§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
MR. H. T. LIDDELL
said, he had been extremely anxious, at a time when the attention of the whole country was so deeply fixed upon the conduct of this war, and on the policy of Her Majesty's Government, to offer some observations upon the measure before the House. But, in the previous debates which had taken place, he had felt so strongly what was due to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen — many of whom had been brought up from a great distance to give their vote—as well as what was due to the Government, who would be naturally desirous that no unnecessary delay should be interposed in arriving at a decision as to the great result that was pending, that he had hitherto abstained from addressing the House, with a view to expedite public business. But since the principle of the Bill had now been affirmed, and as it was unlikely that much time would be consumed in quarrelling about its details, he conceived the time had come when, as the representative of a most important constituency, he might with propriety venture to offer some observations to the House. And first, he must observe, that although he scarcely ever listened to the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) without great pleasure, and seldom without 630 much instruction, he was compelled to say he had never listened to a speech of a less conclusive character than that in which the Lord President of the Council had introduced the measure now before the House. The noble Lord seemed to argue, that because in all former wars foreigners had been employed in conjunction with the forces of this country, as a natural consequence they must now also be employed to co-operate with us in the present war. Now, it appeared to him that a confusion had been made, but very improperly made, on the opposite side of the House, between two species of foreign auxiliaries in themselves as different from each other as light from darkness—namely, confederates and mercenaries. He would say, in God's name, let the country have all the confederates possible in carrying on this war; but it had not been yet made clear to the House how it was to gain strength or influence by means of these mercenaries, whom it would be attempted to enlist under this Bill. If the Government had come forward and said, "Lord Raglan is in want of disciplined and drilled soldiers—if you give us this Bill we will be in a condition to supply that want, though we are not at liberty to say where these troops are to come from," that would have been a strong case, and would, in a great measure, have tended to remove the objections he could not help entertaining against the measure. But had the Government said anything of the kind? What did the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War state, and what were the sources to which he looked for the prospects of success in this measure? The right hon. Gentleman pointed to the fact that some 30,000 Germans landed annually on the shores of this country on their way to the United States or Australia. Well, last year he (Mr. Liddell) had had the honour of serving upon a Committee appointed to investigate the question of emigrant ships, when a great deal of information was elicited relative to the condition of persons reaching this country on their way to the United States; and amongst them much was said of the German emigrants in particular, as to whose state Mr. Murdock the Emigration Commissioner gave some valuable evidence. Indeed, he knew of his own knowledge that the first case of cholera occurring at Liverpool came by a party of German emigrants who had traversed the country in a state of the utmost destitution from Hull, on the east coast, to 631 Liverpool on the west, bringing in their train that horrid pestilence. Now, he would ask, was that a body of men to look to for the formation of a corps of drilled and disciplined soldiers fit to reinforce our army, when, as the noble Lord the Home Secretary of State proudly assured the country, it had the whole of the population of the United Kingdom to fall back upon as a reserve? He believed there was a very small prospect indeed of success in that direction. But great names had been introduced into the debate, and great authorities had been alluded to by the noble Lord opposite, and by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to show that no great military operation had ever been carried on by this or other countries without the aid of foreigners; and the noble Lord the Secretary of State adduced the instance of the Emperor Napoleon's incorporating foreigners with his armies, and to the successful issue to which his campaigns were brought. The noble Lord, however, omitted to refer to the real position of Napoleon relative to these foreign troops. What was the position of the Emperor Napoleon — what was the style and title assumed by him? He was styled Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Protector of the Rhenish Confederacy, Mediator of the Helvetic Confederacy! And were these mere empty titles? and was that all? No. Napoleon was a second Charlemagne, aspiring to universal dominion, which indeed he had acquired in Europe. His brother Jerome was King of Westphalia; his brother Joseph was titular King of Spain; Louis was King of Holland; his brother-in-law, Murat, was King of Naples; his step-son, Eugene Beauharnois, was Viceroy of Italy, having under his rule the fertile plains of Lombardy; while another brother-in-law, the Prince Borghese, held sway over other of the Italian provinces. Napoleon, therefore, stood in respect of all these States in the light of a suzerain, demanding from them contingencies in men and money. Was it wonderful, therefore, to find that soldiers from all countries of the world crowded beneath the banners of that great man? But was a spectacle of that nature to be compared with the miserable plan for enlisting the ragged outcasts of Germany to fight the battles of England—battles in a cause in which they were no ways concerned? He maintained it was simply throwing dust in the eyes of the country to attempt to justify the measure of the Government by such pleas.
632 And, again, if they looked back to the wars of Marlborough, they would find that the foreign contingents in his army were employed rather in the light of confederates than as mere mercenaries. But, on this part of the case, he would only say, that, as the Government had succeeded in carrying their Bill, he trusted it would be at tended with all the success they seemed to anticipate. Still he could not refrain from expressing his deep disappointment—disappointment which he knew would be shared in by his constituents as well as by a very great part of the community throughout the kingdom—that the Government, having called Parliament together, for the purpose of relieving the over-taxed energies of our brave soldiers in the East, this should be considered an effective measure for that purpose. He hoped now he might be permitted to say a few words as to the general conduct and probable consequences of this disastrous and unhappy war. It had been remarked in more than one quarter that the country was carrying on war upon a new footing, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) had told them that the war was being carried on with too much reference to commercial principles and commercial interests. And he would add, that they were carrying on the war without taking means to ensure that secrecy and promptitude so essential for the proper prosecution of all wars. With regard to the conduct of the war in reference to the interests of commerce, that was a point of extreme delicacy for him to touch upon, and it could scarcely be imagined that he (the representative of the great port of Liverpool) should desire to throw any obstacles in the way of commercial intercourse. Still he must say the mode in which the trade with Russia was now carried on gave to Russia all the advantages—perhaps greater advantages —than she received from a free, unrestricted intercourse; for Russia had received all the benefits of enhanced prices, while, by warning the merchants of England from her ports by your assertion of blockade, the trade had been thrown into the hands of neutrals. Such he understood to be the case with the Baltic trade, and such also, undoubtedly, was the case with the important trade of the Black Sea. He had seen that the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. Collier) had given notice of his intention to direct the notice of the House to the trade with Russia. That notice, however, had been 633 postponed; still he hoped the Government would take some steps to secure to British ships some of the advantages accruing from that trade, or at least that the blockade of the enemy's ports should be more decisively and determinedly established. There was another question, of the greatest importance to the country, which he should venture to allude to, because he deemed it of essential importance that our position should be thoroughly understood in the present war —what advantages England possessed on one side, and what were the advantages possessed by her enemy on the other. He had said that promptitude and secrecy were most material elements of success in war. The contest in which the country had embarked was a war of free institutions on the one hand—of absolute freedom of debate in Parliament and public assemblies out of doors of an unrestricted freedom of the press—of a civilised nation and representative Government on the one side, against despotic authority and centralised power on the other. It was indeed true that there were great advantages to be derived from this freedom of institutions; it was indeed true that to the civilisation of the Western Powers—to that high moral feeling and national pride that characterised the soldiers and officers of France and England—was to be ascribed that display of valour, and that determined resolution and endurance which carried our troops through dangers and distresses, which those of no other nation would be found equal to encounter and endure. On the other hand, as far as secrecy was concerned, no one could deny that this country was practically debarred from the exercise of it in carrying on the war. Not a regiment was raised—not a supply of money asked for from Parliament—not an expedition contemplated—without the Emperor of Russia having the intelligence laid almost simultaneously upon the table of his cabinet. By means of his unlimited resources and authority, the Emperor of Russia had established a system of communication with the seat of war, as well as with all the capitals of Europe, which kept him constantly informed of the intentions of his friends as well as of his enemies. And could we expect to derive all the advantages of our immense resources in carrying on this war opposed by such a system? Let him remind the House of a few instances to prove the value of secrecy in 634 war. And first he would adduce an instance, which, considering the intimate and close alliance now happily subsisting between the two nations, he could do without reserve—an instance taken from one of the most brilliant pages in the history of the battles of the Emperor Napoleon. In the year 1805 that great Potentate found himself reduced to a state of inaction in his camp at Boulogne, after having successively postponed his plan, which he had sincerely at heart, for the invasion of England, and seemed to be threatened with a new continental coalition more formidable than any which he had previously encountered. Armed at all points, he was nevertheless at that moment placed in a situation of great difficulty, and found all the might of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, prepared against him. Four different attacks were contemplated against the French Empire; the first, through Pomerania and Hanover, by the Swedes, Prussians, and Russians; the second, on the Danube, by the combined forces of Russia and Austria; the third, in Lombardy, by the Austrians alone; and the fourth, in the south of Italy, by a combined force of English and Russians. Napoleon, in the rapidity of his execution, and the success of his combinations and movements when developed, was, perhaps, the most extraordinary leader ever presented to the eyes of the world, and he determined to strike the Austrians before they could possibly effect a junction with the Russians, carrying out that object, so easy in theory and so difficult in practice, — namely, to meet and defeat his enemies one after the other. That plan, however, hinged upon an impenetrable secrecy, but it enabled him to move three great armies —the first under Bernadotte, the second undo Marmont, the third under his own immediate command, and converge them all at the same moment upon the battlefield in the neighbourhood of Wurzburg in Franconia. The result was, that almost before the Austrian Government was aware of his having marched from Boulogne, the Austrian army was surrounded, and nearly 60,000 men, under General Mack, were made prisoners at Ulm. Yes, it was owing to the impenetrable secrecy observed by the French Emperor, that in fifteen days the great events of that campaign were accomplished. And what was the language used by the historian of the "French Consulate 635 and Empire," in reference to that campaign—Never had any captain in ancient or modern times conceived or executed plans upon an equal scale. Since never a mind more powerful, a will more free, disposing of means more vast, had to operate upon so great an extent of country. What, in fact, do we usually see? Irresolute Governments, who deliberate when they ought to act—Governments without foresight, who are busy in organising their forces when already they ought to be in the field of battle, and below them subordinate generals who can scarcely move upon the circumscribed theatre assigned to their operations. Here, on the contrary, genius, will, foresight, absolute liberty of action, all concurred in the same man to the same object. It is rare that such circumstances all meet together, but when they are combined the world has its master.Now, if that language of M. Thiers applied at all to Her Majesty's present advisers, he would only say, if the cap fitted, let them wear it. But the same secrecy was observed in the campaign of Marlborough, when he brought his army from Maestricht to almost the very same battle-ground of Ulm, and gained the immortal victories of Schallenberg and Blenheim. Well, the moral which he would draw from all this was—that if the Government of this country was debarred from the exercise of this great element of success in war, they must endeavour to make up for their deficiency by increased foresight, and by the most unremitting attention to all the wants and requirements of an army engaged in an arduous campaign. Having thus attempted to illustrate the effect of secrecy and promptitude in the operations of war, he would beg for a moment to contrast our position with that of our great opponent, the Czar of Russia. In the Czar of Russia they had a second Napoleon to deal with—not, of course, as respected military genius, though he felt sure no contemptible military genius had been displayed in the operations and defence of Sebastopol; but as far as regarded impenetrable secrecy, as far as regarded the concentration of immense masses of men, as far as regarded their being admirably organised, and provided with all the munitions suggested by modern improvements in war—in all those respects he might be considered as rivalling the power of the Emperor Napoleon. In some respects, indeed, he was superior to him; for, during his occupation of the throne of France, to some extent the French Emperor was held to be a usurper; whilst the Czar of Russia was, 636 in the eyes of his people, almost an object of worship, as was evinced by their fanatical devotion and enthusiasm towards him during the progress of the war. Nevertheless, he must feel that the free government of a free people would be found to prevail against barbarism, though the country expected that no efforts would be wanting on the part of the Executive to bring about so noble a termination to the struggle. He was sure, however, that the country was disappointed by the proposal of this measure; while there was still more reason to dread that it would be disappointed yet more at its results. He had thus endeavoured to explain his views with reference to the policy of Her Majesty's Government; in doing so he believed he had declared the feelings of the great majority of the country with regard to the measure now under consideration. Certain he was that he had endeavoured to re-echo the sentiments of his constituents.
§ MR. RICH
said, that, although he had given his vote in favour of the Bill, he must guard himself against being supposed to have supported the measure itself, if it was framed for the engagement of mere mercenaries. He was well aware of the military difficulty in which Government was placed, and he would not object, therefore, to the employment of foreign soldiers, on conditions honourable alike to themselves and to this country. But were he to accept the explanation of the measure that was given by the Secretary at War, he would hardly have been prepared to vote in its favour. The source designated by the right hon. Gentleman as that from whence the expected supply of troops was to be derived was from some 20,000 to 30,000 Germans, who in the course of every year passed through this country, after having completed their appointed national military training, and who being desirous of settling in the United States, or some of our colonies, brought with them their wives and families, together with letters of de-naturalisation from their own Sovereigns. Now, he fully admitted the value of foreign auxiliaries, but emigrants, such as these, would be the merest mercenaries. There could evidently be in them no sentiment of patriotic enthusiasm or sympathy for the great cause in which Europe, they were then quitting, was now engaged; encumbered with their families, and starting from their German homes as colonial settlers, he could not believe they would be 637 likely to enlist, or that, if they did, they would be animated with that military ardour which was the heart and soul of a soldier. He believed there must be reasons of an official and diplomatic nature which had tongue-tied the right bun. Gentleman from explaining the full scope of the measure, and he was confirmed in this supposition by finding allusions only were made to the quarter whence the troops to be enlisted were to be derived. The language, too, of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) necessarily implied that some negotiations would be entered into in consequence of this Bill. He had voted last night for it, and was prepared to do so again, in the confident expectation that Her Majesty's Government did see their way to a practical application of the measure by the enlistment of valuable auxiliary troops, animated with a spirit similar to that which actuated this country and France in opposing Russia in her schemes of unjustifiable aggrandisement. He had, therefore, supported this measure as a mark, thus far, of his trust and confidence in Her Majesty's Government. If it should prove, however, that it was to be carried out by bringing over cargoes of discontented, disunited wanderers, destitute alike of all home and all allegiance, and forming them into bands of mercenaries, he should be unable, when the money vote came on, to continue the support which lie now gave. He could not disguise from himself, that although, in conducting the operations of a war, especially at the outset, many mistakes must necessarily be made, arising from want of preparation and organisation, yet on this occasion there had evidently been more than was defensible, and, he might add, almost conceivable. He was willing to make every allowance for the difficulties in which Government were involved, but there was one source of weakness, paralysing and impeding the due employment of their energies, which might readily be corrected. In the observations he was about to make he might be considered as prejudiced, having always acted with one well-known party, but he made them in the hope that they might conduce to the remedy of the evil. He held that in conducting this war, which now absorbed nearly all other State considerations, it was essential that those Members of Her Majesty's Government who had the largest portion of support in that House and the country should, whilst they were responsible for the operations of the war, 638 have the greatest amount of authority in directing it. He did not know whether it was accidental, or from what causes it had arisen, but it so happened that every Member of the Government in any way connected with the department of military administration belonged to a party, or rather a section of public men, who, although of much ability and high private integrity, yet had no very large body of supporters either in or out of Parliament. Personally, he had reason to speak of them with all possible respect, and to desire to give them his support. But he would not, therefore, conceal the fact that it did so happen that the Commander in Chief belonged to that party; the Prime Minister belonged to that party; the First Lord of the Admiralty belonged to that party; the Minister for War belonged to that party; the Secretary at War belonged to that party; whatsoever remained of the Ordnance belonged to that party; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who furnished the sinews of war, also belonged to that party. Now, such a monopoly of the active direction of the war by a compact section of men who are not considered by the public to entertain very energetic opinions regarding its conduct, is an arrangement contrary to the public interests, and adverse to a determined unity of action, seeing that their colleagues in the Government, men of still greater ministerial and official experience, and at least equal intellect, are thus shut out from giving the full benefit of their abilities to the prosecution of the war. The Government, from its formation, and from other circumstances to which he might allude, but on which it was not necessary to dwell, was a Government of departments. The active superintendence and direction of it did not rest on a single head, as in Mr. Pitt's Administration. And now, while one section thus assumed the sole conduct of the war, who were the principal defenders of the present measure? Who came forward most zealously to lend their aid in explaining and vindicating the policy of the Administration? Why, strange to say, the very Ministers who were excluded from its management. In another place they saw a nobleman, venerable for his years, though still young and powerful in his mental vigour and ability (the Marquess of Lansdowne). In that House, also, last night, the brunt of the onset was borne by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) and the noble Lord 639 the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), with the resolution and firmness they always showed. He had heard it stated by many Members, in private conversation, that they were willing and desirous to support the present Government, believing it to be the best that could be formed under existing circumstances. But as they had seen last year changes made in the internal arrangements of Government, so they trusted that before the reassembling of Parliament they should see other changes which would provide a better distribution of force, combining all the energies of all the Ministers in the prosecution of the war. Thus, he believed, the country would be essentially benefited, and the prospects of a successful termination of the contest materially improved. If he regarded the present measure merely such as the Secretary at War had sketched, rather than described it, he should hesitate to give it his support; but, believing the Government had ulterior views in regard to it, not communicated to Parliament, he was ready again to support it by his vote.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
I think, Sir, perhaps it is an act of charity for some person to rise and protect Her Majesty's Government from their own supporters, for really, Sir, no bomb that ever arrived at Sebastopol can have made a greater explosion than this shot from behind, informing Her Majesty's Government that upon this vital question of the war, every single department in it, from the Ordnance to the Commander in Chief, is in the hands of that part of the Ministry in which it ought not to be. [Mr. RICH said, he had made no such observation.] Well, well, Sir, Her Majesty's Government have got the numbers on their side, and they are wise enough to care very little about the arguments. I was exceedingly sorry, Sir, to vote as I did last night. I think Her Majesty's Ministers have done themselves wrong. The fact is, that the country look upon this Bill as very much like what they call at Newmarket a "dark horse." There is a suspicion, Sir, that all is not fair and proper aboveboard. I have heard insinuations—some were made last night by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, but I will not repeat them, for I really do not know, and, indeed, I can't know whether they are well founded or not; but of this I am certain, from the language used to myself by every person to whom I have spoken on the subject, and I may say chiefly by friends of Her Ma- 640 jesty's Government, that there is an idea that some ulterior measure is concealed behind the present project. ["Hear, hear!"] Why that is the very sense of the expression used by the hon. Member who spoke last, and this, I say, is not fair dealing. The country has been taken entirely by surprise by this measure. There are meetings holding, I know, at this moment, and others in contemplation in different parts of the country, and I believe from what I gathered last night from the very contradictory speeches which were made, that there is great jealousy existing on the subject. But the country has a right to know, freely and fairly, what you are going to do. Now, I think all that has been said about its being unconstitutional to employ foreign troops is downright trash. If this be a bonâ fide measure for taking into our pay 30,000—or any number of thousands you please—of lawful troops, it will have my most cordial support. Suppose, for instance, the King of Bavaria were to say, "Here, I have got 30,000 men; I cannot pay them, but you may;" if you like to confederate with him, and send them to Sebastopol, then I say, send them by all means. But, Sir, from what I collected, this is a totally different description of agent which you are going to employ, and one about which I have a strong and very conscientious objection. The profession of arms is a most honourable profession, and, I believe, brings out the best qualities, moral and physical, which characterise man, better than any other profession. Regular soldiers never go into action, never are they carried to deeds of violence, except at the bidding of their Sovereign, in defence of the weak and oppressed or for the protection of their country; but when you come to hire mercenaries, who have no Sovereign over them, no country to protect, and no one ennobling sentiment in them, that is what degrades the military profession. These men are nothing but men-butchers; they fight and murder for ls. a day, and, of course, if anybody will give them 2s. a day they will turn round and murder you in turn. And why should they not? I see that, by this Bill, you propose that these men should take an oath, not of allegiance exactly, but of fidelity. Fidelity to what? —to ls. a day. But is not fidelity to 2s. a day a very much better thing?A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn.I say this proposal is a most dishonourable 641 mode of warfare. It was because I could not make out, from the contradictory speeches of the Members of the Government, which of these two forces it is they intend to employ, that I voted against the Bill last night. I am not against the employment of foreign troops, but I think it was exceedingly unfair to say that, if we do not swallow this measure before the country has time to form an opinion upon it, we are to be threatened with the withdrawal of the great Duke of Newcastle. Why, Sir, it's something like the old maiden lady in the comedy who lived with the poor gentleman, and who pretty nearly bored him to death by perpetually threatening him, "If you do not do as I bid you, I will withdraw from you the protection of the Hon. Lucretia M'Tab." There are certain Members of Her Majesty's Government whom I should he exceedingly sorry to lose, but I confess I should not greatly grieve if the Duke of Newcastle were to take his departure. I should not think they would go into mourning for the event in our camp before Sebastopol, though, possibly, the Emperor of Russia might receive the news with sincere sorrow. Somebody else, I should think, might be found who would have taken care that our horses should not have kicked one another to death in the transports; who would have seen that the officers should have had a change of linen before this time; that officers and men should not have had their clothes rotting off their backs; and that some means or another should have been discovered by which the things which were sent out from this country with a liberal spirit should have got some time or other into the hands of the persons for whom they were intended. But this wonderful problem, of how to get a thing from one place to another, is evidently far beyond the comprehension of the Duke of Newcastle. I do not think there can be any such hurry as has been represented, and, therefore, I am inclined to hope that the Government will not press the measure, but will postpone it—I will not dispute about the day —but, at least, postpone it until the country has had time to become somewhat better acquainted with it.
§ SIR WILLIAM VERNER
said, that he did not rise for the purpose of replying to the observations of any of the hon. Members who had preceded him; but, from having served in the army for many years, both at home and abroad, and aware of the sentiments entertained by our army on 642 the subject before the House—the enlistment of foreigners into our service—he wished to say a few words with regard to facts which had come within his knowledge, and fur the correctness of which he could vouch. During the last war it was frequently the practice to buy foreigners into our service, and he could assure the House that great dissatisfaction was felt in consequence by our army. He would mention an instance of this which occurred in the regiment to which he (Sir W. Verner) belonged. When stationed at Ipswich a foreigner was appointed to a commission in the regiment. He remained with us for some weeks, during which time he associated very little with the other officers, and his conduct was altogether so strange that it created a strong suspicion in the regiment that he had joined it from some secret and not very creditable motive. These suspicions proved to be well-founded. After a time he obtained leave of absence to come up to town, and never returned to the regiment; in short, he was a spy, and was published as a deserter in the Hue and Cry, and a reward offered for his apprehension; but he never was again heard of He (Sir W. Verner) would now proceed to relate what happened when serving with the army in Spain and France. There was in the brigade in which he was serving a foreign regiment of cavalry, and when stationed close to the enemy's lines the desertions upon the part of the men belonging to this regiment were so frequent, particularly when on piquet, that the Duke of Wellington issued an order, that when a soldier of this (foreign) corps was placed as a vidette, a British dragoon was to be placed with him, in order to watch him, and if he had reason to believe he in, tended to desert he would be justified to shoot him. The difference between foreign and British soldiers is very great; independent of the disinclination on the part of the English soldier to desert to the enemy, he is obliged, from his ignorance of languages, to return to his own country, where he is almost sure to be detected. All countries were alike to foreign soldiers, and the temptation to desert was very great. A cavalry soldier, who took with him his horse and appointments, was handsomely rewarded; this was well known to the foreigners in our service. There was another circumstance, he would mention, as having also come within his (Sir W. Verner's) knowledge, which occurred at Waterloo, and is recorded in the events of 643 that memorable day. Late, during the action, a foreign regiment of cavalry, in the service of England, came upon the ground near where he (Sir W. Verner) was with his regiment. By this time the regiment was greatly reduced, and the appearance of fresh forces was so welcome that he (Sir W. Verner) remarked to an officer near him, that it was a "timely relief." Having been engaged for a short time at some distance from his regiment, he (Sir W. Verner) was surprised, on his return, to find the foreign regiment gone. It, however, appeared afterwards that the Marquess of Anglesey had sent an aide-de-camp to the officer commanding to desire he would charge with his regiment. The officer replied that his was a young regiment, that it was the first time it had been under fire, and the men had behaved so well, he was going to take it off the field, and he accordingly marched it off to Brussels. Speaking as an old officer, recollecting what the feelings of the army was on this subject, and judging from the conduct of the foreign troops in our service, he saw no reason for supposing the new levy, if raised, would not follow their example; and, as he believed it was completely at variance with the feelings of British subjects, and wholly uncalled for, he would give the measure his decided opposition.
§ MR. OTWAY
said, that, having on a previous occasion voted against the second reading of this Bill, he wished to state the reasons why he opposed the measure. He should be sorry to impede the sending out of reinforcements to our gallant army in the Crimea, but he believed that we had other sources in important parts of our own empire that could be made earlier available for affording help to that army than the means offered by this Bill. He had seen from the newspapers that the Sikh and Ghoorka regiments in India, who were especially adapted for this service, were ready to volunteer for the Crimea. The East India Company obtained powers last Session for largely increasing their force of Europeans, and he believed that they were now carrying those powers into effect. Intelligence had also been received that a treaty of peace had been entered into with the Sovereign of Burmah; and, India being now in a state of perfect tranquillity, we might obtain effective reinforcements from that quarter before the foreign troops to be raised under this Bill could be organised and sent out 644 to the seat of war. He likewise objected to the class of men contemplated by this measure. Having had the good fortune to witness the efficiency of many German regiments in the field, he would be the last man to underrate their capabilities. He believed that German troops, led by their own officers, fighting under their own standard, and animated by the traditions of their military history, would perform feats of arms second to none in the annals of the world. It was no longer a secret what was the character of the force proposed to be employed. It was to be recruited, they were given to understand, largely front German emigrants. But he had confidence in German emigrants as a military force. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War told them that these emigrants would be trained soldiers, but Prussia was the only State where every man was of necessity a soldier; and of his own knowledge he could state that in some of the minor principalities and small duchies this was not the case; so that we could not really have that security as to the quality of these men that had been held out to us. It was quite true that foreign troops had served with our army in the last war, but it should be remembered that among those foreign troops there was only one regiment which did not sympathise with the cause in which we were engaged. He alluded to the Greek regiment; and what was its conduct? Being stationed at Malta, it revolted and seized possession of one of the forts, from which it cost us a great deal of trouble to dislodge it. If the Government had declared it to be their intention to form a Polish Legion with its own officers, he would gladly have supported them. If we landed a body of Poles to-morrow in the Crimea, with their own officers, he believed that great numbers would desert from the Russian ranks, and a great moral effect would be produced from which this country would derive much benefit. He understood that a letter had been written containing an offer from certain Polish prisoners that were detained in our ports to enlist in our service as soldiers and sailors to oppose our enemy, instead of remaining inactive and a burden upon the people of this country. If this story were true, it showed what was the spirit of the Poles, and how we might make them of use in this war. He was convinced that the great question at issue in this contest would never be solved until 645 the cause of Poland was brought before that House, and with that subject he was sure the Government would have sooner or later to deal. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, namely, where were these foreign troops to be stationed? Were they to be billeted on the inhabitants of this country or stationed in our dockyards? Supposing them not to be encamped, but to be sent to our strong fortified places, to Portsmouth, Plymouth, Sheerness, or Chatham, for these were the only places containing barracks for large bodies of men, would not such a step be attended with danger? Look at the class of men of whom they were speaking? They had no feeling or enthusiasm in the cause, but came here, as the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had said, to undertake to murder for a shilling per day. Now, with the numerous Russian agents that were in this country and at the Courts of all the petty German Princes, nothing could be easier than for these Russian agents to get twenty or thirty of these men for a certain sum of money, and send them over to England as emigrants to enlist in the proposed mercenary legion. And what would be the result? Why, they might do irreparable damage in our dockyards and arsenals. This, therefore, was a point worthy of attention, and the House should require information from the Government upon it. It was impossible to separate this measure from the conduct of the war hitherto. He admitted that we could not expect to enter into a great war with a peace establishment without making many mistakes of detail, but he could not refrain from noticing the want of ordinary precaution shown by some departments of the public service. At this time last year Ministers must have known that there was every probability of a war with Russia. Hurried attempts were being made at our dockyards to fit out our fleets for service; and when hon. Members asked why a particular class of vessels was not sent to a particular quarter, the answer of the First Lord of the Admiralty was, that we had not the men nor the gunboats that were required. Well, but at that particular conjuncture, twelve months ago, when preparations were so urgent, we actually turned our own vessels out of duck and admitted two Russian ships, which were there armed and sent to sea. This was surely bad enough, but what followed he 646 should think must have caused some remorse to the First Lord of the Admiralty. The Aurora having taken refuge in the harbour of Petropaulovski, in the unfortunate action which took place there a short time ago, he found that the damage done to a portion of our navy was done by that very Russian ship which we allowed to escape from our hands in the way he had stated. The right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) referred last night to Thucydides; but England had produced a historian not second to that classic writer, whose name was immortalised by his history of the decline and fall of a great empire. Some of the pages of that philosophic writer he would commend to the attention of Her Majesty's Ministers, and more especially those in which, speaking of the statesmen who by their pusillanimity accelerated the fall of the Roman Empire, he said that crafty Ministers substituted temporary expedients for salutary counsels. He could not but view the present Bill as a mere temporary expedient. Why were the Government not prepared to mention the name of Poland, and to rally round them those who were ready to assist in the struggle? But if the Government were not prepared to accept, or if they objected to such aid, why did they not appeal to the national spirit? Why did they not call upon all men above thirty years of age, and tell them of the need for their exertions? Let them increase the bounty, and lower the standard fur enlistment; let them open all grades of their profession, to those soldiers who had shown themselves so worthy of them; then no doubt we should obtain a British army which would win other victories equal (for it was impossible to surpass) those of Alma and lnkerman, which would lead to an honourable and lasting peace.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he had listened with some attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Richmond (Mr. Rich), who appeared to him to belong to a rising party in this country, who were given to speak one way and who almost invariably vote the other. As well as he understood the hon. Gentleman's arguments, the hon. Member was of opinion that the Ministry might be reconstructed with advantage, and possibly the hon. Member himself might be induced to assist in the work of reconstruction, He trusted that the sound views expressed by the hon. Gentleman would prove satisfactory to his 647 own conscience as well as to his constituents. Three distinguished individuals had addressed the House on the part of the Government. They had heard the speeches of the noble Lord the Member for London, the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War. He hoped he would be permitted to make a few observations, not upon their words—for words were but the vehicle of thought—but upon their thoughts. Those three statesmen have submitted their opinions to Parliament upon this measure—to a Parliament that had been summoned together at an unseasonable period of the year for the consideration of what was called a great and important question. The noble Lord the President of the Council had given the House a disquisition upon the balance of power, to the threatened derangement of which he ascribed the commencement of the present war. Now that, he considered, was a very ticklish and delicate ground upon which to place the question of war. The doctrine of the balance of power is one that is subject to many limitations, when understood not by mere writers and thinkers, but by the common sense of mankind. It is subject to this limitation, that at the earliest moment the existence or authority of one Power is threatened by the ambitious views of another, it is our duty to express ourselves in opposition to the aggressor with decision and firmness, and in unmistakeable language, against the policy of disturbing this balance of power, before we have recourse to the last alternative of a declaration of war. Was that the course taken by the Government over which Lord Aberdeen presides—a Government that had in its possession a remarkable and important document, to which the same noble Lord was a party in 1844? That was a document which clearly intimated to the then Government the intentions of Russia, and from the time of its execution a system of negotiation not very creditable to our diplomacy had been going on. Now the doctrine of the balance of power had once received a great shock in the partition or Poland. The great Edmund Burke said that if an English Administration possessed of capacity and courage had then spoken out the sense of England upon that horrible transaction, the dreadful crime might have been averted. When the English Government permitted such a transaction to take place, the argument of the balance of power 648 was most dangerous. If they put the question upon the ground of self-interest, the argument would be intelligible to all. Then they might say that, finding that the policy of the Emperor of Russia interfered with our interests, the Government thought that they would be taking the wisest course in adopting every means possible calculated to check him. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had spoken that day with his usual ability as to this highly objectionable measure. He (Mr. Whiteside) now asked hon. Members as Englishmen, whether those Gentlemen who spoke against the Bill at the outset were wrong in the objections which they had made. The Bill, as it was originally framed, was as mischievous a measure as could be introduced by a weak and improvident Ministry. What did the Bill propose to do when it was first introduced? The Bill would have enabled Government to employ in the country a body of foreigners who would have had the power of taking to prison any hon. Gentleman who sits in that House. Let them look to Italy for examples. Were there any States in Italy which availed themselves of the system of hiring foreign troops? What was the practice in Naples? When he (Mr. Whiteside) was there, he was informed that the number of Swiss troops employed was 11,000. He saw them in review, and they appeared to be a most effective body of men, who evidently, however, cared nothing for the people of the country—who were hired and employed by a foreign Power to crush their liberties, and who were ready to perform at command, the task for which they were paid, by trampling down the liberties of the people, if they had any liberties left them—but that people have none. What had been perpetrated under that system was powerfully described and justly stigmatised by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his pamphlets on Naples, which would be remembered long after his Budgets were forgotten. There is another country—Rome. What is the system there? His Holiness the Pope required the presence of a strong force of foreign troops to keep him on his throne. When Massimo Azeglio wrote his Reflections on Italy, he drew attention to the evils consequent upon the employment of mercenaries, and in the best chapter of his work proved that whenever rulers condescended to the adoption of such a system, they had invariably corrupted their own subjects, destroyed liberty, and sown 649 the seeds of anarchy and rebellion. But it is said, what a silly thing it is to object to the introduction of foreign troops into this country. Why! Onslow, the Speaker of that House about a century ago—in 1756 —on presenting the Money Bills to the King, addressed His Majesty on a similar occasion to the present, in these words—They beg leave most humbly to say, they hope the sword you have so bravely drawn, and they so effectually supported, will be intrusted only in brave, callable, and honest hands, that so the naval, the natural strength of England, will make a figure, will do service, as much greater as it is exalted higher than ever before. … Though ever attached to Your Majesty's person, they cannot forbear taking notice of some circumstances in the present situation of affairs which nothing but the confidence in your justice, your love to the people devoted to you, could hinder from alarming their most serious apprehensions. An army of foreign troops—a thing unprecedented, unheard of, unknown—brought into England, causes but alarm. They hope their fears may be removed as soon as possible, and, in the meantime, that the sword of these foreigners should not be intrusted a moment out of your own hand to any other person whatsoever.But he (Mr. Whiteside) was told that by the law of this country the king or Sovereign might employ any number of foreign troops out of the kingdom. It was true that the Sovereign was armed with such a prerogative. But who was to pay for them? Parliament possessed the power of checking the abuse of that prerogative by refusing to pay for them. Now he would ask, were there ally precedents for this Bill? There were three Acts of Parliament referred to as authorities upon the subject. But he denied that there were any precedents for the present measure. The Act of 1794 was a remarkable example of the jealous care with which their predecessors watched over the liberties of the country while aiding the Crown in its difficulties. The Act of the 34 Geo. III. c. 42, sec. 43, was entitled—An Act to enable subjects of France to enlist as soldiers in regiments to serve on the continent of Europe and in certain other places, and to enable His Majesty to grant commissions," &c.And it recited that—Whereas, during the present war between Great Britain and Prance, it may be expedient to raise regiments to serve on the continent of Europe, or in the dominions of His late Most Christian Majesty, and to enlist as soldiers in such regiments such persons, who were subjects of His late Most Christian Majesty, as shall be willing to enlist themselves in His Majesty's service; and to enable a certain number of them to serve and receive pay as officers in such regiments, and as engineers, under restrictions: Be 650 it enacted, dud it shall be lawful for such persons, who were subjects of His late Most Christian Majesty, as shall be willing to serve His Majesty, to enlist as soldiers and to accept commissions from His Majesty (which commissions it shall be lawful for His Majesty to grant) to serve as officers, or as engineers, in any part of the continent of Europe, or in the islands of Guernsey, &c. or in any part of the dominions of His late Most Christian Majesty. Provided, that no such officer or soldier shall be enabled by this Act to serve as an officer, or engineer, or soldier in any place except on the continent of Europe, or in any of the islands of Guernsey, &c. or in any part of the dominions of His late Most Christian Majesty. Provided further, that, in case it shall be deemed necessary or expedient to bring any such troops as aforesaid to any port or place in Great Britain for the purpose of rendezvous, or with a view to operations abroad, and it shall be deemed necessary or expedient to land such troops in any part of Great Britain fur health or exercise, it shall be lawful so to do. Provided, that such troops, so landed, shall not be marched into the country to any distance greater than five miles from the sea, coast. Provided also, that notice of landing such troops shall within fourteen days after such landing be given to both Houses of Parliament, if Parliament shall be then assembled; and, if not, within fourteen days after the then next meeting of Parliament. Provided also, that there never shall be at any one time within this kingdom a greater number of persons who shall have been enlisted under the authority of this Act than 5,000 men.The second Act which bad been referred to as a precedent was the 44 Geo. 111. c. 75, which recited—Whereas it bath been deemed expedient by His Majesty, in order to provide in the speediest manner for the better defence and greater security of the United Kingdom in the present important juncture of affairs, to permit certain foreigners now in Great Britain to enlist as soldiers into His Majesty's service, and, for the better disciplining such soldiers, to form them into regiments, and to grant commissions to certain foreign officers acquainted with their manners and language; and it was provided that there should never be more than 10,000 men in the kingdom.But these foreigners were in fact emigrants, who proved themselves to be brave and patriotic men in this country, and who were accustomed to out laws and system of government. The remaining Act was the 54 Geo. III.; and he defied the Secretary at War to show that it authorised the Government to bring into this country foreign troops to be drilled and instructed, and kept here, as long as the Government thought fit before being sent abroad, and then to have their places supplied by others. The Act of 1813 gave no power whatever to drill these troops in England. These were all the statutes referred to, and he therefore felt he was justified in saying that there were no precedents for this Bill. 651 He admitted, indeed, that that would be no valid argument against a recurrence to such a measure if pressing necessity for its adoption were shown, but that the Government had failed to do. Well, then, was there any principle for it in the constitution of this country? The principle of our constitution was that our army should consist of our own people, in order that they might be animated by the same spirit as the people. This had been over and over again laid down as the principle of our constitution. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had taunted the opponents of the measure with having brought forward no new arguments, but simply repeated the arguments of Charles James Fox in 1794. He (Mr. Whiteside) confessed that he had read with an humble and reverential spirit the immortal orations of the very man whom the right hon. Gentleman had thought fit to deride. They stated the principle that actuated the Whigs, when they were a great party. Mr. Grey, and every authority upon the subject, said, that when an unprecedented thing was sought to be done, it was the duty of Parliament and the country to watch it closely, for the smallest encroachments upon the constitution should be resisted when they were first attempted, lest that which was in the beginning only a partial inconvenience, might in the end become a permanent mischief, and what was merely practice to-day might become precedent to-morrow. But we have a great English writer who has spoken upon the character of mercenary troops, in contradistinction to the native militia, and who has pointed out the true source of the greatness of empires and drew the following distinction between mercenary forces and the true support of a country—Lord Bacon; and he hoped there was a copy of his writings in the War Office. Lord Bacon said—Therefore, let any Prince or State think soberly of his forces, except his militia of natives be of good and valiant soldiers; and let Princes on the other side, that have subjects of martial disposition, know their own strength, unless they be otherwise wanting to themselves. As for mercenary forces (which is the help in this case), all examples show that, whatsoever estate or Prince doth rest upon them, he may spread his feathers for a time, but he will mew them soon after.When Marius had enlisted the rabble at Rome, he did two things: he destroyed the liberties of Rome, and laid the foundation of military tyranny throughout the world. He contended that the principle 652 involved in this Bill was immoral, unjust, destructive to the liberties of England, and of the political character of the men who made such a proposition. The proposal of the Government was not a repetition of the policy pursued in the late war. It was not the case of the Portuguese fighting for Portugal—it was not the case of the emigrant French fighting for France, nor that of the Spaniards fighting for Spain—it was the mendicant policy of a Minister, who sets out upon a tour through Europe to beg for troops wherever he can find them, and offers to pay them for cutting the throats of men with whom they have no cause of war. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had given the House his reasons for this measure. He (Mr. Whiteside) did not mean in the slightest degree to impeach his humanity—he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman was capable of any act of unkindness. He believed that if the right hon. Gentleman could relieve the wounds of our suffering brethren in the Crimea by any act of his, he would willingly do so. He never meant to attack the right hon. Gentleman on the score of want of humanity and good feeling. He only sought to dispute the arguments by which he had attempted to support this Bill. He denied some of his facts, and the applicability of his reasoning. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War told the House that the Government bad been asked why they had not the requisite troops, and he then proceeded to give the reason. Ho told them that they had first to get the recruits, and then to train and drill them, and that a very considerable time was consumed in this. Well, what he (Mr. Whiteside) complained of was, that they had gone to war with the greatest military Power in the world without having obtained the requisite troops, or having done what they might have done to obtain them. The Guards were sent to Malta in February last, and war was declared on the 26th of March. When did the Government ask for a Militia Bill for Ireland? Why, on the 11th of August. If ever any gentlemen were placed in a peculiarly unfortunate position, they were Her Majesty's Ministers. No act which common sense could point out, or which any statesman would have foreseen to be necessary, was performed by them. Why, when they declared war, did they not embody the militia? Why did they not do that which Lord Hardinge, and every other authority, said ought to 653 have been done? Although they passed a Bill in the month of August to raise 30,000 militiamen in Ireland, it was not until Parliament was summoned together that the Privy Council issued their order to fix the quotas for each county in Ireland. Those indefatigable and patriotic men, who feel so much for the sufferings of their countrymen in the Crimea, knew very well that everything they could ask for from the House of Commons for the carrying on of the war would be unhesitatingly granted them. He heard the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty thank the House for the vote of millions for the service. Was it, then, too much to ask the Government what they had done with the powers they had obtained, and what had been their conduct? They had the power of raising 30,000 men in Ireland, and they failed to exercise it up to the last moment. He (Mr. Whiteside) wrote to a noble and gallant Friend of his, the colonel of a militia regiment in Ireland which was ordered to be embodied, as he was anxious to hear what they were really doing in respect to the militia. What was the answer which he received? His noble Friend, in reply, stated that he had never yet got the order to embody his regiment; and that if he had got the order three or four months ago, he would have had them ready for service long since. He (Mr. Whiteside) was speaking of the county Fermanagh, and of his noble Friend the Earl of Enniskillen. The difficulty now was this: These militiamen were generally farm servants; but since the Bill had passed for their embodiment they were thrown out of employment, in consequence of the apprehension entertained by the farmers that from day to day they would be in danger of losing their services. There was no want of men willing to enter the militia, but what they said was, "No pay, no militia; if you choose to embody me, put me in barracks, and I am ready to fight." The Government had, however, not issued the order for their embodiment yet, but they say, "for the sake of our suffering brethren in the Crimea, and for those who are to fight our battles, give us this Bill," which really means nothing. He heard the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) make a speech upon this great and solemn occasion—one in which our Feelings are deeply interested, because our friends and brethren are at this moment lighting in support of the noblest 654 cause in which a nation could be engaged—fighting, not for the Holy Alliance or the re-establishment of tyranny, but, as he understood, for the establishment of reason over brute force, and for the advancement of civilisation. And what was the character of that speech of the noble Lord? Stripping it of its words and of its jaunty manner, it asked, was it possible that they would not pass this Bill for the relief of our brethren in the Crimea? Yes; they did feel for the sufferings and the losses of that gallant army; for there were many in that House whose nearest and dearest friends had already suffered and bled and died. There sat behind him his hon. Friend the Member for Donegal (Mr. Conolly), whose two brothers had been shot down—one of them mortally, and the other tortured by wounds. There sat near him the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Leslie), whose brother also lay wounded. Where is the gallant Member for the county of Antrim (Colonel Pakenham), who ought to be sitting in that House? He was transfixed by a bayonet at Inkerman, where the gallant Member for Cavan was wounded likewise. The noble Lord says, "I do not know where we are to get the men, but when we do find them we must bring them to England. But I do not know how long it will require to drill and teach them before we send them to the Crimea in order to relieve our friends, and to put an end to the conflict which they wage with the elements as well as with their human enemies." He appealed to the understandings of those whom he addressed as to whether this was not a mockery? I do not know, said the noble Lord, where we are to get the men, or whether we shall ever get them—but pass the Bill before the House. He did not know whether there were any petty States in Germany that would hire out their men; but, even if there were, why, he asked, should they be brought over to England to be drilled before they were sent out to the Crimea? Our troops had suffered severely—they had fought and conquered an enemy of infinitely numerical superiority—they had been absolutely starved; and, as Lord Raglan said in one of his despatches, they were at this time employed in gathering up stones to raise a shelter for themselves from the weather. All this was true; and they wanted, of course, assistance and relief. But what were the prompt, vigorous, and splendid measures of relief pro- 655 posed by Her Majesty's Ministers? Simply this Bill, the advantages of which were wholly prospective, for getting men they did not know where or how, or in what condition they might be in, bringing them back to England, drilling them here, and twelve months hence, he supposed, sending them to the Crimea to gather up the bones of our slaughtered countrymen, upon whose tomb they might then inscribe as an epitaph, "These brave men perished through the negligence, the imbecility, and the incompetency of an English administration." The Bill was not a reality, and if there was one thing more than another that Englishmen disliked, it was to have a measure submitted to them that was not the real thing to accomplish the end in view. It might be said that this was an easy mode of answering the question, and was there nothing that he could suggest to remedy the evils he complaimed of? There was nothing effectual that he would not give or vote to accomplish the end they had in view. They had 11,000 or 12,000 constabulary in Ireland, the greater part of whom, from the altered condition of the country, were engaged in fishing—they were trained men, they were armed men, they were moral men, and au honour to the country they served. If he were asked, eager as he was to secure the services of these men at home, yet he would vote that the greater part of the constabulary should be sent to Malta or Gibraltar, which they could hold against the world. He would consent that these men, if the Government would give them the pay to which they were entitled, should quit the country and fight for the good cause. If asked, he would vote that 30,000 of Irish militia should be raised, and he would tell the noble Lord that the recruits were more ready than the Ministers who were in want of them, and, to give a single instance, the recruiting officer at Belfast enlisted 200 men in one day. They could have got the men, therefore, and might have drilled them; but to this hour they had not performed their duty. They called upon Parliament to pass the present Bill, which they represented as a great and an effectual measure, but at the same time they, smiling, said, "We will give you no information nor tell you anything about it. We will not say whether these men are to come from Germany, Italy, Portugal, or Spain." They asked for this measure to strike terror into the heart of the Emperor of Russia, and to 656 put spirit into the people of England, forsooth! In his (Mr. Whiteside's) opinion its effect would be the direct reverse, and that it was rather calculated to depress the spirit of our people, and elevate the hopes of that despotic power, by showing that though we did not fail in heart or courage, we had failed in men. He looked upon it, therefore, as one of the most impolitic and inexpedient measures that was ever proposed for the adoption of a House of Commons. The best defence of it was pronounced in another place on a previous night by an eminent person who belonged to that class of characters who sometimes spoke one way and voted another. The argument he used was a fair one. "A mistake," said he, "had been committed by the Administration—a great mistake; but would Parliament punish the country for that mistake?" He (Mr. Whiteside) had pondered over that argument since. He quite admitted that where, in matters of lint, rags, and other details, a mistake had been committed by the Secretary at War, which the right hon. Gentleman had frankly avowed, no generous mind in or out of the House would take advantage of the circumstance to comment upon it. But when men were appointed to great offices, who aspired to be peculiarly the statesmen of the age—when such men had the direction of the affairs of the country, and influenced the fate of empires and the destinies of millions of the human race—when such men made mistakes, then he had a right to demand, were they competent to the offices they filled? "[Hear, hear!"] What, were they appointed to those offices to make mistakes? If it only affected themselves, it would be a matter of small consequence and little importance; but where the mistake was a vital and fundamental one, calculated to bring down ruin upon our brave army and dishonour upon our country, then he held that the defence resorted to by the eminent Whig to whom he alluded was the strongest and severest condemnation that could be pronounced upon the Ministry. Well, they were about to support this Bill. But there were two powers in this country —the power of a Parliamentary majority, and the power of public opinion. To that public opinion—he did not mean the opinion of an ignorant, or an absurd, or a violent people; but the opinion of this great people of England, expressed after due thought, reflection, and consideration —to that public opinion they must ulti- 657 mately bow, for by it Ministers existed and Parliaments ruled; and that opinion was, without question, against this Bill. Instinctively the English nation had discovered its trite character—he said instinctively, because Ministers, conscious themselves of what it really was, would not allow them time and opportunity to give it full consideration. Stealthily introduced, it had been hurried through the other House of Parliament with almost indecent haste, though in that House the eloquence, the logic, and the reason were all opposed to it. It was now before the House of Commons, and he asked them seriously, did they believe that the people were in favour of the measure? True, they might carry the Bill, but they might rely upon it that they would not carry with them the conviction of the country. And did they think they could maintain the war against the Russian tyrant, save by the enthusiasm, the union, and the energy of an unconquered and unconquerable people? In what condition did the Government stand? Did ever Ministry hold office or make war under such favourable circumstances? They had a Treasury filled with money. England prosperous; Scotland wealthy; Ireland, what it bad not been before for centuries, profoundly tranquil; and Protestant and Catholic agreed in this, that they would together fight the good cause against the common enemy. Millions of people in our Colonies, bound to the government of this country, not by cruel laws, but by the adamantine links which united the hearts of freemen, gave their sympathies and feelings in aid of the war; yet the best thing the united wisdom of a Coalition Cabinet could suggest was this Bill to enable them to go a-begging for soldiers amongst the kings of Europe. And upon what ground? Why the enthusiasm of Germany! "Germany," said the Secretary at War, "had a great number of hungry people in it." That he (Mr. Whiteside) could easily believe. "Germany had men," said the right hon. Gentleman, "who wished to quit their country." What would be the consequence? Why, that if we once bought them we must keep them for all time. The right hon. Gentleman then came to his best argument, and said—Will you refuse us your aid to carry on the war?—not that I think or know that we shall be able to get the men in Germany or anywhere else; but I rely upon one thing—you cannot dispute that the enthusiastic feelings of the German nation are in accord with yours in this great struggle.658 Now he (Mr. Whiteside) would like our friends to evince their sympathy, not in words, but in actions. He liked to have an ally such as France, because that was an alliance he could understand. It was an alliance with a courageous and a chivalrous people, actuated by disinterested principles, and desirous of assisting this country in making war upon a despotic tyrant. He understood all that; but what was he to understand by the sympathy of the German people? How the right hon. Gentleman could have mustered gravity enough to address such an argument as that to the House was to him, he confessed, the subject of astonishment. Had they not read the blue books? Had they not read the diplomatic documents which were laid upon the table of the House? And after all our diplomacy and negotiations with the German Powers, had we not seen that when we thought we were most near the attainment of our object we suddenly found ourselves as far off from that result as ever? But it was said the enthusiasm of Germany was satisfactorily proved; that we had effected a treaty with Austria which everybody could understand and which had been received with acclamation; that Prussia was now adopting a distinct and decided policy; that Bavaria had become our confederate; and that all were ready —"for a consideration"—to come to our assistance against the common foe. He appealed to the good sense and reason of the House whether it was possible for a more impotent argument to be addressed to a rational assembly of men? No fact or document was adduced to prove these assertions; but it was said that Germany was enthusiastic, and possibly in some petty German States we might find men willing to become our mercenaries, headed by some Dugald Dalgetty it might be, to aid us in carrying on the war against Russia. But had not the petty Princes of Germany need of care how they provoked the wrath of the Czar? Might they not run the risk of having their States blotted out of the map of Europe? whilst their subjects who had hired themselves to fight our battles would inevitably be hanged whenever he caught them. It was said that none but mistaken and wrong-headed men could speak or write against the employment of mercenaries. He (Mr. Whiteside) had the honour of the acquaintance of that gallant soldier, the late Sir Charles Napier, and the friendship of some of the most distinguished officers in the Crimea. 659 The historian of the Peninsular War was still alive—a scholar, an historian, and a man of unexampled courage, and the gallant veteran had lately written his opinion concerning this matter. Civilians, he might be told, were incompetent to judge. We must go, therefore, to high military authorities, and this was what Sir William Napier said—Shall a mere mercenary band, picked up for gold, without national feeling—poor miserable hirelings, selling their limbs and lives, aye, their very souls, for lucre—ready, without a cause, if paid, to murder, to slay or be slain, and, of course, ready to change sides for higher pay if good occasion offer—shall such varlets stand in line beside our noble soldiers, who fight shouting 'England! England!' and, dying, murmur, 'We have done our duty!'He trusted there was so much of patriotic feeling, so much of self-reliance, so much of that lofty courage which had distinguished our forefathers, as would enable us now, or whenever the opportunity occurred, to get rid of this bad Bill, and to avert the disgrace that would otherwise, according to the words of this distinguished soldier, tarnish the hitherto unsullied arms of a free and a gallant people.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
Sir, I cannot allow the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down to remain without some answer on my part, inasmuch as he particularly alluded to statements I have made, and, I must say, grossly perverted them for the purposes of debate. The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that in the debate on this measure in the other House the eloquence, reason, and logic were all on the same side. Sir, I must say that I could not listen to the speech we have just heard without making the reflection, that both reason and logic might be divorced at times from acknowledged eloquence. But I wish to call the attention of the House to that which I think I am entitled to call a perversion of views, with the purpose of misrepresenting arguments, used by the hon. and learned Gentleman. When, after he had admitted that the Bill was cleared from every complaint on a constitutional ground, he quoted from the letters of Lord Bacon, that princes ought not to receive assistance from mercenaries to support them against their own subjects, does he mean to insinuate that, of all the Sovereigns of this country, or of any country in the world, the Sovereign who now sits on this throne is about to have recourse to 660 foreign mercenaries, or to any troops, be they domestic or foreign, for the security of that throne which rests on the only security on which a throne can rest—the affection and devotion of our countrymen, and not on the assistance of any foreigners or mercenaries? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman believe, or does he think that he can persuade the House that he believes, that the troops to be raised under this Bill are to be engaged for some domestic purpose altogether apart from the war? He says that I have spoken of the enthusiasm of Germany in words not justified by the facts. Then he quotes precedents—but he dealt very lightly with the precedent I quoted last night of the Bill of 1813, I think—and asks where I find any Bill by which it was permitted that foreigners might be arrayed and drilled in this country. But I can show that foreigners were so arrayed into battalions and drilled in this country; and the noble Lord sitting near me signed letters authorising this. [Mr. WHITESIDE here made an observation that was inaudible.] But there was another Act by which the Government was indemnified, and no restriction was placed on the amount of the battalions that were raised under the Act, and they were afterwards employed to the satisfaction of their leaders and of the country. He says that I have spoken of the enthusiasm of Germany, and will not believe that any such feeling exists; but, though the German Diet has been tardy in the recognition of its duty, yet the Governments of some of those States of which the hon. and learned Member speaks so contemptuously have declared that the objects of the war are just, and that the means employed to attain them are justifiable. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman take the evidence of the press of Germany? There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the people with the Governments of Germany; and no one who has taken the trouble to make inquiries upon the subject will venture to deny the existence of a feeling of sympathy with France and England among the great mass of the people in Germany. But the hon. and learned Gentleman says that no reliance can be placed upon foreign troops, and that the precedent of the last war, in which our French and Dutch auxiliaries fought for their own liberties and independence, does not apply to the present contest. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, must recollect that at the time we were 661 engaged in that war there was a Government existing in France against which the French Legion was contending, and if desertions did take place it was only what might be expected when men found themselves fighting against the armies of their own country, speaking their own language, and having to a certain extent the same feelings and aspirations with themselves. So in the case of the Dutch. In the last war the Dutch did not fight for Holland, for Holland was at that time in close alliance with France. But the Government are not going to enlist Russians to fight against Russia; and I ask whether, when a strong public opinion undoubtedly does exist in Germany in favour of the Western Powers, it will not be prudent to take advantage of that circumstance in order to send reinforcements to our brave soldiers in the Crimea. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted what had been written by Sir William Napier on these mercenaries; but what were the observations of that distinguished soldier on these troops at the battle of Salamanca? He describes their charge as one of the most brilliant, and how, though falling by ones, twos, and threes, they still pressed on; and the Duke of Wellington bears similar testimony. Do not, then, come with garbled passages from Sir William Napier, and quote them against gallant troops who were employed with such signal advantage, and whom I hope to see so employed again. The hon. and learned Gentleman likewise says, why have you summoned Parliament for one measure by which you seek to relieve the army in the Crimea, and by which you go begging throughout Europe for the scum and refuse of their subjects to come and fight under your banner? But this is one of his misrepresentations of which I have a right to complain; he thinks he has a right to assume that if the Government bring in a measure, it is the only one they are taking for the prosecution of the war. He talks also of this Bill not only as if it were brought in for the purpose of enlisting foreigners, but also for that of displacing British troops. The hon. and learned Gentleman apparently thinks that the Government are making no exertions to get British soldiers, and asks why we do not lower the standard? We have lowered the standard. He asks why we do not extend the age to which men may enlist? We have extended the age to thirty, and even to thirty-five years, in the case of men who have served. While 662 upon this point I may observe that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) last night met a statement of mine by a very simple mode when an argument is not convenient —he said my statement was not true. ["Hear, hear!"] I shall be very glad if I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, for it was painful for me to see a discussion in this House carried on in that spirit, for when a Gentleman in this House makes a statement I place implicit credence in it. On another occasion the right hon. Gentleman said there was no truth in the statement of the Secretary at War that warm clothing had been sent to the Crimea, for that which was sent out in the Prince was only the ordinary clothing. Well it was true that the ordinary clothing was sent out, but there was also a quantity of extra clothing submerged with it when the Prince was unfortunately wrecked. As my statement with respect to the age of the men was denied, I took the opportunity this morning of asking the officer at the head of the recruiting service to tell me the age at which the majority of the men were engaged. He said that he could not do this at once, but he would get me the return if it would be of service. I then asked him to tell me in the rough what had been the effect of extending the age to thirty? He said that, though men were enlisted between twenty-five and thirty years, yet that the mass were boys. I asked whether it was better in the militia? He replied, that it was better, but that great numbers in the militia were extremely young. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen have had an opportunity of seeing the militia, but, if they have, they may apply a very simple test on this point, by observing, now that the troops are allowed to wear moustaches, how many among the militia succeed in doing so, and I think they will then be satisfied as to their age. I say, then, that the efforts being made are put entirely out of sight by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who is skilled in forensic argument, and knows best how to put a case so as to make a momentary impression. He has made merry at my expense as to the uncertainty of where we are to obtain these troops from; it is quite true that this is not stated in the Bill, but if the hon. and learned Gentleman will apply his infallible powers to a question nearer home I shall be greatly obliged to him. If he can produce recruits as fast as he says they were obtained at Belfast—200 in one day—I 663 know what is the amount of money paid to those who bring in recruits, but I do not know how large, and deservedly so, may be the professional practice of the hon. and learned Gentleman—but if he can produce recruits as fast as he has said, I will venture to say that the military will be almost a better profession than his own, which he has followed with so much distinction and success. My hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) asked why we did not get a legion of Canadians and of our colonists. I say, certainly, and what is to prevent your getting them if you have likewise a German Legion? and the object of the Government in carrying on this war is to neglect no means. [Mr. ADDERLEY: Hear, hear!] I am glad the hon. Gentleman agrees with me. You may say that you do not think that this measure will succeed, but you cannot tell until you have tried; if you fail, you fail; but if you do not attempt it, then I say that you are guilty of culpable negligence in not attempting the utmost. You say that this will prevent enlistment. I do not believe a word of that, for enlistment is going on as rapidly as ever, but this cannot continue to all time. It is not fair to say that hon. Gentlemen are, to a certain extent, obliged to accept this measure because it is the only one Government produces. We heard the same objections to another measure, which, though small, still assists iu the great object, and enables us to remove the militia to the garrisons in the Mediterranean, and to take thence the regiments of the line; and it might as well be said of that measure that it was the only means by which we think we are going to conquer the Emperor of Russia. It is not, certainly, an encouraging prospect to have our efforts met with such opposition or treated with such indifference and misrepresentations. I do not complain of hon. Gentlemen—many of whom spoke last night with perfect fairness—for criticising or picking holes; they have a right to object to what they think objectionable, but what I do object to is misrepresentations of the objects and intentions of the Government. What I do object to is, that these means should be described as the only means the Government have resorted to in order to carry on the war with vigour. The hon. and learned Gentleman says, we must bow to public opinion. I know we must, and that public opinion which he thinks so omnipotent in England, he says is so impotent 664 in Germany—there it has no power, while here it is supreme. There is a distinction in favour of our own country in this matter, but the hon. and learned Gentleman knows little of Germany if he thinks it has no effect there. He says we must bow to public opinion, and I am willing to stand that test with respect to this measure, for though you may, by a perversion of facts and by ingenious arguments founded on data which do not exist, influence public opinion and misdirect it from those channels in which it ought to flow, yet before long this will be recognised, and the unpopularity of the measure will disappear as soon as it is seen that none of those sinister projects and nefarious intentions attributed to it are to be carried into effect by it, and that these troops are to be used only for the legitimate purposes of the war, and they will then entertain no scruples as to whether the trigger of the gun by which a Russian is slain be pulled by an Englishman or by a German. I do not think the country will refuse the assistance of foreign people whose heart and sympathy is with them, nor do I think, when they see the result of this measure, that their opinion will be different from that which was entertained, not before, but after, the formation of the German legions, that had so direct a tendency to strengthen the attachment between England and Germany, for England saw the result of using those troops that stood by us in the hour of our greatest need, and enabled the British troops to achieve some of their most glorious victories. I trust the House will not be led away by statements —for God knows our difficulties are great, and we have enough to encounter; but do not let us augment our difficulties by publishing statements which have no foundation except in the imaginations of the speakers. Do not let it go forth that we are going to replace English troops because we could not get them, or because we were unable to meet the enemy. What we said was this—" We have an English army; we will enlarge and strengthen that army to the utmost of our power; we will likewise secure the assistance of every auxiliary force which we can employ with confidence; and we will give the advantage of that assistance to our own brave men."
§ Mr. NAPIER
said he had listened with pride and pleasure to the able and eloquent speech of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside), but he would not take the object of the Government from the statement of his hon. and learned Friend, but 665 refer them for it to the language of the Bill itself. It would there be seen, that whilst, on the one hand, they assumed that they were only going to enlist troops which were animated by right motives, power was asked to enlist any foreigner in the service of Her Majesty. They talked confidently about Germany, its loyally, and its sympathy with the cause of the Allies, and the auxiliary power that that country might bring to our assistance; but what right had they to argue thus upon a measure which avowedly authorised them to hire any foreign mercenaries? He held that we stood now in a different position from that we occupied in former wars. We bad passed an interval of nearly a half century of unbroken peace; and we must test this war and the mode of conducting it, not merely by constitutional principles and the principles of civilisation, but by the principles of Christianity itself; and he contended that it was inconsistent with the duty of a Christian people, when engaged in a just and necessary war, to give the go by to their own willing citizens and to hire mercenaries in any part of the world to do the work of slaughter for them. The right hon. Secretary at War could not defend the Bill on the general ground of necessity for hiring foreign mercenaries, but he was obliged to suggest that the troops they were to raise were men actuated by the "high moral motives" spoken of in the letter of Sir William Napier, wherein, describing the German Legion, he said it was "well composed," and was, indeed, a national force, with high moral motives. Well if that were so, why not at once declare it? The right hon. Gentleman said the Government were not neglecting any means for carrying on the war with vigour—that, in fact, this was a mere supplement to their other exertions. But what the people of England and of Ireland said was, that they had not yet enlisted the whole of their militia force; and that when they had exhausted every other means at their command, then would be the time to go to Germany and other places for auxiliaries. He would remind the House of the celebrated speech of Sir James Mackintosh upon this subject, in which he said that Elizabeth had relied upon the most effectual ally of the country—the spirit of its people; and also of the opinion of Mr. Coleridge, that the moment a country looked over the world for sympathy and assistance the glory of that country was departed. It would be degrad- 666 ing and humiliating to the country to go about the world asking for hired mercenaries, it would be destructive of the spirit of the people, and of all that moral elevation which, after all, was the great resource and defence of nations. The Bill, he asserted, was an odious Bill, repugnant to the feelings of the people; and he felt convinced that there was a strength and a truth in the instinct of the country that would not allow the Government to act upon the measure. In opposing it, then, lie was simply discharging his duty as a Member of the Legislature; for he could not imagine that the Parliament of England had been called together merely to en-register the edicts of Ministers; and he hoped that every species of resistance would be offered to the measure. With regard to public opinion in Germany, he challenged the right hon. Gentleman to make trial of that opinion; and if, during the short recess about to ensue, the people of England applied their minds to the consideration of the probable operation and effect of the Bill, and did not, throughout the kingdom, wherever honesty of purpose, true patriotism, sincere regard for England, and a deep felt sympathy for her stability and permanence among the nations of the world were to be found, unite in its condemnation, he would never again ask permission to address that House whilst he had the honour of occupying a seat within its walls.
§ MR. COBDEN
Although, Sir, I protested against sending out our men to fight the battles of Europe upon land—although I protested against the objects of our continental policy in fighting those battles—and although I think that the expedition to the Crimea is about the rashest of any of which an account is to be found in our annals—and that is saying a great deal—yet the nation having willed that 30,000 of our fellow-countrymen should go 3,000 miles off to invade the empire of Russia, I say that the nation is bound to assist, by every means in their power, those brave men who are now in the Crimea. But if you were to put it to our countrymen who are rotting in such misery on the heights of Balaklava, what would they say of the aid you propose to send them? Would they ask for mendicant Germans to rescue them from their present difficulties? No! they would ask for their own countrymen, and I cannot help thinking that this proposal, among other disadvantages, will be accepted as no compliment by those men 667 who are proposing to serve. But, beyond this, it appears to me that you are, in the face of the world, holding out a signal of distress, suing in formâ pauperis, proclaiming a sort of national bankruptcy in men and in courage, in proposing, in the first year of the war, to go and raise recruits among foreigners. Has the fervour with which the war has been regarded in the country been sincere or not? The newspapers are careful to tell us that there is a unanimity in favour of the war; we are constantly reminded of the enthusiasm that everywhere prevails, and we have dealt with the war in a way which ascribes to ourselves a sense of justice and motives of disinterestedness and high generous honour, almost assuming the attribute of the Deity himself, in the power we lay claim to, and the inherent sense of justice with which we wield that power. Is this reality or is it not? The world will judge us, not by what we say, but by what we do, and I am afraid that this proposal of the Government to enlist foreigners to help us will be taken as a considerable discount from our enthusiasm. We have heard from the Government that there is a reserve in this country to fight our great battles; indeed, we are told by the Government that large numbers of recruits can now be got in England. If that be so, what is the motive for sending over for these Germans or other people? But it seems to me that while you are gratuitously lowering your character by bringing forward this measure, you are doing so without any guarantee of its success. I listened with anxiety to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War in hopes of hearing where you are to get recruits from, but I have heard nothing yet more tangible than that you are going to intercept a number of German emigrants on their way from Hull to Liverpool by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. That appears to me a most puerile resource. The emigration from Germany to the United States consists generally of grown-up men and women with their families, of communities of labourers carrying with them their clergyman and their doctor, who have booked themselves upon the Rhine for Cincinnati or Buffalo, or some other place in the Far West. Can anything be so puerile as to dream of intercepting these people, of stopping them on their way through England, and inducing them to go to Sebastopol? It appears to me that even if you pass this Bill there is 668 no guarantee whatever that you are going to get the men whom you want to enlist; but I join with the hon. Gentlemen who oppose this measure upon moral grounds, even if you do succeed in carrying it into effect. What is it? The opinion of most people would sanctify the practice of war, and make the profession of arms one of the most honourable pursuits of man. What is the reason of this? Why, it is assumed that men fight for a cause, that they are actuated by a love of home, devotion to the country, or attachment to a Sovereign; these are the sentiments that are considered to hallow the pursuit of arms. But what motives have these men whom you endeavour to hire out of the back slums of the towns of Germany? They can have no pretensions to fighting from any moral motive whatever; they are deprived of every ground upon which you can justify war, and, as they want the motives which I have described, there is just the difference between them and an ordinary soldier fighting for his country that there is between a hero and a cut-throat. It is wholesale assassination to employ them. Not to go over the arguments which have been used so abundantly by other people, I will only ask whether you are really going to fight the Emperor of Russia, with his 800,000 armed men, upon his own shores, when you say you are obliged to seek help from abroad before you have hardly got into the fray? The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) has told us candidly that he made a mistake with regard to the difficulties in the way of taking Sebastopol. I think, the moment you have landed an armed force in an Empire like Russia, 3,000 miles off, you must be assured that, unless you are prepared to put forth energy such as this country never put forth before, you must have taken a step which will lead inevitably to disaster and disgrace. Was it a light thing to land such a force upon the shores of an Empire like Russia? I repeat the sentiment which I expressed the last time I addressed the House, that there is no country, except the United States, where you cannot permanently maintain a footing better than in Russia. There is no other country the territory of which it would be so difficult to invade and occupy permanently. And I also drew the distinction between contending with Russia by land and by sea. I once used a phrase which has been a good deal abused, and has caused much amusement, and I dare 669 say will do so again. I was speaking at a public meeting in 1849 of those who threatened us with an attack from Russia, and my words were these—If Russia were to attack England or the United States, or any other great maritime Power, they would fall upon her like a thunderbolt, and crumple her up in her own dominions by means of their shipping.Have we not done so by means of our shipping? The moment our ships appeared, did not the fleets of Russia disappear? But if you attempt to fight Russia on land, you must be prepared for a very different state of things from that which you contemplated, and it is reducing your efforts to a most disproportionate proportion—it is using the strength of a dwarf for doing the work of ten giants—to peddle over your Foreign Enlistment Bill to enable you to go abroad and get aid to carry on the war. I had intended to have said something upon the general question of the war, but the arguments have been carried on with such a close attention to the question under discussion that I will not be so bad a logician as to be the first to stray from the subject. I had intended to notice a remark which fell from the noble Lord President last night, with reference to the existing state of our relations with Russia, to the present state of the war, and the proposals held out by Russia for coming to terms of peace. I will not go into that subject now. I will allow the present debate to go on, and I will not repeat all the arguments which have been used with regard to this measure. But I give notice that, upon the bringing up of the Report, I will, with the permission of the House, make some general remarks upon the present aspect of the war, particularly with reference to the important official disclosure made last night by the noble Lord as to the proposals made at Vienna by the Government of Russia; and I think that the majority of the House will agree with me that we ought not to separate in this critical state of our affairs without being able to give an opinion, and, perhaps, to elicit an opinion from the Government, although they may continue to shut themselves up in reserve, upon the most important questions which have arisen at this crisis. For this House is in danger of losing its character for independence, and for being the real great council of the nation, if it permits itself to be sent back without one word having been said with regard to the prospects and the conduct of the war. If I may judge from the com- 670 munications I get from Sebastopol, you cannot be doing a greater act of kindness to the army than entering into a discussion of that question, and, at all events, they will have the gratification which, from the course our debates have hitherto taken, they can hardly have now, of knowing that the representatives of England have not separated without giving some attention to the unparalleled miseries under which they are now literally rotting.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, whenever the hon. Gentleman brings forward for consideration the question relative to the present state and prospects of the war, Her Majesty's Government will be ready to enter into it. But, in the meantime, I must say I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman, after having heard a misrepresentation rectified three or four times by Members of the Government, should have resorted to that misrepresentation for about the sixth or seventh time. The misrepresentation I mean is this:—It is asserted, as against this Bill, that it in the only measure which has been provided in order to supply soldiers for the expedition to the Crimea. You have, it is said, an army engaged in the siege of Sebastopol, and the only resource you have by which to supply their wants is this Bill, by which you propose to raise about 10,000 men, to keep them in drill for four or five months, and then send them to the Crimea. Now having raised that superstructure, it is very easy to knock down the Bill. But then, Sir, the superstructure is so obviously false, so obviously beside everything that Ministers have stated as the real state of the case, that I really wonder that one gentleman after another should argue upon such an hypothesis. I beg to remind the House, in a few words, what are the measures which the Government have adopted. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding has stated truly that the expedition which was sent out, not having succeeded in the time in which we had hoped it would have succeeded, it became necessary that it should be reinforced. What, then, was done by the Government? The first thing done was to send out British regiments in as high a state of efficiency as we could procure them. It must be observed, that there were some of those regiments who, having furnished men in order to increase the battalions that had gone to the Crimea, had been obliged to recruit very largely, and were not, for some time, in a state of 671 efficiency. But what were the numbers that we sent? In October we sent upwards of 2,000 men, in November upwards of 7,000, and in December 2,500, making 11,500 British troops; and in the face of that fact, which has been repeated over and over again, it has been alleged, by one gentleman after another, that the only succour intended for the expedition to the Crimea is the sending out of a foreign legion. I think hon. Gentlemen must be at a great loss for arguments against this Bill when they are obliged to make use of a misrepresentation so obvious. But did we stop after that? Was this the next measure? Far from it. There are still some British troops left in the British garrisons in the Mediterranean, and we propose to send out British regiments of militia in order to replace those garrisons and send them to the Crimea as speedily as it can be done. We also lowered the standard of height, and increased the bounty, to give greater facility to the recruiting for the army. All these are measures tending to increase the British army and to augment the forces in the Crimea, and the whole foundation of the objection to which I have alluded is, therefore, entirely set aside. That there are other objections I do not deny, but I endeavoured to dispose of them last night. I will, however, again repeat that this Bill, instead of being the first or the second, or even the third measure that we have adopted, is one of a series of measures taken with the view of bringing the war to a satisfactory conclusion. I will not again enter into the arguments which I brought forward last night as to whether or no it is desirable that we should have, as we have had in all former wars, foreign troops receiving pay in our service. I cannot see why we should depart from the precedents of all former wars; but, Sir, I must say, that I greatly regret, not the opposition by which this Bill has been met, but the tone which has been taken in that opposition, and the attempts which have been made to prejudice beforehand the enlistment into a service of this kind; I regret that every attempt has been made to prejudice foreigners who, I think, might with the purest motives enlist in our service in order to fight the battles of Europe, to degrade their character, and to represent them to the world as men who ought to be treated with disrespect and insult. I do hope that hon. Gentlemen will not again and again repeat that this is the first and the 672 only measure we have proposed for the support of our troops. The measures that we have taken are of a very different character, but we have been of opinion—and I do not think we were wrong in that opinion—that we were bound to consider not only the immediate necessities of a campaign not yet concluded, but also what were our means for carrying on the war next year. If we had not done so, you would have come some six months hence and said, "How little is your foresight! You provided only for the wants of the day, and thought nothing more was necessary; you did not foresee that this might be a war of several years' duration; you ought to have had a much larger army and a foreign legion if you had had sufficient foresight." Because we have attempted to exercise that foresight, and to provide for the successful carrying on of the war, we are now taunted with preferring foreign troops to Englishmen. You know that statement is perfectly untrue; it may produce an effect upon the country for the present, but I am convinced that when the people of England know what we wish—an army of 180,000 or 200,000 men, composed of British troops, with a foreign legion to assist them—they will see how much they have been misled by the allegations which have been made in this debate.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, that gloomy as the general aspect of the war was, it had been made much more so by the proposition of the Government. The noble Lord had brought men from all parts of the empire, and what had he proposed to them? nothing whatever in the speech of Her Majesty to hint a suspicion of the present scheme. The Government did not dare to announce it on that occasion, because of the public indignation which they anticipated. The House was told that they ought not to express their opinions because the country was said to be in danger; but so far from the Government trusting to public opinion, any one who knew the country was aware that their conduct in regard to the question at issue was adverse to that opinion. He (Lord C. Hamilton) complained that in the division of the previous night men went into the lobby with the Government, while their convictions were with the Opposition, because they feared to lose their seats. He denied that there was any parity between the present proceedings of the Government and those precedents which, they quoted in their support. The map of Europe was 673 considerably modified by the Emperor Napoleon, who created what he called kingdoms, but which the world called satrapies, that were ruled by his brothers and other relatives; and the people of those countries, animated by a spirit of patriotism, took service with England against him. Napoleon having suppressed all the nationalities of Europe, all the independent spirits of those kingdoms came to England and offered their services for his overthrow. That was widely different from going to seek in Germany for that German enthusiasm of which the right hon. Secretary at War spoke. What did the right hon. Gentleman mean? Did he mean to send his recruiting serjeants with a bag of gold in one hand, and the blue books on the Holy Places in the other? And were the recruits to be catechised on the four points before they should be enlisted? The right hon. Gentleman had quoted the Turkish army as foreigners, and also the German officers who command them; but the laws of Turkey compelled all officers in the Turkish army to renounce their religion before they could obtain a command. Omar Paella had done so; likewise Bem; and the gallant Guyon was without a command because he would not become a renegade. The noble Lord the Home Secretary had stated that Napoleon I. employed great numbers of foreign troops; but these troops were those under the command of his own relatives—Neapolitan, Spanish, German, and Dutch —and Napoleon did not, as the Government now were about to do, turn his back on the French conscription. These troops wore the uniform, and were officered and paid for by the several States to which they belonged, and not by French money. The House would surely agree, therefore, that there was not much analogy in the case cited by the noble Lord. Until British energy, courage, and resources fail, the Government was not doing justice to the country in attempting to carry on the war by the aid of foreigners. The noble Lord spoke of public feeling as approving of the measures of the Government. Would the noble Lord point out a single great centre of public opinion which had expressed itself in their favour as regarded the measure? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had given a very discouraging prospect of the Bill; it would not accelerate the growth of the raw recruit; and, according to the inference to be drawn from the right hon. Gentleman's statement, there could not be, under the 674 circumstances he stated, an effective British army for five or six years. He did not blame the Government for the defect of the Commissariat, but he would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should get the loan of a Commissariat staff from the French Government, so as to relieve our army from the fearful distresses under which it now laboured. That would be a better course than to send out Germans. Anything that could be performed could be done by British courage, and he was, therefore, opposed to any alteration in the material of our armies until all sources of amelioration wore at an end. The Bill was one repugnant to English feeling, and he should, therefore, give it his opposition.
MR. DANBY SEYMOUR
said, he had voted for this measure, but he had never given a vote with greater regret in his life. Still, at a crisis like the present, as the Ministers on their own authority declared that this was one of the measures necessary to reinforce our unfortunate army in the Crimea, he should not be doing his duty if by his vote he prevented the sending of a single man to the relief of that army, the extremely critical position of which was owing to the bad management of the Government. In common with, he believed, every Gentleman who sat like himself behind Ministers, he disapproved of the present measure; and the Government, by the division of last night, had received a mark of the confidence of hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches which he wished he could say he thought they deserved. He hoped that now, at any rate, they would listen a little to those remarks about the carrying on of the war which they treated so contumeliously during last Session. While they were besieging, or rather only half-besieging, Sebastopol, what was this fleet of fifty-four ships of war doing which conveyed our army across the sea, and which was pronounced one of the greatest naval armaments that ever appeared upon the waves? Those fifty-four men-of-war were near Sebastopol, not employed in cannonading the batteries, but remaining idle about Balaklava. At this very moment there was every kind of produce going in and out of every Russian port in the Black Sea, except that kind which we wanted, viz. bread-stuffs, the exportation of which was prohibited by the Russian Government. He had been informed by English gentlemen who had establishments at ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoff, that 675 cargoes were going out of those ports, and that in return there were brought back those materials and that wealth which were necessary for carrying on the war against us. The principal part of the profits derived from the existing commerce in the Black Sea was passing into the hands of the Greeks, because the English merchants, when they heard of the establishment of a blockade last summer, were foolish enough to put confidence in the British Government, and to believe that a blockade would really be established. No English house there had entered into any business speculation, or shipped any produce for our shores; but the Greeks, more astute, and looking with more impartial eyes at the Government that held the reins of power in this country, after a short time, finding that no blockade really was established, disbelieved the Government, and began to enter again into trade, and up to the present hour they had continued the ordinary shipments that English merchants had ceased. It had been well said by a French writer that a war on a great scale became a war of budgets, and the expenses of a war like the present were such that the question really came to be who could hold out longest with the money to pay the enormous armies and fleets it was necessary to employ? No doubt, it was only by crippling the power of Russia to pay her armies that we could hope to be conquerors in the tremendous struggle in which we were engaged. All the signs of weakness had already begun to be shown by Russia; the Emperor had found the same difficulty as that fonnd by his first antagonist, Turkey—the difficulty of raising money. He had had his loans successively rejected in all the capitals of Western Europe. The loan which was attempted to be negotiated some few months ago at Berlin was refused, although the interest offered was, he believed, 6 per cent, and the loan was offered to the Berlin capitalists at the low price of 83. But a still more signal sign of weakness had appeared in the publication of a financial article by a person at the Ministère des Finances at St. Petersburg. M. Léon Faucher, in a very damaging article published by him in the Revue des Deux Mondes, had lately shown the real financial position of Russia, how weak her resources were, how much she would require in order to enable her to carry on the war, how her loans bad all been rejected, and how her finances could not hold out for another campaign such 676 as that of 1854; and it was a most unusual thing for a person high in the confidence of the Emperor Nicholas to enter the arena of periodical literature, and in an article signed with his name to enter into a detailed refutation of the arguments of the French financier. When we saw those signs of weakness it became our duty to press on that weak point—not to confine ourselves to the mere blockade of Sebastopol, but to take care that no shipments should be made at any Russian port. It was unfortunate that at once, upon the declaration of war, we had not taken possession of the Straits of Kertch, which lead into the Sea of Azoff, for up to May last they were defended only by a few invalids. What use was made of the Sea of Azoff? The House was probably not aware that every part of the Russian munitions of war, and not only those, but the nourishment for their soldiers, all came down the Don and the Volga to Rostof, and were thence shipped across the Sea of Azoff to Arabat, on the coast of the Crimea, whence the distance to Sebastopol was about 100 miles, and for this journey a regular system of transport had been organised last summer. It would have been easy last summer to have cut off the Russian supplies, but since that time they had fortified the depôt at which they debarked their stores brought from the interior. Again, he would ask, why was not the fortress of Kinbourn, at the mouth of the lagoon of the Dnieper taken possession of? It commands the important passage leading to Nikolaief, the head quarters of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea and the town of Kherson, where there are large stores of timber. The fortress is on the level of the sea, and might have been taken without difficulty; while, if we were once in possession of it, we might have greatly annoyed our enemy, and interrupted his supplies. Surely the total neglect of this important point was a most grievous addition to a long catalogue of errors. All he could say now was, that he hoped, considering the fatal negligence of the Government, by which the best blood and the treasure of this country had been, as he believed, so futilely shed before Sebastopol—he did hope the Government would not lose one single day in remedying their past defects, and in visiting, even in the highest quarters, an authority that had been misused by a punishment which would be well deserved. He would say one thing with reference to 677 the enlistment of soldiers. He trusted the Government would be careful from what part of Germany they got their troops, for he himself had seen thousands of wretches sent from the central parts of Germany as colonists, who were an object of thorough contempt and pity to the inhabitants of the countries to which they were sent. In many parts of Germany the people had much degenerated from the independent and warlike character of their ancestors. A long course of despotism and tyranny had deprived them of some of their finest qualities. The German nation two centuries ago had a struggle with their monarchs like the struggle of the people of England about the same time with Charles I. The result of that struggle, however, was different — in England, it was the people who were victorious; in Germany, it was the kings. Prior to that time the German people were animated by as great a spirit of liberty as ourselves; but since that melancholy period they had degenerated both physically and morally. And the fatal system of hiring mercenaries had done a great deal towards that degeneration. He assured the Government that he had often heard opinions expressed in Russia, by persons who knew the feeling of the Russian army, most derogatory to German soldiers, and, if he were not mistaken, they would hardly he thought worthy to be driven away by Russian bayonets. He was obliged to the House for its indulgence, and when the general question was discussed, he should say a few words on the policy of our ever having gone to Sebastopol at all.
§ MR. PHILIPPS
said, he would give both sides of the House the benefit of this admission—that, were it possible for him to regulate the events of war, he would not only reject the aid proposed in this measure, but he would have no allies at all. As, however, those events were not within the control of any human power, he could not help asking himself seriously whether, having once stated his willingness to support the Government in the war in which they were engaged, he could now consistently refuse them one of the means which they, acting under a stern and practical sense of great responsibility, declared to be necessary for the carrying on of the war. He knew that a statement of that kind must be taken with considerable limitation. He knew that if the means they were invited to have recourse to were contrary to the principles of morality, or 678 to the principles of the constitution, he should not be justified in having recourse to such means. Of course, every man must judge of this question according to his conscience. He was not in the slightest degree imputing to any Member of the House the charge that he had not, in the vote he gave, voted according to his conscience. If, under any fear of invasion, they had recourse to foreign mercenaries to defend them, he thought that that would be an imputation upon the courage of this country; but it was not pretended that the present war was waged in an exclusively English interest. It had been called a European war; it was called in France une guerre d'équilibrium; in other quarters it was called a statesman's war, but nowhere in the world was it called a war solely for English ambition or English profit. Under these circumstances he could not see that we were not justified in having recourse to the assistance of persons who, according to the theory of war, had as immediate an object in the results of the war as the English nation could pretend to have. With that view of the case, and acting not at all under the influence of any party associations, he could not accept the very heavy responsibility that would attach to him were he to deny to the Government the means which those practically acquainted with the Executive, and possessed of far better information than he could possibly pretend to, declared to be necessary.
§ MR. ALCOCK
said, that in the course of this discussion he had heard it observed by two or three Members of Her Majesty's Government, that it would be extremely inconsistent in any man who complained of the inadequacy of our army in the Crimea not to vote in favour of the proposal now before the House, as if that were the only alternative. It was his opinion, however, that that was not the only alternative. In particular, there was the alternative that had been so often mentioned, that of increasing our bounties and diminishing our standards. He had also heard it suggested as an objection to this Bill, that, if we went to Germany, Switzerland, and such like countries, to enlist soldiers, we should not be able to place the same degree of confidence in them as in our own men. He confessed he could not share that opinion. If any men in Germany or Switzerland preferred entering into our service, we had no right to suppose that they would not fight for us as honest- 679 ly and as well as they would under any other circumstances. But there was this difference. You could not expect, and it would not be a reasonable thing to ask, them to give more than their physical force, for they could have no great interest, or sympathy, or feeling in fighting our battles. The great Napoleon once said that in war the moral to the physical force was as three to one. Our object, therefore, ought to be to find some foreigners who would not only bring to bear their physical force, but who would give us the benefit of their moral power also. There were countries much nearer to Russia than any of those that had been spoken of in the course of the debate where there was a moral feeling in our favour—he meant the Caucasus. Let us, therefore, offer to the people of the independent Caucasus the money we now thought of offering to Swiss and Germans. Let the Government offer to take 30,000 or 40,000 of that warlike people into their pay, and they would command the support of the whole population from the Black Sea to the Caspian. The Caucasians were said to be of various tribes and languages, and even of various religions. It had also been said that they could not be got to fight under any but their own immediate chiefs; that they would pay no tribute, give no allegiance, yield no obedience, nor receive any commands from any but their prophet-prince, Schamyl. There was, however, one banner under which they would serve, namely, the banner of that nation that happened to be at war with Russia. Let that banner be exhibited in the independent Caucasus, and the man who says the Caucasians would not follow it does not know much of those countries or their inhabitants. The Russians had a garrison of 20,000 men at Anapa, and yet we had taken no step to clear that country of them. In the year 1828 he (Mr. Alcock) was in Georgia, and there saw and conversed with Prince Pakiewitsch. That was only the year after Anapa had been taken by the Russians, and it would be impossible to depict the Prince's satisfaction when he explained that they had lately taken that town, and had destroyed all communication between the Turks and the Circassians. Had we not in the Black Sea as large a force as that with which the Russians took Anapa? They took it, after a few days, with only eight line-of-battle ships and six frigates, assisted by a few thousand soldiers. Why had we been so long in wresting Anapa 680 from them? The Government had either been utterly ignorant of what they should have done, or else they had grossly neglected their duty. Let Anapa be taken now, at any rate, and given back to the Circassians, to whom it belonged. The Russians were cooped up there as in a prison, not daring to stir 100 yards from the place. That showed the power of the Circassians, and the value of the assistance they could give as auxiliary troops. He had voted the preceding night against the Government, but should the Bill pass, he hoped, at all events, they would not forget Anapa.
§ ADMIRAL WALCOTT
Sir, I am wholly at a loss to conceive the reasons which induce the Government at this most inopportune moment to introduce a measure which I regard with suspicion, and shall oppose to the utmost of my power. The experience of history informs us in what state that country is which has resort to the aid of mercenaries. No momentary embarrassment should betray us into the enactment of a dangerous precedent and the imitation of a disastrous example. The debates of the reign of William III. show how distasteful such proposals are to this country and this House. We are not fighting, as in the last war, single-handed against combined forces, but with the noblest allies at our side, the greatest military Power of Europe,—whose glory is our glory, and our triumph will add to their triumph,—with unexhausted and inexhaustible resources; and they have shown how ready they have been able to supply them—hurrying off reinforcements to the Crimea so soon as our vessels arrived to transport them from their shores. There is no parallel analogy between our present circumstances and those of the last war, when Germans and Hanoverians fought under our flag. Our King was Elector of Hanover. Our population was far less than it is now. Our war was not with a single State, but with almost every nation consecutively or combined. Even then the measure was viewed with suspicion, and acquiesced in without conviction. Popular feeling, nationality, will never tolerate foreign recruits; you will have the cost of bringing them to this country, the charge of their maintenance, and the delay of their organisation. It is a dangerous expedient, a fatal policy, a stain on the British name, an affront to the willingness and sufficiency of Englishmen to serve their native land, and moreover, and far above all, a humiliating and dangerous confession of internal weak- 681 ness to which I will never lend my voice. No! take the true course, promise, and observe it—give rewards, promotions, pensions, and a fair bounty, with an ungrudging hand and a free spirit; deal thus honourably with your men; show you care for the wounded and sick in the hospital, your forethought for their comrades in the camp; provide for the widows and orphans, support the family at home—then you will have an army of which you may be justly proud. Our troops, in bravery unsurpassed, are at this moment full of hope—they know you trust them, they will not endanger the honour of England. One marked characteristic of every officer's and private's letter from the seat of War which I have read, conveys to my mind a grand augury—I mean the utter refusal, one and all, of taking glory to their own skill, courage, and firmness, but referring their success quite from themselves to the Almighty God above. When we find such men fail us (I am ashamed to take such words on my lip), then in the last struggle which precedes her fall our country may enlist the foreign legionary; but till then (and God forefend the day), the presence of mercenaries will embarrass our army, dishearten its hopes, and rob its victories of glory.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he had made several previous but unsuccessful attempts to catch the Speaker's eye, and he could not avoid complimenting the right hon. Gentleman on his discrimination in managing the debate. It was, therefore, his intention to reserve his observations for some future opportunity.
§ MR. CONOLLY
said, he was anxious to say a few words on the Bill, and hoped the House would give him their attention, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour. His feelings in a personal matter connected with the war had prevented him seeking an earlier opportunity of rising to address the House, and he knew, also, that there were more experienced men who ought to come before him, who could display much more wisdom and many more attainments than he could pretend to. It was with a feeling of the deep importance of the matter in debate that he now ventured to trespass on their patience. His forbearance in not rising earlier bad had the effect of allowing the House to be favoured with some most able speeches from both sides of the House. He alluded more particularly to the convincing arguments of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), whose words had thrilled, 682 not through England alone, but through all foreign countries, as to the humiliating nature of the proposal now brought forward. The speech of the hon. Gentleman did him infinite credit.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ The House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.