§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ SIR EDWARD DERING
said, he rose to move the Amendment of which he had given notice, namely, that the Bill be read a third time that day six months. In doing so he trusted he should be acquitted 795 of the presumption of a responsibility which would devolve with so much more propriety on many hon. Members sitting around him; but having been generally requested to elicit the opinion of the House on the question that this Bill be read a third time, he felt that he ought to let his private inclination give place to his sense of public duty; and he therefore had now only to ask the kindness and indulgence of the House whilst he proceeded briefly and succinctly to state the grounds on which he now asked the House to arrest the further progress of this measure. Before he entered into the discussion, he wished to draw the attention of the House to the very unsatisfactory nature of the replies which were given by the Government yesterday, in Committee, to those questions that were very pertinently and appropriately put to them by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). That right hon. Gentleman pointed out to them that, unless some special provision were made for the foreign troops which it was proposed by this measure to introduce into the kingdom, they might fall as a burden upon the parishes in which they were situated, as casual poor. The noble Lord the President of the Council admitted the correctness of the law as interpreted by his (Sir E. Doring's) right hon. Friend, but went no further than to state the propriety of providing some special provision for those men would be taken into consideration. Now, he considered that those hon. Members who, like himself, had reluctantly voted for the second reading of the Bill, would think that it was the duty of the Government to have considered fully beforehand all those details, and to have placed themselves in a position to give a full and ample explanation as to the manner in which they were prepared to carry out this measure. He wished, at the outset, to state that he entirely concurred in the opinion which had been expressed by several hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the constitutional objections urged against this measure. At the same time, he entertained no constitutional jealousy whatever in looking forward to the establishment of certain depôts for foreign troops in this country. The explanations given, that they were only to be used for purposes of training, was, to his mind, perfectly satisfactory. The objection he took to the measure came from a very different source. Before the House gave their assent to a Bill which involved an acknowledgment that they were unable, by their 796 own strength, to uphold national honour and national interests—an acknowledgment that was totally inconsistent with our condition as one of the great Powers of Europe—before they were called on to make this assertion, they had a right to demand from Government evidence much stronger than they had yet produced, that they were yielding only to the pressure of overwhelming and unavoidable necessity. He contended not only that there was no necessity for calling in the aid of foreign troops, but that, even if it should be admitted we were obliged to look for assistance elsewhere than at home, there were other resources within our reach which were equally available, and the employment of which would be in no degree repugnant to the great mass of the people. The alleged ground on which the measure was brought forward was the want of trained troops. Now, he entirely and heartily concurred in the desire that we should lose no time in reinforcing our troops in the Crimea. But the Bill, as it now stood, did not carry out the object they had in view. The Government did not propose by this Bill to enter into any treaty with foreign States, as was done on former occasions, for the aid of large bodies of men ready equipped and officered. That would be a straightforward mode of action, and, as an hon. Gentleman opposite had said, would be in accordance with all the recognised principles of international law. But by this Bill they were about to pursue a course that was entirely unprecedented. They were aware that the minor States of Germany were not at liberty, without the consent of the Diet, to commit any act that was tantamount to a declaration of war against a foreign Power; and, therefore, in order to get over this difficulty, the Bill proposed to levy men with the consent, he apprehended—or, as he might almost call it, the connivance—of the Sovereigns, but not with the cognisance of the Diet. He had been told that it was the custom in Germany, after the Landwehr had completed their period of service, to grant them a passport for purposes of emigration, and that the effect of that passport was, de facto, to denaturalise them. He would not stop to ask how far it would be a dignified proceeding to get hold of these men, or how far it might be in the power of the Diet to offer very serious impediments to the raising of a large body of troops, it being understood that the object of raising these troops was 797 to employ them in the war in which we were engaged. But, assuming that the Government should succeed in smuggling out of Germany 10,000 men, it still was somewhat singular that no intimation whatever had been given by the Government or by anybody else as to the time which would be consumed before bringing these men into the field. Her Majesty's Ministers had had, as yet, according to their own declarations, no communication with any foreign Power on the subject, and, consequently, negotiations had yet to be commenced. Now, the experience of the last year had shown that diplomatic transactions in Germany did not proceed with any great rapidity. Still, supposing all negotiations at an end, and that the consent of the German Powers had been obtained, they would then have to go through the process of enlisting officers and men scattered throughout a vast extent of territory, and then proceed to convey them to the resting place prepared for them in this country. Now, these were distinct operations, each of which would consume a great deal of time—so much so that he could hardly imagine the most sanguine of hon. Gentlemen opposite believed that the 10,000 men could be placed in the depôts before a period of three months; after which, what between arming them, clothing them, organising them, and fitting them for foreign service, a similar period must elapse before they could take the field. He would ask, then, what did they gain in point of time by substituting foreign mercenaries for the British soldier. And here he would observe, that in using the term foreign mercenary, he had not the smallest wish to speak disparagingly of the soldiers of Germany. No Gentleman that had addressed the House in acknowledgment of the high merits of the German Legion during the last war was more willing than himself to give those distinguished soldiers his meed of praise. Indeed, so far from having any pitiful feeling as to fighting side by side with foreigners, he could wish that, if the troops to be employed were of the same stamp as the King's German Legion, Her Majesty's Government had called upon the House to grant them permission to embody four times the number they had asked for. The fact was, however, these mercenaries would be of very different materials. He might be told that the German Legion was not originally composed of Hanoverians, and that the men were not all subject to the same 798 Sovereign as the English. The House had been reminded the other night by the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department of the Chasseurs Britanniques, of the Corsican Legion, and other foreign corps; and the noble Lord triumphantly observed, that the men composing them were not subjects of the British Sovereign. Nevertheless, he would ask, were not those men united with the people of this country by a common cause, common ties, and common sympathies? and they were fighting against a common enemy—that great Emperor who overrun, with the exception of this country, the whole of Europe. But what tie or sympathy would the men now proposed to be enlisted have with the people of this country? Only that arising from the payment of a pecuniary reward. They must necessarily be devoid of those sentiments of patriotism and public spirit which animate the soldiers of France and England, and which never could be entertained by men whose feelings were not in some way involved in the struggle. He contended, that, within as short a period as would be required to send these 10,000 foreigners from this country, an equal number of British trained troops could be procured. The noble Lord the President of the Council said the other night, that the Government were short by 20,000 men of the number voted by Parliament. He must confess that he heard that statement with regret and astonishment. He was astonished to hear such a statement from the noble Lord, of whom it might be said that discretion and prudence were among his great characteristics. He could conceive nothing more gratifying to the Emperor of Russia than to hear from so high an authority that our powers of recruiting were almost exhausted. All he could say was, that the Secretary at War, if he did not get men quickly enough, was hound to use all the means in his power to make the military service more attractive. If the soldiers' allowances were not sufficient to induce men to enlist, the Government ought to apply to that House, and there was no man, in or out of the House, who would not liberally respond to the appeal. The Government complained that, wanting men of twenty-five years of age, they could not get them at the present bounty. Now, he thought that the sternest economist would say that, at such a moment as this, it would be an economical investment of capital to give even double bounty. They might rely on 799 it that, if they only stimulated the military ardour of the country by holding out suitable rewards, present and future, they would have thousands upon thousands of men readily offering themselves as recruits. The right hon. Secretary at War had talked about recruits and the time it took to make an infantry soldier, but the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton) justly pointed to the behaviour of the recruits at the Alma and at Inkerman, and the hon. Baronet might also have referred to the materials of which the battalions that stood the shock at Waterloo were composed. It was not the veteran heroes of the Peninsula who stood the shock of that great day. It should ever be recollected, to the honour and immortal glory of those engaged in that great battle, that the brunt of the engagement was borne by raw recruits, for the first time engaged in action. Other means besides the present Bill for obtaining aid had been referred to; and as by treaty this country was now engaged to protect Austria in case she should be attacked by Russia, he might hope that, in return, the result of the deliberations which, in conformity with an article in that treaty, were to take place within a week of the present time, would be to place an ample quota of her veteran and gallant troops at our disposal. He confessed, however, that he had no very great reliance on any active co-operation on the part of Austria, for, after all that had passed, his fears surpassed his hopes. But he asked, why should they not endeavour to organise Turkish troops—our natural allies, and the natural enemies of Russia? Why should they not endeavour to organise them in the same way as on a previous occasion they had organised the Portuguese Legion? The campaign of Silistria showed that, if they were well officered and led they would prove equal to any emergency. The Secretary at War the other night, he thought, went rather out of his way to throw a passing sneer upon the Turks, and argued that because they were celebrated for fighting well behind stone walls, ergo, they could not fight except behind such protection. Now it struck him that that observation laid the right hon. Gentleman open to the same rebuke he administered to the hon. Member for Hertfordshire for having spoken disparagingly of the German Legion and of the people in alliance with the country. There would be this incidental advantage in or- 800 ganising a large Turkish force—that it would be of incalculable service, after the termination of the present war, for the defence of the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire. The House would also recollect that this country had an inexhaustible fund of men to draw from, not only in the Indian army, but also in the Indian population, who were capable of the most brilliant deeds when organised and led by men of courage and energy like Major Edwardes. After the long discussion which had taken place on this subject, he felt it difficult, if not impossible, to touch on any ground which had not already been gone over, and he had, therefore, confined his remarks to practical points. He hoped, therefore, that in moving the postponement of the consideration of this Bill for six months he should not be taunted with acting in a factious or hostile manner towards the Government, which on many occasions he had been in the habit of supporting. There was no difference between the two sides of the House as to the absolute necessity of carrying on the war with all possible vigour and energy, The difference was only as to the means, and he had endeavoured to show that the measure before the House was totally inapplicable for the purpose, and that, while it was very depressing and dispiriting to our countrymen, it would greatly increase the confidence of Russia, and thus considerably retard the period when we might enjoy the blessings of peace. He had also endeavoured to show that the Government, by acting towards the British soldier with a liberal and generous spirit, which would meet with a response throughout the whole length and breadth of the land, would be able to send from this country army after army composed of men having the same sympathies as those who fought on the fields of Alma and Inkerman, and in whom that House and the country would be disposed to place unbounded confidence, knowing that each and all of them would be proud, freely and fearlessly, to pour out the last drop of their blood in the defence of national honour and national interest.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
Question proposed, "that the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. COBDEN
If I ask permission, Sir, to enlarge a little the scope of our discussion, I have, at all events, this excuse, that the subject-matter more technically before the House has been already very ably and fully discussed. There is another reason why the question may be viewed in a more general way as affecting the conduct of the Government in carrying on the war and conducting negotiations; namely, that we have heard several hon. Members publicly declare that they refuse to entertain the matter now before the House on its merits, but persist in voting in respect to it, contrary to their own opinions, and simply as a question of confidence in the Government. I must say, among all the evils which I attach to a state of war, not the least considerable is that it has so demoralising a tendency as this on the representative system. We are called on to give votes contrary to our conscience, and to allow those votes to be recorded where the explanation would not often appear to account for them. It was stated the other night by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, that proposals for peace had been made on the part of Russia, through Vienna, upon certain bases, which have been pretty frequently before the world under the term of the "four points." Now, I wish to draw attention to that subject, but, before I do so, let me premise that I do not intend to say one word with respect to the origin of this unhappy war. I intend to start from the situation in which we now find ourselves, and I think it behoves this House to express an opinion upon that situation. I avow myself in favour of peace on the terms announced by Her Majesty's Minister. At all events, hon. Members will see the absolute necessity, if the war is to go on, and if we are to have a war of invasion by land against Russia, of carrying it on in a different spirit and on a different scale from that in which the operations have hitherto been conducted. I think both sides of the House occupy common ground in this respect; for we shall all recognise the propriety and necessity of discussing this important and critical question. Before I offer an opinion on the desirability of concluding peace on these four points, it will be necessary to ask what was the object stated for the war? I merely ask this as a matter of fact, and not with a view of arguing the question. It has been one of my difficulties, in arguing this question out of doors with friends or 802 strangers, that I rarely find any intelligible agreement as to the object of the war. I have met with very respectable and well educated men, who have told me that the object of the war was to open the Black Sea to all merchant vessels. That certainly could not be the object, for the Black Sea was already as free to all merchant vessels as the Baltic. I have met with officers who said that the object was to open the Danube and to allow the ships of all nations to go up that river. The object certainly could not be that, for the traffic in the Danube had, during the last twenty years, multiplied nearly tenfold, and the ships of all nations have free access there. I have heard it stated and applauded at public meetings, that we were at war because we have a treaty with the Sultan binding us to defend the integrity and independence of his empire. I remember that at a most excited public meeting at Leicester, the first resolution, moved by a very intelligent gentleman, declared that we were bound by the must solemn treaties with the Sultan to defend the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire. Now, Lord Aberdeen has even ostentatiously announced in the House of Lords, for the instruction, I suppose, of such gentlemen as I have referred to, that we had no treaty before the present war binding us to defend the Sultan or his dominions. Another and greater cause of the popularity of the war out of doors has been, no doubt, the idea that it is for the freedom and independence of nations. There has been a strong feeling that Russia has not only absorbed and oppressed certain nationalities, but is the prime agent by which Austria perpetuates her domination over communities averse to her rule. I should say that this class was fairly represented by my lamented and noble Friend the late Member for Marylebone, from whom I differed entirely in reference to his views on the question of interference with foreign countries, but for whose private virtues and disinterested conduct and boundless generosity I always entertained the greatest veneration and respect. The late Lord Dudley Stuart for twenty years fairly represented the popular feeling out of doors, which was directed especially against the Emperor of Russia, and the popular sympathies, which were centred mainly on those territories which lie contiguous to the Russian Empire. I used sometimes to tell that noble Lord jocularly, that his sympathies were geo- 803 graphical—that they extended to all countries, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, bordering on Russia; that if the Poles, Hungarians, Moldavians, or Wallachians were in trouble or distress, he was sure to be in that House the representative of their wrongs; or if any unhappy individuals from those countries were refugees from oppression in this country they were sure to go instantly to him for relief and protection. Lord D. Stuart represented a great amount of the public sympathy in this country with respect to nationalities, as it is termed; but I ask, whether the ground on which the public impression is founded—that we are going to war to aid the Poles, Hungarians, Moldavians, or Wallachians, has not been entirely delusive; and whether it may not be ranked with the other notions about opening the Black Sea, or a treaty with the Sultan and about the Danube not being free to the flags of all nations? I ask whether all these grounds have not been equally delusive? The first three grounds never had an existence at all, and, as to setting up oppressed nationalities, the Government certainly never intended to go to war for that object. To set myself right with those hon. Gentlemen who profess to have great regard for liberty everywhere, I beg to state that I yield to no one in sympathy for those who are struggling for freedom in any part of the world; but I will never sanction an interference which shall go to establish this or that nationality by force of arms, because that invades a principle which I wish to carry out in the other direction—the prevention of all foreign interference with nationalities for the sake of putting them down. Therefore, while I respect the motives of those Gentlemen, I cannot act with them. This admission, however, I freely make, that were it likely to advance the cause of liberty, of constitutional freedom, and national independence, it would be a great inducement to me to acquiesce in the war, or, at all events, I should see in it something like a compensation for the multiplied evils which attend a state of war. And now we come to what is called the statesman's ground for this war, which is that it is undertaken to defend the Turkish Empire against the encroachments of Russia—as a part of the scheme, in fact, for keeping the several States of Europe within those limits in which they are at present circumscribed. This has been stated as a ground for carrying on the present war with Russia; but 804 I must say this view of the case has been very much mixed up with magniloquent phraseology which has tended greatly to embarrass the question. The noble Lord the member for the City of London was the first, I think, to commence these magniloquent phrases, in a speech at Greenock about last August twelvemonths, in which he spoke of our duties to mankind and to the whole world, and he has often talked since of this war as one intended to protect the liberties of all Europe and of the civilised world. I remember, too, the phrases which the noble Lord made use of at a city meeting, where he spoke of our being "engaged in a just and necessary war for no immediate advantage of our own, but for the defence of our ancient ally and for the maintenance of the independence of Europe." Well I have a word to say to the noble Lord on that subject. Now we are placed to the extreme west of a continent, numbering some 200,000,000 inhabitants, and the theory is, that there is great danger from a growing eastern Power which threatens to overrun the continent, to inflict upon it another deluge like that of the Goths and Vandals, and to eclipse the light of civilisation in the darkness of barbarism. But if that theory be correct, does it not behove the people of the continent to take some part in pushing back that deluge of barbarism? I presume it is not intended that England should be the Anacharsis Cloots of Europe; but that, at all events, if we are to fight for everybody, those at least who are in the greatest danger will join with us in resisting the common enemy. I am convinced, however, that all this declamation about the independence of Europe and the defence of civilisation will by-and-bye disappear. I take it for granted, then, that the statesman's object in this war is to defend Turkey against the encroachments of Russia, and so to set a barrier against the aggressive ambition of that great empire. That is the language of the Queen's Speech. But have we not accomplished that object, I would ask—have we not arrived at that point?—have we not effected all that was proposed in the Queen's Speech? Russia is now no longer within the Turkish territory; she has renounced all idea of invading Turkey, and now, as we are told by the noble Lord, there have been put forward certain proposals from Russia which are to serve as the bases of peace. Now, what are those proposals? In the first place there is to be a joint protectorate 805 over the Christians by the five great Powers; there is to be a joint guarantee for the rights and privileges of the Principalities; there is to be a revision of the rule laid down in 1841 with regard to the entrance of ships of war into the Bosphorus, and the Danube is to be free to all nations. These are the propositions that are made for peace, as we are told by the noble Lord, and it is competent for us, I think, as a House of Commons, to offer an opinion as to the desirability of a treaty on those terms. My first reason for urging that we should entertain those proposals is, that we are told that Austria and Prussia have agreed to them. Those two Powers are more interested in this quarrel than England and France can be. Upon that subject I will quote the words of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, uttered in February last. The noble Lord said—We knew that Austria and Prussia had an interest in the matter more direct and greater than had either France or England. To Austria and Prussia it is a vital matter—a matter of existence, because if Russia were either to appropriate any large portion of the Turkish territory, or even to reduce Turkey to the condition of a mere dependent State, it must be manifest to any man who casts a glance over the map of Europe, and who looks at the geographical position of these two Powers with regard to Russia and Turkey, that any considerable accession of power on the part of Russia in that quarter must be fatal to the independence of action of both Austria and Prussia." [3 Hansard, cxxx. 1033.]I entirely concur with the noble Lord in his view of the interest which Austria and Prussia have in this quarrel, and what I want to ask is this—why should we seek greater guarantees and stricter engagements from Russia than those with which Austria and Prussia are content? They lie on the frontier of this great Empire, and they have more to fear from its power than we can have; no Russian invasion can touch us until it has passed over them; and is it likely if we fear, as we say we do, that Western Europe will be overrun by Russian barbarism—is it likely, I say, that Austria and Prussia would be the first to suffer, would not be as sensible to that danger as we can be? Ought we not rather to take it as a proof that we have somewhat exaggerated the danger which threatens Western Europe when we find that Austria and Prussia are not so alarmed at it as we are? They are not greatly concerned about the danger, I think, or else they would join with England and France in a great battle to push it back. If, then, Austria and Prussia are ready to 806 accept these proposals, why should not we be? Do you suppose that, if Russia really meditated an attack upon Germany—that if she had an idea of annexing the smallest portion of German territory, with only 100,000 inhabitants of Teutonic blood, all Germany would not be united as one man to resist her? Is there not a strong national feeling in that Germanicrace—are they not nearly 40,000,000 in number—are they not the most intelligent, the most instructed, and have they not proved themselves the most patriotic people in Europe? and if they are not dissatisfied, why should we stand out for better conditions, and why should we make greater efforts and greater sacrifices to obtain peace than they? I may be told that the people and the Governments of Germany are not quite in harmony on these points. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen who cheer ought to be cautious, I think, how they assume that Governments do not represent their people. How would you like the United States to accept that doctrine with regard to this country? But I venture to question the grounds upon which that opinion is formed. I have taken some little pains to ascertain the feeling of the people in Germany on this war, and I believe that if you were to poll the population of Prussia—which is the brain of Germany—whilst nineteen-twentieths would say that in this quarrel England is tight and Russia wrong; nay, whilst they would say they wished success to England as against Russia; yet, on the contrary, if you were to poll the same population as to whether they would join England with an army to fight against Russia, I believe, from all I have heard, that nineteen-twentieths would support their King in his present pacific policy. But I want to know what is the advantage of having the vote of a people like that in your favour if they are not inclined to join yon in action? There is, indeed, a wide distinction between time existence of a certain opinion in the minds of a people and a determination to go to war in support of that opinion. I think we were rather too precipitate in transferring our opinion into acts, that we rushed to arms with too much rapidity, and that, if we had abstained from war, continuing to occupy the same ground as Austria and Prussia, the result would have been that Russia would have left the Principalities and have crossed time Pruth, and that, without a single shot being fired, you would have accomplished the object for which you have gone to war. But what are the 807 grounds on which we are to continue this war when the Germans have acquiesced in the proposals of peace which have been made? Is it that war is a luxury? Is it that we are fighting—to use a cant phrase of Mr. Pitt's time—to secure indemnity for the past and security for the future? Are we to be the Don Quixottes of Europe, to go about fighting for every cause where we find that some one has been wronged? In most quarrels there is generally a little wrong on both sides, and, if we make up our minds always to interfere when any one is being wronged, I do not see always how we are to choose between the two sides. It will not do always to assume that the weaker party is in the right, for little States, like little individuals, are very often very quarrelsome, presuming on their weakness, and not unfrequently abusing the forbearance which their weakness procures them. But the question is, on what ground of honour or interest are we to continue to carry on this war, when we may have peace upon conditions which are satisfactory to the great countries of Europe who are near neighbours of this formidable Power? There is neither honour nor interest forfeited, I think, in accepting these terms, because we have already accomplished the object for which it was said this war was begun. The questions which have since arisen, with regard to Sebastopol, for instance, are mere points of detail, not to be bound up with the original quarrel. I hear many people say, we will take Sebastopol, and then we will treat for peace. I am not going to say that you cannot take Sebastopol—I am not going to argue against the power of England and France. I might admit, for the sake of argument, that you can take Sebastopol. You may occupy ten miles of territory in the Crimea for any time, you may build there a town, you may carry provisions and reinforcements there, for you have the command of the sea, but while you do all this you will have no peace with Russia. Nobody who knows the history of Russia can think for a moment that you are going permanently to occupy any portion of her territory, and, at the same time, to be at peace with that empire. But, admitting your power to do all this, is the object which you seek to accomplish worth the sacrifice which it will cost you? Can anybody doubt that the capture of Sebastopol will cost you a prodigious sacrifice of valuable lives, and, I ask you, is the object to be gained worth that sacrifice? The loss of treasure I will 808 leave out of the question, for that may be replaced, but we can never restore to this country those valuable men who may be sacrificed in fighting the battles of their country—perhaps the most energetic, the bravest, the most devoted body of men that ever left these Islands. You may sacrifice them if you like, but you are bound to consider whether the object will compensate you for that sacrifice. I will assume that you take Sebastopol; but for what purpose is it that you will take it, for you cannot permanently occupy the Crimea without being in a perpetual state of war with Russia? It is, then, I presume, as a point of honour that you insist upon taking it, because you have once commenced the siege. The noble Lord, speaking of this fortress, said—If Sebastopol, that great stronghold of Russian power, were destroyed, its fall would go far to give that security to Turkey which was the object of the war.But I utterly deny that Sebastopol is the stronghold of Russian power. It is simply an outward and visible sign of the power in Russia; but by destroying Sebastopol you do not by any means destroy that power. You do not destroy or touch Russian power unless you can permanently occupy some portion of its territory, disorder its industry, or disturb its Government. If you can strike at its capital, if you can deprive it of some of its immense fertile plains, or take possession of those vast rivers which empty themselves into the Black Sea, then, indeed, you strike at Russian power; but, suppose you take Sebastopol, and make peace to-morrow, in ten years, I tell you, the Russian Government will come to London for a loan to build it up again stronger than before. And as for destroying those old green fir ships, you only do the Emperor a service by giving him an opportunity for building fresh ones. Is not the celebrated case of Dunkirk exactly in point? In 1713, at the Treaty of Utrecht, the French King, under sore necessity, consented to destroy Dunkirk. It had been built under the direction of Vauban, who had exhausted his genius and the coffers of the State in making it as strong as science and money could make it. The French King bound himself to demolish it, and the English sent over two Commissioners to see the fortress thrown to the ground, the jetties demolished and cast into the harbour, and a mole or bank built across the channel leading into the port; and you would have thought Dunkirk was destroyed 809 once and for ever. There was a treaty binding the King not to rebuild it, and which on two successive occasions was renewed. Some few years afterwards a storm came and swept away the mole or bank which blocked up the channel, by which accident ingress and egress were restored; and, shortly afterwards, a war breaking out between England and Spain, the French Government took advantage of our being engaged elsewhere and rebuilt the fortifications on the seaside, as the historian tells us, much stronger than before. The fact is recorded, that in the Seven Years' War, about forty years afterwards, Dunkirk, for all purposes of aggression by sea, was more formidable than ever. We had in that case a much stronger motive for destroying Dunkirk than we can ever have in the case of Sebastopol; for in the war which ended in the peace of Utrecht there were 1,600 English merchant vessels, valued at 1,250,000l., taken by privateers which came out of Dunkirk. Then, again, in the middle of the last century we destroyed Cherbourg, and during the last war we held possession of Toulon; but did we thereby destroy the power of France? if we could have got hold of some of her fertile provinces—if we could have taken possession of her capital or struck at her vitals, we might have permanently impoverished and diminished her power and resources; but we could not do it by the simple demolition of this or that fortress. So it would be in this case—we might take Sebastopol and then make peace, but there would be the rankling wound—there would be a venom in the treaty which would determine Russia to take the first opportunity of reconstructing this fortress. There would be storms, too, there, which would destroy whatever mole we might build across the harbour of Sebastopol, for storms in the Black Sea are more frequent, as we know, than in the Channel; but, even if Sebastopol were utterly destroyed, there are many places on the coast of the Crimea which might be occupied for a similar purpose. But then comes the question, would the destruction of Sebastopol give security to the Turks? The Turkish Empire will only be safe when its internal condition is secure, and you are not securing the internal condition of Turkey while you are at war; on the contrary, I believe you are now doing more to demoralise the Turks and destroy their Government than you could possibly have 810 done in time of peace. If you wish to secure Turkey, you must reform its Government, purify its administration, unite its people, and draw out its resources; and then it will not present the spectacle of misery and poverty that it does now. Why, you yourselves have recognised the existing state of Turkey to be so bad that you intend to make a treaty which shall bind the Five Powers to a guarantee for the better treatment of the Christians. But have you considered well the extent of the principle in which you are embarking? You contemplate making a treaty by which the Five Powers are to do that together which Russia has hitherto claimed to do herself. What sort of conclusion do you think disinterested and impartial critics—people in the United States, for instance—will draw from such a policy? They must come to the conclusion that we have been rather wrong in our dealings with Russia if we have gone to war with her to prevent her doing that very thing which we ourselves propose to do in conjunction with the other Powers. If so much mis-chief has sprung from the protectorate of one Power, Heaven help the Turks when the protectorate of the Five Powers is inaugurated. But, at this very moment, I understand that a mixed Commission is sitting at Vienna, to serve as a court of appeal for the Danubian Principalities; in fact, that Moldavia and Wallachia are virtually governed by a Commission representing Austria, England, France, and Turkey. Now, this is the very principle of interference against which I wish to protest. From this I derive a recognition of the exceptional internal condition of Turkey, which, I say, will be your great difficulty upon the restoration of peace. Well, then, would it not be more statesmanlike in the Government, instead of appealing, with claptrap arguments, to heedless passions out of doors, and telling the people that Turkey has made more progress in the career of regeneration during the last twenty years than any other country under the sun, at once to address themselves to the task before them—the reconstruction of the internal system of that empire? Be sure this is what you will have to do, make peace when you may; for everybody knows that, once you withdraw your support and your agency from her, Turkey must immediately collapse and sink into a state of anarchy. The fall of Sebastopol would only make the condition of Turkey the worse; and, I repeat, that your real and 811 most serious difficulty will begin when you have to undertake the management of that country's affairs after you withdraw from it, and when you will have to reestablish her as an independent State. I would not have said a word about the condition of Turkey, but for the statement twice so jauntily made about her social progress by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. Why, what says the latest traveller in that country on this head? Lord Carlisle, in his recent work, makes the following remarks on the state of the Mahometan population, after describing the improving condition of the Porte's Christian subjects—But when you leave the partial splendours of the capital and the great State establishments, what is it you find over the broad surface of a land which nature and climate have favoured beyond all others, once the home of all art and all civilisation? Look yourself—ask those who live there—deserted villages, uncultivated plains, banditti-haunted mountains, torpid laws, a corrupt administration, a disappearing people.Why, the testimony borne by every traveller, from Lamartine downwards, is that the Mahometan population is perishing—is dying out from its vices, and those vices of a nameless character. In fact, we do not know the true social state of Turkey, because it is indescribable; and Lord Carlisle, in his work, says that he is constrained to avoid referring to it. The other day Dr. Hadly, who had lately returned from Turkey, where he had a near relation who had been physician to the Embassy for about thirty-five years, stated in Manchester that his relative told him that the population of Constantinople, into which there is a large influx from the provinces, has considerably diminished during the last twenty years, a circumstance which he attributes to the indescribable social vices of the Turks. Now, I ask, are you doing anything to promote habits of self-reliance or self-respect among this people by going to war in their behalf? On the contrary, the moment your troops landed at Gallipoli the activity and energy of the French killed a poor pacha there, who took to his bed and died from pure distraction of mind, and from that time to this you have done nothing but humiliate and demoralise the Turkish character more than ever. I have here a letter from a friend describing the conflagration which took place at Varna, in which he says it was curious to see how our sailors, when they landed to extinguish the fire in the Turkish houses, thrust the poor Turks 812 aside exactly as if they had been so many infant school children in England. Another private letter which I recently received from an officer of high rank in the Crimea states—We are degrading the Turk as fast as we can; he is now the scavenger of the two armies as far as he can be made so. He won't fight, and his will to work is little better; he won't be trusted again to try the former, and now the latter is all he is allowed to do. When there are entrenchments to be made or dead to be buried, the Turks do it. They do it as slowly and lazily as they can, but do it they must. This is one way of raising the Turk; it is propping him up on one side to send him headlong down a deeper precipice on the other.That is what you are doing by the process that is now going on in Turkey, I dare say you are obliged to take the whole command into your own hands, because you find no native power—no administrative authority in that country; and you cannot rely on the Turks for anything. If they send an army to the Crimea, the sick are abandoned to the plague or the cholera, and having no Commissariat, their soldiers are obliged to beg a crust at the tents of our men. Why, Sir, what an illustration you have in the facts relating to our own sick and wounded at Constantinople of the helpless supineness of the Turks. I mention these things, as the whole gist of the Eastern question lies in the difficulty arising from the prostrate condition of this race. Your troops would not be in this quarter at all but for the anarchy and barbarism that reign in Turkey. Well, you have a hospital at Scutari where there are some thousands of your wounded. They are wounded Englishmen brought there from the Crimea, where they have gone, 3,000 miles from their own home, to fight the battles of the Turks. Would you not naturally expect that when these miserable and helpless sufferers were brought to the Turkish capital, containing 700,000 souls, those in whose cause they have shed their blood would at once have a friendly and generous care taken of them? Supposing the case had been that these wounded men had been fighting for the cause of Prussia, and that they had been sent from the frontiers of that country to Berlin, which has only half the population of Constantinople, would the ladies of the former capital, do you think, have allowed these poor creatures to have suffered from the want of lint or of nurses? Does not the very fact that you have to send out everything for your wounded prove, either that the Turks 813 despise and detest, and would spit upon you, or that they are so feeble and incompetent as not to have the power of helping you in the hour of your greatest necessity? The people of England have been grossly misled regarding the state of Turkey. I am bound to consider that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton expressed his honest convictions on this point; but certainly the unfortunate ignorance of one in his high position has had a most mischievous effect on the public opinion of this country, for it undoubtedly has been the prevalent impression out of doors that the Turks are thoroughly capable of regeneration and self-government—that the Mahometan population are fit to be restored to independence—and that we have only to fight their battle against their external enemies in order to enable them to exercise the functions of a great Power. A greater delusion than this however, I believe, never existed in any civilised State. Well, if, as I say is the case, the unanimous testimony of every traveller, German, French, English, and American, for the last twenty years, attests the decay and helplessness of the Turks, are you not wasting your treasure and your men's precious lives before Sebastopol in an enterprise that cannot in the least aid the solution of your real difficulty? If you mean to take the Emperor of Russia eventually into your counsels—for this is the drift of my argument—if you contemplate entering into a quintuple alliance, to which he will be one of the parties in order to manipulate the shattered remains of Turkey, to reconstitute or supervise her internal polity, and maintain her independence, what folly it is to continue fighting against the Power that you are going into partnership with; and how absurd in the extreme it is to continue the siege of Sebastopol, which will never solve the difficulty, but must envenom the State with which you are to share the protectorate, and which is also the nearest neighbour of the Power for which you interpose, and your efforts to re-organise which, even if there be a chance of your accomplishing that object, she has the greatest means of thwarting? Would it not be far better for you to allow this question to be settled by peace than leave it to the arbitrament of war, which cannot advance its adjustment one inch? I have already adduced an illustration from the history of this country, as an inducement for your returning to peace. I will mention another. We all remember the 814 war with America, into which we entered in 1812, on the question of the right of search and other cognate questions relating to the rights of neutrals. Seven years before that war was declared, public opinion and the statesmen of the two countries had been incessantly disputing upon the questions at issue, but nothing could be amicably settled respecting them, and war broke out. After two years of hostilities, however, the negotiators on both sides met again and fairly arranged the terms of peace. But, how did they do this? Why, they agreed in their treaty of peace not to allude to what had been the subject-matter of the dispute which gave rise to the war, and the question of the right of search was never once touched on in that treaty. The peace then made between England and America has now lasted for forty years; and what has been the result? In the meantime America has grown stronger, and we, perhaps, have grown wiser, though I am not quite so sure of that. We have now gone to war again with a European Power, but we have abandoned those belligerent rights about which we took up the sword in 1812. Peace solved that difficulty, and did more for you than war ever could have done; for, had you insisted at Ghent on the American people recognising your right to search their ships, take their seamen, and seize their goods, they would have been at war with you till this hour before they would have surrendered these points, and the most frightful calamities might have been entailed on both countries by a protracted struggle. Now, apply this lesson to the Eastern question. Supposing you agree to terms of peace with Russia, you will have your hands full in attempting to ameliorate the social and political system of Turkey; but who knows what may happen with regard to Russia herself in the way of extricating you front your difficulty? That difficulty, as respects Russia, is no doubt very much of a personal nature. You have to deal with a man of great, but as I think, misguided energy, whose strong will and indomitable resolution cannot easily be controlled. But the life of a man has its limits, and certainly the Emperor of Russia, if he survive as many years from this time as the duration of the peace between England and America will be a most extraordinary phenomenon. You can hardly suppose that you will have a great many years to wait before, in the course of nature, that which 815 constitutes your chief difficulty in the present war may have passed away. It is because you do not sufficiently trust to the influence of the course of events in smoothing down difficulties, but will rush head-long to a resort to arms, which never can solve them, that you involve yourselves in long and ruinous wars. I never was of opinion that you had any reason to dread the aggressions of Russia upon any other State. If you have a weak and disordered empire like Turkey, as it were, next door to another that is more powerful, no doubt that tends to invite encroachments; but you have two chances in your favour—you may either have a feeble or differently disposed successor acceding to the throne of the present Czar of Russia, or you may be able to establish some kind of authority in Turkey that will be more stable than its present rule. At all events, if you effect a quintuple alliance between yourselves and the other great Powers, you will certainly bind Austria, Prussia, and France to support you in holding Russia to the faithful fulfilment of the proposed treaty relating to the internal condition of Turkey. Why not, then, embrace that alternative, instead of continuing the present war, because, recollect, that you have accomplished the object which Her Majesty in her gracious speech last Session stated that she had in view in engaging in this contest? Russia is no longer invading the Turkish territory; you are now rather invading Russia's own dominions and attacking one of her strongholds at the extremity of her empire; but, as I contend, not assailing the real source of her power. Now, I say you may withdraw from Sebastopol without at all compromising your honour. By the bye, I do not understand what is meant when you say that your honour is staked on your success in any enterprise of this kind. Your honour may be involved in your successfully rescuing Turkey from Russian aggression; but, if you have accomplished that task, you may withdraw your forces from before Sebastopol without being liable to reproach for the sacrifice of your national honour. I have another ground for trusting that peace would not be again broken if you terminate hostilities now. I believe that all parties concerned have received such a lesson that they are not likely soon to rush into war again. I believe that the Emperor of Russia has learnt from the courage and self-relying force displayed by our troops that an en- 816 lightened, free, and self-governed people is a far more formidable antagonist than he had reckoned upon, and that he will not so confidently advance his semi-barbarous hordes to cope with the active energy and inexhaustible resources of the representatives of Western civilisation. England also has been taught that it is not so easy as she imagined to carry on war upon land against a State like Russia, and will weigh the matter well in future before she embarks in any such conflict. I verily believe that all parties want to get out of this war—I believe that this is the feeling of all the Governments concerned; and I consider that you have now the means, if you please, of escaping from your embarrassment, notwithstanding that some Members of our Cabinet, by a most unstatesmanlike proceeding, have succeeded in evoking a spirit of excitement in the country which it will not be very easy to allay. The noble Lord the Member for London, and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, have, in my opinion, ministered to this excited feeling, and held out expectations which it will be extremely difficult to satisfy. Now, what do you intend to do if your operations before Sebastopol should fail? The Secretary at War tells us that "Sebastopol must be taken this campaign, or it will not be taken at all." If you are going to stake all upon this one throw of the dice, I say that it is more than the people of England themselves have calculated upon. But if you have made up your minds that you will only have one campaign against Sebastopol, and that if it is not taken then, you will abandon it, in that case, surely, there is little that stands between you and the proposals for peace on the terms I have indicated. I think you will do well to take counsel from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard), than whom—although I do not always agree with him in opinion—I know nobody on whose authority I would more readily rely in matters of fact relating to the East. That hon. Gentleman tells you that Russia will soon have 200,000 men in the Crimea; and if this be so, and this number is only to be "the beginning," I should say now is the time of all others to accept moderate proposals for peace. Now mark, that I do not say that France and England cannot succeed in what they have undertaken in the Crimea. I do not set any limits to what these two great countries may do if they persist in fighting this duel with Rus- 817 sia's force of 200,000 men in the Crimea; and, therefore, do not let it be said that I offer any discouragement to my fellow-countrymen; but what I come back to is the question—what are you likely to get that will compensate you for your sacrifice? The hon. Member for Aylesbury also says, that "the Russians will, next year, overrun Asiatic Turkey, and seize Turkey's richest provinces"—they will probably extend their dominion over Asia Minor down to the seacoast. The acquisition of these provinces would far more than compensate her for the loss of Sebastopol. I suppose you do not contemplate making war upon the plains in the interior of Russia, but wish to destroy Sebastopol, your success in which I have told you, I believe, will only end in that stronghold being rebuilt, ten years hence or so, from the resources of London capitalists. How, then, will you benefit Turkey, and especially if the prediction is fulfilled regarding Russia's overrunning the greater portion of Asiatic Turkey? I am told, also, that the Turkish army will melt away like snow before another year; and where then, under all these circumstances, will be the wisdom or advantage in carrying on the war? I have now, Sir, only one word to add, and that relates to the condition of our army in the Crimea. We are all, I dare say, constantly hearing accounts from friends out there of the condition, not only of our own soldiers, but also of the Turks, as well as of the state of the enemy. What I have said about the condition of the Turks will, I am sure, be made as clear as daylight when the army's letters are published and our officers return home. But as to the state of our own troops, I have in my hand a private letter from a friend in the Crimea, dated the 2nd of December last, in which the writer says—The people of England would shudder when they read of what this army is suffering, and yet they will hardly know one-half of it. I cannot imagine that either pen or pencil can ever depict it in its fearful reality. The line, from the nature of their duties, are greater sufferers than the artillery, although there is not much to choose between them. I am told by an officer of the former, not likely to exaggerate, that one stormy wet night, when the tents were blown down, the sick, the wounded, and the dying of his regiment, were struggling in one fearful mass for warmth and shelter.Now, if you could consult these brave men and ask them what their wishes are, their first and paramount desire would be to fulfil their duty. They are sent to capture Sebastopol, and their first object would be 818 to take that strong fortress, or perish in the attempt. But, if you were able to look into the hearts of these men to ascertain what their longing, anxious hope has been, even in the midst of the bloody struggle at Alma or at Inkerman, I believe you would find it has been that the conflict in which they were engaged might have the effect of sooner restoring them again to their own hearths and homes. Now, I say that the men who have acted so nobly at the bidding of their country are entitled to that country's sympathy and consideration; and if there be no imperative necessity for further prosecuting the operations of the siege, which must—it will, I am sure, be admitted by all, whatever may be the result—be necessarily attended with an immense sacrifice of precious lives—unless, I say, you can show that some paramount object will be gained by contending for the mastery over these forts and ships—you ought to encourage Her Majesty's Government to look with favour upon the propositions which now proceed from the enemy; and then, if we do make mistakes in accepting moderate terms of peace, we shall, at all events, have this consolation, that we are erring on the side of humanity.
said, he did not intend to enter upon the wide field of discussion which had been opened by the hon. Member for the West Riding, who had last addressed the House; on that subject he would merely observe that he totally differed from the hon. Gentleman as to the policy of this war, which he (Mr. Corry) thought had been forced upon the country by the aggressive spirit of Russia, and which he trusted would be prosecuted to a successful issue, at whatever sacrifice and by every means at the disposal of the Government. His object in rising on this occasion was, simply to revert to what was, properly speaking, the question before the House, and to state what were his objections to the Bill. He was anxious to make that explanation, because, at a crisis like the present, and feeling, as he did, that it was the duty of the Government to make every effort to carry the war to a successful conclusion, and to augment our military establishments by every legitimate means, he should be sorry if his opposition to the measure could be attributed to any other motive than the sincere belief that the means now proposed were, in many respects, most objectionable. He was not disposed to insist on the constitutional objections which had been raised to the Bill 819 —to which he objected rather on moral grounds—on the ground of the bad moral effect it would have at home and abroad—on our allies, as well as on the enemy. With respect to the first of these objections to the Bill—the effect it would have at home—he never recollected a measure more unpopular among all classes, of all political persuasions—in this House, no less than out of this House, for he was convinced, from conversations he had had with several hon. Members, that if the division on Tuesday night had represented the real convictions of the House, uninfluenced by the threat of resignation, the Government would have been left in a minority on the Bill. When he objected to the measure on account of its unpopularity, he hoped it would not be imagined that he meant to insist on that as a conclusive argument against it. On the contrary, he was aware that questions frequently arose on which it was the duty of Parliament and of the Government to stem the tide of public opinion, but he did not think that a question of enlistment could be one of those questions. It had been his fortune to serve at the Admiralty for several years along with his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, who, he was sure, could bear him out in the truth of the assertion that it was at all times necessary to evince, on every question affecting the enlistment of sailors, the greatest regard for the feelings and even the prejudices of the seafaring part of the people. He did not know if similar tenderness were necessary with respect to the army, but he imagined that it must be so, as we had no conscription, but depended for our supply of recruits solely on voluntary enlistment, and he thought that at a time like the present, when they were told by the Government that a martial enthusiasm pervaded all ranks of the people, it would be highly dangerous to do anything that would risk the possibility of damping their military ardour, or lessen their enthusiasm in favour of the war. Now, what had the Government said with reference to that enthusiasm? They had told us that as dangers arose and difficulties increased, so had the martial ardour of the people risen and increased with them. He was convinced that that enthusiasm was not simply the result of a thirst for glory inspired by the noble deeds of our army in the Crimea, but he believed it was to be traced to principles of the purest patriotism, and that the people came forward to fight for the country because they felt 820 that the country had need of their services. But if the impression had gone abroad that it was after all a matter of no such great importance whether Englishmen came forward to enlist or not, and that the Government had a reserve—not that to which the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department had adverted—the people of England—but in an unlimited supply of foreigners, was it probable that the people would have been so ready to exchange the occupations of peace for the dangers of war as they had been when they felt that it was to themselves, under God, that they must trust for success against the enemy? But he considered that the measure was even more objectionable on the ground of the effect it might have on the Continent of Europe. There it would be looked on in no other light than as a confession of weakness—a weakness which he firmly believed had no existence in reality. Not-withstanding the hardships and the losses our army had sustained, he believed that at no former period of our history had anything tended more to raise England in the estimation of foreign nations as a great military Power than had the events of the last six months. During that period, without any very great preparations, as the Government themselves admitted—with a force hardly exceeding a peace establishment, we were enabled, by the instrumentality of our magnificent steam fleet, to convey to a distance of 3,000 miles one of the finest armies that ever left our shores. We succeeded in landing that army in the Crimea actually in larger numbers than the French, and down to the present moment, in every encounter with the enemy, our troops had borne at least as conspicuous a part as the army of our brave ally. All Europe was looking on, in suspense, at the great struggle in which the allied armies were engaged. One at least of the great Powers of Europe appeared to hesitate on which side to declare itself until events should show which was the most likely to prove the strongest; and, he asked, was it wise at such a moment to put forth such a confession of weakness as was made by this Bill? If Government could show the necessity for having recourse to foreign auxiliaries; if they could show that they had exhausted all their means at home, that the manhood of England was completely used up, and that, though we had boys, with hearts bold enough to come forward and face the enemy, we could not find men with arms 821 to use the musket, or constitutions to bear the hardships of a campaign, then he would grant that this was a sad necessity which would compel him to give his assent to the Bill. But how could the Government say that they had exhausted the military resources of the country, when up to this moment not a single Irish or Scotch militia regiment had been embodied? And the Government had by a recent circular recognised the embodied militia as a source from whence to derive large reinforcements for the regular army. He did not think, therefore, it could be asserted that the military resources of the country were exhausted, or that that could be pleaded in defence of this measure for the enlistment of foreigners. There was one other consideration to which he invited the attention of the Government. What did they suppose would be the effect of this change in the constitution of our army upon that confidence which the army of our French ally now reposed in the English troops? He believed that the mutual confidence at present existing between the two armies was the great secret of the successes which attended our arms in the Crimea; and that without such confidence success would have been impossible. And he should like to know whether, on the morning of the 5th of November, when 60,000 Russians assailed the heights of Inkerman, defended by only 8,000 English troops, it was probable the French division, under the gallant General Bosquet, would have come to our support with the confidence which was so necessary to success, if the army of England had been a sort of exhibition of the troops of all nations, instead of those brave Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen, upon whose courage they had learned in many a well fought field to place the fullest reliance? He felt, however, that debate upon the subject was completely exhausted; and he would detain the House no longer than to add that he deemed it his duty to oppose this measure, because in his conscience he believed it to be a mischievous measure, and one that was at once dangerous, unnecessary, and impolitic.
§ MR. ROBERT PHILLIMORE
said, it was impossible not to admire both the moral courage and intellectual ability displayed upon this, as upon all other occasions, by the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), and those who agreed with him, in the peculiar views which he entertained in regard to international 822 rights of peace and war; but he was astonished that it should have escaped the sagacity of so acute a logician that the whole drift of his speech was an entire answer to his attack upon the Government. He had said that he should show, in the course of his speech, that the conduct of the war had been ill-managed by the Government; and yet the whole argument of his speech amounted to this—that all which Her Majesty had declared to be necessary, and which the Government had intended to effect, had been produced by the fleet and army, through the exertions of Her Majesty's Government. He would say that nothing but the most partial blindness to aught else than his own peculiar views could have made a man, possessed of such powers, not perceive that he had answered in his own speech all the objections he had raised. But the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cobden) spoke as if everything was a mere matter of figures and calculations; but he (Mr. Phillimore) believed that, with nations, as with individuals, there was much that could not be measured by rule, or counted on the fingers, and which was as valuable to the well-being of nations, as to the well-being of individuals. He well remembered a passage in an anonymous writer whom he did not greatly admire, but who had well said that—Private honour is wealth; public honour is credit; the feather which adorns the noble bird supports him in his flight; deprive him of his plumage, and he falls to the ground.And so it was with a State. We were too powerful to be mean in our conduct towards other nations; we could not, if the hon. Member believed the phrase, afford to be so, and it would not be difficult to demonstrate that we were taking the most prudent, as well as the most noble and honourable course, in defending Turkey at this moment from the aggressions of Russia. That he would term the real subject before the House. The right hon. Member who had last spoken had said of the supporters of the Government upon the present occasion, that they had left their convictions in one lobby, and given their votes in another. Had it never entered the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite that a private individual, without official knowledge and information, might think it his duty to give his support to a Government better informed than himself upon the subject, and be unwilling to set up his own private judgment in opposition to that of persons 823 necessarily possessed of the very information of which he was almost as necessarily ignorant? He, for his part, did not look with peculiar favour upon this Bill; but, placing confidence in Her Majesty's Government, placing confidence in the statements of the Commander in Chief of Her Majesty's forces—and he thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite would respect the opinion of that great man, the brother in arms of the Duke of Wellington, who had been raised to his present position by the Government of which the Earl of Derby was the head—and when they had heard, in another place, that noble Lord say that he believed this measure to be necessary efficiently to carry on the present war, and to render assistance to our army in the Crimea, he did wonder that in the followers of Lord Derby there should be any hesitation in following so high an authority. He was willing to confess that the measure was such as might fairly excite the constitutional jealousy of that House. He agreed that Her Majesty's Government had no right to complain that a measure such as this was watched with jealousy by those who took an interest in the country. They had no right to complain that such a measure should be thoroughly canvassed and sifted by every Member of Parliament; and he would take the liberty to say that the debate in this case had been elevated beyond the usual tone of the discussions in that House in consequence of the magnitude of the subject, and the importance of the interests involved. The Amendment was introduced in a speech by the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton), which showed how well great literary genius might be united with the graces of an accomplished orator—supported by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), upon whom his father's talents appeared to have descended in no scant proportion—and discussed in a brilliant oration by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside); while from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), the House invariably expected, and would be disappointed if it did not receive, as it had done on this occasion, a brilliant oratorical display. But the Opposition received a foreign enlistment upon this occasion, for there came to their aid some of those who were generally in the habit of supporting the Government, and foremost among them, on account of the 824 great ability which distinguished his speech, was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson). Yet he must take the liberty of saying that, after paying the greatest attention to every speech which had been made, he could not help thinking that while all the eloquence of these hon. and right hon. Members was against, all their logic was in favour of, this measure? There was no point upon which the Opposition had expressed such discordant opinions as upon the assistance to be derived from any foreign troops whatever. Half the arguments used would be good against troops supplied by a State with which we were in alliance. The hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire had said that our people were so greedy of honour, that they did not wish to share it with any other nation. That argument would, of course, apply to the French, our allies, as well as to any foreign troops that might be fighting with us. Indeed, if the arguments employed by hon. Members against the measure were analysed, he believed that one-half would be found to be antagonistic and quite opposed to the other half. The right hon. Member for Manchester said that the Bill was opposed to international law and international morality. He would ask whether we were to enter into a treaty with those countries whose subjects we enlisted, or not? If we enlisted those foreigners, was it to be with the consent of their Governments or without it? If it was with their consent, then that nation departed from its neutrality, and we should have to defend her in case of necessity; if without, we should be guilty of a breach of international law. "And what," said the right hon. Member, "if Russia should go to America, and ask the Government there to allow Russian privateers to serve under American letters of marque?" In answer to that came the Message of the American President, in which he expresses it as the intention of that Government to maintain the right to allow privateering. But the answer of the right hon. the Secretary at War to this difficulty about foreign troops was quite satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman said, that in Germany there were those who, having served in the militia for a certain time, were entitled to receive letters of, as he understood him, denaturalisation, which enabled them to serve under foreign Governments; and there could be no doubt that such soldiers would not object to enlist, without fear of 825 involving the State to which they had originally owed allegiance in any departure from their neutrality. He wanted to know by what right it was that hon. Members asserted that the German, who chooses to accept service in the armies of a nation fighting for the liberties and common interests of Europe, was to be stigmatised as a mercenary, a cut-throat, and a national assassin? Was the cause nothing? Let it be remembered that both sides of the House, however much divided on other matters connected with the war, had at least agreed that the cause was a holy and a righteous one. Then, if so, what right had any one to stigmatise the foreigner as a cut-throat and a mercenary? But it had been said that the measure seemed to set aside the services of our own common soldier; and this had been most unfairly urged against the Government. On the contrary, however, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War had said that which should entirely dissipate this impression. That right hon. Gentleman had remarked, in words that would go down to future history, that "the battle of Inker-man was a soldiers' battle;" and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department had likewise said that, at the same battle, "it was impossible to tell whether the leaders or their men had accomplished the more distinguished achievements." He (Mr. Phillimore) thought that the whole argument from the other side would be answered if hon. Gentlemen would use the true word "addition," instead of the false word "substitution." This would set the whole matter right. There was another point which had been discussed—namely, the conduct of the war—into which, however, he would not go; for no Member who had spoken upon the subject had agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding. Mistakes, no doubt, had been made, and they had been admitted by the Government. Then, he would ask, why cavil so much at the mistakes committed at the outset of the war; for he would challenge any hon. Member to adduce any instance of a great war in which so few mistakes had been committed, and in which so many great victories and successes had been won. But would not the arguments which had been adduced on this point tell both ways? If Government had hitherto been so remiss as was asserted, ought not the house now to strengthen their hands? Was it a reasonable state- 826 ment on the part of the Government that by having disciplined foreigners, good succour could be transmitted to our army in the East? Government, with good sources of information, had said that this measure would produce this universally-derived result. The Commander in Chief had been asked the question, and he had answered, "Yes." It was not, then, for those who had no official information to say "no." The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) concluded his speech the other evening by one of the most disheartening perorations to which it had ever been his lot to listen. He told them to study the immortal pages of Thucydides, and find a parallel to the present disasters of England in the Athenian expedition to Sicily. He forgot to state that both the civil and military condition of England were as different as possible from that of Athens. We had not lost our fleet, nor had we been defeated in war. For his own part, he rejected the right hon. Gentleman's omens; he abominated his auguries; and he would not contribute to the fulfilment of his sinister prophecies by refusing to Ministers the means of sending immediate and effective succour to our gallant and suffering troops in the Crimea.
§ MR. SANDARS
Sir, I do not rise to enter on the general question now under the consideration of the House, as that I am of opinion has already been entirely exhausted; and after the able speeches both from this side of the House and that against this Bill, I feel that I am unable to throw any new light thereon. But, Sir, I rise to refer to a petition that was presented the other night from my constituents, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, against this measure. This petition emanated from a public meeting in the borough of Wakefield, numerously attended, and most enthusiastic, for carrying on the war with the utmost vigour consistently with the honour and morality of the country. But, at the same time, they strongly condemned the enlistment of foreign mercenaries into our Army, and carried a resolution to the following effect—That this meeting has learned with alarm and indignation the attempt of Her Majesty's Ministers to pass through the Houses of Parliament a measure for the enlistment of foreign mercenaries, and deprecates such an unusual and un-English proceeding, and resolves to forward petitions to both Houses of Parliament against the Bill, believing that a sufficient number of Englishmen 827 will come forward, if but proper measures are taken, to defend the honour of their country without calling on foreigners for their assistance.Sir, I must confess I entertain similar views on this question, and if the Government will but adopt proper means by increasing the bounty, reducing the standard of height, and increasing the age, that sufficient British soldiers will be found to carry on the war with vigour, so as to bring it to a successful and honourable termination. My informant tells me that this meeting held in the borough of Wakefield, the centre of the West Riding, that great hive of industry, was most enthusiastic for carrying on the war with the utmost vigour. Yet they thoroughly deprecated this measure as unnecessary and degrading to the British Army. I believe, Sir, that this feeling is general through that district, of which Wakefield is the centre; and further, I believe, it is the feeling of the country, and if time were but allowed, and this measure delayed till after the recess, that that table would be covered with petitions against it. They also expressed a strong opinion that Her Majesty's Ministers had not hitherto prosecuted the war with that vigour and determination that its magnitude and importance demanded, and that in consequence our brave army was now suffering more than language could depict; but they rejoiced to see that Her Majesty's Government had at last become aroused to a sense of their duty and of the responsibility of the great war on which they had entered, and the language used in Her Majesty's gracious Speech afforded strong grounds for believing that henceforth the war would be prosecuted with that energy and vigour which the country called for, and which was the surest way of bringing it to an early and successful termination. Having considered it my duty to say thus much, and feeling that I can add nothing to throw any new light on the question, I shall not occupy the time of the House any longer by any remarks of my own on the conduct of the war in general, as I am free to admit that Her Majesty's Government have had many difficulties to contend with in carrying on such a war after forty years of peace.
MR. DIGBY SEYMOUR
said, that on Wednesday evening last he addressed a meeting of his constituents at Sunderland, in which there were more than 2,000 persons assembled, and the result was an unanimous vote of confidence in the course 828 of his Parliamentary conduct, including his vote of Tuesday evening in favour of this Bill. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down represented the feeling of Wakefield to be the popular feeling of the country, and he had thought it right to correct that statement. Another hon. Member stated that he believed there was no Member sitting behind Ministers who had voted for this measure but what had done so with regret. Now, he happened to be one of the Members thus referred to; he voted for the Bill, and he did not regret the vote he had given. He did not vote for it because it was said that Ministers were likely to resign, although at this peculiar crisis, and under existing circumstances, their doing so would have been a great national calamity. He was not swayed by any such consideration; on the contrary, he felt as an independent Member that when they had the assurance of the Minister that every exertion had been made to carry on the war with vigour, that he had refused no assistance, come from what quarter it might, and that now he appealed to Parliament to give him another weapon for bringing the war to a speedy and successful termination, he had no alternative but to support the measure. The fate of Europe was at stake in the result of our operations in the Crimea, and he had felt it to be his duty to give the Ministers his hearty and independent support. Nor did he shrink from the consequences of his vote, because he believed the country generally when it came calmly to reflect upon the course taken by the Government would agree in thinking that, as in the days of Marlborough, Wellington, and Napoleon, the assistance of foreigners was justifiable in a war of this magnitude; so it was at the present day. Ministers had historic precedents in their favour; and, for his part, he could discover no moral grounds whatever to justify the opposition which had been raised to the passing of this Bill. We were engaged in a just war, and he did hope that it would be prosecuted with energy, so as to ensure a successful termination. Whatever mistakes they might have made—whatever short-comings they might have displayed—he felt that Ministers were now making a splendid atonement for the past, and he had no hesitation in giving them his hearty support.
§ LORD LOVAINE
said, he could not see any splendid atonement on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers in urging the passing 829 a Bill which he firmly believed was detrimental to the honour of the British soldier, regular and militia. Neither could he see anything splendid in the way in which the war was proposed to be carried on, even upon the confession of the Government. He (Lord Lovaine) should still continue to believe that it was a first principle of morals that the man who could be bought for 1s. a day to cut other men's throats was neither more nor less than a hired mercenary, and he should he very sorry to see him placed upon the same footing as the British soldier who had so gloriously maintained the honour of his country in the Crimea. He should like to inquire into the mode in which the Bill was to be carried out. On that subject the Government professed to be in total ignorance. All they knew was that six months hence a certain number of men were, it was supposed, to be thrown upon the shores of the Crimea, and that they were supposed to be trained to arms. How that was to be contrived he did not know, nor where they were to be obtained. As to obtaining them from German emigrants, that, he believed, would be impracticable. He trusted that if the scheme was carried out care should be taken that we did not secure to ourselves the conscripts of petty German Princes, but the men we obtained enlisted voluntarily, and that every pains should be taken to enlist men of the condition and feeling required, otherwise he was afraid that the Foreign Legion would be composed of persons whose notions of meum et tuum were very indistinct in their own country. He should feel himself to be unworthy of having ever stood in the British ranks and mixed with British officers, if he could admit that any foreign troops were equal to them in spirit, in endurance, and in good conduct; though he did not deny that the Hanoverian regiments at Albuera, one of which was commanded by the hon. and gallant Member for Cockermouth (General Wyndham), subjects of the same Sovereign, had acted in the best and bravest manner. He could not arrive at the same conclusion as the hon. Member for the West Riding, that the war would be put an end to by the abandonment of Sebastopol—on the contrary, he believed, with the Duke of Wellington, that to terminate the war speedily, it should be carried on with the greatest energy. He admitted that the Manchester gentlemen had endeavoured to oppose themselves to the popular prejudice; and 830 he esteemed them more now when they no longer acknowledged that idol worship than when they ruined the character of British statesmanship. He entreated Her Majesty's Government to bear in mind, however, that whatever might be the result of the siege, it would be unwise policy to relinquish their demands. It would be far better to lay down just proposals at the outset, and adhere to them subsequently under any change of circumstances. He also entreated them to listen to the cry of the miserable Christian population which had been so long oppressed in Turkey. He thought that Government should, in return for the assistance which England was affording Turkey, obtain from that Power a recognition of the civil liberties of the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire. Her Majesty's Government would also do well to remember that in all ages the popular voice was eager for bloodshed as much as Cæsar, or Alexander, or any other tyrant; and that if they strayed a single inch from the right path, in obedience to that cry, they would be, in the eyes of Heaven, as guilty as any Napoleon or Timur, who defaced the work of God for his own ambitious purposes.
§ SIR ERSKINE PERRY
said, he could not help feeling that the arguments upon this Bill were almost exhausted, but, nevertheless, he could not sit quietly by and hear the men to be raised under this Bill stigmatised as ruthless mercenaries. Having protested against such language, he would proceed to notice the speech of the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden). Much as he admired the talents of the hon. Member, he could not help feeling that the speech he had made to-night was exceedingly inopportune. England at the present moment was in so critical a position as to require that all her energies should be directed to the attainment of one object, and unless she put forward all her exertions, her honour and interest would be subject to a crisis she had never yet known; and if that were so, as it undoubtedly was, then any discussion as to the policy of the war, or as to the conduct of the war, however well fitting for future deliberation, ought not to be brought forward at the present moment. Let any one, however, look back to the course of proceeding which Russia had prescribed for herself, and he must at once perceive that she had been expecting the occasion which had now arrived for the last twenty years. It had been be- 831 lieved in military circles, and such seems to have been the belief of the English and French Governments—that the Russian army in the Crimea could not possibly receive reinforcements under the old system of Russia. After the battle of the Alma, all the reinforcements it was possible to get collected together were on the spot, while Lord Raglan himself announced publicly that the occupation of the Principalities by Austria was quite sufficient to prevent Russia obtaining reinforcements, and yet, on the 5th of November, to the astonishment of Europe, the battle of Inkerman was fought. Now, he would ask, how was Russia enabled to bring 60,000 or 70,000 men into the field on that occasion? Why, from a letter which had appeared in a newspaper, written from Odessa, it appeared that at the commencement of the war Russia abandoned the old bullock-cart system, travelling a mile an hour, and laid down, or established, stages for a change of horses, so as to enable their carts, carrying eight and twelve soldiers each, to travel at the rate of thirty and even forty-five miles in a day. In the same way they carried their provisions and munitions of war, and the letter stated that from Odessa the army was also supplied by sea with stores. Small vessels, it would appear, were used for creeping along the coast and navigating the shallow waters, and in that way the enormous supplies at Odessa had been transmitted to the Crimea. That, then, being the position of Russia, the question for England to consider was, how could she meet the enemy in the same manner? It was evident that the possession of the Crimea depended upon which Power was able to bring reinforcements into the field at the earliest period, and if that was to be done, it was clear that all the energy of England, and all her deliberations, should be directed to the one point how such reinforcements could be obtained. Now, the speech of the hon. Member for the West Riding led clearly to one conclusion, which was, that we should at once hold out the hand of peace to the Emperor of Russia, accede to his own terms, and make no further exertions in the cause we had undertaken. That was exactly the policy which the Emperor of Russia and his astute advisers predicted would happen, and which they had all along expected would occur. This was proved by the despatch of Prince Lieven, written upon the state of this country in 832 1825, but which was so applicable to the present day that it might have been written by Baron Brunnow in 1853. Prince Lieven, when Ambassador at this Court in 1825, writing to his Government at St. Petersburg to express his belief that England would never interfere at all between Russia and Turkey, said—In the meanwhile it is important to throw dust into the eyes of the allies by rejecting none of their overtures; but, at the same time, binding ourselves to nothing which does not lead directly to our object. In one word, we must prevent them from obtaining any moral certainty of our intentions, remove, if we can, all suspicions as to them, but never budge an inch from the strong position in which our Cabinet has been placed by the blunders of our allies, as well as by the firm and upright conduct of our Emperor.The conclusion drawn by that astute diplomatist, from what he had seen and heard in England, was simply that England would never enter into any alliance with France to resist Russia. Now, that was exactly the policy the hon. Member for the West Riding was recommending. He advised that we should listen to the proposals of Russia—that we should reopen the negotiations—but he forgot that, in the meantime, Russia would be collecting her forces to strike the blow which should place her in the position she had been seeking to acquire for the last fifty or sixty years. The doctrine of the hon. Member was founded upon the principle of non-intervention, and he agreed with that principle entirely when it was fully carried out, but it could not be introduced and adopted by one Power alone. Like the pacific conduct of a Quaker, it could only be adopted by a moral body of men who were better than their fellows; but if one State acted upon this principle while others laughed at it, consequences fraught with evil to Europe would arise, as they had arisen before. The hon. Gentleman asked why was England to be more earnest in this interference with Turkey than either Austria or Prussia, who were so much more connected with the subject, and whose interests were so much more deeply concerned in it? Well, it might be that England, feeling secure in her own constitutional Government, and relying upon the wisdom and support of a free people, was not afraid to stand up boldly for a cause which should give encouragement to the growth of free nations in every part of the Continent, while that might be precisely the reason why Prussia and Austria should not be so enthusiastic in the matter as sound policy would seem 833 to dictate. But had we not been equally remiss in former times? The partition of Poland was a gross act of immorality, which England and France never should have permitted. So, also, it was the passive conduct of England and France, at the time of the Treaty of Adrianople, that placed Turkey in the hands of Russia. The hon. Member for the West Riding denied that the designs of Russia were opposed to the progress and growth of civilisation; but the true character of her policy, with regard to Turkey, was developed in a despatch from Count Nesselrode to the Grand Duke Constantine at Warsaw, dated 12th of February, 1848, explaining the Treaty of Adrianople. Count Nesseirode said—It only depended on our army whether we should march on Constantinople and extinguish the Turkish Empire. No Power would have opposed it, no immediate danger would have threatened us if we had given the last blow to the Ottoman kingdom in Europe. But, in the Emperor's opinion, this monarchy, reduced to exist only under the protection of Russia, and to listen to her will, is better suited to our political and commercial interests than any new combination which would three us either to extend our dominions too far by conquests, or to substitute for the Ottoman Empire new States that would not have been slow in rivalling us in power, civilisation, industry, and wealth.Here, then, we have Russia deliberately opposing herself to the progress of Turkey in civilisation and wealth. Well, then, on the other hand, what was the policy of the British Government with regard to Turkey? Why, it was to preserve the status quo which should allow Turkey to reform herself from within or enable her Christian population gradually to develope their energies. Now, the Treaty of Adrianople was to prevent that, as was admitted by Count Nesselrode in the despatch he had just alluded to. In that despatch there was the deliberate statement of the Prime Minister of Russia, that Russia was determined to present every obstacle to the free development of civilisation and enterprise in Turkey, and yet they were told by the hon. Member for the West Riding that this barbaric Power was, in point of fact, not opposed to the civilisation of Europe. The Emperor of Russia in 1852 said, that he would not allow of the formation of a Greek Empire out of the provinces of Turkey, and the only eventuality the hon. Member would recognise was, that Turkey should virtually fall into the Emperor's hands, as she had done by the Treaty of Adrianople, and should remain in that position. In a pamphlet 834 which had been sent round to hon. Members, defending the views of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), the question in dispute was represented as beginning with the Holy Places, and the writer altogether overlooked the Treaty of Adrianople, which Russia acknowledged had placed Turkey in her hands. The speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Cobden) was, as he had previously said, out of season. All that Parliament ought to do now was to determine upon the most energetic means of supporting our gallant army in the Crimea, which brought him to the immediate subject of that night's debate—namely, the enlistment of troops who had been so often stigmatised as foreign mercenaries. Against such a, measure he had heard no solid argument, advanced, though he had heard a good deal of declamation and appeals to the feelings and prejudices of the people against it. It was said that it would be better for us to rely upon the spirit and patriotism of our own troops than to have recourse to the assistance of foreigners; but although that general proposition might be true enough, this Bill might still be a wise measure, in spite of the alternatives which some hon. Members had suggested for it. It was not necessary for hon. Members who supported the Government to maintain that foreign mercenaries were as good as national soldiers, but still this Bill might be a wise measure, and quotations from Filicaia and Lord Bacon, to show that nations who availed themselves of foreign swords in their defence must be in a state of decay, were commonplaces, very suitable for a young lady's album, but which did not apply to the subject under discussion. He was sorry to hear the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) ascribe motives to the class of men who were likely to enrol themselves in this Foreign Legion, such as would repel all honourable men from joining the service. The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) took the same line of argument, but he could not have recollected the brave exploits of his countrymen, the Irish Legion, in France. It might be said that such men were driven from their country by domestic persecution, but it was not to be supposed that the whole of the Irish Brigade in the service of France enlisted under such motives. A few of the officers might have left their country animated with hatred against England, but the rank and file probably 835 joined that brigade for the sake of employment and advancement, and the exertion of their energies in an honourable calling. In another place, a noble Lord (the Earl of Derby), formerly a Prime Minister, and probably the future Prime Minister of a war Ministry, had pointed to India whence we could obtain supplies of troops to obviate the necessity of this measure; but did the noble Lord suppose that the natives of India entered our army from any great love of the British nation, or from a patriotic feeling? The Indian army was principally composed of Hindoos and Mussulmans, and while the one class was shocked at the sight of a slaughtered cow, the other had been driven from India and supplanted in their authority by the British. Was such a body of troops more likely to be eager in support of civilisation than German troops? Yet where could there be found a body of men more faithful to their salt? And yet these very men were open to all the stigmas that had been thrown upon foreign mercenaries. The reference to India as an eligible and practical resource on the present occasion was invalid also on other grounds. In the Bill for the government of India that was so minutely discussed in that House two Sessions ago, on the opinion of all the best military authorities, it was decided that the present English force in India was not large enough for its purposes. It was clear, therefore, that except a cavalry regiment, or a battalion or two for the moment, nothing could be drawn from the English forces to meet the present emergency. If it was to the native force that reference had been made, that only showed a surprising ignorance of India, and of the ability of its inhabitants to support a change of climate such as that proposed. So that made it wholly impracticable to draw from India any force so as to obviate the necessity for the present Bill. He only rose on the present occasion because he felt that a very gross injustice had been done in the debate to the noble race from whom resources were expected to be obtained—he meant the German people. There should be kept in view the great distinction that existed between the German people and the German aristocracy. He did not misrepresent the German aristocracy when he said that, as a body, they were wholly opposed to constitutional government. That aristocracy had naturally looked to the Emperor of Russia for many years past for protection and support, and 836 were justly grateful to him for the great services he had rendered to the Conservative cause. The Emperor had, moreover, practised towards that body—he would hardly say cajolery, for that would indicate something low and immoral—but he courted them so much in various ways, and they were so connected with Russia by their estates, and, particularly in Austria, by blood, that, as a general rule, they were heart and soul bound to him and his policy. It was for that reason that Austria evinced so much hesitation on the present occasion; and had it not been for the firmness of the young Emperor of Austria, and the exertions of Prince Metternich and Count Buol, we should certainly not have arrived at the present state, which seemed to promise a firm alliance. The people, on the other hand, were democratic beyond any other Anglo-Saxon race in the world; arrived in Pennsylvania, they were the most "go-the-whole-hog" for all reforms of any that arrived there; and he ventured to say, in contradiction to what he had heard stated that night, that the German people were unanimous in favour of the Western alliance. In the Revue des deux Mondes of that month, a very careful analysis was made of the German daily publications, and of the pamphlets and military works of the last six months; and it appeared, what was most remarkable, that there was not a single newspaper that advocated a Russian alliance. At Berlin, even, where the Russian interest was so strong, it was not able to support a single paper to advocate the Russian alliance. It was, then, to that German people, who were so heartily with us in sentiment, who had fought so often by our side in battle—it was with respect to this noble people that accusations were bandied about, of assassins, cut-throats, sicarii, condottieri, and every word of reproach which was to be found in any language. The speech of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Sir E. B. Lytton) formed an exception in that particular to the speeches generally of Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Baronet, by his literary tastes, had been led to read and judge more correctly of the true character of the German people, and he pronounced a noble eulogium upon them. He was sorry and surprised to find that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War mistook the hon. Baronet's argument. He was glad, and all Germany would be glad, to have heard such praise from so 837 competent an authority, and he trusted it would outweigh the reproaches so unjustly cast upon the German race, who, where-ever they had shown themselves in arms, fighting in a good cause, had gathered as proud laurels as any nation in the world. They were a family sighing for the same liberal institutions, the same government, which Anglo-Saxons in other parts had obtained. They had been cheated and deceived by their monarchs, who on former occasions had stimulated them to action by large promises of liberal government. To that noble nation we should now hold out our hand, to join us in a war which we believed to be just, which we believed to be necessary, and which we knew to he unselfish. If we obtained 30,000 or 40,000 men of that nation, they would form a most excellent support to that brave army now fighting in the Crimea, which had gained the applause of their countrymen and the admiration of Europe, and we should give to that great people an opportunity of placing themselves on a level with France and England, while opening to them a field for their energy in the cause of civilisation and progress which their own Governments hitherto had not had the good sense or the good policy to afford.
§ MR. EVELYN
said, he thought that the House was in an unusual if not in an unprecedented position, since it appeared there were two topics before them, to either of which any hon. Member was at liberty to address himself. The hon. Member who had just sat down would have more correctly described the introduction into debate of the prospects of the war by the hon. Member for the West Riding as out of order, rather than as out of season; for nothing Would be more advantageous to the country than such a debate during the present sitting of the House, affording an opportunity, as it doubtless would, for some Member of the Government to make a statement as to those prospects. He must protest most strongly against the principle laid down by the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore), that the House was to accept this measure on trust, vote for it, and, because the Government had brought it forward, not take the responsibility of throwing it out. He Must entirely dissent from that doctrine, for, as that House was a deliberative assembly, the Government was hound to give the grounds on which the measure was entitled to support, and if they shroud- 838 ed their reasons in mystery, the House had no alternative, in his opinion, but to reject it. He was himself strongly opposed to the measure, and he would rest the whole case on the speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Gibson). That right hon. Gentleman had demonstrated that the measure was at variance with the usual practice of nations, and if that argument were correct, (and no Member of the Government had refuted it,) it was, he felt convinced, fatal to the Bill. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Sir E. Perry) had endeavoured to convert words used with regard to mercenaries, into an insult to the German people. No one had a greater respect for the qualities of the German race than himself; it was a race to which we were kinsmen; but he thought the character of the German race had nothing to do with the matter, and he wished to know whether the man who hired himself to any one to cut throats did not come within the definition of a cut-threat and an assassin? The measure was degrading to this country; all the precedents for it had broken down; and, if any precedent could be adduced, he thought it desirable to establish a rule that England, in future, would not resort to so degrading a practice as having recourse to the enlisting of mercenaries without the sanction of their own Governments. It had been attempted to be shown that the feeling of the country was not against the when the fact was, the Government had taken the country by surprise, had endeavoured to steal a march, and thus prevent the expression of public opinion. If it were not so, why was there no allusion in the Queen's Speech to a measure so important, that on it depended the fate of the Ministry? The county he had the honour to represent had the advantage of being near London, and a meeting had been held in the town of Guildford, at which men of all classes and all shades of politics were unanimous in opposing the measure, and had got up a petition against it. Although he did not agree with all that had been said by the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), he confessed there were parts of that speech with which he could not but concur. He hoped the Government would not pledge itself to an indefinite prolongation of the present war. If it were true that propositions were entertained which would secure the objects for which we commenced the war, then he agreed with the noble Lord (Lord Lovaine) that it 839 would be most impolitic to continue the war. It might last ten or twenty years, and if all the objects were attained for which the war was commenced, its continuation could only be to humiliate and degrade Russia. He was one who thought that was not an object justifying the continuance of war, that it would be disadvantageous to this country, and inconsistent with a lasting peace. It would leave a wound which would rankle in the breast of Russia, and, in proof of his argument, he would remind the House of a passage in Roman history, where the deputies of a town came to beg mercy of the Roman Senate. The consul said, "What sort of peace shall we have with you?" "Peace firm and lasting," was the answer, "if the terms be fair; but if not, you will have a peace which will soon be broken." In conclusion, he would not refer to the situation of the army, which every Englishman must regard with feelings of admiration, and he feared now with some feelings of pity, as he thought that subject could be discussed with less advantage at the present moment than any other.
said, he was anxious to state briefly the reasons which induced him to give his vote against the measure. He fully admitted the importance of the question itself and of the consequences to which it would lead, but an attempt had been made to give it additional importance by a threat thrown out by Her Majesty's Ministers that the rejection of the measure would lead to their resignation. That threat had been too often made to create much alarm, and, as far as he understood the feelings of the House and of the country, they would not very much regret the loss which they would then sustain. There was no man in that House less interested than himself in the struggles of party warfare, and certainly he thought it would be an unfriendly act if he went out of his way to place those distinguished men with whose views it was his good fortune generally to agree, in a position in which they would be called upon to remedy the great errors of their predecessors. He could safely say, that in giving the vote which he did on the second reading, and the vote which he should give to-night, he had no wish to remove from office Her Majesty's Ministers; but, in saying that, he must add, that if a Motion of want of confidence had been brought forward, he would have given it his support without the slightest hesitation, and he should have done so 840 with no disparagement to Gentlemen opposite, but because he believed, be their ability what it might, it was impossible that a Coalition, without definite opinions or any common bond of union except a determination to hold power at the sacrifice of principle, ever could govern this country with advantage. He fully concurred in what fell the other night from the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) as to the conduct of the war, and he regretted extremely that the House had not been called upon to come to a vote on that question. He believed it was the opinion of the country generally, that the great losses sustained by our troops in action from the disparity of numbers, might be attributed to the want of energy and ability on the part of those who had the conduct of the war, and he doubted whether any amount of Ministerial pressure would have induced that House to record its opinion in favour of the Government. Various objections had been urged against this Bill by speakers far more conversant with the subject than himself, and in the majority of the arguments used he fully concurred; but he thought the strongest ground of opposition was the want of any proof of the existence of a necessity for a measure so objectionable; and, in his opinion, the House was entitled to much more ample explanations from the Government as to the details and the hopes they entertained of its ultimate success before asking them to pass the measure. He could not separate the question now before the House and the question of the conduct of the war. The two questions turned on the same pivot. They both depended on what use the Government had made, up to the present time, of the resources they possessed. If they did possess large resources, was it not want of energy on their part which led them to desire to call into action, in the first place, a power admitted on all sides to be so objectionable? The only Member of Her Majesty's Government who had really gone into the questions at any great length, who had attempted a defence of the conduct of the war and of this measure, was the Secretary at War, whom he regretted not to see in his place. He listened with great attention to the eloquent speech of his right hon. Friend on a former evening, and whatever might be the amount of responsibility which attached to his right hon. Friend for his share in the conduct of the war, the impression he derived from 841 hearing that speech was, that it was not owing to any want of anxiety or kindly feeling on his part that the wants of our army had not been hotter supplied. Having said this much, he was bound to say that he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman had fairly grappled with the question, either of the necessity for this Bill, or the conduct of the war. When speaking upon the subject, the right hon. Gentleman had always dilated upon what the Government were now doing, and had lost sight of the real matter at issue, which was one not of facts, but of dates. If the right hon. Gentleman could have proved that the Government had availed themselves, from the earliest commencement of the war, of all the resources of the country—if he could have told them that they had called out and embodied months ago the whole militia of the country—if he could have shown that they had made the same appeal to the loyalty of the Colonies, and had left no stone unturned by which men might be procured for carrying on the war vigorously and efficiently—he would not only have established a justification of the conduct of the Government, but would have made out a fair and legitimate ground for Coming to Parliament with the present measure. But the right hon. Gentleman had made out no such case. He had simply stated that the Government were now doing all that they could do; but that was no answer for the past, and no justification of the present measure. Every Gentleman who was in the House must remember what had occurred on the previous evening, while in Committee. The questions which had been put to the Government from all parts of the House were very numerous, and the great majority of them had remained unanswered—the Committee terminated its labours without their being able to obtain any insight into those questions upon which so much interest was shown, and so much anxiety existed. The position of the Government appeared to be this:—without answering any of the questions put to them, they said, "We cannot go now into the details of the measure. We ask you to agree to the general principle of the Bill, and to pass all the details, which ought to be left to the Executive." That would have been a very good proposal in common cases, but if, at the commencement of the war, the Government had been asked how they were going to provide proper reinforcements and the neces- 842 sary stores for the army in the East, they, no doubt, would have answered that all those things, also, were matters of detail which ought to be left to the Executive. But how had those details been carried out? The House and the country very well knew what the position of the Government was with respect to those details, and yet they now asked the House to repose unlimited confidence in them, and to leave to them without question the whole conduct of the war. The Government said that it was perfectly true that they were either unable or unwilling to give any explanation of the measure before the House—they could not even tell them whether it would succeed or not—they hoped it night; but it was an experiment only, and because they had signally failed in everything which they had as yet undertaken, they now asked the country to place in them unlimited confidence. That was the whole state of the case, and with the antecedents of the Government he certainly was not prepared to give them that confidence. As an independent Member of Parliament, responsible only to those who had done him the honour to entrust their public interests to his care, he had not the slightest hesitation in recording his vote against a measure which, he believed, would conduce neither to the interest nor the honour of the country.
§ VISCOUNT EBRINGTON
said, that he had approached the consideration of this Bill with feelings of great doubt, because it seemed to him to be one which justly excited some constitutional jealousy on the part of the people of England. At the same time he had been unwilling to believe that the veteran defenders of constitutional liberty in the darkest times, such as his noble Friend the President of the Council, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), and above all, his venerable Friend in the other House—the Marquess of Lansdowne—would be likely to assail the liberties of the people of this country; and upon examining the Bill and weighing the arguments, pro and con, he was clearly satisfied that it was a measure which might do some good, and which, fenced as it was, could do no harm. He was much surprised at some of the arguments used by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He was surprised to hear him speak of abandonment of principle on the part of Members of a Government as a conclusive reason why they should not be competent to manage the 843 affairs of the country. He thought he had a recollection of very different and opposite politics being professed by different Members of the Government of Lord Derby. He had a recollection of free trade and protection being an open question between Members of that Government after they bad accepted office; and therefore he was much surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman speak in the strain he did of the present Government. It seemed to him that the question they had now to consider with regard to the Bill was, not whether Government had or had not done all that was necessary to carry on the war in the most effective manner, but whether the measure before the House was one which was requisite and likely to be useful in the present state of affairs. He must say that he thought that hon. Gentleman had a little forgotten the character which the people of this country had delighted to attribute to this war. We had spoken of it as a war of principle, undertaken in vindication of national good faith—in defence of the liberties of Europe; yet, to judge from the speeches of some hon. Gentlemen, it would seem as if there were no sympathy on the part of the nations of Europe for the cause in which we professed to believe that their interests were most nearly concerned. He entirely concurred with what had been stated upon this branch of the subject by the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir E. Perry), and believed that there was a great sympathy with us on the part of the true-hearted German people, as distinguished from their Sovereigns and aristocracy, too much, alas! under the influence of Russia. He believed from personal communications which had been made to himself by those who were well competent to give an opinion, that there was a large proportion of the Slavonic population of Europe which looked upon this war in the light in which we had represented it, and which did sympathise with our exertions in the Crimea as calculated to advance the general cause of liberty and civilisation. When brave men in earnest entertained those sentiments, and their Sovereigns prevented their following the bent of their natural inclinations, he saw no reason why they should be stigmatised as sicarii and condottieri. He believed that one reason why there had proceeded from Germany such a stream of emigration, resulted not more from the large amount of population than from impatience on the part of the liberty-loving German people, of the institutions under 844 which they found themselves condemned to dwell; and he could conceive no better initiation into the ranks of British subjects than would be formed by a campaign undertaken in the cause of liberty, and carried on side by side with our own heroic countrymen in the Crimea. For these few reasons he should give his clear and decided vote in favour of the Bill.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
said, he would not have risen if any other Irish Member holding his opinions had exhibited any disposition to speak on the question; but in the absence of any such hope, and after the eloquent speeches which he had heard against the Bill, especially from the hon. Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), and after the vote which he himself had given the other night, he could not do other than state his reasons for giving that vote. This was not a party question. The question was whether, at a period when we had no opportunity of finding among our militia trained soldiers capable of assisting in the war, all assistance from any quarter was to be denied to those brave men—most properly eulogised in that House—who were fighting in defence of the liberties of Europe? He was surprised to hear the number of antagonistic arguments brought forward in support of the same conclusion. The hon. Member for the West Riding was opposed to enlisting any one in support of a military position, because he said we were not a military but a maritime nation. The manufacturers of Manchester and of the north of England seemed to have got hold of the old utilitarian theory, and to care nothing about our existence as a nation so long as they were safe and protected. He (Mr. O'Brien) could not sympathise with such an opinion. He believed that there existed in this country, as he was certain there did in Ireland, a regard for European liberty and for general civilisation, quite apart from interested motives. But, again, on the other hand, one of the Members for Surrey (Mr. Alcock) says, we demand an overwhelming force; but, almost in the same breath, states, I refuse you 10,000 soldiers: the conflict of opinion exhibited the weakness of the general argument. The position which they ought on this occasion to take up would be, either by an express vote of want of confidence to declare that they thought the Government unfit to carry on the war, because they were Russian in their sympathies; or, if they thought them a responsible body, why deny them the power 845 which they were required to exercise, and for which power they meant to hold them responsible? He was no Government man, but decidedly was likewise no Conservative, although the absence of cross-benches reluctantly compelled hint to sit on the Tory side of the House; but he conceived that this was not an occasion for the exhibition of party views, and he voted, therefore, in this case, to protect our army, and advance at once a national and an European interest. An argument often urged against the measure was, that it authorised the employment of mercenaries; and yet some of those who had used this argument had not hesitated to say that if we only in creased the bounty 1l. per man, we could got what number of men we pleased—declaring thereby that 1l. made a patriot. He repudiated such a principle, and declared it to be his belief that, while no doubt the love a country was the highest motive to influence a soldier, there yet existed amongst different nations a common love of liberty—a common interest in the cause of civilisation. It would not, I in his opinion, be disadvantageous that by the enlistment of Prussians their King should see that the opinions of his subjects were adverse to his own unpatriotic ideas, and condemned the despotism under which they were compelled to live. It might afford, too, a useful lesson to the Czar, were he to observe that amongst his Finnish subjects and Swedish neighbours we were obtaining recruits in support of it cause which they thought almost their own. It is not for me to ask the Government whether it is in Sweden, in Switzerland, or in Spain, that they intend to enlist those men. Suffice it to say they demand this force, and I, in common with our other representatives, will hold them responsible for its proper employment. But the hon. Member for the West Riding said that we had no interest to fight for in this war, and asked why we should send cut-throats —condottieri—to cut the throats of the people of Europe? He (Mr. O'Brien) said that his object was not to cut the throats of all Europe, but his object was to save the throats of our men in the Crimea by this measure, seeing that we had not a timely supply of trained men. Was it, then, impossible for a German to sympathise in the cause that involved the liberty of Europe, and to fight for it? This was not a war in the defence of British, or Gallic, or German policy, and he did not think it improbable that we should find men who 846 despised the influence exerted over their Governments, and would readily join a new legion to fight with the French and the English in a common cause. When he heard hon. Members disparaging the Germans, he felt that the times were changed. He could remember one of these hon. Members—the representative of the University of Dublin—being the Secretary of the Brunswick Club, and the greatest landator of the Brunswickers; however, it would appear that old times were changed with him. The hon. Member for Enniskillen had made use of Lord Bacon's opinion against the Government on a previous occasion, and stated his doubt whether they had a copy of that author in the War Office. That statement brought to his mind the recollection of a passage which plainly reminded him of the motive that actuated the hon. Member and many of those with whom be acted—"Ut ita Israelitarum simile in deserto quos cupido incessit redeundi ad ollas carnium, mannœ autem fastidium cepit."
§ MR. COWAN
said, that as a Scotch Member, who could boast of being a countrymen of those noble Highland regiments who had fought and bled in the fields of Inkerman and Alma, and who were acquainted with every part of military tactics except that which they had never been taught—how to retreat—he trusted he might be allowed to address a very few observations to the House. In the first place, it appeared to him that they ought to go to work zealously and energetically, instead of wasting time in wrangling and disputation. He should have wished that, instead of having long debates upon this subject, the House had gone into Committee to consider the best method of sending succours to those brave men in the Crimea which, upon the testimony of Lord Raglan, were required, and of which no Member of that House could deny the necessity. To throw difficulties in the way of sending the succours would be to act a part unworthy to that band of heroes to Whom the country was so much indebted; and just as the Russian Government would, he believed, rejoice at the divided state of that House, so would the soldiers in the East be saddened to see a want of unanimity at home. He had recently had a conversation with en officer in the Indian army on the subject, and that officer had expressed his surprise that there should be any objection offered to the Bill, at the same time citing the case of the Indian 847 army as an instance of how advantageous had been the enlisting and training of foreigners by this country. An hon. Member on the other side of the House had expressed his want of confidence in the present Government, and that opinion, he presumed, was shared by all hon. Gentlemen opposite; but, in his opinion, even if the Opposition were prepared to lay on the table a measure implying that want of confidence, the present was not the fitting time for taking such a step. If hon. Members did not approve of the means proposed for sending assistance to the army in the Crimea, still let them remember that the need for that assistance was urgent, and that the Bill before the House was the only measure which had been proposed to render the assistance required and to carry on the war with vigour. He might remark that in these debates the Government had been under the disadvantage of the absence from that House of officers of experience and service. Some of those gallant men were no more, but he had hoped, before these debates closed, to see in his place that gallant officer on whom such high encomiums had been so properly passed, the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. With regard to the Bill itself, he had at first felt some repugnance to it; but it was enough for him to know that the Government and the Commander in Chief, who might be considered to be good judges of the circumstances of the case, had expressed their opinion of the absolute necessity of some such measure. Lord Raglan had, on more than one occasion, declared the absolute necessity for reinforcements, and the Government were consequently under a heavy responsibility; but an awful responsibility would fall upon hon. Gentlemen opposite if they were to be the means of overthrowing the Government, and of thus placing the country in more critical circumstances than it was at present.
§ MR. A. SMITH
said, he must deny that he was in any way actuated by factious motives in opposing the present Bill. There was hardly a man in that House, or in the country, who was not eager in the support of the war, and the only difference of opinion that existed was as to the degree of vigour and energy with which it should be carried on. The whole force of public opinion had been urging on the Government the necessity for vigorous exertions in carrying on the contest. The whole country with one voice had expressed a determination to defend the weak 848 against the strong, and to curb the grasping ambition of the Czar; but such a measure as the present would, undoubtedly, tend to check the enthusiasm which existed on the subject. The House had been told that this was not a strong military Power, but it possessed what he considered of infinitely more importance—the determined spirit and the power of a free people. It was by such men that the heights of Alma were so gallantly won, and who, by their undaunted courage, conquered at Inkerman; and it was upon men of that class, and not upon hired mercenaries, that the country must depend for success. Frederick of Prussia had shown the opinion he entertained of men of the description that would be enlisted under this Bill, when he declared that those foreign troops whom we had enlisted to go to America should pay toll in passing through his dominions like any other cattle. For these reasons he should feel it his duty to oppose the further progress of the Bill.
§ MR. LAING
said, if he troubled the House with a few remarks, it was mainly in consequence of the turn which had been given to the debate by the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), who, in the remarkable speech which he had made, impugned the whole policy and conduct of the war. In the present temper of the public mind it was important that an independent Member, in no way connected with the Peace party, but, on the contrary, opposed to the views it took of the origin of the war, should bear testimony to the principle laid down, that if an advantageous and judicious peace could be obtained, it would be incumbent on a statesman to accept it rather than continue indefinitely a state of war. The proposition of the hon. Gentleman was this:—Supposing Russia willing bonâ fide to negotiate on the four points, and supposing the German Powers to come forward and say they were willing to concur in the same object, then it would be desirable that peace should be restored on such terms, rather than that the war should be continued indefinitely for ulterior objects and for the annihilation of Russia. The object they had in view was to prevent Russian aggrandisement in Turkey. That we should carry on the war for the annihilation of Russia, for the restoration of oppressed nationalities, for the reconstruction of the map of Europe—however plausible that might appear—would not, he thought, receive the support of any statesman, It might be that Providence, with 849 some wise design, might not intend that this war should conclude without some large ends, and that the Czar might be smitten with judicial blindness to urge on the war. If so, we must accept the necessity; but we should only do so as a last resort, and after having exhausted all attempts for an honourable peace. He did not know whether Russia would accept the four points as a basis, or whether Germany was willing to co-operate for peace on such a footing. These were points known to the Government alone. He admitted that the public feeling ran at the present moment very much in favour of war, but still if peace could be obtained on advantageous terms, all the common sense and intelligence of the country would soon be in favour of the Government. One word as to the immediate question before the House. Although he had expressed an opinion in favour of an advantageous peace, he was not the less anxious that the war should be prosecuted with the utmost vigour, until the proper moment for negotiating for peace had arrived. He wished to say one word with reference to the immediate object of this Bill now under consideration. At the present moment, they had no evidence that a safe and honourable peace was likely. He believed that the best means of obtaining such a peace would be to provide the means of vigorously prosecuting the war. He had heard with regret some hon. Members say that they supported the present Bill against their convictions, and that their only object in doing so was to show their confidence in a Ministry in whom they had no confidence. He had no hesitation in saying, for his own part, that he had considerable confidence in the Government, founded on the manner in which they had conducted the negotiations and the war which followed. His vote on this measure was not given in consequence of that confidence in Ministers, but from an honest conviction that it was his duty to support the measure now before them. They were now involved in a war with the greatest military Power in Europe. They had found it expedient, in order to extort a peace, to attack one of the strongholds of that Power, and they had arrived at a crisis which demanded the greatest number of troops in the shortest space of time. For that object, measures had been brought forward sanctioned by the highest military authorities—in accordance with what appeared to him to be precedents—and supported by arguments 850 which to him appeared to be conclusive. To his mind, the facts stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War were most important, for they were told that recruits were coining in in large numbers, but that generally they were mere lads, who, however effective they might be in the course of a few years, had not yet sufficient stamina to resist the hardships of a campaign in the Crimea. Were they then to refuse the means which offered of reinforcing our army with able-bodied and experienced soldiers? The greater part of the arguments which had been advanced against the measure went to the condemnation of employing foreign troops under any circumstances. But surely that objection could have no weight, especially when the object was not to employ the troops in this country, but merely to form depôts here, to form skeletons of regiments to be afterwards filled up abroad. He could understand that there might be an objection in the abstract against employing foreign troops in our own country, and even to serve with our armies abroad, if it were intended to swamp our own armies by the number of foreigners incorporated with them. Abstract principles, however, were frequently found defective in practice; and when it was only intended to incorporate some 30,000 or 40,000 in an army of upwards of 200,000 men perhaps, what danger there could be, he could not imagine. Then there was the moral objection against employing men who had no personal interest in the quarrel, and whose inducement to fight was pay, and pay only. But it was well known that the German people, from whom these auxiliary troops would no doubt be drawn, sympathised warmly with us in the contest. The leader of the Russian party in the Prussian Chamber admitted the other day that if they calculated heads throughout Germany they would find that the great majority of the people were in favour of the Western Powers, and opposed to Russia; but, he added, if they looked at quality (and by that he meant probably those whose breasts were decorated with Russian orders) the opinion would probably he the other way. Again, the German Diet at Frankfort had acquiesced in the justice of the four points which had been laid down by the Western Powers as the basis of peace. It could not be fairly said that in employing Germans we were hiring foreign mercenaries to fight for pay, and for pay only. If this Bill were rejected, and next 851 spring we should receive accounts of disasters suffered by our troops in the Crimea for want of the reinforcements which it was proposed to provide, he should, had he contributed by his vote to its rejection, feel that a deep responsibility rested upon him.
§ MR. W. E. DUNCOMBE
said, that the mode, in his opinion—the mode in which the present war had been conducted, was calculated greatly to shake the confidence of Parliament and of the country, not only in the ability but also in the wisdom of Her Majesty's Ministers. They had wasted most valuable time in making fruitless attempts to patch up a peace when they ought to have been employed in vigorous preparation for hostilities. He did not wish to underrate the efforts of the Government, or the conduct of negotiators, or to speak lightly of the alliance which they had concluded with Austria, but he thought, nevertheless, that it was quite possible that we might have sacrificed too much to obtain the advantages which that alliance might be supposed to confer. He should like to learn from Her Majesty's Ministers how it was that when every post which arrived from the Continent was bringing tidings of the marching of Russian armies towards the East, and when the despatches which they received from the different representatives of this country in that quarter ought to have conveyed to them no inadequate idea of the inexorable character of the Czar, they had been so blind to the interests of the nation as to make no sufficient preparation to meet the dangers of the crisis which was at hand? He should also like to know how it was that Austria had been permitted to occupy the Principalities, and by that step had precluded the army under Omar Pacha from taking any active measures against the Russian forces? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that the occupation to which he had just referred had been the result of a convention which had been entered into between Austria and Turkey, without the interference of any other Power. But he should ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not the bounden duty of Her Majesty's Ministers, if they possessed any influence over the Governments of Austria and Turkey—and over the latter they surely had a right to exercise some control—to prevent them from entering upon a policy which had proved so injurious to the successful conduct of the war in which 852 we were engaged? The fact was, that from the commencement of hostilities up to the present moment Ministers had betrayed so decided a want of that knowledge which was necessary to the success of our arms, that they had no claim whatever to the confidence either of Parliament or the country. After Lord Raglan had landed in the Crimea, had marched on towards Sebastopol, and had won the heights of the Alma, what were the statements contained in the despatch which he had sent to the Government of England? In that despatch Lord Raglan distinctly stated to Her Majesty's Ministers that he had lost no less than 2,500 men in killed and wounded, and that the cholera had pursued his troops into the battle-field. The Government having been made aware of those facts at so early a stage of the campaign, why was it, he should wish to know, that they had not at once sent out the necessary reinforcements? It had, indeed, been stated that reinforcements to the amount of 7,000 soldiers had been sent out in November. Those troops, however, must of course have arrived too late for the battle of the 5th of that month, while, if they had been despatched to the seat of war immediately after the tidings of the battle of the Alma had reached this country, they would have been in the Crimea to aid their fellow-soldiers on the glorious day of Inkerman. But the Government had not only displayed a want of energy in forwarding troops to the East, but had also exhibited extraordinary remissness in not sending out proper clothing and tents to those soldiers who were actually encountering all the rigours of a winter in the Crimea. He believed it was only on Tuesday last that a vessel had sailed with tents—a proof that the Government had been extremely negligent in providing for the comfort of our troops. And what was the measure which under these circumstances they submitted to the House for the more effectual prosecution of hostilities? Why, a Bill for the enlistment of foreign soldiers—a Bill which was most distasteful, and naturally so, to the feelings of the English people. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of War referred to precedent in favour of the measure; but he must beg leave to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the circumstances in which this country was placed at the present day were widely different from those which existed upon the occasions when foreign troops had been formerly called in to fight 853 our battles. We had of late years increased in wealth, in consumptive power, and in industry, We were not, therefore, placed in the same position in the present as we had been during the last war. Besides, in that war, the Germans who fought by our side were our allies, while the Bill under the consideration of the House proposed to bring, not allies, but mercenaries to our aid. He would ask the House to look to the position of Italy, in which country he was given to understand foreign mercenaries were to be engaged, and to reflect before they would consent to any measure which might reduce England to anything like that State. The fact was, that wherever mercenaries were introduced there were to be found corrupt Governments—there civil and religious liberty was crushed, and universal national demoralisation prevailed. It was because he considered the measure before the House calculated to lead to such results, and because he believed it to be hostile to the feelings of the people of England, that he should vote against its passing into law.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he had supported the proposed measure for two clear reasons: First, he thought that the Emperor of Russia possessed one great advantage over the Sovereign of this country, in being his own Executive, able to carry on the war as he might think best, without being obliged to consult any gentlemen of Lords or Commons on a matter of this nature. The present question was one of the few temporal matters on Which he should be prepared to surrender his own judgment, in order to support any reasonable measure for a vigorous prosecution of the war, which Her Majesty's Generals might call for, and the Government, on its own responsibility, recommend. But he had supported the present Bill not merely through a confidence in the Executive, but from a conviction of its utility, and a strong feeling that were he now Emperor of the United Kingdom, he should not hesitate, so long as he lord a shilling in his pocket, to expend it in procuring the services of as many soldiers, foreigners as well as natives, as he could induce to render their assistance. He had not ventured to address the House on the subject of the war during last Session, not feeling then perfectly informed about it; and he would confess that his natural horror of war had, at the time, inclined him to lean strongly towards the Peace policy of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. 854 Bright). But he had availed himself of the recess, to make himself better acquainted with the question; or, as the lawyers say, to "read up the case" upon original papers, ancient as well as modern, emanating from the statesmen and diplomatists of Russia itself, for it was not his habit to condemn an accused party on any ex parte statements. No person doubted that his hon. Friend who sat next him, the Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), however mistaken, was perfectly sincere in the views he had expressed against the origin and continuance of the present war; but he believed his attention had been confined to modern documents. Had that hon. Member studied the history of Russia during the last 200 years, he could not have failed to satisfy his honest and intelligent mind that the whole Russian system was intended and calculated for universal conquest. He believed there was but one calamity greater to a nation than war, and that was its subjugation to a foreign Power, which involved evils one hundred-fold heavier than those of the most disastrous war. For his own part he would prefer that all his children were dead in their graves, than that they should become exposed to the miseries which must of necessity ensue should the Russian secure a permanent footing in these kingdoms. He knew what his own nation had suffered during seven centuries, from suffering itself to be conquered; and it was well known what terrible evils the Saxons had endured for four hundred years, from the Norman conquest of England. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite might laugh, but let them, as he had done, inform their minds by studying history and geography. The ultimate aim of Russia was the subjugation of all Europe; and if they wanted an exact analogy from former ages, they would find it in the position occupied towards the ancient States of Greece by Macedonia, in the time of Philip and his son Alexander. On a larger scale such was now the position of Russia towards the nations of Europe. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had argued that to employ any forced troops, except those belonging to nationalities directly interested in the war, would be to hire butchers, not soldiers—men who might become cut-throats, not heroes. But there was no nation or state in Europe, large or small, that was not more immediately concerned than England in resisting Russian aggression, by successfully prosecuting the 855 present war. For this was the country most remotely endangered, and was, he believed, in the happy predicament of enjoying the special privilege, accorded to Ulysses by the giant Polyphemus, of being eaten last. It was under these convictions that he had voted for this Bill, sincerely believing that, sooner or later, we should need every soldier, native and foreign, that could possibly be raised. Russia was the only aggressive Power in Europe. Her strongholds of Sebastopol, Sweaborg, and Cronstadt were not erected for mere self-defence. They were a robber's dens on the highways of nations. But though he had supported the Foreign Enlistment Bill, he did not do so upon any understanding that it should interfere with recruiting for the native army or militia in these countries. He did not believe that the utmost had as yet been done towards securing the voluntary enlistment of native troops, and such was, perhaps, also the opinion of those Members of the Government who may have already used their best exertions for that purpose. He could only speak positively respecting matters within his own immediate knowledge, and as representing the largest of Irish counties, which had been sometimes designated the "Yorkshire of Ireland," in the same manner as the constituency of his hon. Friend near him (Mr. Cobden) might be fairly termed the "Corkshire of England." It was most important to excite the military ardour of those two counties, which, as compared with some petty German principalities, were really large kingdoms. About ten years since, the population of Cork exceeded 800,000 souls. He was sorry to say it was now reduced to 500,000, and more than one-half the fighting men were dead or gone. From the remaining half million of inhabitants, it had been proposed to raise 3,000 militia; but he felt certain that, were the military ardour of the people of Cork properly aroused, more than ten times 3,000 men would be contributed by that county. About six weeks since he had written to the Chief Secretary for Ireland a letter, which he had hitherto abstained from bringing before the public, lest it should have any prejudicial operation, but he would now read it to the House, in the confident hope that effect might be given to its suggestions in some practical form. In it he said—As a representative of the county Cork, I feel called upon to inform you that great dissatisfaction prevails among my liberal constituents, from 856 an apprehension that the militia, about to be embodied there, will be officered exclusively by Tories and Protestants, whilst the vast majority of this large force (3,000 in number, and one-tenth of the whole militia of Ireland) will be Liberals and Catholics.That was a plain-spoken sentence. The letter went on—Such a state of things would, necessarily, cause just discontent; and I trust sincerely, the Irish Government will take effectual means to avert so grave an evil, should it be likely to arise through any political predilections of the Earl of Bandon, who is the local Lord Lieutenant of both county and city, and against whose one-sided selections I have repeatedly remonstrated to the present Lord Chancellor, in regard to the magistracy of the county. It is with unfeigned reluctance I now write on a matter which may, perhaps, seem outside my legitimate province; but I know that my constituents will expect of me to bring it formally under your notice, as Chief Secretary for Ireland.That communication was an important one, not merely as regarded Cork, but the whole of Ireland. He would not trouble the House by reading the answer to it. [Cries of "Read, read!"] Hon. Members opposite appeared anxious to hear the answer to that letter. He could not gratify them on this occasion, and for two plain reasons. The first would probably suffice for the House. In point of fact, he got no answer at all; and he trusted that, under the circumstances, he would not be suspected of any breach of confidence. He hoped the Government would not fail to use its utmost exertions to induce Irishmen to enlist in the militia, and to volunteer in support of their heroic fellow-countrymen—the Sullivans of Cork, and the Houghlahans of Waterford—at Sebastopol or elsewhere. But, from past experience, he feared greatly he could not calculate on any assistance from the Tory benches, to effect such a change in the law as might enable the existing Government to counteract any political predilections of local Lord Lieutenants in such districts as Cork, which he begged the House to re, member was the most important county of Ireland, and to give him credit for being actuated by no sectarian spirit in the communication which he had felt it his duty to address to the Irish Chief Secretary, for the common good of these counties.
§ MR. I. BUTT
I am sure the House will not expect me to enter into any of the questions just raised by the hon. and learned Member for Cork, further than to express—which I do most sincerely—the regret which I feel that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have introduced any 857 political topics into the discussion of a question connected with that great war in which we are now engaged, and which I firmly believe unites the Irish nation as one man—or at least unites them as one man, with the single exception of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself—in defence of the rights of the British Crown. I ask the attention of the House, however, while I briefly state the reasons which compel me to repeat the vote which I gave on a former evening against the present proposal of Her Majesty's Government. That proposal is not, as some hon. Gentlemen seem to imagine, that you should raise 10,000 foreign troops; but it is a proposal that you should have 10,000 foreign troops in this country, although, as I admit, solely for the purposes of drill. Now, the proposal that you should have a depôt of 10,000 foreign troops in this country involves of necessity the further proposal that you should have abroad au army of 30,000 or 40,000 foreign troops; and it is with this latter part of the proposal that we are now called upon to deal. The more I reflect on that cart of the proposal, the more insuperable become the objections which I entertain to it. Now. if ever there was a war in which England ought to take care that her army in the field should be actuated by British sympathies, and influenced solely by a regard for British interests, it is this war; and I shall vote against this measure precisely on this ground, that in proportion as you appeal to foreign States to represent you in the field, in the same proportion do you give those foreign auxiliaries a voice in controlling the conduct of the war. I do not think the constitutional objection to the measure has been satisfactorily answered. That objection is not that Parliament has not the power of granting to the Crown the right to have foreign troops in this country. The constitutional principle is, that the Crown cannot have them here without the consent of Parliament. But if you allow the consent of Parliament to be asked as a mere matter of form, and to be given as a mere matter of course, then, I say, you are violating the constitution as effectually as if you were giving to the Crown the right to have those foreign troops in this country without the consent of Parliament. I think this is a precedent which we ought not to establish on the mere ipse dixit of a Minister, and without being told why or how we are to have those foreign troops among us. Let 858 me refer to one argument employed in favour of the measure which appears to me a delusion on the best feelings of the people of this country. We are asked to send out foreigners to the seat of war, for the purpose of relieving our own over-tasked troops. But I appeal to the common sense of the House whether the measure that is thus proposed can remedy the evils of the desperate condition in which our army is placed at Balaklava? What is the cause which has led to that condition? It is that the Ministry, with a recklessness unparalleled—I will not only say in the history of statesmen, but unparalleled on the part of any men who had the care and custody of the lives of their fellow-beings—sent their army to the Crimea ill-provided with every necessary for enabling them to carry out hostile operations in that country with any chance of success. The army, I again assert, is in a desperate condition, because it has not tents; it is in a desperate condition, because it has not warm clothing; it is in a desperate condition, because it is ill-supplied with food. Now I ask, will this Bill remedy any one of those deficiencies? The source of those evils is mismanagement at the War Office; and while that mismanagement continues they can only be aggravated by your sending 10,000 Germans or Belgians to the Crimea. Take away that mismanagement, on the other hand, and send to the Crimea the forces which you can send without having recourse to any foreign aid, and I will venture to say that the troops which have already defended the heights of Balaklava will keep them until they shall receive native reinforcements which will enable them to secure a complete triumph over the enemy. I believe that the history of the world presents no parallel to the condition of our army in the Crimea, which is now without any of those comforts that in civilised nations are usually regarded as necessaries. Here we are with the means of reaching that country in sixteen days, with all the resources of England at the disposal of the War Office, with an enthusiasm on the part of the people that has never yet been equalled—an enthusiasm that has led working men to give a day's pay for the relief of the sick and wounded soldiers—which has led ladies accustomed to all the elegancies of life to go out to discharge, in crowded hospitals and in a foreign country, the duties of nurses—which would lead every one of us 859 to take the coat from his back, if he thought that he could thereby afford an additional covering to any of our brave troops—here we are, I say, with all these advantages, and without a single hostile vessel to intercept our progress over the ocean—here we are with an army without food, without clothing, without shelter from the weather, and all the remedy you propose for this most lamentable state of things is a Foreign Enlistment Bill. If we are to have a Foreign Enlistment Bill at all, let it be a Bill that will apply to Downing Street and the War Office—let it be a Foreign Enlistment Bill that will infuse new blood, or at all events new vigour, into the War Department. You may endeavour to remedy the neglect and incapacity of that department; but to talk of giving to it a power of drilling 10,000 foreign troops for the purpose of relieving our army in the Crimea, appears to me a great absurdity and a delusion, as I have already stated, on the best feelings of the nation. But is this all? Not only do you pretend—I wish to use the word without offence—that this measure is to remedy the state of things in the Crimea, but you say that it must be passed in such haste that this House must not wait to discuss it; and if I venture on this, the second night on which it has been taken into our consideration, to canvass its merits, I am not sure that some hon. Gentleman will not rise and tell me that it has already been sufficiently debated, that very eloquent speeches have been made on the subject, and that I am only obstructing business, when I express my opinions with respect to it. You even bring in this measure in such haste that you cannot give the ordinary notice of it in the Queen's Speech at the opening of the Session. Now, I ask, was there ever a measure such as this which is to give the Crown the power of employing foreign troops in this country, passed by the British House of Commons, except after the receipt of a Message or a communication from the Crown? When you meant to attack Sabastopol, you did not hesitate to announce your determination beforehand, and your only successful surprise is to be this ambuscade on your own Parliament and your own country. I would ask the House seriously to consider the position in which Her Majesty's Ministers would place the country. Are these the troops with whom we are to continue the war? If that is the object of the Bill, I ask you seriously to consider the 860 condition to which you will be reduced if you allow your army in this war to consist of 30,000 or 40,000 foreigners. I will suppose that you get them from the German States. Are they to be mere hirelings? Are they to bring what is called German enthusiasm into this war? Do you not see that if they take up your cause for pay to-day, they will sell you for higher pay to-morrow? I will, however, take the case most favourable to the Bill. I will set aside the supposition that you are going to catch the stray German emigrants who pass through Hull. What I imagine you will do is, to enlist the subjects of some foreign States under some convention with their rulers. But if you do that, you must remember that those men are to be formed into separate corps, that they are to be officered by their fellow-countrymen, and perhaps, although paid by you, they will retain the character of an army of the State from whence they have come, that State itself not being at war with Russia. Is it impossible—is it improbable, that in the progress of this war the sympathies of Germans may not be so entirely with England as we are told they are at the present moment? We hear of offers of peace made by Russia. Let me suppose that those offers are such as it is the interest or the supposed interest of the German States to accept, although such as it would not be for the honour or the interest of France and England to accede to. How would you stand, if, under such circumstances, you had an army of 30,000 or 40,000 Germans in the field, influenced by German sympathies?—and the more honourable and more high minded men they would be, the more dangerous would they be. I ask, could you refuse any terms of peace which the interest of Germany would force on you then? I feel this consideration so strongly, that of itself it obliges me to resist this measure to the last. The greater the necessity you will have for these men, the stronger will be this argument. And this is not a distant or visionary speculation. We have a treaty now lying on the table of this House, under which, if I understand it rightly, you are to devise with Austria what terms you are to impose on Russia, unless that Power should strike by next Monday week. I should be very sorry to say one word which could disturb that interesting deliberation. But suppose it should continue, like the Vienna Conference, for a period of three 861 months; and suppose you should in the meantime have reinforced your army in the Crimea by 30,000 German troops—I am, remember, attributing to the measure a success which I do not think it will not with—would there not be a danger that you would place yourself in the power of Austria, which might, by its intrigues or its influence, control those German States whose troops you were employing? Would the representative of Great Britain at that Conference—whether Lord Westmoreland, or Lord Clarendon, or Lord Aberdeen—hold the high position which he might otherwise occupy, it it was in the power of the representative of Austria to say, "You talk of making what terms you please, but the interests of Germany must be considered; for you confess that it is only by the sympathy of Germany that you can prosecute this war, and you have 30,000 troops who may leave your standard at any moment?" I put it seriously and sincerely to Ministers, are they prepared to place England in that humiliating position? I tell you, you make a mistake in trusting Austria. I trust she may turn out as you hope. But I never will consent to trust the independence of England to any Power. You gave Austria the key of the military position when you gave her the protection of the Principalities; take care that by this measure you do not give her the key of the British camp. Was it improbable that, in the progress of the negotiations, or of the war, terms of peace might be signed by Austria, which might satisfy European interests —providing, for instance, for the free navigation of the Danube—but which did not meet, the requirements of France and England? If that were the case, would not England be at the mercy of the German Powers, and of Austria, so far as She could influence those Powers? These, Sir, are the considerations that induce me to vote against this measure. But I cannot shut out of view the fact that you are demoralising war—not only this war, but war abstractedly and in a general sense. If war be an evil—and I admit it is—it has also ennobling and redeeming compensations—the personal risks and sacrifices made to sustain a cause believed to be just. But I protest against a war carried on by mercenaries, which aggravates all the evils of war itself, at the same time that it extinguishes every redeeming characteristic. It has been said of the gift of mercy that it is twice blessed— 862 it blesses him who gives and him who receives; but the hirer of the mercenary is, in my opinion, twice accursed in his deed, for he curses the nation that gives, and degrades the nation that receives. Sir, in alluding to the demoralisation attending the employment of mercenaries, I do not mean to speak of the German States with disrespect. I believe there are States in Germany with which it is the European interest of England to be allied, and if this struggle should continue I do not despair of seeing those States, which have been allied with us in former wars, taking their place beside us in fair, open, and honourable warfare, under the legitimate banners of their own Sovereigns; but are we not risking such a result by the introduction of this measure against the mind of the people of England? Think you that a German Legion, Under their own native leaders, will hereafter be as popular as they otherwise would be, when our soldiers remember that a short time previously they were mere mercenaries? I repeat again, this measure will work injury, and 1 wish Her Majesty's Ministers would now withdraw it, and advise the Sovereign to trust to the fidelity and zeal of her own subjects. I tell you, you are demoralising the British nation by un-teaching it the lesson which has made her what she is in arts and commerce, in progress and civilisation. Remember the old familiar lines—Nought can make us rue,If England to herself be true.You are by this proceeding endangering that spirit of self-reliance, which has made England everything she now is. You are unteaching the motto, and leaving England to "rue," because you are leaving to mercenaries that which should be accomplished by Britons. You are teaching this nation, for the first time in her history, the lesson that she is not to rely in difficulty and danger upon herself, but that she is to subsidise foreign aid in her own behalf. Sir, I hold that popular opinion is one of the great elements that must determine whether this course is right or wrong. You have evoked great enthusiasm in the course of this war; think you, you will sustain that enthusiasm if you pass this measure? There is a gentleman in this House who represents this city, and he can tell you how, within the last few days, the glow of the nation's benevolence has been checked, until an (assurance was given that none of the money sub- 863 scribed to the Patriotic Fund should go to the widows and orphans of those foreign soldiers. Why, then, I ask, will you throw down the apple of discord? Why have you forced us to discuss a measure like the present? You are forcing it through the House with undue, with unprecedented haste. You are forcing it by the unconstitutional threat of resignation. And what does that threat mean? It means this, that unless we obey your commands you will abandon the vessel in the midst of the breakers into which you have steered her; and thus, by the extorted acquiescence of this House, you are forcing the measure upon an indignant, upon a disgusted people. Were I to think of party I would applaud your act, and say, "Go on, and consummate this measure of unpopularity—enrol your mercenaries; but you will be ere long visited with public odium and indignation." Unfortunately, however, the unpopularity of the measure cannot be confined to yourselves; and, doubt it not, in the place of the present enthusiasm there will be a serious reaction. ["No, no!"] Am I right? Then this measure is not forced upon the House. [Cheers.] Really those cheers, coming from hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have successively disapproved of the principle, and only supported the measure because it proceeded from that side of the House, surprises me. The right hon. Secretary at War told us the other evening that he was willing to test this measure by its popularity. I applauded the sentiment, for I really thought he was going to postpone the Bill until after Christmas, so as to afford time for the expression of popular opinion. I now ask, will you dare test public opinion on this matter? You have hurried the Bill through this House against all rule and almost without discussion. War did not depend altogether upon physical force; there was a moral power that imparted strength which no numerical force could conquer; but by this measure you have demoralised the war. It will no longer be a war of a great nation fighting for itself and in the cause of justice and of right, but it will be a war of mercenaries. Was that a position in which England should be placed? Have you, by your proceedings, upheld the power and honour of England? Sir, there was a time, and there were statesmen, who would have come down to this House and said, "We are in danger; but perish England before we sustain ourselves by mercenary aid. 864 Let us defend ourselves or perish." If we are not able to defend ourselves, believe me we cannot do so long by the aid of mercenaries. I call on Her Majesty's Ministers to advise the Sovereign to send a Message to this House, saying, that even against the divided opinion of her people she will not rely on foreigners, but on her own subjects, and you will evoke a burst of enthusiasm worthy of the declaration. But persevere in this measure, and believe me you will find before long you have given away an enthusiasm, a devotion, and support on the part of the nation for which foreign bayonets will be but a poor substitute. If I could support this measure I would do so, but every reflection has only added to my conviction of the danger of the case; and I never gave a vote with a clearer conscience than that which I now record against the third reading of this odious and disastrous measure.
§ MR. MICHELL
said, he did not rise to join in the cry for Ministers to press on the war, but to impress upon them, if possible, to restore peace. He wished, indeed, to know what the war was now being carried on for. He understood that in the beginning., the crossing of the Pruth by the Russians was not considered a casus belli: but after they had crossed the Pruth war was declared. The Russians had now recrossed the Pruth; he wished therefore to have some explanation what it was that they were now fighting for. Were they going to take the Crimea as a guarantee against Russia coming at a future time, and against taking possession of Wallachia and Moldavia? Again, he would ask, who were to pay the expenses of the war? If they went to war with a view to conquer Russia, he would just remind them that, when the greatest warrior of modern times invaded that country, and occupied Moscow with an army of about 500,000 men, on his sending, to the Emperor of Russia a message asking whether he would make peace, the Russian nobleman who brought the message to him was immediately degraded. One of the most serious things attending the war was, that in all probability, it would entail upon us a vast debt, as other wars had done. After all, however, the war was neither more nor less than a religious war. ["Oh, oh!"] It was a religious war, but not between Turks and Christians, but between Romanism and Protestantism. Had not the House noticed that every Roman Catholic Mem- 865 ber in it voted for the Ministers? ["No, no!"] There was a great excitement on the subject of the war in Ireland, because it was said the Emperor of Russia had caused nuns to be whipped. Was it not a fact that, in the first instance, the whole dispute was betwen Russia and France which should possess the Holy Places; the Emperor of France espousing the Latin Church and the Emperor of Russia the Greek? But the question before the House at the present time was whether they were to have foreign troops in this country? His belief was that, if they had and placed them in barracks here, the people of England would rise up as one man against such policy.
SIR JOHN FITZGERALD
said, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) and the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) having suggested that the army in the Crimea might be recruited by means of the army of India being employed, he having the honour of being on the staff in India hoped the House would allow him to make a few observations on that particular subject. In the first place, supposing the Sepoys were adapted to the service that would be required of them, the expense of bringing them from India would be enormous; but, secondly, even if it were judged proper to incur that expense, he begged to observe that the native troops of India would never be able to stand the climate pf the Crimea. But if they were to be brought there, it would be necessary to raise another native army, and he did not believe they would be able to induce the natives of India, with the prospect before them of being taken out of their own country, to enter the service. The European troops in India were hardly sufficient to protect our territories in that extensive Empire. He therefore thought it would be madness to attempt to remove any part of the army of India to the seat of the present war. He had on a former occasion stated his reasons for supporting the Bill before the House, and would not, therefore, trouble the House with any further remarks.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I can hardly think it necessary to enter again into any arguments in favour of this Bill, because, although, no doubt, hon. Gentlemen are very thoroughly persuaded that their objections to the Bill are well founded, it appears to me, after hearing all their speeches, that they amount to nothing more than a repugnance to employ 866 foreigners, and a declamation on their part in favour of the employment of British troops. Now, I say at once, that if we had an establishment of 200,000 or 250,000 British troops I should have thought it quite a sufficient force with which to carry on the war at its commencement, and I should have been ready to contend that it Was quite unnecessary to resort for assistance to foreign troops. But when I state the position in which we are placed, I am immediately met with two different answers—one from the hon. Gentleman who has moved the rejection of the Bill, and who, after stating all the objections to the employment of foreigners, and after alluding to what I have stated with respect to the number of the recruits to be raised, and to the nature and discipline of those recruits, said, "How could you be so imprudent as to inform the Emperor of Russia as to the deficiencies in your army." If this House had been disposed, as a question of confidence, to place the necessary powers in the hands of Her Majesty's Government, I might not have been forced to state the circumstances in which we are actually placed, but it is rather too much, first, to raise every possible objection against the Bill, and to endeavour to arouse public opinion against it, and then, when the great fact is told, that the present number of our troops is not sufficient, to turn round upon us and ask bow we can be so imprudent as to tell the truth. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last but two (Mr. I. Butt) has another answer, of a very different kind, for he says, "If you cannot go on without foreign troops then perish England." That, again, is a somewhat extraordinary answer, and I confess it is one with which I cannot agree. It is objectionable, no doubt, that you should be forced to seek for the aid of foreign troops in addition to your own force of 50,000 men, but I say I do not wish to see England perish. For my part, I am ready to propose any means that I think legitimate, that will insure the successful prosecution of the war. I wish the war to be brought as soon as possible to a successful issue; and, without any sort of declamation upon the subject, it appears to me that it was advisable for the Government to propose this measure to the House. But the hon. and learned Gentleman says it is a most unconstitutional threat which Her Majesty's Ministers have held out of resignation. Now, it appears to me that it was only the right course to pursue for 867 the Ministers to say, "If we cannot have the powers that we desire for the successful prosecution of the war, let those have the conduct of it who think they can do so without the means which we have asked for." If the pilot of a ship is told that he must conduct the ship through the breakers, but that he is to have no discretion as to the course he should take, as to the arrangement of the sails and the general charge of the vessel, then he may very well say, "I cannot in these circumstances carry the vessel safely into port." I say, then, we must either have these powers, or the Government must be placed in the hands of those who think they can successfully carry on the war without them. We should be acting a most unworthy part, if we attempted to conduct the war without those powers, and afterwards reproached the House, and said, "No wonder that we did not carry on the war successfully when you refused us the powers that we wanted." It appears to me, therefore, that the arguments on this subject have been very much exhausted, and that if the repugnance of the Gentlemen opposite is not to be overcome—and I give them credit for sincerity in feeling that repugnance—still, considering the present state of our army, considering what my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War has stated, and what I have been forced to state, there is, it appears to me, actually no argument against the employment of these foreign troops. And then the inconsistency of those who argue against this measure. They say, these are mercenaries who will be actuated by mercenary motives only, and are we to think of employing them alongside our own countrymen, who are guided by higher and more laudable motives? But we say it is a plain fact that, while giving full credit to the enthusiasm of the people of this country, we do not find that we have recruits of the number and age that are sufficient. Then it is said, "Oh ! give them more bounty." They who reproach us for employing mercenaries turn round and say, "Give 2l. or 3l. more bounty. You will get all the troops you want for 30s. or 40s. more a-piece." I say, therefore, I cannot—giving every credit to the conscientious and patriotic nature of the opposition that has been made—I cannot see the necessity of entering further into this subject. But there is a question that has been raised by the hon. Member for the West Riding into which I do not wish to go at length, but on which I think it desirable to give 868 some explanation and some answer. The hon. Gentleman said he would not go into the origin of the war, and yet his whole argument was founded on the supposition that the ostensible cause of the war was not the true one. The hon. Gentleman supposed that my noble Friend the Secretary for the Home Department and I were disposed to enter into a war of propagandism, and he made reflections, very just and very true, upon the folly of nations acting on mere notions of chivalry, and saying they would defend the cause of Christianity against barbarism without any call on them to undertake such a war. But, Sir, such is not the nature of the war in which we are engaged. The cause of that war is an attempt at aggression by Russia, and an attempt at aggression begun by the most unjust and unjustifiable attack, intended, if not resisted, to secure Turkey and of Constantinople, and a preponderance of power that would be alarming to every State in Europe. That is the cause, and that we consider a legitimate cause for war; and it is surely like-wise justifiable to say that, being engaged in that war, if our enemy were successful, the cause of barbarism would triumph, while, on the contrary, if the enemy were defeated, the cause of civilisation would be promoted. This is not a mere abstract or theoretical defence of civilisation; but considering the character and nature of the forces opposed to us, it is giving, I think, a just description of the nature of the war in which we are engaged, and the consequences that may attend it. The war itself is not a thing that was so unforeseen—not a war entered into without ample notice. So far from that, twenty years ago the Emperor Napoleon predicted that the next great war in Europe would be caused by an attempt of the Emperor of Russia to possess himself of the Turkish Empire, and he said, if anything can unite France and England it will be the cause of resisting such an aggression. But there is one circumstance, and a most remarkable circumstance, with regard to which the Emperor Napoleon has proved himself to be in error; for, without any reflection on his sagacity, all the consequences of an event cannot be foreseen; and, indeed, so little was this foreseen that the Emperor of Russia himself thought but two years ago that that would happen which Napoleon, looking into futurity, had foretold. That prediction was that the Emperor of Russia would be opposed by France and England, 869 and that Austria would be tempted by a share of the spoils of Turkey, and would be a confederate of Russia, so that she would be able to overcome all resistance that could be offered by Turkey, and the other Powers. This, to the honour of Austria, has not been the case. The Emperor of Austria has, at all events, been no party to this aggression. On the contrary, he had the wisdom to see that, whatever nominal share of the spoil might be left to him by Russia, his own empire would be so enfeebled by the success of Russia that his power and independence would scarcely exist in reality, though it might in name, for a few years after the Russian success. And now, Sir, what was the proposition made by the Emperor of Russia? The proposition made by that potentate to the English Government—made not for partition, but made supposing the case that the Sultan was unable to maintain his authority—was that the Danubian provinces should be put directly under the protection of Russia without any other power, such as the Sultan, interfering. In fact, the authorities of those provinces would have been merely prefects of Russia. Then it was proposed that England should have a certain share of the spoil on the Danube; she was to have had Candia as her share, but it was provided carefully that there should be no extension of free institutions, in the provinces, and that the kingdom of Greece should not be increased. It was, in fact, a proposition for an increase of Russian power, and at the same time a careful bargain against that diffusion of free institutions, of civilisation, and of knowledge, which we might have expected from the professions that had been made that it was the intention to establish them. We declined that proposition. I formerly gave what I thought very good reasons why it was not the interest of Russia to propose such a measure. I went on, it has been said, to flatter and praise the Emperor of Russia; and I certainly did praise what I really considered to be his prudent and disinterested conduct during many years. But now the attempt has been made. War has taken place; and then the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cobden) rises to question us as to its cause. He puts it in this way—that the Emperor of Russia having been defeated in his objects, that the Principalities, not having been occupied, that the demands made on the Sultan having been abandoned, we have nothing to do but to sign a 870 treaty of peace, and replace all things as they were. I for one think, however, that, having gone to war, at a great expenditure of blood and treasure, to defend the independence and integrity of Turkey, it would be most unwise to place things exactly in the same state in which they were two years ago, and to leave the Emperor of Russia in possession of all the means of subduing Turkey which he had two years ago, without the certainty of there being again the same combination to defeat them. Let us see, without going into particulars—particulars which I cannot communicate—the general nature of the terms on which we think the termination of this war can only be arrived at. I agree with what has been said, that if we can arrive at a peace which would give us security, we have no desire for any merely indefinite object to continue the miseries of war. The Government have no wish, no desire to continue the war for any such purposes as have been declared by the Russian organ,—namely, for the sake of dismembering Russia, or depriving her of any portion of her territories. The four points which have been laid down appear to me to be pre-eminently moderate. The first of these regards the Principalities. In those Principalities have taken place the invasions of Russia, and we know that the provisions of the treaty of Adrianople were so framed as to leave the road to Constantinople open to Russia without any guard whatever; while we saw how, two years ago, the Emperor of Russia was able to occupy those provinces. It is also proposed to place those Principalities, and the Christian inhabitants and princes of those Principalities, under the guarantee of the four great Powers of Europe, so that any aggression upon them by Russia would rouse the resistance of those Powers, who would be in a position to protect them. Here is one security for the future; and with regard to that security Austria and the Porte are entirely agreed. The next security, which is hardly so much a security for Turkey as a provision for the defence of Europe, regards the opening of the navigation of the Danube. If that were secured against what has been the unfair conduct of Russia, and the capricious manner in which she has put obstacles to the free navigation of the Danube contrary to the provisions of the treaty of Vienna, and contrary to the general interests of commerce, and solely for the selfish interests of Russia, in order to divert the trade into 871 other channels, I say, if that protection and security were attained, Europe would, I anticipate, be a considerable gainer by the change. The third point contains, no doubt, a matter of more difficulty. It refers to the revision of the treaty of 1841, and it refers to it with the addition of these significant words:—"In the interest of the balance of power." Now, the meaning of those words is obvious. As matters stood previous to the war, none of the Powers of Europe could send their ships of war, or ask the Sultan, according to the treaty, during peace to admit them to ascend the Dardanelles, or, in other words, to come under the walls of Constantinople. But the Emperor of Russia, having a great fortress and harbour in the Black Sea, in which was a fleet of eighteen or twenty sail of the line, could at any time with a fair wind come down with 30,000 or 40,000 troops, occupy the Bosphorus, and threaten either to destroy Constantinople by the guns of his fleet, or land an army and take possession of it; and certainly after we have seen so unjustifiable an aggression as that which took place two years ago, that would be a very unsafe position in which to leave Russia. Sir, I think, and I must state again, that having gone to war with Russia to maintain the security, the independence, and the integrity of the Turkish Empire, it would be an act of the grossest folly to consent to a peace if it were obvious that within six months after the signature of that treaty of peace, the Emperor of Russia having sought a fresh quarrel—which is so easily found—sending afresh Prince Menchikoff, or any other emissary, and having made a fresh levy of troops, would have the opportunity of destroying that independence which we are seeking to secure. Sir, the fourth condition refers likewise to a matter of very considerable difficulty, upon which the hon. Member for the West Riding has addressed the House. He says, and says very truly, that Turkey has been misgoverned; and every traveller who has visited it has given an account of the desolate nature of the country, the want of proper management in the towns, and the want of security for commerce and industry. My noble Friend the Secretary for the Home Department said that Turkey had made great progress; but how has that progress been made? It has been made in consequence of the change of manners which has taken place throughout Europe. The Christian subjects of the Porte especially are a class 872 of persons whose minds are devoted to trade, and whose operations are confined principally to the creation of wealth.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I am speaking of Turkey—and the Christians form a part of the population of the country—and, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to go on, I dare say my argument will be as good as the argument of the hon. Gentleman, and it will, perhaps, go a little further. I believe it is England, and not Russia, which, during these differences, has constantly impressed upon the Porte the advantages to be gained by a just administration of the law, by favouring trade and commerce, and by an equal diffusion of privileges among all classes of persons in her dominions. The Sultan of Turkey has been, in a great degree, favourable to the adoption of these just ideas. The Turks who have been in France and England have learnt the manners and institutions of both countries, and although the great body have remained in their former ignorance, the consequence has been that the Christian subjects of the Sultan have gained great advantages, and being no longer treated as they were in former ages, with indiscriminate injustice and oppression, they have made great progress, and as my noble Friend has said, the spirit in which they are treated, the liberality with which they are allowed to follow their own customs, their freedom in respect to criticism, and the general indulgence shown to them, has been one great reason of the advancement in wealth and civilisation which has been manifested in the dominions of the Sultan. Now, what I wish to see is the continuance of that progress, and that this Fourth Article should be the means of establishing a system of which only the outlines are shadowed forth at present—that the Sultan should give such assurances to the Christian Powers of Europe, that we shall see before long an equality among the different subjects of the Porte—that persons of our religion shall have the same privileges possessed by those of another religion, and thus a foundation will be laid for the prosperity of that country, which, if established by such means, will be a prosperity co-existent with the general diffusion of thought, with a knowledge of literature and a toleration of religious opinions, combined with a dissemination of religious and moral instruction, which we well know 873 the Emperor of Russia will not allow in any dominion of his own. We know perfectly well that during the reign of the present Emperor of Russia even the circulation of the Bible, which was so much promoted by the late Emperor Alexander, a man of great benevolence, has been prohibited among Russian subjects, and if the Emperor of Russia, whose conduct the hon. Member for the West Riding so consistently palliates, were allowed to have his way, although, no doubt, there would be Christian worship in St. Sophia, there would be that stain on society which is the unmistakable sign of despotism, namely, the ignorance and barbarism of the general population of the country. Well, Sir, I have said that this war has been undertaken, not with any speculative object, but in consequence of the aggression of Russia upon its neighbour, and the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), in a letter which he has very widely circulated, has failed to justify such a threat as that sent by the Emperor of Russia to Constantinople, in which he said—Unless you sign a note, which I will dictate, in less than eight days, your territory shall be occupied, if not your chief city itself destroyed.But the hon. Member, failing to justify such a threat as that, says—it is no more than you have done yourselves. You sent a fleet to Athens with equally strong menaces to that Power.But what were the circumstances of that case. The truth is, that some English subjects being injured in their property, and failing to obtain justice, the fleet was sent for the purpose of instituting a blockade, and interrupting the trade of that place, until the particular object was gained, but such a thing as the bombardment of Athens was never thought of. I have made these remarks because the hon. Member for the West Riding referred, at the beginning of his very fair and temperate speech, to the nature of the war. On this occasion, as well as on many others, all I wish to do is to point out that there must be some security for the future; and, let me say that, having stated at the end of the discussion on the first night of the Session what were the general provisions of the treaty with Austria, I think the House will allow that I did not overstate the terms, as I did not wish to mislead the House or to give an exaggerated view of the nature of that treaty. But having stated what I did, I repeat, that my belief is, that although not contained in the original 874 terms of the treaty, Austria will acknowledge that as we do not propose to diminish the territory of Russia, but to leave her a great and powerful State, only asking for securities, which are as necessary for Austria as they are for England and France, the Allies ought to obtain that wish. If, however, Russia should not consent to such very moderate terms as it will be our duty to propose, after the Minister of the Emperor of Russia has declared he is directed to enter into negotiations, but should still continue of opinion that that great scheme which was begun in the reign of the Empress Catherine, if not before, and which is to end in adding Turkey to the Russian dominions, must be prosecuted; if he is still of that opinion, I feel convinced that we shall, before the opening of the next campaign, have the alliance of Austria, both in offensive and defensive operations. I will state to you that Austria is not literally bound to any course. I am free to admit I always thought we might be obliged to have a long protracted war if Austria were a party in that war against us, but if Austria join us, as I believe she will, we shall be in such a position that the war will not be protracted, but that it will be speedily ended by a durable, satisfactory, and honourable peace. Now, Sir, I could not avoid making this explanation, which has nothing to do with the matter immediately before the House. I have not heard any new argument tonight. If hon. Gentlemen wish to continue the discussion, I have no objection, but it seems to me that the measure has been sufficiently discussed, and that if it passes it will in no long time be acknowledged as a useful and efficient one.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, the speech just delivered by the Lord President of the Council has been in reply to that striking address delivered at an early hour of the evening by the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), and I confess I was surprised that no Minister rose at an earlier period to reply to it. The noble Lord the other evening expressed great indignation at a suspicion intimated by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) as to a wish on the part of the Government to avoid discussion on this measure; but, I must say, I think the hon. Member for the West Riding has reason to complain of being so long unanswered. It is not my intention to enter into the subject of that speech now, but I feel the great importance of a full dis- 875 cussion on the matter, and I confess I have been in some degree tempted to enter into it by the reference the noble Lord made to the Russian despatches, for I must be allowed to differ from the view of the noble Lord with reference to those despatches, and to repeat the opinion which I have always entertained, and have never shrank from expressing, that the despatches which the noble Lord has just referred to, in a great degree misled the Emperor of Russia with regard to the real temper and intentions of the British Government, and probably was one cause of the war in which we are now engaged. The noble Lord has adverted very briefly to the Bill before us, and has repeated what he has before said, and what has been repeatedly said on that side of the House, that we object to the introduction or employment of any foreign troops. The noble Lord is mistaken on this point. The objection we entertain is not to the employment of foreign soldiers, for we are now fighting side by side with foreigners, but to the employment of mere mercenaries, who, having no interest in this great struggle, are to be hired to fight our battles in the Crimea. What has fallen from the noble Lord has not affected the great triumph in debate and argument which has marked the opposition to the Bill, though it is true that the noble Lord has led a reluctant majority into the lobby in favour of the measure. I cannot allow this debate to close without expressing my extreme regret for the painful and, I think, unfair position in which we, the Opposition, have been placed by the Government on this subject. We came up to this short Session willing and anxious to give the Government our support. Let the country consider the circumstances of this war in which the present Government have involved us. When the late Government left office there was no sign or prospect of war; but, from the hour when the Coalition Government came into power, the danger has increased from day to day; and the manner in which the negotiations were conducted have involved us in this terrible struggle with the great empire of Russia. We therefore had no desire to interpose in the conduct of this war further than was necessary for the safety and welfare of the country. All parties felt that it was necessary to strengthen our military forces. We were willing to join in doing so, and we came up here fully prepared to find the Government prepared 876 to propose some plan for strengthening those forces, such as we could concur in without difficulty or hesitation. The Government have, however, submitted to Parliament, during this short Session, measures so objectionable in themselves, and so ill concocted, that we find ourselves in this dilemma, that we are obliged either to offer opposition to the Executive at a moment when unanimity is desirable, or to abandon our duty to our country, and support measures which we cannot approve of. We have been driven reluctantly, in the exercise of our strict Parliamentary right, to criticise the measures which the Government proposed, and for that course we have been charged by the noble Lord the Home Secretary with having been guilty of faction. That I assert is a most unjust and unfair charge, and one of which we are altogether clear, even by the admission of the noble Lord the President of the Council, who has again and again admitted the justice and fairness of the course we have pursued, and of the spirit by which we have been actuated. The noble Lord the President of the Council, however, had brought forward an accusation far worse than that of faction. It was with deep regret that I heard the noble Lord on a former evening impute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, that he gloated over the prospect of disaster. Do not let the House suppose that I have any intention to defend my right hon. Friend from such a charge, I will no more condescend to defend him against that charge than my right hon. Friend condescended to notice it when it was made; but I complain of such language being used, and I think the noble Lord must now regret it. When the noble Lord, because we exercised our Parliamentary right of criticising and opposing this measure, charged an hon. Member, not with a mistake, but with a baseness from which any loyal subject would shrink, I think he exceeded the fair limits of debate. The course pursued by the noble Lord reminds one of this advice given to a young lawyer, "When you have nothing to say, abuse the plaintiff;" and I can only suppose the noble Lord is aware that the cause he advocates is extremely bad, when I find him resorting to such language. I will now turn for a moment to the cause which led to this demand for foreign enlistment. At the commencement of July the Government determined to attack Sebastopol. They then 877 came to a most important resolution—namely, to change the character of the war from a defensive war to a war of aggression against Russia; and to attack that Power in what was at least the second stronghold of the empire. I do not say now whether that was wise or unwise; but surely it was the duty of the Government to take every possible precaution to ensure victory and the success of the attack. The noble Lord, on a former night, referred to a passage in a speech of the Duke of Wellington, and I was surprised to find that the noble Lord and his colleagues, in another place, considered that passage in the Duke of Wellington's speech, made many years ago, on a militia Bill, to contain a vindication of the conduct of the Government. The Duke of Wellington alluded to the fact that in the Peninsula a portion of the British army consisted of persons not born British subjects; but the effect of the noble Duke's opinion is, that if you want an army of reserve, you must take care to organise it in good time, and the point on which the noble Duke dwelt was the extreme importance of the militia, and he states that the value of that force was illustrated by the conduct of the young Hanoverian militia at the battle of Waterloo. This passage, which Her Majesty's Ministers have quoted in their favour, appears to show in the strongest manner the want of wisdom and prudence displayed by the Government. Did they organise a body of reserve in good time; and did they avail themselves of this valuable force, the militia? I have no hesitation in expressing my opinion that if the Ministry, in last July, had acted upon this passage in the Duke of Wellington's speech and embodied the militia, and taken steps for organising a reserve force, this House would never have heard of the present most objectionable measure. In explanation, I presume, of the want of provision on the part of the Government, the noble Lord, the other night, told us, with what I may call a fatal candour, that the Government had made a mistake and underrated the strength of Sebastopol. The country may ask whether such a Government are fitted to conduct affairs? There have been many mistakes made within the last six months by the Government, sonic serious, some accidental, from the novelty of their position, of which we, on this side of the House, took no notice, and refrained from criticising; but I think the mistake with regard to the strength of 878 Sebastopol is without excuse. We can hardly apply the term mistake to such an error. I call it a grave and dangerous error, for the consequences of which the Government must be held responsible. Well, after making this mistake, and underrating the strength of Sebastopol—after determining to attack it, and making no preparation by strengthening the army, the Government concluded the Session; the Ministers dispersed—some going to the sea-side, some to Scotland and other places—and the war was left to take its own course. The people were anxious, and their anxiety became alarm; but the Government went on in their delusions through August, September, and October. At last, at the end of October, events seemed to open the eyes of the Ministers to the peril in which they stood. Those terrific battles at the Alma, at Balaklava, and at Inkerman had been fought; our first attempt against Sebastopol had failed, and the Government suddenly found themselves in the position of having, from want of ordinary prudence, brought affairs to the very brink of discomfiture and destruction. When these discoveries were made, the Government, as they had been improvident in the outset, were precipitate in the sequel, and in hot haste Parliament was summoned to assemble. It was evident that the Government had had no design to meet Parliament before Christmas, for it had been prorogued to the 14th of December, but their plans were suddenly changed, and Parliament assembled two days before that period, hut so late in the month of December that nothing remained for it to do when it met but to register the Bills of the Government. The Ministers then proposed their plans, and brought forward their measures—one for enabling the militia to volunteer for foreign service, and the second was the Foreign Enlistment Bill. As to the proposed despatch of militia volunteers to occupy the garrisons in the Mediterranean, I believe that these volunteers are only to be sent to specific places where they have engaged to go, and that if they should be sent to other places a gross breach of faith would be committed towards them. Now, I ask, would it be wised or prudent, of all places in Her Majesty's dominions, to send the militia to the Mediterranean garrisons? It seems to me to be the most unwise plan the Government could adopt. These garrisons are nearest to the scat of war. You 879 cannot tell what emergency may arise, or what pressure there may be for reinforcements to the army, and I would press upon the Government most strongly the importance of sending to these Mediterranean garrisons such troops as should be disposable for the immediate purposes of the war, and as could be sent at the shortest possible notice to the seat of war. As regards the two Bills which have been submitted to us, I must say they are not only open to criticism and objection in themselves, but, although the only measures submitted to us during this short Session, they have been prepared so carelessly, or rather brought in with apparently so little preparation and forethought, that, both as regards the Enlistment Bill in the House of Lords, and the Militia Bill in this House, the Government have been compelled to resort to the advice of their opponents, and to mould the Bills, even for their own objects, according to the manner in which we have suggested to them to alter these Bills. And then, let me remind the House, while noticing the extraordinary carelessness and want of preparation with which these Bills have been introduced, that they have been introduced by a Government, a great portion of whom had felt it to be a duty to desert their former friends, and to form new political connections, that the country might have the benefit of their great administrative abilities. So far, I confess I think there is some fitness and appropriateness in these Bills being pressed on by that portion of the Government to which I have referred—I think I may call that portion of the Government political "free lances." In the course of the last four years they have been ready to enlist under any banner—to wear any uniform. But now this Foreign Enlistment Bill having been shaped by the opponents of the Government to carry out the intentions of the latter, is that Bill one which we are justified in adopting? I feel incapable of adding any novelty to the arguments which have been already adduced against the Bill, but I feel bound to state my concurrence in those arguments and my agreement in those objections, and to declare my opinion that the Government have taken a most unfortunate course—that they have proposed a measure most repugnant to the feelings of the nation—humiliating to our pride as Englishmen—a measure, as I believe, immoral in its tendencies, and which can only have the effect of lowering 880 us in the eyes of Europe, and giving to European Powers a false, mistaken, and dangerous idea, that this country is too weak to defend her own cause without foreign aid. I therefore think we have just reason to complain of the manner in which these Bills have been brought forward. It is impossible not to see that the object of the Government throughout the progress of the Foreign Enlistment Bill has been to avoid discussion. This Bill ought to have been, from its importance, introduced into Her Majesty's Speech; instead of that it was brought into the House of Lords in a manner which proved that the Government did not intend that it should be submitted to discussion; they were afraid of the opinions of the people; and, although we have devoted some days to its discussion in this House, still it does seem to me that this measure has been hurried on in a most unusual and improper manner, and no time has been allowed for the expression of public opinion upon its merits. Why is it that the Government have been unable to answer any inquiry as to the details of the Bill? Why did they come here unprepared to explain, not only the working of the measure, but who were to be the officers, and whence were to come the mercenaries? In vain have they been asked where these troops were to be brought from, where they were to be quartered, and many other inquiries of great importance have been equally unanswered; therefore, the conclusion must be that the Government had made up their minds that they would have no discussion on the measure, for I firmly believe that they did not themselves know what the Bill really meant. The precedents which the noble Lord and others had cited in favour of the Bill I consider to have completely failed to support this measure. The noble Lord had alluded to one precedent—the employment of German troops in the American War, and of that and all other precedents at all in point, I must say that I think they are rather warnings of what we should avoid than examples which we should follow. But the majority of these precedents alluded to—the battle of Minden, the wars under Marlborough, the battle of Waterloo, and our struggles in the Peninsula—were not similar in their circumstances to the present case. It is unnecessary for me to repeat the answers which have been already given to these most fallacious arguments, to show that there is a broad distinction and complete difference between the united action of al- 881 lies in those struggles and the employment of mercenary soldiers, merely hired to sell their services to this country, as is proposed by this German force. But the main argument, and the one upon which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War relied so much, is the necessity for this Bill. Let me first ask how that necessity stands. My opinion is, that there exists a striking necessity, but that necessity is to avoid such dangerous measures. If the Government can convince me that the successful conduct of the war really requires the measure, and if they could show that that necessity existed, I admit that to be the first and paramount consideration, and I for one would feel compelled to give my vote in favour of the Bill, however objectionable it might appear to me to be. But I altogether deny the necessity for it; I deny it, and I think the statements of the Government enable me to prove that denial. Now, here let me ask what this supposed necessity consists of? Does it arise from want of zeal on the part of the people of England? No Member of the Government, I apprehend, would dream of alleging that. It there is any subject which may console us for the evils of the war, if from anything we can derive a solace for the privations and evils caused by this terrible war, it is to be found in the gratification which all parties have derived from the spirit, the loyalty, and good feeling which the people of this country have evinced. It has been proved at least that the British heart is sound, for never did the people of this country come forward in a more creditable manner than at the present time. No one, then, can maintain that there has been any want of zeal on the part of the people to support the Government on the present occasion. I believe from the moment that war was declared the Horse Guards have been applied to by every military officer in the country for leave to share in the fatigues and honours of the campaign, and, throughout the whole period, recruiting has been carried on with greater rapidity than ever. Does the necessity turn upon a question of numbers? I think the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War was conclusive on that point. He told us the other day that recruiting was going on at a greater rate than he was enabled to embody regiments. I know myself, by a letter from Liverpool, which I read to-day, that on Saturday last the number of volunteers was so great, that the final arrangements for the enrolment of the recruits was ne- 882 cessarily postponed till Monday. But, then, has the Government sufficient means at its command? How can the Government explain the startling fact stated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) that up to that moment the Irish militia had not been embodied, nor had all the English regiments of militia been embodied? Why has not the Government long ago embodied the whole of the militia? How can the Government complain of any want of means to recruit their army when this legitimate reserve, the militia, has not been called into action? That is a point upon which Irish Members perhaps can deal better than I can, but I believe that, if the Government felt any pressure upon it for soldiers for immediate service, there is no quarter to which they could turn with more success than to the Irish constabulary, a finer body of men than which can nowhere be found. They are highly disciplined, fit for immediate service, and, I believe, from what I hear from those best acquainted with Irishmen, that no difficulty would be experienced and no danger incurred by having recourse to that source; while, on the other hand, the Government would have two effective brigades of well-trained men. I cannot, therefore, think that, on the ground of numbers, there is any pressing necessity for resorting to the enlistment of foreigners. On the contrary, I think that, from the militia, even now—although it should have been embodied long ago—if the whole force is embodied, there will be no difficulty to find a sufficient force to send out speedily to the Crimea. Does the necessity, then, turn on that point upon which the Government have rested more than on any other—the want of a force ready drilled to be sent out immediately? Upon this point my hon. Friend the Member for West Kent (Sir E. Bering), who moved the Amendment, has expressed himself so clearly, and, as I think, so conclusively, that it is unnecessary for me to dwell upon it. My firm impression is, that you might collect a sufficient force to send out to the relief of our overburdened troops in the Crimea from the English and Irish militia regiments. You might drill them and make them efficient to any extent required, and send them out to the Crimea sooner than any foreign force you can collect together. Time must elapse before you can enlist these mercenaries. The men must be brought here, embodied, and 883 drilled. I believe an English force could be obtained in as short a space of time, and might be as rapidly conveyed to the seat of war. But then, assuming that you (the Government) should get these foreigners, embody them, drill them, there still remains this question, when you have got them, how far can you trust them? Remember that the Emperor of Russia will fight us, not only with steel and iron, but also with gold. If you buy the services of those men who have no interest in this war, who have no other tie to you beyond the pay you give them, is there not a manifest danger that these men whose services you buy may again be bought? You may buy the blood of these men, but you cannot buy their hearts. Remember the circumstances of the war. You are not fighting Russia on the Danube—not in the Principalities. You have invaded the Russian soil—you have attacked Russian hearths, and have raised in the minds of the Russians the same feelings which enabled them to repel the legions of the great Napoleon from Moscow. I believe you have done this in a just war, but of this I feel convinced, that if you are to bring this deadly struggle to a successful issue, it can only be done by meeting the Russian forces by men who are impelled by the same animus by which they themselves are animated—loyalty to the Crown and attachment to their country. Remember, you cannot place reliance on these mercenary troops. Remember, also, what the Duke of Wellington said of mercenary troops in the Peninsula. He was forced to leave a large body of them at Lisbon, for fear, he said, they should desert him. I hope, therefore, that Parliament will reject this Bill; but, at any rate, we on this side of the House will have the consolation of knowing that we have raised our voices against a measure which we think dangerous and unpolitic, derogatory alike to our national feelings and our national honour.
§ MR. BRIGHT
* Sir, at this hour of the night I shall not make a speech; but I wish to make a few remarks in answer to the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, who has very strangely misapprehended—I am not allowed to say "misrepresented"—what fell from my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding. The noble Lord began by saying that my hon. Friend had charged the Government with making war in something of a propagandist spirit in favour of nationalities 884 throughout the Continent; but that was the exact contrary of what my hon. Friend did say. What he said was, that that portion of the people of this country who had clamoured for war, and whose opinion formed the basis whereupon the Government grounded their plea of the popularity of the war, were in favour of the setting up of nationalities; but my hon. Friend showed that the Government had no such object, and the war no such tendency. The next misrepresentation was, that my hon. Friend had spoken in favour of the status quo; but there is not the shadow of a shade of truth in that statement. What my hon. Friend said was precisely the contrary; but the noble Lord, arguing from his own misapprehension of my hon. Friend's meaning, went on then to show that it would not do to establish a peace on the status quo terms, thus knocking down a position which nobody had set up. The noble Lord was also guilty of another mistake with reference to an observation of my hon. Friend as to the character and position of the Turks. We have referred over and over again to a monstrous statement made by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton as to the improvement of the Turks—a statement which is contradicted by all facts. Tonight, with a disingenuousness which I should be ashamed to use in argument—[Cries of "Oh!"] It is very well for hon. Gentlemen who come down to cheer a Minister to cry "Oh!" but is it a fact, or is it not? Is there a man who hears me who does not know perfectly well, when the noble Lord said that the Turks had improved within the last twenty years more than any other nation in Europe, that the statement referred not to the Christians, whose rights and interests we were defending, but to the character of the Mahometan population? But to-night, with a disingenuousness which I could not condescend to use, the noble Lord turned the question to the condition of the Christian population. The real question was, as every hon. Gentleman knows, What was the condition of the Mahometan? and there is not a Gentleman in this House who is not aware that the Mahometan portion of the population of the Turkish Empire is in a decaying and dying condition, and that the two great Empires who have undertaken to set it on its legs again will find it about the most difficult task in which they ever were engaged. What do your own officers say? Here is 885 an extract from a letter which appeared in the papers the other day—They ought to set these rascally Turks to mend them [the roads], which might easily be done, as under the clay there is plenty of capital stone. They are, I am sorry to say, bringing more of these brutes into the Crimea, which makes more mouths to feed, without being of any use.I have seen a private letter, too, from an able and distinguished officer in the Crimea, who says—Half of us do not know what we are fighting for, and the other half only pray that we may not be fighting for the Turks.The only sign of improvement which has been manifested that I know of is, that on a great emergency, when their Empire, under the advice of Her Majesty's Government, and that of their Ambassador, was placed in a situation of great peril, the Turks managed to make an expiring effort, and to get up an army which the Government, so far as I can hear, has since permitted to be almost destroyed. Another sign of improvement there is, perhaps, that they have begun to wear trousers; but as to their commerce, their industry, or their revenue, nothing can be in a worse condition. You have now two Empires attempting to set the Turkish Empire up again; and it is said that a third great Empire is also about to engage in the task. The Turk wants to borrow money, but he cannot borrow it to-day in the London market at less than from eight to nine per cent. Russia, on the other hand, is an Empire against which three great Empires, if Turkey is to be counted one still, are now combined, and it is said that a fourth great Empire will soon join the ranks of its enemies. But Russian funds at this moment are very little lower than the stock of the London and North-Western Railway. You have engaged to set this Turkish Empire up again—a task in which everybody knows you must fail—and you have persuaded the Turk to enter into a contest, one of the very first proceedings in which has forced hint to mortgage to the English capitalist a very large portion—and the securest portion, too, of his revenues—namely, that which he derives from Egypt, amounting, in fact, in a fiscal and financial point of view, to an actual dismemberment of the Turkish Empire, by a separation of Egypt from it. Why is it that the noble Lord has tonight come forward as the defender of the Greeks? Is it that he has discovered 886 that, when this war is over, that Turkey, which he has undertaken to protect, the empire which he is to defend and sustain against the Emperor of Russia, will have been smothered under his affectionate embrace? or, to quote the powerful language of the Times, when the Vienna note was refused, that whatever else may be the result of the war in which Turkey has plunged Europe, this one thing is certain, that at its conclusion there will be no Turkish Empire to talk about?
The noble Lord quoted a letter which I wrote some time ago, and which, like others who have discussed it, he found it not easy to answer. In that letter I referred to Don Pacifico's case; and I am sure that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton will remember a despatch which he received through Baron Brunnow, from Count Nesselrode, on that subject; a despatch which I think the House will forgive me reading to it on the present occasion, as it gives the Russian Government's estimation of that act of "material guarantee" on the part of England—It remains to be seen whether Great Britain, abusing the advantages which are afforded her by her immense maritime superiority, intends henceforth to pursue an isolated policy, without caring for those engagements which bind her to the other Cabinets; whether she intends to disengage herself from every obligation, as well as from all community of action, and to authorise all great Powers, on every fitting opportunity, to recognise to the weak no other rule but their own will, no other right but their own physical strength. Your Excellency will please to read this despatch to Lord Palmerston, and to give him a copy of it.If there had been no more temper—no more sense—no more unity in the negotiations which took place with regard to this matter, in all probability we might have had a war about it. It was a case in which Russia might have gone to war with this country if she had been so minded. But Russia did not do that. Fortunately, the negotiations that ensued settled that question without bringing that disaster upon Europe. But the noble Lord again misinterpreted my hon. Friend (Mr. Cobden). I appeal to every Gentleman who heard my hon. Friend's speech whether the drift of it was not this—that in this quarrel, Prussia, and certainly Austria, had a nearer and stronger interest than England, and that he could not understand why the terms which Austria might consider fair and safe for herself and for Turkey, might not be accepted with honour by this country and by 887 France. Now, I am prepared to show that, from the beginning of this dispute, there is not a single thing which Austria wished to do in the course of the negotiations, or even which France wished to do, that the Government of the noble Lord did not systematically refuse its assent to, and that the noble Lord's Government is alone responsible for the failure in every particular point which took place in these negotiations. I will not trouble the House by going into the history of these negotiations now, further than just to state two facts, which will not take more than a few sentences. The noble Lord referred to the note which Russia wanted Turkey to sign, known as the Menchikoff note; but the noble Lord knows as well as I do, that when the French Ambassador, M. De la Cour, went to Constantinople, or whilst he was at Constantinople, he received express instructions from the Emperor of the French not to take upon himself the responsibility of inciting the Sultan to reject that note. ["No!"] I know this is the fact, because it is stated in Lord Cowley's despatch to the noble Lord.
I am expressing no opinion on the propriety of what was here done; I simply state the fact: and it was through the interference of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe—acting, I presume, in accordance with instructions from our Cabinet, and promising the intervention of the fleets—that the rejection of that note was secured. The next fact I have to mention is, that when in September, last year, the last propositions were drawn up by Counts Buol and Nesselrode, and offered at Olmütz by the Emperor, as a final settlement of the question, although Austria and Prussia were in favour of those propositions, and though Lord Westmoreland himself said—I don't quote his exact words—but they were in substance that they were of such a nature that they might be received; thus indicating his favourable opinion of them: and though, likewise, the Emperor of the French himself declared that they guarded all the points in which England and France were concerned—for this was stated by Count Walewski when he said that the Emperor was prepared to order his Ambassador at Constantinople to sign them along with the other Ambassadors, and to offer them to the Porte in exchange for the Vienna note; nevertheless, the Earl of Clarendon wrote, not in a very statesmanlike manner in such an emergency, but in almost a 888 contemptuous tone, that our Government would not, upon any consideration, have anything further to do with the Vienna note. The rejection, first, of the amended Menchikoff note, and then of the Olmütz note, was a policy adopted solely by the Government of this country, and only concurred in, but not recommended, by the French Government and the other Governments of Europe. Whether this policy was right or wrong, there can be no doubt of that fact; and I am prepared to stake my reputation for accuracy and for a knowledge of the English language on this interpretation of the documents which have been laid before us. That being so, on what pretence could we expect that Austria should go to war along with us for objects far beyond what she thought satisfactory at the beginning? or why should we ask the Emperor of the French to go to war for objects which he did not contemplate, and to insist on conditions which, in the month of September of last year, he thought wholly unnecessary? But one fact more I hope the House will allow me to state. There is a despatch in existence which was never produced to the people of this country, but which made its first appearance in a St. Petersburg newspaper, and was afterwards published in the Paris journals—a despatch in which the Emperor of the French, or his Minister, urged the Russian Government to accept the Vienna note on the express ground—I give the exact words—that 'its general sense differed in nothing from the sense of the original propositions of Prince Menchikoff.' Why, Sir, can there be dissimulation more extraordinary—can there be guilt more conclusive than that this Government should act as it did, after it had recommended the Emperor of Russia to take the Vienna note? For the noble Lord has told us, over and over again, that the Government of England concurred in all the steps taken by the French Government. The House will allow me to read the very words of the despatch, for, after all, this is no very small matter. I have an English translation, but the French original is underneath, and any hon. Gentleman who chooses may see it. The despatch is from M. Drouyn de Lhuys, the French Foreign Minister, who states—That which the Cabinet of St. Petersburg ought to desire is an act of the Porte, which testifies that it has taken into serious consideration the mission of Prince Menchikoff, and that it renders homage to the sympathies which an 889 identity of religion inspires in the Emperor Nicholas for all Christians of the Eastern rite.And further on—They [the French Government] submit it to the Cabinet of St. Petersburg with the hope that it will find that its general sense differs in nothing from the sense of the proposition presented by Prince Menchikoff.The French words are—Quo son sells général ne differe en rien du sens du projet présenté par M. le Prince Menchikoff.It then goes on—And that it gives it satisfaction on all the essential points of its demands. The slight variation in the form of it will not be observed by the masses of the people, either in Russia or in Turkey. To their eyes the step taken by the Porte [that is, in accepting it] will preserve all the signification which the Cabinet of St. Petersburg wishes to give it; and His Majesty the Emperor Nicholas will appear to them always as the powerful and respected protector of their religious faiths.This despatch was written, recommending la note Française which is the basis of, and in reality and substance, the same thing with the Vienna note; and, up to this moment, neither the Government of France, nor the Government of which the noble Lord is a Member, had for an instant denied the justice—I do not say the extent or degree—but the justice of the claim made on the part of the Russian Government against the Turks; and when they turn round upon their own note and tell you that there was a different construction put upon it. Was there any construction put upon it different from the recommendation here made and the argument used by the French Government? No; and the whole of that statement is a statement that is delusive, and if I were not in this House I would characterise it by a harsher epithet. I say now what I stated in March last, and what I have since said and written to the country, that you are making war against the Government which accepted your own terms of peace; and I state this now only for the purpose of urging upon the House and upon the Government that you are bound at least, after making war for many months, to exact no further terms from the State with which you are at war, than such as will give that security which at first you believed to be necessary; and that if you carry on a war for vengeance—if you carry on a war for conquest—if you carry on a war for purposes of Government at home, as many wars have been carried on in past times, I say you will be guilty 890 of a heinous crime, alike in the eyes of God and man. One other remark, perhaps the House will permit me to make. The noble Lord spoke very confidently to-night; and a very considerable portion of his speech—hoping, as I do, for the restoration of peace at some time or another—was to me not very satisfactory. I think that he would only be acting a more statesmanlike part if, in making speeches, he were at least to abstain from those trifling but still irritating charges, which he is constantly bringing against the Russian Government. I can conceive of one nation going to war with another nation; but why should the noble Lord say, "The Sovereign of that State does not allow Bibles to be circulated—he suppressed this thing here, and he put down something else there?" Why, what did one of the noble Lord's present colleagues say of the Government of our ally? Did he not thank God that that despotism could not suppress or gag our newspaper press, and declare that the people of France were subject to the worst tyranny in Europe. These statements from a Minister—from one who has been Prime Minister—and who, for aught I know, may again be Prime Minister, show a littleness that I did not expect from a statesman of this country, whose fate and interests hang on every word the noble Lord utters; and when the fate of thousands, ay, and of tens of thousands, may depend on whether the noble Lord should make one false step in the position in which he is now placed. And when terrible calamities were coming upon your army, where was this Government? One Minister was in Scotland, another at the sea-side, and for six weeks no meeting of the Cabinet took place. I do not note when Cabinets are held—I sometimes observe that they sit for four or five hours at a time, and then I think something is wrong—but for six weeks, or two months, it is said no meeting of the Ministers was held. The noble Lord President was making a small speech on a great subject somewhere in Cumberland. At Bedford he descanted on the fate of empires, forgetting that there was nothing so likely to destroy an empire as unnecessary wars. At Bristol he was advocating a new History of England, which if impartially written, I know not how the noble Lord's policy for the last few months will show to posterity. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton undertook a more difficult task—a labour 891 left unaccomplished by Voltaire—and when he addressed the Hampshire peasantry, in one short sentence he overturned the New Testament and destroyed the foundations of the Christian religion.
Now, Sir, I have only to speak on one more point. My hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding, in what he said about the condition of the English army in the Crimea, I believe, expressed only that which all in this House feel, and which, I trust, every person in this country capable of thinking feels. When I look at Gentlemen on that bench, and consider all their policy has brought about within the last twelve months, I scarcely dare trust myself to speak of them, either in or out of their presence. We all know what we have lost in this House. Here, sitting near me, very often sat the Member for Frome (Colonel Boyle). I met him a short time before he went out, at Mr. Westerton, the bookseller's, near Hyde Park Corner. I asked him whether he was going out? He answered, he was afraid he was; not afraid in the sense of personal fear—he knew not that; but he said, with a look and a tone I shall never forget, "It's no light matter for a man who has a wife and five little children." The stormy Euxine is his grave; his wife is a widow, his children orphans. On the other side of the House sat a Member, with whom I was not acquainted, who has lost his life, and another of whom I knew something (Colonel Blair). Who is there that does not recollect his frank, amiable, and manly countenance? I doubt whether there were any men on either side of the House who were more capable of fixing the goodwill and affection of those with whom they were associated. Well, but the place that knew him shall know him no more for ever. I have specified but two; but there are 100 officers who have been killed in battle, or who have died of their wounds; forty have died of disease; and more than 200 others have been wounded more or less severely. This has been a terribly destructive war for officers. They have been as one would have expected them to be, the first in valour as the first in place; they have suffered more in proportion to their numbers than the commonest soldiers in their ranks. This has spread sorrow over the whole country. I was in the House of Lords when the vote of thanks was moved. In the gallery were many ladies, three-fourths of whom were 892 dressed in the deepest mourning. Is this nothing? And, in every village, cottages are to be found into which sorrow has entered, and, as I believe, through the policy of the Ministry, which might have been avoided. No one supposes that the Government wished to spread the pall of sorrow over the land; but this we had a right to expect, that they would, at least, with becoming gravity, discuss a subject the appalling consequences of which may come home to individuals and to the nation. I recollect when Sir Robert Peel made a speech on subjects which threatened hostilities with the United States. I recollect the gravity of his countenance, the solemnity of his tone, his whole demeanour showing that he felt, in his soul, the responsibility that rested on him, I have seen this, and I have seen the present Ministry. There was the buffoonery at the Reform Club. Was that becoming a matter of this grave nature? Has there been a solemnity of manner in the speeches heard in connection with this war—and have they become statesmen and Christian men speaking on a subject of this nature? It is very easy for the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton to rise and say, that I am against war under all circumstances; and that if an enemy were to land on our shores, I should make a calculation as to whether it would be cheaper to take him in or keep him out, and that my opinion on this question is not to be taken either by Parliament or the country. I am not afraid of discussing the war with the noble Lord on his own principles. I understand the blue books as well as he; and, leaving out all fantastic and visionary notions about what will become of us if something is not done to destroy or to cripple Russia—I say—and I say it with as much confidence as I ever said anything in my life—that the war cannot be justified out of these documents; and impartial history will teach this to posterity if we do not now comprehend it. I am not, nor did I ever pretend to be a statesman; and that character is so tainted and so equivocal in our day, that I am not sure that a pure and honourable ambition would aspire to it. I have not enjoyed for thirty years, like those noble Lords, the honours and emoluments of office. I have not set my sails to every passing breeze, I am a plain and simple citizen, sent here by one of the foremost constituencies of the empire, representing feebly, perhaps, but honestly, I dare aver, the 893 opinions of very many, and the true interests of all those who have sent me here; let it not be said that I am alone in my condemnation of this war, and of this incapable and guilty Administration. And, even if I were alone, if my voice were the solitary one raised amid the din of arms and the clamours of a venal press, I should have the consolation I have to-night—and which I trust will be mine to the last moment of my existence—the priceless consolation, that no word of mine has tended to promote the squandering of my country's treasure, or the spilling of one single drop of my country's blood.
The House divided:—Ayes 173; Noes 135: Majority 38.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, C. H. W.||Fitzgerald, J. D.|
|Acton, J.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Adair, H. E.||Forster, C.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Forster, J.|
|Atherton, W.||Fortescue, C. S.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Fox, W. G.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Freestun, Col.|
|Barnes, T.||French, F.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Freshfield, J. W.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Biggs, W.||Goodman, Sir G.|
|Blackett, J. F. B.||Gordon, hon. A.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Brady, J.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Greene, J.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Greene, T.|
|Brotherton, J.||Gregson, S.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Caulfield, Col. J. M.||Grey, R. W.|
|Chambers, T.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Cheetham, J.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Hankey, T.|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Hardinge, hon. C. S.|
|Coffin, W.||Hustle, Arch.|
|Cogan, W. H. F.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Collier, R. P.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Cowan, C.||Heywood, J.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Dent, J. D.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Divett, E.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Drumlanrig, Visct.||Hutchins, E. J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Hutt, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Ingham, R.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Jackson, W.|
|Echo, Lord||Jermyn, Earl|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Keating, R.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Keogh, W.|
|Esmonde, J.||Kershaw, J.|
|Euston, Earl of||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Ewart, W.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Fagan, W.||Labouchere, rt. hon. L.|
|Feilden, M. J.||Laing, S.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Langton, H. G.|
|Ferguson, J.||Lee, W.|
|FitzGerald, Sir J.||Lindsay, W, S.|
|Locke, J.||Pilkington, J.|
|Loveden, P.||Pinney, W.|
|Lowe, R.||Price, Sir R.|
|Luce, T.||Price, W. P.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Reed, J. H.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Ricardo, O.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Richardson, J. J.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Martin, J.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Massey, W. N.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Matheson, Sir J.||Russell, F. W.|
|Milligan, R.||Sadleir, J.|
|Mills, T.||Sawle, C. B. G.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Scholefield, W.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Scully, F.|
|Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.||Scully, V.|
|Moncrieff, J.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Monsell, W.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Mostyn, hn. T. E. M. L.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Mowatt, F.||Smith, J. A.|
|Mulgrave, Earl of||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|O'Brien, P.||Steel, J.|
|O'Brien, J.||Thornely, T.|
|O'Connell, D.||Walter, J.|
|O'Connell, J.||Warner, E.|
|Osborne, R.||Watson, W, H.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Whitbread, S.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Paxton, Sir J.||Williams, W.|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Wilson, J.|
|Peel, F.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Peel, Gen.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Pellatt, A.||Wyvill, M.|
|Perry, Sir T. E.||Young, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Phillipps, J. H.||TELLERS.|
|Phillimore, R. J.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Phinn, T.||Berkeley, C. G.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Alexander, J.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Ball, E.||Dunne, Col.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Baring, T.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Bennet, P.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Farrer, J.|
|Boldero, Col.||Floyer, J.|
|Booker, T. W.||Follett, B. S.|
|Bright, J.||Forester, rt. hon. Col.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Bunbury, W. B. M'C.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Burghley, Lord||George, J.|
|Butt, G. M.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Butt, I.||Graham, Lord M. W.|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Grogan, E.|
|Chambers, M.||Guinness, R. S.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Hadfield, G.|
|Christopher, rt. hn. R.A.||Hall, Gen.|
|Clinton, Lord C. P.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.|
|Cobden, R.||Harcourt, Col.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Coles, H. B.||Herbert, Sir T.|
|Conolly, T.||Hildyard, R. B.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Hotham, Lord|
|Deedes, W.||Hudson, G.|
|Dering, Sir E.||Hume, W. F.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Sandars, G.|
|Kendall, N.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Kennedy, T.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Kerrison, Sir E. C.||Shirley, E. P.|
|King, J. K.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Knightley, R.||Smijth, Sir W.|
|Knox, Col.||Smith, J. B.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Smith, A.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Spooner, R.|
|Langston, W. G.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Laurie, J.||Stanley, Lord|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.||Stuart, W.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Lockhart, W.||Swift, R.|
|Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.||Tollemache, J.|
|Macartney, G.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|MacGregor, J.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|M'Mahon, P.||Vance, J.|
|Maddock, Sir H.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Malins, R.||Villiers, hon. F.|
|March, Earl of||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|Meux, Sir H.||Vyse, Col.|
|Miles, W.||Waddington, D.|
|Michell, W.||Walcott, Adml.|
|Montgomery, H. L.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Mowbray, J. R.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Naas, Lord||Welby, Sir G. E.|
|Napier, rt. hon. J.||Whiteside, J.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Whitmore, H.|
|Noel, hon. G. J.||Williams, T. P.|
|North, Col.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Oakes, J. H. P.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Packe, C. W.||Wyndham, H.|
|Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Parker, R. T.||TELLERS.|
|Phillimore, J. G.||Taylor, Col.|
|Rolt, P.||Mandeville, Visct.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 3°.
§ On the Question that the Bill do pass,
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, he wished to propose to substitute the following clause for Clause 2—Provided always, that the men serving under this Act shall not be employed in the serving Kingdom except for the purpose of being trained, arrayed, and formed into regiments, battalions, or corps for foreign service, and except such bodies of reserve as may be kept in the United Kingdom, and which shall be kept and used solely for the purpose of training and arraying recruits, and for supplying vacancies in such regiments, battalions, or corps; and the men serving under this Act shall not be billeted or quartered on any person or persons; and that there shall not be within the United Kingdom more in the whole than 10,000 men serving under this Act at any one time.
THE EARL OF MARCH
said, he gathered from the proposed clause of the hon. and learned Solicitor General that it was not intended under the Bill to billet or quarter these men on any person or persons, and that this new clause was introduced in order to prevent its taking place. If the hon. and learned Gentleman meant to preserve the clause in its present shape, then he (the Earl of March) would like to know how the Government contemplated 896 moving the troops from one part of the country to another? For instance, supposing there were among these foreigners a regiment of cavalry quartered in Dorchester barracks, how would he get them to a port of embarkation without billeting them on the road? Or, in the event of a body of infantry being stationed at some distance from the sea coast in the interior of the country, and, on being marched to the port of embarkation, finding the vessel in which they were to sail not ready, or the weather so unfavourable as to render it impossible to get on board, how were they to be fed unless a power existed to billet or quarter them in the town?
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, that as these men were not intended to be used in this country in the same way as our own troops, and would not therefore be, like them, moved about from place to place, the difficulty he contemplated would not occur.
said, the men must be marched to the coast, and possibly might have to march for three or four days, and he wanted to know how these men were to be kept without billeting during that time?
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that the words billeting or quartering were very well understood. There were certain clauses in existing Acts of Parliament by which inhabitants of houses were compelled to receive soldiers into them; but under the present clause those parties would not be liable with respect to those foreigners.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, he considered the clause an absurdity. If those men were not billeted in certain houses, under proper regulations, they would be let loose upon the community. He had had experience of foreign troops, and, if they were to be let loose on the wide world, where was the purity, where was the protection, that would be enjoyed by that portion of the community on whom we all looked with respect and affection—he meant the female portion? He would suggest that these foreign troops should be billeted in Downing Street, and in that case he advised the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to take care of his cellars. All he could say was, that he wished he had the drilling of the Treasury Bench. He believed they would be a very awkward squad, but he would make them do their duty.
THE EARL OF MARCH
said, he was not satisfied with the answer of the right hon. Secretary at War. If this clause remain- 897 ed in its present shape, these troops must be trained within one day's march from the port of embarkation. If not, it would be impossible to get them to the port where it was intended to ship them.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, the noble Lord had only to look at the map of England to see that the railways did away with the question of one or two days' march to the port of embarkation.
§ MR. BANKES
said, he approved of the clause, but he thought it was desirable that the Bill should be very clear on the subject of billeting.
Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.
MR. LOCKE KING
said, he would now beg to move that the following clause be added to the Bill—.Provided that no officer serving under this Act, when reduced, shall be entitled to receive half pay; provided nevertheless, that when any such officer shall be rendered incapable of military service by wounds or infirmities contracted while discharging his military duty during the period of his continuing to serve as such officer under the provisions of this Act, then and in such case it shall be lawful for Her Majesty to make such provision out of any funds granted by Parliament for such officer as She shall think proper and necessary, so that such provision shall in no case exceed the half-pay of the rank in the British service, similar to that which such officer shall have held at the time of his becoming so incapable as aforesaid.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he would suggest that the words "out of any such funds granted by Parliament" should be inserted in the clause.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he should not object to the clause.
Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he wished to move that the following Proviso should be added to Clause 4—Provided always, that at least one-third of the officers of the said 10,000 men shall be British subjects, and that none of the said 10,000 men shall remain in this kingdom above one year from the time when they shall be enlisted under the provisions of this Act.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he must object to the Proviso. It would be highly inconvenient to lay down before-hand the strict number of officers. He also could not agree with the latter portion of the Proviso.
Question, "That those words be there added," put, and negatived.
§ MR PACKE
moved as an Amendment to the 5th Clause the following words—This Act shall continue in force until the end of the next Session of Parliament, or until one year after the ratification of a definitive treaty of peace, if such treaty shall have been sooner concluded; provided, that the expiration of this Act shall in no way affect the service of each foreigner who shall have enlisted before this Act shall expire.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
said, he objected to the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The House adjourned at Two o'clock.