers may communicate to the great council of the nation, for its adoption and sanction, those measures which they consider adequate for the exigencies of the occasion. The noble Lord the Secretary of State has taunted this side of the House with always pressing on the Government to pass measures equal to the exigencies of the crisis, yet, when the first of these measures is proposed, with having received it solely with the view to cavil at it. That is not a generous taunt on the part of the noble Lord. Generosity may not be much valued in the House of Commons at present, but I hope truth has not yet quite taken its departure from amongst us. But that was not a just taunt on the part of the noble Lord, for the Government, I venture to assert, has received no obstacle whatever from us in the conduct of the war. There is not a Vote that has been proposed that has not been cheerfully conceded. The Ministers might have had any amount of money and of men that they thought proper to demand. The noble Lord and his colleagues knew that they might count on having the cordial and constant support of this side of the House for their policy; and they had it. It is not just, therefore, for the Secretary of State to rise now, and having failed entirely in defending a measure—which I 601 am bound to say I am not surprised at his having failed to defend, for even his talents must be sometimes baffled—to attempt to cover his retreat by casting reproaches in the faces of the people of England and of the Opposition. The noble Lord has attempted to convey that he and his colleagues have experienced from us a factious opposition; that we have cavilled at their policy, taunted them into action, and at the moment when they demand our support we refuse it. It is a notorious fact—and no misrepresentation can disguise it from the people of this country—that, instead of taking advantage of the difficulties of the Government—as Oppositions before now have done—instead of throwing obstacles in their way, we have said from the first, "Act with frankness and firmness, and you may count on the same support from us that you would expect from the adherents you most trust." From that line of conduct we have never deviated. I say, then, under these circumstances, I can conceive nothing more impolitic than a Minister coming down to Parliament, not asking to embody the national force, or for very large Votes, or for the grant of a great number of men, or for any other measure which shows a consciousness that they are embarked in an almost internecine struggle; but coining forward with one only measure, which I have shown from the records of experience to be of so imperfect and paltry a character. I want to know what effect the noble Lord supposes it will have on European Cabinets and public opinion abroad? I read to-day in an organ which exercises great influence in Europe—an organ not unfriendly to the Western Powers, I believe, though it takes a moderate and mitigated view of these important transactions—a great continental authority—I read an article on the policy of the Government of this country; and what was the conclusion it drew from all that could be learnt of it? This influential continental journal summed up its review with this declaration, "All we can deduce from the policy of the English Ministry is, that the recruiting powers of England are exhausted." I ask the noble Lord, and the President of the Council, or any Gentleman in the House, is not that a fair inference and the only one to draw? Can any one doubt that that opinion so circulated and so founded will affect the conduct of public men and nations? It will affect the conduct of these German Powers of 602 which we have heard so much. Do you think that the results of the Austrian treaty, which we are called upon to congratulate the Throne for—do you think the results of that are likely to be more important because of the impression that the recruiting power of the country is exhausted? But, Sir, if that is the effect upon foreign countries, is it possible to shut our eyes to what the effect may be on our own country? Does anybody believe that the tendency of this measure will be any other than to damp the readiness of the people of this country to rally round the standard of the Sovereign? I believe, Sir, that that is the universal impression and the conviction which prevails in every class of the community. Well, I say, is this the policy—is this the conduct that wise, experienced, and responsible statesmen, the Ministers of a country like England, should pursue at this moment? You tell us that we can only enlist boys, when the experience of every Gentleman in this House convinces him of the fallacy of that observation; and, if it be not fallacious, the observation is only more unwise and injurious. Statements of this kind are not to be decided by individual experience but by statistical documents and that body of information as to the resources of the country which is in the possession of every well-informed person. Why, the returns of the Census contradict you—every public document of your own officers contradicts your assertion. The state of the population of the country is not such as that it can only furnish for recruits those who are mere boys. It is not the truth in theory—it is not the fact in practice; and it is impossible that the noble Lord can rise and tell us in sober sadness that it is not in his power tomorrow, if he appeals to Parliament, to raise 100,000 men who are not boys, if the exigencies of the State require it? It is impossible that he can make that statement and receive for it the sanction of the House. Well, if that be so, ought it to have been made? and is not the making of such statements as those of the noble Lord and his colleagues calculated at this moment to paralyse the Government, and to palsy the spirit of the country; and instead of bringing about a successful and triumphant issue, rather to—I will not say consummate the catastrophes that may be impending—but to prepare a future full of anxiety and gloom to this country? We have been told in the course of this de- 603 bate, and not for the first time, that the cause of our inconvenient and injurious position as a military Power in a state of war is, that the country has resolved always to maintain a peace establishment. Now, Sir, is that true? Is that accusation against the House of Commons made by Ministers to-night and on other occasions founded on fact? I have had some experience in this House, and many hon. Gentlemen around and before me have had longer experience, and I do not remember any appeal made on the responsibility of Government in time of peace to the House of Commons for the increase of our establishment which has not been responded to with a hearty and generous confidence. Why, what took place under the Administration of Sir Robert Peel? There were many circumstances at that time of an alarming and perplexing character in our foreign relations, yet not such as could be placed before the country to raise its enthusiasm or to excite its public spirit so as to raise for the support of the Ministry that immense fund of public feeling and sentiment which you have now the advantage to command, but still they were grave and serious matters, causing to the distinguished Cabinet of which Sir Robert Peel was chief the utmost anxiety. They had in consequence considerably to increase the naval and military establishments of the country. Did this House then refuse to support Sir Robert Peel, though he asked for an increased expenditure of several millions? What happened in 1852, when you had a Government not supported by a majority of the House of Commons, and not only not supported by such a majority, but which was met on every occasion by factious combination and sinister intrigue? What occurred then? There were circumstances which made it our duty, even under such a state of things, to appeal to the House of Commons for an increase of our forces. Did that House of Commons, anxious and ready as it was to throw every impediment in our way—did it, when the Ministry seriously appealed to it, refuse its assent to the proposition? No. The Secretary at War, who, on this and another occasion, has dilated with much eagerness on the difficulties of the position of the Government from the imperfect establishments which they had at their command, has never had the generosity to admit that, weak as our Government was, we increased the forces of the Army, and also of the Navy; that we created a Channel 604 fleet, and put our artillery in an efficient state. I am not saying this in any spirit of boastfulness, but in answer to the charge that has been made against this House. I say, both at the period of Sir Robert Peel's Administration, and at the period of the Administration of which I had the honour to be a Member, appeals were made to the House of Commons, from the nature of affairs without any communication of causes—appeals were made to the confidence and patriotism of this House, and those appeals were responded to. Well, if that be true, I say great is the responsibility of those Ministers who, suddenly acceding to office at the beginning of the year 1853—who, before a month had elapsed, were aware that the Emperor of Russia had proposed the partition of Turkey—did not, under these circumstances, make the preparations that were necessary. "But," says the Secretary of State, "make preparations in time of peace—make preparations when negotiations were going on—the Minister must be mad who would propose such a thing!" Why, when is a Government to make preparation but under such circumstances, and in such a position? All the preparations made by your predecessors for the last fifty years, preliminary to war or in confirmation of peace, were preparations made in this same manner. You had your militia called out, and there was no declaration of war. There was no declaration of war when it was developed to a greater extent. It was no impediment to your negotiations if you had increased your forces very largely, instead of very slightly. I have spoken of the year 1853; but what did you do in 1854, when you must have been conscious for a year that war was inevitable?—when you were on the point, under certain contingencies, of even declaring war, which ultimately you did declare—when, even in the previous autumn, the indignant nation was absolutely calling on you to take decided measures, and you did even order your fleet to enter the Black Sea—what was your conduct then? I ask you why, when you declared war, did you not take those measures which would have placed you in a very different position—which would have prevented great national calamities—which would have prevented the necessity of calling Parliament together to pass this Bill?
And, Sir, that leads me to the conduct of the war, which the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council, I think unneces- 605 sarily, brought under our consideration, and which the Secretary at War has industriously brought under the consideration of the House. I leave the noble Lord to his eulogium on the peculiar naval power of England, and on the magnificent achievements which, under the well considered schemes and expeditions of the Government, we have accomplished in the Baltic. But, says the noble Lord the Secretary of State, "We are asked why did we go to Sebastopol?" Well, I do not know that anybody has asked the noble Lord why he went to Sebastopol. I expect that the noble Lord will some day tell us. I expect that the time will come when Her Majesty's Ministers will give us ample information on the subject; but I have not heard any one so presumptuous as to enter into any criticism upon the scheme and conduct of this campaign. I did, indeed, hear a Minister the other night, and a Minister, too, who is called a Secretary at War, offer an ingenious reason in vindication of the Government of which he is a Member, for the military exploits and campaigns which they had recommended and schemed. He said that the country insisted upon their going to Sebastopol—certainly a most extraordinary statement. I always thought that Ministers were Inca of superior minds, with the advantage of peculiar and exclusive information; and that, by that combination of intellect, of experience, and of knowledge, they did, upon all grave matters, follow that course which was for the most advantage to the community whose affairs they were called upon by their Sovereign to guide, and who acted under a responsibility, not merely to the present, but to the future. Are we, then, to believe that the present Ministers are men who undertake expeditions of such great importance as an invasion of a province of the enemy only because public opinion insists upon their undertaking it? That, though they might think it rash—though they might be in complete ignorance of all those circumstances Which should guide opinion—though it was a leap in the dark—they were prepared to take it, because addict opinion goaded them to the attempt? Why, Sir, if that be the state of affairs, if these are the rules that regulate the conduct of prudent men like the Ministers of the Queen, I say, why are they Ministers? Why do they exist? Why have they duties? Why should they be responsible, if public opinion is to be the 606 sole impulse of their actions, and they are to undertake the most precipitate conduct against their own convictions, in violation of the knowledge they possess, merely because public opinion calls on them to achieve that which is rash, and to accomplish that which is impossible. But the Secretary at War said something else the other night. He seemed to say that not merely the public out-of-doors, but the public in-doors-that Gentlemen on this side of the House—Members of Parliament, at least—had urged the Government to take a decided course and invade the Crimea. Now, I do not say that Members of Parliament have not upon this subject given much, and, perhaps, very foolish advice to tier Majesty's Ministers; but if they gave it, that was no reason why Her Majesty's Ministers should follow it. This, however, I will say, that no Gentleman on this side of the House ever gave that advice to Her Majesty's Ministers. No one on these benches said, "Why do not you strike at the heart of the Russian Empire and attack Sebastopol." On the contrary, Sebastopol was only mentioned once on this side of the House, and that by myself. It was in answer to a most strange and startling speech of the Lord President, from which I, in company with hundreds, did understand, in the month of July, that he announced to Europe and to Asia, that the British Government had resolved upon invading the Crimea and besieging Sebastopol. Then I did say—speaking, I am sure, the opinions of my Friends around me—that I had heard that declaration not only with surprise, but with consternation; and I do not think that the noble Lord or the Secretary at War will at any rate pervert that speech into an encouragement to undertake the siege of Sebastopol. That there were, no doubt, appeals made to the Government by Members of Parliament, their right faithful and trusty Friends, I do not deny. I am not responsible for the observations of those Gentlemen. You share their confidence, and they share yours. But if there must be a responsibility for your conduct, which I am not now at all entering into—if you persist in this habit of shuffling off the responsibility of your conduit upon what is called the public, or Members of Parliament—let it be clearly understood that it was not the Conservative Opposition that urged you to that course, and that we reserve to ourselves the right particularly to examine into your policy when the noble Lord and yourselves 607 will condescend to give us the reasons for the course you have adopted. Sir, I feel myself that this is a subject upon which we should touch with the utmost delicacy. I am not going—in spite of the boastful speech of the Secretary of State, or the assertions of the noble Lord the President of the Council—I am not going to be drawn into any discussion as to the conduct of the war, as planned and schemed by the Government. I feel persuaded that the time will come when this House will expect that upon the policy of the Government there shall be a full and complete discussion. The country knows now that one of the greatest expeditions ever sent out by the energies of this nation, was ordered by Her Majesty's Ministers to invade the Crimea and besiege Sebastopol. Since the expedition against Sicily by the Athenians, I do not know that there ever was an expedition from which so much was expected or upon which so much was staked. There is, unhappily, in the commencement of both these expeditions, too much similarity. The schemers were arrogant, boastful, and over-sanguine. There were too many generals in the Sicilian expedition—there was too little cavalry; there was a winter campaign, and there was no reserve. When Gentlemen go into the country in a few days—I understand we are to be absent a month—there may be moments when the battue is exhausted, and when there may be a frost. I recommend Gentlemen to refresh their memory by turning to the pages of Thucydides. I recommend them to read the despatch of Nicias to the Athenian Assembly, when he says, "Men of Athens, I know that you do not like to hear the truth; but understand this—you sent me out to be a besieger, but, lo! I am besieged." Now, Sir, we know what was the end of the Sicilian expedition. May that Divine Providence that has watched over the inviolate island of the sage and the free save us from a similar conclusion! But, at least, let us do now what the Athenians did even in their proud despair. They sacrificed to the gods, and appealed to the energies of their countrymen. We, at a moment, not, I believe, of equal danger, in a situation which I pray may end in triumph, but still a situation of doubt, of terrible anxiety, even of anguish—we bring in a Bill in order to enlist foreign mercenaries to vindicate the fortunes of England!
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that he would not have detained the House at that late hour 608 of the night; but as he had all along supported the carrying on of the war, and did not wish it to be supposed that, in voting against the Motion now before the House he had changed his mind as to the propriety of carrying on the war, he felt called upon to give his reasons for opposing the Bill. The opinions which he now entertained were precisely similar to those which he had formerly expressed; but he could not help thinking, that if at the outset the Government had presented a more warlike attitude, the war might have been avoided. He was as much prepared as any hon. Gentleman to support this or any other Government in carrying on the war with energy and vigour, but he would ask the House if this was a motion of vigour and energy? Was it not a motion more likely to defeat the exertions of our own countrymen, by bringing them into the field with men upon whom they could not depend? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had given them a good account from first-rate authority of what the foreign troops were in the Peninsula, and he could corroborate the statements of the right hon. Gentleman from the accounts which he had received from friends who had served in the Peninsular campaign. This should be the last and not the first resource which the Government should fall back upon. Had they exhausted all the means of the country and done all they could to obtain men? Was it not possible to obtain more men by increasing the age, taking a smaller stature, and giving a larger bounty? Did the Government mean to say that that would be throwing away money? He was decidedly of opinion that it would be far preferable to employing foreigners, to give a larger bounty and procure Englishmen. It had been asked, what would have been the fate of the battle of Inkerman if we had had these foreigners instead of our unfortunate Guards, who had melted away in the miserable manner they had, where thousands of the best soldiers in the world had been lost to the country for ever and for nothing? Why, the whole army would have been driven into the sea. It was very gratifying to him and to the country to find that Englishmen were still Englishmen; but it was lamentable to think that such men men should have been so wasted. If they were not prepared to do anything towards obtaining men in their own country, then let them take the next best step, and go to 609 their ally. his noble Friend said, such a proposal would be an insult to the Emperor I of France, but he (Mr. Muntz) could not view it in any such light. The Emperor of France had 400,000 men under arms, and an army of 100,000 men at Boulogne doing nothing, and why should their services not be made really useful at Sebastopol? Were any such foreigners to be found? Did Her Majesty's Government really believe in the sincerity of the Emperor of France or not? If they did not, they had better give up the war, for they could not carry it on without him; but if they did believe him to be sincere, then it was their bounden duty to make such an application to him, One Frenchman was worth half a dozen of the Germans and foreigners it was proposed to obtain from the petty Principalities of Germany and other places, without any nationality of their own to support them. It appeared, then, very clear to him, that he could not vote for this Bill. He could not vote in a party spirit when the interests of the nation were at stake; and, if no one else voted in any other way than he did, there would be no majority for them that night. He was quite certain from what hon. Members had said to him by scores, that they were as much opposed to the Bill as he was, but they must swallow the nauseous dose. With the Ministers it was the old story, "If you don't carry the Bill we must resign." Then he would resign. From what he knew of the feeling out-of-doors, the country said, "Resign." It was quite clear somebody was in fault: and he would ask if it was possible, looking at the last six months, to find any Government which had ever committed a greater number of blunders? He did not say whom the fault was with; it might be the English Government; it might be the French Government; it might be the English general; it might be the French general; but some one was in great fault, and the Government had not corrected them. The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston said, "We are asked why we went to Sebastopol?" He did not ask the noble Lord that, for he knew they went there because they were afraid of saying they had done nothing. But he asked the noble Lord why did they go at such a season, to such a climate, and with such an inferior force? The noble Lord, the President of the Council had referred them to the campaigns of the Duke of Marlborough to show that he used mercenary troops, but it had since been truly shown that Marlborough fought with allied troops and 610 not with any mercenaries. He (Mr. Muntz) supposed that most hon. Members were conversant with Marlborough's campaigns, he had lately refreshed his memory with respect to them, and he now asked the noble Lord if he ever heard of Marlborough besieging a town on one side, leaving the other side open for the enemy to obtain reinforcement, ammunition, and provisions to any extent? When Marlborough besieged Lille, he invested the city entirely with a besieging army, and held the French general, Villeroy, at bay with an army of observation of equal force to his own. There was one thing more important, and worse in its consequences than any other, and he should like to know how the treaty was effected with Austria, by which that Power was allowed to take possession of the provinces, or who connived at it. The Russians were by this enabled to send their reinforcements to Sebastopol, while the Allies would have been better situated without this interposition on the part of the Austrians. There were Generals Luders, Gortchakoff, and Liprandi, with the troops who had been fighting on the Danube, all released, and afterwards found fighting against our poor fellows at Sebastopol. He doubted whether any good would come from the present Austrian treaty. In conclusion he would repeat, that he was anxious to give encouragement to this or any Government that would carry on the war with that vigour and efficiency due to the honour of the country, but he could not vote for the present measure, which he believed would be worse than useless, and only deceive both the army and the nation.
§ MR. DEEDES
said, be was anxious to answer one appeal which had been made by the noble Lord the President of the Council to those hon. Members who, like himself, had many near and dear to him now engaged in the war, and enduring great hardships and privations. How, asked the noble Lord, could they vote against a measure calculated to give relief to the persons so engaged? In putting the appeal in that way, the noble Lord begged the question altogether. If there were no other means of affording relief, it might then be a question whether the private feelings of hon. Members would justify them in giving a vote contrary to their public opinion. He contended, however, that this was not the only measure to which recourse could be had. He would not speak of it as being unconstitutional, as that point had been already discussed; but it 611 was constitutionally objectionable, and if it was not proved to be of paramount necessity they were not bound to vote for it. He would give his vote to-night from a conviction that if he gave it otherwise it would not be consistent with the best interests of the country—that it would not be in accordance with the feelings of his constituents, and would not justify himself to his conscience when he laid his head upon his pillow.
SIR JOHN FITZGERALD
Sir, I shall support this Bill, considering it one of the most vital importance to the Government that it should be carried, to enable them to carry on this war with the energy it requires.
Sir, I consider the objections made to this Bill as chimerical and delusive, founded on a supposition that a prejudice exists in the minds of the people of this country of incorporating foreigners in our Army; but those feelings, if they ever did exist, are now completely extinguished; a long peace, together with the frequent intercourse that has taken place between the several countries of Europe, has in a manner fraternised the people of different nations, and there is now but one common sentiment that unites them—hatred to oppression.
In conjunction with France, we have assailed the enemy at a point on which the hopes and ambitious views of Russia have been fixed against Turkey, from the days of Catherine; and we have to expect that Russia, containing a population of 70,000,000 inhabitants, under the absolute sway of the Emperor, will defend the Crimea with the whole force of his empire.
This being the case, and also the present position of our forces in that quarter, let me ask if we are doing justice to our army so employed, to refuse our support to a measure brought forward by the Government, solely for the purpose of bringing the war to an honourable and speedy conclusion.
Every State in Europe has adopted means to recruit its army, and to replace those losses which war inevitably causes.
Prussia has her landwehr, France her conscription; but let me remark that France—the first military Power in Europe, and allowed to be the most conversant in military questions—does France consider, even with her numerous population, the conscription to keep up her army effective in the field of action sufficient? No. France has resorted to a foreign legion, in addition to the conscription.
Every person who has read the history 612 of the Peninsular war must appreciate the services of the German Legion, and in consequence of the Confederation of the Rhine, under the protection of the Emperor Napoleon, they often fought, under most trying circumstances, German against German being often opposed to each other in the field of battle; but this is not happily the case at present; all through Germany the people are ready, heart and hand, to join to overthrow despotism wherever it may be established; and as this war, on our part, is to protect a weaker Power against a stronger that wishes to subdue it, there can be but one opinion that the Germans who offer us their services will do their duty with faithfulness and hearty good will.
I myself have served during the last war for eleven years in a German rifle regiment, and for the chief part of that time in command of it, the late 5th battalion of the 60th Regiment. At the siege of Badajos, who formed the covering party to the troops employed in the trenches at the storming of Badajos?—Who went in front of the forlorn hope to escalade the castle?—the 5th battalion 60th Regiment. Can any one read the orders of the late Duke of Wellington, relating to the services of this battalion in the Peninsula, and not agree with me that most valuable assistance can be obtained by the enlistment of foreigners?
I therefore entreat hon. Members now present to ponder well in their minds before they give their vote on this question. If rejected, I much fear the hands of Government will be so shackled as to impede their plans of action, for in the position the country is placed, with regard to the keeping up an effective force in the Crimea, I maintain it is impossible to do so without the aid of a Foreign Enlistment Bill.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire has said that we have endeavoured to throw off from our own shoulders the responsibility of the expedition to the Crimea, and to attribute it to public opinion and to the statements of some Members of this House. I beg leave to say, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that they wish to throw off no part of the responsibility; as the Executive Government, it belonged to them to decide whether such an expedition should be undertaken—they considered the question very deeply, and in their opinion it was a measure calculated to promote the success of the war. But with regard to the measure now be- 613 fore the House, the responsibility will not be that alone of the Executive Government; they have brought it forward conceiving that it would tend to the success of the war, and let us see what has been said in opposition. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) said that he with great reluctance came forward to oppose that which the Government thought necessary to the conduct of the war; other hon. Gentlemen have stated the same reluctance;—but no hon. Member appeared to have fairly considered the present situation of affairs, nor the remedies to be applied. Now, the state of affairs is this; you have voted—and frankly and liberally voted—a large number of men, but you have not by that vote obtained the number of men you wished to recruit, for no less than 20,000 men have fallen short of the vote; besides this, many of those who were recruited were so young as to be called, as they were—and properly so—by my noble Friend, mere boys. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman says that is not a fair statement, and that hon. Members know that it is not so; but I will tell you that my Lord Raglan, writing from the Crimea, complains that those sent out to him as drafts to join the regiments were so young, being below eighteen years of age, that soon after landing many were obliged to be sent into the hospital, and could not be introduced into his ranks. Then we are told in reply, that the whole country is for carrying on the war with vigour, and we are asked, why not rely on the country? These are grave but very vague terms. No doubt there are many landowners and merchants and others who declare in favour of the war, who support the Patriotic Fund, and who will make great sacrifices in order to promote a vigorous prosecution of the war;—but if the country wants soldiers, they are not of the station or age to enlist, and, therefore, all this enthusiasm, though good, does not give the 10,000 men you are in want of. Some hon. Gentleman hail said—why not ask for more men? It would have had a very great appearance to have come and asked for 50,000 men. We should have been much applauded for our vigour; but to have asked for additional men, with 20,000 short of the number already voted, would have been absurd. Well, then, it is said, lower the standard and increase the bounty, and extend the age. The standard has been lowered, the bounty has been increased, men have been allowed to enlist up to thirty years of age. You 614 might say, allow men to enlist at thirty-five years of age; but the number of men who would come forward between thirty and thirty-five years of age would be very small, for the number between those ages is not near so great as between other periods. Such being the case, with these very doubtful expedients only suggested, we have ventured to propose, conforming to the precedent of the last war, that we should be enabled to get men from foreign countries. It is said, "You may rely on the enthusiasm of the country, and men will bu forthcoming." You might just as well say, "Do not go to Liege for Minié rifles, for there is plenty of ore and coal in the country, and in time we may obtain the rifles." No doubt this would be the case if sufficient time were afforded, and just in the same manner these men would be converted into soldiers if sufficient time were given; but the question is whether, within the next four months, we could obtain an additional supply. It has also been asked what would have been the effect if we had had some of these Germans at Inkerman? Why, if we had had there some 10,000 such men as fought under the Duke of Wellington in various battles, I should say that we should have had an addition to our bravo infantry which would have been of great service, and that the bloodshed on the part of our army would have been much less. The right hon. Gentleman mentions various occasions in which desertions of German soldiers have taken place; but there was one thing he omitted, and a very important one—namely, that there was a custom that the German prisoners who were brought to this country were allowed to go back and enter the German regiments; these German prisoners having served in the French army, finding tile discipline of our army irksome to them, went back again to time French. It is not such a force that we propose to collect. The right hon. Gentleman read instances, from the Duke of Wellington's Despatches, of fourteen deserters, eleven of whom were caught, one shot, and two escaped, and there he ended; but the letter to which he referred goes on to say, that they were men who had only joined the regiment two clays; that they were prisoners who had been enlisted, but it was desirable not to have in that army enlisted deserters. The right hon. Gentleman found it convenient to omit these passages. Here is another passage which, likewise, the right hon. Gentleman took care not to quote 615The desertion is terrible, and is quite inconceivable, particularly among the British troops. I am not astonished that the foreigners should go, as those who enlisted the foreigners for Governvernment have taken them in general from the prisons.Such was the ingenious way in which the right hon. Gentleman read extracts from these despatches; but we know very well that the Duke of Wellington said, not only in 1852, but also in repeated despatches, that he admired the courage of the German troops. In one place he says, "I wish I had 3,000 cavalry, either British or German;" and he placed, in fact, the greatest reliance on these troops; and then the right hon. Gentleman gets up some case where German prisoners had been enlisted, and chooses that as a fair sample of the Duke's opinions. We were told, not very long ago, in the public papers, upon the authority of the hon. Baronet the Member for Lincolnshire (Sir John Trollope), that there was great enthusiasm in Germany against the Russians, and in behalf of the Western Powers, and the Government thought it was possible, seeing that such enthusiasm existed, to find a considerable body of men who, having been already trained to arms, would be of use as an addition to the force which is now serving in the Crimea. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last referred to the French. Undoubtedly, the Emperor of the French has said that whatever troops he had ready to go he should be ready to send to the Crimea, but would it be just if we were to say—"Knowing how cordial an ally you are, we will make no exertions, but we will rely entirely on the French army in order to reinforce the forces in the Crimea." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire has accused me of having avoided any reference to the campaign. Now, I do not wish to go into details respecting what has occurred since the beginning of the war; but I think, if hon. Gentlemen will look for a moment to results, they will find that there have been few occasions in which, this country having been only nine months at war, the results were so considerable as those which have now been obtained. At the end of the last war, after various combats, we were exceedingly satisfied and proud because we found ourselves complete masters of the sea and because the enemy could not come out of their ports. Lord Nelson and Lord Collingwood did not think of going in and destroying Cadiz; it was never thought necessary that the gallant fleet which was 616 always in the Channel should destroy Brest and other ports of the French; but now it seems that that which was a triumph at the end of the last war—that we have obtained the complete mastership of the sea, and succeeded in inclosing the enemy in his harbours—is rather a matter of reproach. I beg to submit to you the present position of the Emperor of Russia. What is the situation of his fleets? He has a great marine force, a fleet of some twenty-seven sail of the line in one place, and another fleet of eighteen sail of the line in another place; in time of peace sailing about with great show and splendour; but the moment war is declared, these fleets are shut up in their harbours. Is that a very honourable or creditable position? Is it not rather a very humiliating position for a naval Power? You speak of long negotiations; but let us remember what were the pretensions of the Emperor of Russia at the commencement. The Emperor of Russia then pretended to get the signature of a note from the Sultan, which the Sultan's Ministers declared was entirely subversive of his independence. Does he require that now? He has entirely given up any pretensions to it. The Emperor of Russia said, "Yes, I will occupy the Principalities as a material guarantee." But does he occupy them now? There were certain terms laid down in protocols at Vienna. The Emperor of Russia said, "I will not accept them." A few months afterwards he declared himself ready to assent to them. The allies have gone on, and they agreed upon certain conditions with Austria, to which they also obtained the assent of Prussia, unwilling as Prussia is to do anything unpalatable at St. Petersburg, before they were sent to the Emperor of Russia. The Emperor of Austria then sent these conditions to St. Petersburg. What was the reply of the Emperor of Russia? He sent, through Count Nesselrode, a haughty and indignant reply, that these conditions were destructive to the power of Russia, that they were such conditions as could only be accepted after a long and disastrous war, and that it would be humiliating in Russia to agree to them. But what is the language of Russia now? The Russian Minister declared at Vienna, only the other day, that the Emperor is willing to accept unreservedly, in the words in which they are expressed, these propositions as the basis of the conditions, which in August last he had indignantly rejected. Well, Sir, is that a triumphant position for Rus- 617 sia, or one that is humiliating for us? We are carrying on, no doubt, military operations of great hazard. The Government undertook it believing, as many naval and military men in France and England believed, that the facilities of attacking Sebastopol were greater than they have turned out to be, and, in consequence, there has been a degree of privation and hardship among our troops, and, at the same time, the necessity for displaying a degree of courage which has hardly ever been paralleled in the history of the world. I am quite ready to admit that they were mistaken in their estimate, and that high military and naval authorities, both of England and France, were also mistaken in their estimate of the strength of Sebastopol. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman gloats over the prospect of disaster, and he falls to the pages of his Thucydides for omens of the calamities that happened to the Athenian Army. I do not envy him his satisfaction. I still trust that the British army will remain to be victorious—that the flags of England and France will float in triumph over the walls of Sebastopol—and that these two great nations fighting in the cause of the liberties of Europe and of European civilisation, will still triumph over every obstacle that numbers and barbarism can oppose to them.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
rose to protest against the Bill. Whilst bearing testimony to the gallantry of the German Legion in the last war, he still thought the measure now proposed was a gross insult to the people of this country, at the same time that it displayed our weakness to Russia. England did not require the aid of foreign mercenaries in this war. She might safely trust her cause to the gallantry and courage of her own population; and he firmly believed that in one fortnight as many as 40,000 good and true Englishmen might be raised ready to fight the battles of the country in any part of the world. The noble Lord was unfortunately no soldier, and consequently had no feeling with the soldier. The measure was an underhanded measure—a low, dirty, mean, paltry, cowardly measure—a measure unworthy of an English Government. He had no confidence whatever in any of the Members of that Government, with the single exception of the noble Lord the Home Secretary. With that exception, the Lord have mercy on such a set!
THE MARQUESS OF BLANDFORD
said, he wished before the House divided to 618 make an appeal to the Government on a subject of importance. No one who had heard the debate could help feeling the deep solemnity and uncertainty of the position in which they were placed. He had no intention to diminish the responsibility of Government in this measure. Theirs was the responsibility, and on them let it rest. He wished to make one appeal to the noble Lord, connected with the Motion on the notice paper of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. He would suggest that Government should take into its serious consideration the propriety of preparing a public form of prayer in the present emergency.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 241; Noes 202: Majority 39.
§ [The List of the AYES and NOES will be found in the APPENDIX at the end of this Volume.]
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2o.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
proposed going into Committee upon the Bill this day (Wednesday), but he thought it would be convenient if the right hon. Gentleman opposite would state what course he intended to pursue with regard to the future stages of the Bill.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that the course he should prefer would be that the noble Lord should postpone the Committee until after Christmas. The measure had not been long enough before the country, and had been very quickly hurried through a second reading. With regard to the course he should pursue, he could only say that he should be in his place, and would offer every opposition to the further progress of the Bill.
§ Bill committed for this day (Wednesday).
§ Adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock.