HC Deb 27 April 1855 vol 137 cc1872-97

said, he would take that opportunity of doing an act of justice, which he owed to himself and to a gallant relative of his who was now serving with the army in the Crimea. Some days ago the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard), at a dinner at Liverpool, openly stated that of the officers who had been promoted to the Staff in the Crimea only one, Major Ewart, of the 93rd Highlanders, a relative of his (Mr. Ewart's), had obtained a first-class certificate at Sandhurst; and the hon. Member added, "I don't know whether he owed it to any Parliamentary influence; I hope not." With regard to the first portion of this statement, that his (Mr. Ewart's) gallant relative was the only officer appointed to the Staff in the Crimea who had earned distinction at Sandhurst, he (Mr. Ewart) felt it to be his imperative duty to state that that was a most inaccurate and incorrect representation, and that he was convinced nothing could be more painful to the feelings of his relative than to be placed in this unjust pre-eminence; for there were many meritorious officers serving on the Staff in the Crimea who had obtained the same distinction as his gallant relative. The hon. Member for Aylesbury had, therefore, though no doubt unintentionally, fallen into an error. The fact was, that the hon. Member had adverted to one return, and omitted to notice previous ones. This much he (Mr. Ewart) felt was due to those meritorious officers who stood upon an equal footing with his relative, and he knew that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the War Department would do justice to those officers. But the question which he felt bound to ask the hon. Gentleman was this, whether any such influence was used, as affecting his relative, as might be inferred from the observations of the hon. Member for Aylesbury? whether any such influence was directly or indirectly, or in any degree whatever, resorted to? and whether his gallant relative owed his position on the Staff in the Crimea to any other cause than his zealous and ardent endeavours to perform his duty to the State?


said, he thought that, as notices of other questions bearing upon similar topics had been given, it would be better that they should be put before he made any statement to the House.


said, he had also a question to ask the hon. Under Secretary for War. He found in a newspaper of the day previous the following statement of the services of officers recently promoted in the Coldstream Guards, made under the sanction of the name of the hon. Member for Aylesbury— C. J. Burdett, nineteen years' service, without purchase; no active service. J. W. Newdigate, fifteen years' service, without purchase; no active service. Lord Dunkellin (son of the Marquess of Clanricarde), nine years' service, by purchase; Alma. W. G. Dawkins, eleven years' service, without purchase; Alma. C. W. Strong, sixteen years' service, without purchase; Alma, Inkerman. C. F. Wilson, sixteen years' service, by purchase; West Indies, Alma, Inkerman. Lord Burghersh (son of Lord Westmoreland), twelve years' service, without purchase; Staff. Hon. A. Hardinge (son of Lord Hardinge), eleven years' service, without purchase; Staff. Now, it did so happen that the last two officers were men who had seen more service than any of the officers whose names stood before them. With respect to Lieutenant Colonel Lord Burghersh, he had served through the whole campaign of the Punjaub in 1846, and had also been present at the battle of the Alma, the despatches announcing which victory he was thought worthy to convey home. With regard to Lieutenant Colonel the hon. Arthur thur Hardinge, he had been through the campaign of the Sutlej, where he was present in three general engagements, and he understood had a horse killed under him; he was moreover present at the battle of the Alma, and was in the charge at Balaklava, where he accompanied the Scots Greys in their successful charge, headed by General Scarlett; and last, though not least, he was at the battle of Inkerman. He would be glad to know why, in the hon. Member's opinion, the ominous and unpalatable word "Staff" was the only one which could be applied to designate the services of those two distinguished officers? He asked whether the hon. Member was aware that the services of those two distinguished officers had been omitted from the usual record, or whether they might attribute it to the high-minded and generous feeling of the hon. Member for Aylesbury, that he had omitted all mention of their services because the one happened to be the son of an Ambassador and the other son to the General Commanding in Chief?


said, he regretted extremely to be obliged to call the attention of the House to another passage of the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Aylesbury at Liverpool, to which the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) had already adverted. But he thought the House would agree with him that when an accusation was made against an officer holding the distinguished position of General Commanding in Chief, that he had been guilty of scandalous conduct in reference to promotions in the army, still more especially when his own son was concerned, and when an opportunity had been afforded to the hon. Member of retracting this statement, and he had refused to do so—then that an opportunity should be afforded him in his place in that House, of repeating the accusation, and stating the grounds on which he made it. He had no personal feeling against the hon. Member; and nobody could regret more than he did, that the hon. Member bad not availed himself of the opportunity afforded him to correct his error and apologise for the insinuations he had made by the very temperate and excellent letter of the hon. and gallant officer the Member for Wigan (Colonel Lindsay). No one could approve more highly than he did the conduct of those who came forward to bring accusations against persons in high station, if they believed the truth of the charges, and were satisfied of the evidence on which they made them; but on the other hand he could not express strongly enough, in language consistent with Parliamentary usage, his opinion of the conduct of those who, merely to extract a passing cheer, merely to gain a little fleeting notoriety, reiterated an accusation, the truth of which he had at least strong reason to doubt. The portion of the speech to which he referred was as follows:— I will give you an instance of a friend of mine, a gentleman who served throughout all those battles, and distinguished himself most signally; he came over to this country sick and almost dead. There were two men above him, officers in one of the guards' regiments, who had never left England; they were members of high families and they were promoted without purchase; but my friend was a poor man, and they made him pay 3,000l. for his commission; and why? Lord Hardinge's son was next to him, and got his commission without purchase. I say these things are scandalous. And so he would say too, if true. There could not ho the slightest doubt to what this accusation amounted—that an officer was compelled to purchase his commission in order to enable Lord Hardinge's son to obtain his without purchase. After that statement was made appeared the letter of the hon. and gallant Member for Wigan (Colonel Lindsay) on which the hon. Member for Aylesbury changed his ground; and it would be necessary for him, though he was sorry to take up the time of the House, to go through the circumstances of the promotions specified in the letter which the hon. Gentleman had written. When his hon. and gallant Friend pointed out that the two officers immediately preceding Colonel Wilson were both of them engaged in the Crimea, the hon. Gentleman then said, that these were not the cases he meant, and that he alluded to the promotions of Colonel Burdett and Colonel Newdigate without purchase. Now, the first promotion, that of Captain Burdett to be Lieutenant Colonel, took place on August 22, 1854, long before the army went to the Crimea. He did not hesitate to say, that however gallantly Colonel Wilson might have distinguished himself there, and everybody had done so, Colonel Burdett's services were quite equal to his. But, supposing the system of selection by merit to be established, he should like to know who could have been selected in the Coldstream Guards when these promotions took place but Captain Hardinge? He was the only officer who, on the 25th of August, 1854, in his rank in the Coldstream Guards, had seen any service whatever. Colonel New- digate's promotion took place on the 14th of September, 1854, also before the army went to the Crimea, and, therefore, came strictly under the existing regulations—providing for promotion by rotation, consequent on deaths or accidents. The two next vacancies were to be filled by purchase. The two senior officers, knowing that there was a strong probability of their obtaining promotion without purchase, withdrew their names, and Lord Dunkellin was consequently promoted on the 3rd of November, 1854. The next two steps were got by Colonels Dawkins and Strong, both of whom were promoted on vacancies caused by death. Then came the vacancy which arose on the death of Colonel Mackinnon, which was filled by Colonel Wilson. The hon. Member (Mr. Layard) seemed to think that there was some power at the Horse Guards to decide on the occurrence of a vacancy whether it should be filled by purchase or not. But this was not the case; nor was it true either that Colonel Wilson was compelled to purchase. No doubt, as long as the mixed system of promotion by purchase and seniority was in existence there must be a great deal of chance as to whether vacancies should be filled up by purchase or not; but when the hon. Gentleman said that Colonel Wilson was compelled to purchase, he must have known, or, at least, Colonel Wilson must have known, that there was no compulsion in the case. Colonel Wilson could have withdrawn at the very last moment, and the result would have been that Colonel Hardinge might have purchased over his head; and then Colonel Wilson would have had the first colonelcy afterwards that fell vacant. The question whether, as Colonel Wilson seemed to think, he should have succeeded without purchase was a question with which Colonel Hardinge had nothing to do. It was a question between Colonel Wilson and the family of Colonel Mackinnon; and depended on the rule that when an officer was killed in action, before his promotion was known at head-quarters, the price of that promotion should not be lost to his family. He was sure that the House would be glad to see that rule carried out to the fullest extent possible; and he would show that it had always been the case that when promotions took place by purchase, and any unfortunate event occurred, such as the death of the promoted officer in action, before the promotion was known at head-quarters, the promotion was cancelled, and the friends of the officer re- ceived the money again. The hon. Member for Aylesbury had had some correspondence with Lord Hardinge, and he (General Peel) alluded to it in order to show that the hon. Member had had an opportunity offered him of retracting the charges he had made. He would now read the correspondence which had passed between the hon. Gentleman and Lord Hardinge on the subject, to show that the former had had full opportunity to retract his charges. 15, Great Stanhope Street, April 25, 1855. Sir, I have read a speech of yours made at Liverpool in which you charge me with conduct so corrupt in the exercise of military duties, in the case of the promotion of my son, to the injury of Lieutenant Colonel Wilson, of the same regiment, that you have thought proper to characterise the transaction as a most scandalous one. I most distinctly declare your statement to be utterly untrue. My son's correspondence with Lieutenant Colonel Wilson having closed, and the letters being in your friend's possession, I have now to require that you will immediately retract the unfounded charge made in your speech, or be prepared to show upon what authority you have preferred it.—I remain your obedient servant, HARDINGE. A. H. Layard, Esq., M.P. The reply to this was as follows:— 9, Little Ryder Street, April 26, 1855. My Lord, In reply to your letter I beg to refer you to Hart's Army List as my authority for alluding to the promotions in the regiment of Coldstream Guards in a speech at Liverpool. It may be impossible to trace the motives which may have led to such promotions, but, as a public man, I believe I am expressing the convictions of a very large portion of the public when I characterise as 'scandalous' the promotion by purchase of a regimental officer who has seen long and arduous service, and the promotion immediately afterwards, without purchase, of the two officers next to him, one of whom is your own son, and both of whom have been serving on the Staff. Similar instances are, unfortunately, too numerous to lead to any other conclusions than those to which I have come. It is asserted that Colonel Wilson's promotion took place in accordance with an invariable rule of the service. In other cases, I have reason to believe such rules have been distinctly violated. Such being my conviction, I have nothing to retract from the statement I made at Liverpool—a statement, I may add, for which Colonel Wilson is in no way responsible. I have the honour, &c. A. LAYARD. The Lord Hardinge. To that his Lordship replied:— 15, Great Stanhope Street, April 26. Sir, I have this evening received your letter of this date. I must remind you that I do not complain of your opinion that promotion in the army by purchase is scandalous. You accused me in your speech at Liverpool of having promoted my son without purchase, to the injury of Lieutenant Colonel Wilson, who had been made by me to purchase his promotion, and that my conduct in doing so was most scandalous. This charge you decline to retract, although your friend Lieutenant Colonel Wilson admits that he attaches no blame to the Horse Guards authorities. Your assertion that the rule applied by me in Lieutenant Colonel Mackinnon's case has been violated in others, is contrary to the truth. It is a waste of time to hold any further correspondence with one who makes such unfounded accusations, and who obstinately persists therein. Your obedient servant, HARDINGE. A. Layard, Esq., M.P. He would now proceed to put the House in possession of the precedents upon which the course taken in Colonel Mackinnon's case was founded. In 1847, a majority by purchase having become vacant in the 73rd Foot, stationed at the Cape of Good Hope, Captain Baker, the senior captain of that regiment for purchase, was promoted to the vacancy on the 12th of November, but was killed in action on the 13th of that month; his promotion was accordingly cancelled in the Gazette of the 11th of February, 1848, on the ground that it could not be known at the Cape at the time of Captain Baker's death, and Captain Brown, the next senior captain for purchase, was promoted to the majority thus vacant by purchase. Lord Fitzroy Somerset's letter of the 23rd of September, 1848, to the Lieutenant General commanding at the Cape at the time was as follows:—'The vacancy was filled by purchase in strict accordance with the regulations of the service, the deceased officer not having known of his promotion, and consequently not having been in a position to exercise the functions of the superior commission.' There were even still later precedents— In August, 1854, the retirement of Captain Saunderson (who was brought in to sell) from the 4th Foot, having created a vacant company by purchase, Lieutenant Skinner, the senior of his rank for purchase in that regiment, was promoted to the vacancy. This officer, however, died on the 14th of August, 1854, and the 4th Regiment being then stationed at Gallipoli, at that date no intimation of his promotion had been in any manner received there; on which ground the appointment was cancelled in The Gazette of the 15th of September, 1854, and Lieutenant Cocks, the next senior lieutenant for purchase, was gazetted to the vacant company by purchase on the September, 1854. In evidence of this promotion being in strict accordance with the rules of the service, the military secretary drew up the following minute, dated the 8th September, 1854; a copy of which was transmitted to the officer commanding 4th Foot:—'On searching for precedents as to such a case, that of Captain Baker, who had been promoted to a majority in the 73rd Foot on the 12th of November, 1847, was discovered. That officer having been promoted on that day, was killed on the 13th of November (the following day) by a party of Kafirs. His promotion was in consequence cancelled, on the ground, that, never having heard of his promotion, he had consequently never been in a position to exercise the functions of the superior commission. [See the letter from the Military Secretary of the 23rd of September, 1848.] The same course is, therefore, to be taken in the case of the promotion of Captain Skinner, which it is accordingly to be submitted to the Queen shall be cancelled, and the next senior lieutenant for purchase recommended for the succession.'—C. YORKE, Sept. 8, 1848. Ensign and Lieutenant Disbrowe was promoted by purchase on the 3rd of November, 1854, in succession to Captain and Lieutenant Colonel Cumming, who retired. It having, however, been reported that Mr. Disbrowe was killed on the 5th November, before he could have known of his promotion, an officer was brought into the regiment from the Rifle Brigade, by purchase, and the money was returned to Mr. Disbrowe's family. He would now proceed to state what occurred in the case of the promotion of Lord Burghersh— Horse-Guards, 25th of April, 1855. Colonel Crombie, of the Coldstream Guards, returned to England in October, 1854, on the recommendation of a medical board, having been seized with a serious illness in the camp near Varna in the month of August. On the 18th of December he forwarded to Lord Strafford a certificate from Dr. Ferguson to the effect that he was still labouring under the consequences of his former illness, and expressing an opinion that a return to the arduous duties in the East might be considered as certain death to him. Under these circumstances he applied to be placed upon half-pay for a time, stating that he had served thirty years on full pay. Lord Strafford, in forwarding this application, expressed a hope that some arrangement might be made for bringing in a lieutenant-colonel from half-pay who would sell out, and that the vacancy might thus be filled by promotion in the regiment. This, however, could not be done, as, in the first place, there was at that time no lieutenant-colonel on half-pay who had applied to be brought on full pay to realise the value of his commission; and, in the next, there was a similar case of the lieutenant-colonel of the 51st Regiment, who was anxious to be placed on half-pay, and the officers of that regiment, from the length of their services, had a prior claim to what is considered an advantage, namely, the step of lieutenant-colonel going by purchase through the regiment, instead of a lieutenant-colonel being brought from the half-pay and no promotion taking place. The applications, however, in both cases stood over for a time, that if any lieutenant-colonel on half-pay should offer to sell, advantage might be taken of the opportunity to give promotion in both regiments. On the 29th of January, however, Colonel Crombie renewed his application, and applied for some leave of absence, in case any further delay was likely to take place. Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn, on half-pay, had by that time applied to sell, but it was not thought fair towards the old officers of the 51st Regiment to allow the promotion to go into the Guards, and put in an officer as lieutenant-colonel of the 51st to remain in it, and Lord Hardinge would have been especially indisposed to do so, as it would have been for the apparent benefit of his son, there being at the time no knowledge of what might be the intention of Colonel Upton as to remaining till he was a general officer, or going previous to obtaining the rank on half-pay, as many other officers of the Guards similarly circumstanced have repeatedly done. Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn was therefore placed on full pay in the 51st Regiment on the 13th of February, and immediately sold out, the promotion going through the regiment. "Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Burghersh, on the staff pay unattached, was brought into the Coldstream Guards, vice Crombie, on the 9th of February, and remains in the regiment. It may be added that the date of the submission to the Queen of Lord Burghersh's removal from the staff pay to the Coldstream Guards, vice Crombie, was the 7th of February, 1855. At that time the only death of a general officer which had been reported at the Horse Guards was that of General the Hon. T. E. Capel, who died on the 3rd of February. Two more were required for the promotion of Colonel the Hon. A. Upton to be a major-general; these occurred, one on the 7th and the other on the 9th of February, namely. Sir Patrick Stuart and Lieutenant-General Sir William Eustace, but there was no idea at the time of the probability of the death of either of these officers, and it so happened that, by Lord Burghersh having been brought in as he was, Lieutenant-Colonel the lion. A. Hardinge lost a step. That brought him to the case of Lieutenant-Colonel Hardinge. By a rule of the service, when three general offers died the senior colonel was promoted. Now, it so happened that after all these promotions to which he had just referred, three generals died in one week. The senior colonel then on the list was Colonel Upton, of the Coldstream Guards, who was promoted to the major-generalship, and then, in strict course, Lieutenant-Colonel Hardinge obtained his promotion. He would not add a single word to this statement. It was for the House to decide to whom the charge of "scandalous conduct" most properly applied.


said, he was glad that he had been preceded by his hon. and gallant relative, for after the statement which he had just made, and the correspondence he had read, no one could help coming to the conclusion that there had been hardly a stronger instance in which, what he must call, a disposition to damage and discredit the Government had led an hon. Member to distort the correct view of a question, and to blind himself to its just and true merits. With regard to the first question which had been put to him—namely, as to the appointment of a relative of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. E wart) to the staff—he would first of all beg leave to call the recollection of the House to the words used by the hon. Member for Aylesbury, at Liverpool, in reference to this point. The hon. Member was arguing that, though we had a special college instituted for the instruction of our officers in their military duties, yet when a Member of that House moved for a Return of the names of the officers who had distinguished themselves at that college, and who had been placed on the staff in the Crimea, that return showed that only one of all who had received certificates of merit at Sandhurst had been so appointed. The hon. Member then, inferring, by what he said after, that that officer had for a relative an hon. Member in that House whose views on public questions generally harmonised with those of Her Majesty's Government, went on to express a hope that he had not been appointed to the staff in consequence of his Parliamentary influence, thus leaving it to be inferred that the gallant officer was appointed through the influence of his hon. Friend behind him. The only answer which, in most cases, it would have been necessary to give to such an insinuation, would have been to disclaim any Parliamentary influence in the matter, and to refer the appointment of the officer in question entirely to the distinction which he had gained at college and his proficiency in the discharge of his military duties. It so happened, however, that there was not the shadow of a foundation for saying that this officer's appointment was owing to the influence of any hon. Member of that House, or to any other Parliamentary influence, for the fact was that he (Major Ewart) was not placed upon the staff by any authority in this country. When the first part of the army was sent out, Lord Hardinge, in conjunction with Lord Raglan, did select the officers to be placed on the staff, but with reference to all the subsequent staff appointments, Lord Hardinge left them all in the hands of Lord Raglan. Captain Ewart was appointed to be a deputy assistant quartermaster in the army in the Crimea, from the 93rd Foot, by Field Marshal Lord Raglan, on the 26th of September, 1854. He was promoted to a regimental majority on the 29th of December, and by a general order of Lord Raglan on the 12th of February, 1855, he was ordered to rejoin his regiment for duty, and he then ceased to belong to the staff. Therefore, the Government at home had nothing whatever to do with Captain Ewart's ap- pointment. Nor was it true that only one officer who had obtained a certificate of merit at Sandhurst had been placed on the staff of the army in the Crimea. The hon. Member had here been led into an error, which had been occasioned in this way:—An hon. Member having moved for a Return of the officers holding staff appointments in the Crimea, who had obtained certificates of merit at Sandhurst, and the Return being presented, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) had mentioned to him (Mr. Peel) that his relative's name had been omitted from it. Finding, on inquiry, that there had been such an omission, he directed a supplemental Return to be prepared which was presented under the heading "Supplemental Return to the order of the Honourable House of Commons, dated the 9th of February." The only name in that paper was the name of Major Ewart, but the original Return, of course, comprised the names of all the officers holding staff appointments in the army in the Crimea, and he understood there were ton or eleven officers who had obtained certificates of merit at Sandhurst who had been placed on the staff of the army there. With regard to the question of his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. H. B. Baring), he begged to say he did not appear there as the advocate of Lord Hardinge, whose advocacy had been undertaken and ably performed by his hon. and gallant relative opposite (General Peel), but when he heard it stated that the Commander in Chief, the head of one of the principal departments which regulated the affairs of the army, had acted in the appointment of officers on principles that were scandalous, it was natural that he should desire to give the House some information on the subject. In his speech at Liverpool, the hon. Member for Aylesbury said—Who are the officers in the Crimea who have most distinguished themselves—who have sought reputation at the cannon's mouth? They are your regimental officers. And what is the nature of the reputation which they have acquired? The Government have treated them with indifference, and the only reward they have got is the sympathy of the people of this country. The hon. Member endeavoured to draw a line between the indifference of the Government and the cordiality with which the services of these officers had been recognised by the public. He said—I will give you an illustration of what I mean—I will take the promotion In the Coldstream Guards. There were, he said, two officers who had never left the country, who were men of high family; and next to them an officer who was a poor man, who had been with the army in the Crimea, and who had returned to this country sick and almost dead. After him came the son of the Commander in Chief. And now see how these five officers have received their promotion. The first two, who had never left the country, received their promotion without purchase, and the man who was poor, and who had seen service in the Crimea, was compelled to purchase his promotion because he was followed by the son of the Commander in Chief. Everybody supposed that the hon. Gentleman referred to the two officers immediately above Colonel Wilson, who were named Dawkins and Strong, who had both been at Alma and Inkerman, and who could not therefore be said, in the invidious sense which he was afraid the hon. Gentleman intended the words to bear, to have seen no service. The hon. Member, however, had since explained his language, and had endeavoured to draw a distinction of rather a nice character:— What I said," explained the hon. Member, "was, officers 'above' Colonel Wilson, not officers 'next above' him." The two officers to whom the hon. Gentleman now said he referred were Colonels Burdett and Newdigate, who had obtained their promotion by the deaths of two captains at Varna. They were in this country, it was true, but not by their own consent. Some officers must remain in this country, and those to whose lot it fell to stay behind, no doubt would consider it a hardship that they were not allowed to accompany their brother-officers; but to lay down that where vacancies occurred abroad they must be filled up by officers upon the spot, so as to, exclude those at home, would certainly be adding injustice to hardship. It was perfectly just, therefore, that these two officers should be appointed to fill these vacancies. Colonel Wilson, it must be remembered, was not originally desirous of purchasing his step; but when he found that Captains Dawkins and Strong had withdrawn their names from the list for purchase, preferring to take their chance of the death vacancies, he wrote to his friends in England, desiring them to purchase the step for him, being anxious to step over the heads of Dawkins and Strong. He acted entirely (and of course no one could blame him for it) with a view to his own interest. The battle of Inkerman soon after occurred, and Captains Dawkins and Strong got their promotion without purchase, two captains having been killed in that action, and on Lieutenant Colonel Mackinnon dying, the vacant captaincy was purchased by the friends of Lieutenant Colonel Wilson. The gallant Gentleman complained that he thought he had some claim to promotion without purchase, but at the same time, he said that he was not acquainted with the established rule of promotion under the circumstances to which reference had been made. With regard to the established rule of the service in such cases, no doubt could exist with regard to it after what had fallen from his (Mr. Peel's) hon. and gallant relative. He felt bound, however, to say that, when an officer was promoted and died before he was aware of his promotion, or before notification of it had reached head-quarters, if he was killed while serving in a subordinate rank, it was a very humane and proper arrangement to restore to his relations the money which had been paid for promotion from which he had never derived any advantage. In the present instance, the money paid for the promotion of Captain Mackinnon had been restored to his relations, and a commission became vacant, not by death, but by purchase, and the offer of it was first made to Colonel Wilson, who purchased it, and obtained his step. One thing, however, was quite clear, that whether Colonel Wilson had obtained his step gratuitously or not, it could not possibly have benefited Colonel Hardinge. If the vacant commission had not been bought by Colonel Wilson, Colonel Hardinge would have been only too glad to purchase it. The hon. Gentleman said that Colonel Wilson was made to pay for his promotion in consequence of Colonel Hardinge being next, and of his being the son of the Commander in Chief. He (Mr. Peel) had shown that Colonel Hardinge derived no benefit from Colonel Wilson's purchasing his promotion, and as regarded his being the son of Lord Hardinge, he had merits of his own which deserved to be borne in mind. Whatever had been the merits of Colonel Wilson—and he was most unwilling to say one word disparaging the actions and services of that gallant officer, for he believed him to have proved himself a most gallant and meritorious officer—still the services of Colonel Hardinge had not been less conspicuous. Was it, or was it not the case that Colonel Hardinge had gone through the campaign of the Sutlej, and been present at Sobraon, Moodkee, and Ferozeshah, and also at the Alma, at Balaklava, and at Inkerman? Colonel Hardinge was not necessitated to go to the Crimea at all, but had volunteered his services. He was desirous of not losing the opportunity of seeing service, and, having been appointed to the staff, was present at those three great battles. Then, it appeared to be thought that some favour had been shown to Colonel Hardinge under the circumstances in which he had obtained his commission. Now, was that the case, or was it not? Colonel Hardinge obtained his promotion in consequence of the promotion of Colonel Upton, to be a general officer. Colonel Upton was aware of the certainty of his obtaining that promotion if he lived, and he might have sold his commission in the Guards; and if he had sold it, the commission would have been disposed of by purchase, and Colonel Hardinge would have purchased the step. Colonel Upton, however, took a different course, not certainly at the suggestion of Lord Hardinge; he chose to retain his colonelcy in the Guards, and by the death of three general officers he became a major general, and Colonel Hardinge, in the usual way, succeeded to the vacant commission according to the established rule of the service. Such were the plain and simple facts of the case. The hon. Member for Aylesbury had said that honesty was the best policy. He (Mr. Peel) felt that the Government of this country had been carried on upon principles of honesty and honour. He gave the hon. Gentleman credit for being an honest man, and he thought that it was the part of an honest man, now that it had been shown that the statements made by him at Liverpool were not in accordance with the facts of the case, to come forward manfully and to admit that that he had made statements injurious to public men, who were at honourable in their actions, and as ready at any moment to lay bare their motives as the hon. Member himself, or as any other hon. Member of that House.


Sir, I will address myself first to the question placed on the paper by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart). I beg to assure that hon. Member that in the passage in my speech to which he has referred, I had no intention to make any reflection upon his gallant relative, nor do I think any person who heard me believed that I had any such intention. On the contrary, what I stated was rather a matter of praise to him, for the very fact of having taken a first-class at Sandhurst was evidence to me that the Government had no hand in his promotion. ["Oh, oh!"] I repeat that I intended to cast no reflection upon that officer; and at the time I did not know that he was a relation of the hon. Gentleman. With regard to the statement I then made as to the number of persons on the staff who had taken honours at Sandhurst, I fell into an error in the manner described by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War. But I think the Government are a good deal to blame for the error into which I fell. If their returns are so ill drawn up that names are omitted from them, and then, on account of their gross omissions, questions are made and other Returns are then prepared, I say Government is to blame. I did not see the first Return. The second Return alone fell into my hands; and although it is a supplemental Return, it is not so headed on the sheet.


It is headed "Supplemental Return."


It was not on the face of the Return.


(showing the Return): Yes; it was on the face of the Return.


Well, I did notice it, but I frankly admit that I fell into the error from not having seen the first Return, and I think, as I have said, that Government are equally responsible with myself for the error. [Loud Cries of "Oh, oh!"] The House may say, "Oh, oh!" but if it possessed the information which I possess, it would know how Returns are cooked up to suit the purposes of Government, and if I have been led into error by the omission of a name in a Return, Government must share the responsibility with me. Now, with regard to the second statement made by the hon. Member opposite (M. H. Baring)—these matters are, no doubt, of a very painful and delicate nature. There are few men in this House who dare get up to speak the truth on this subject. There are very few officers who, when such questions as these are mooted, dare speak the truth with respect to them. If hon. Gentlemen had seen the letters on this subject that I have received during the last few days. [Cries of "Read!"] No, I shall not. [Cries of "Name!"] Nor shall I name them. To name the writers here, would be ruin to those officers, and you know it very well. I stand here prepared to take upon myself the responsibility of what has occurred. I shrink not from it. I had no knowledge of the various rules that apply to promotions in the army. I stated nothing but facts, forming my own opinion upon them. I may get indirect evidence and information on which I may guide my own judgment; but I am not going here to betray those who have given me that information, and who perhaps would be ruined, if it were known whence my information came. Now, in the first place, with respect to the use of the word "staff," in the letter of mine which has been referred to, I did not mean by it to make any reflection upon Colonel Hardinge or Lord Burghersh. I had a list given me by a military man, and that I have printed. I certainly wish I had added a statement of the services of the officers who have been referred to. With regard to Colonel Hardinge, I have had the honour of a personal acquaintance with him. I believe that there is not a more gallant and meritorious officer in Her Majesty's service. I know that he has distinguished himself on more than one bloody field, and there is no one whose promotion I would more heartily welcome. [Ironical Cheers.] It is all very well to question my feelings on this subject, but I am conscientiously stating them. The question is not one of persons. I do not grudge Colonel Hardinge his promotion; but what I say is, that the promotion extended to Colonel Hardinge might be extended to others who may have distinguished themselves—not so much, perhaps, as Colonel Hardinge, but still who have distinguished themselves in the field. I venture to claim, and I think I have a right to claim, the indulgence of the House while I endeavour to show the grounds upon which I have acted. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (General Peel) has read three letters, forming part of a correspondence which has taken place between Lord Hardinge and myself, and I will now complete that correspondence by reading the last letter. That letter was as follows— 9, Little Ryder-street, April 27, 1855. My Lord—I cannot permit your letter to remain unanswered. I did not state, although you have thought proper so to assert, that 'the rule applied by you in Lieutenant-Colonel M'Kinnon's case, had been violated in others.' What I did state was, that 'such rules, that is, rules of similar character, had been distinctly violated.' I referred more particularly to the cases of Captain Heneage and Captain Lord E. Cecil, of the same regiment, although I am assured that similar cases are most numerous. After the tone of your letter and my convictions, I perfectly agree with you that it is a waste of time to hold any further correspondence, especially with one who at such a time as this can justify the cases to which I have alluded, and which have created so deep a feeling of indignation in the public mind. Your Lordship is quite at liberty to publish this correspondence, and I reseve to myself the right of doing so should I consider it necessary. I have the honour to be, my Lord, "Your obedient servant, A. LAYARD. It has been said by the hon. gentleman opposite, that there is a mixture of chance in regard to promotion in the army; but if we saw among a party of gamblers that one of them invariably turned up double sixes, would it not be fair to suspect that the dice had been tampered with? It is true that there are these chances, but I find that the happiest of them generally fall to the lot of those who have the least need of them, namely, those of either high connexion or party influence. That question I shall shortly bring before the House in the most extended form, and I think the country is fully prepared for its discussion. The country, I believe, is in no mood that admits of its feeling on this subject being trifled with—a feeling which extends to every branch of the public service. The public interest is sacrificed in every department of the State to private and party influences. Let me take for example the case of the two gentlemen whom I mentioned in my note. One is a gentleman named Heneage, who has two relatives in this House. He entered the army in December, 1853, and joined his regiment in February, 1854, or two months afterwards. He arrived in the Crimea with the draughts sent out in the autumn, and was present neither at the Alma nor at Inkerman. Yet he got a captaincy, without purchase, within ten months after his appointment, that is, in December, 1855—I mean 1854. (Ironical cheers from Mr. H. BERKELEY.) The hon. Gentleman is evidently eager to catch a cheer from anything, but his cheers are not creditable to the Ministerial benches. It is said to be an inviolable rule that no man shall be promoted to a captaincy until after two years' service. Well, if Captain Heneage had distinguished himself, I would be the last man to complain that an exception had been made to a general rule in his favour; but when I see this rule deviated from in this case and in several others, I say you have no right to talk of your inviolable rules. Again, Lord Eustace Cecil entered the army in November, 1851, and, without undergoing service, was selected in December, 1854, for a captaincy in the Guards. (Cries of "Ques- tion!") The Ministerial benches call "Question!" and, when I am answering your assertion about an inflexible rule, you won't allow me to show you that, where private interest is at stake, you care not a jot about your so called inviolable rule. Well, what happens? On the other hand, Lieutenant Blackett, of the 93rd Regiment, I believe was in all the actions in the Crimea, and recommended for good service to the Government; and what is the result? He is transferred to the Guards, and though he had seen eleven years' service he is placed below this Captain Heneage and Captain Lord Eustace Cecil—one of whom had only served eleven months and the other between two or three years. Now, I hold myself responsible for these accusations, and, as I told Lord Hardinge, am not prepared to retract them. I only wish that we could go fully into this question, and that we had power to examine several officers in the army upon it. I wish I could call Colonel Crombie to give his evidence. That officer, I have been given to understand, was compelled to resign, that two others beneath him might be advanced—Lord Burghersh and Lord Hardinge's son—and, as I am informed, he was not apprised that he had been put upon half-pay until he saw the notice of it in the Gazette. So much for individual cases. A man in my position has a difficult part to play, being obliged to obtain his information as best he may from what he believes to be good sources. He may, therefore, make an occasional mistake, and I dare say I may here be mistaken; but if I have done wrong to any individual I shall be the first in this House to get up and acknowledge it. But such is the present state of things, that there is scarcely an appointment in the army or elsewhere which, if the public looks into it, it does not at once find to be connected with the persons making it. Only three days ago I saw by the Gazette that a colonel of the staff had been named a general officer in the Turkish Contingent with local rank; and, feeling that there must be some cause for this, when I turned to the Army List and other sources, I found that the individual is Colonel Cuninghame, on the staff, who married a daughter of Lord Hardinge. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen may laugh, but, when these things are of daily occurrence, they justify the prevalent suspicion on the part of the public. Moreover, at a moment like the present, when the army is in such a critical position, and when disgrace—I am obliged to say—disgrace has fallen on the country, I say the people of England are in no temper to tolerate the approximation to what I may call "gross jobs." I may just observe that Colonel Wilson was not aware of the existence of this "inviolable rule" in regard to himself. Such, then, is my statement to this House. I will not retract what I have said, because from the bottom of my soul I believe it to be true. I am convinced that if men dared to get up in this House and declare what they believed, they would admit that there is some truth in what I have stated, for most of us must know that family and party influence has much to do with these promotions. As to Colonel Wilson, he is in no way to be blamed for what I have done. I rest my case upon the Army List, and take upon myself the entire responsibility.


I wish to say that I cannot add one word to what has fallen from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), or from my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for War. I feel that I should only weaken the able manner in which they have dealt with the case were I to follow them into that part of the question; but with respect to what has fallen from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) as regards a gallant relative of mine, Colonel Cuninghame, Brigadier General of the Turkish Contingent, that hon. Gentleman has ventured to characterise his appointment as neither more nor less than a job. Now, I must remark that Colonel Cuninghame has seen service in the Chinese campaign under Lord Gough, that he was at Alma and Inkerman on the Quartermaster General's staff; and I venture to say that if you were to ask my Lord Raglan or his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, to whose division he was attached, they would tell you that Colonel Cuninghame is a most excellent officer. Therefore, when the hon. Member for Aylesbury throws in my teeth the appointment of Colonel Cuninghame, I reply that my relative has justly and deservedly received his promotion, and defy him to call it in question. The hon. Member for Aylesbury, in his speech at Liverpool, seems to have dealt in inaccuracies of no common order. He said no officer had been appointed to the staff in the Crimea who had taken a first-class certificate at Sandhurst, with one exception—namely, Major Ewart. Now, Major Ewart is a most excellent officer, and owes his appointment to his merits alone; but it so happens that Major Ewart did not take a first-class certificate, although he got what is called a special certificate for proficiency. There are no less than five gallant officers on the staff in the Crimea now who took first-class certificates at Sandhurst, and I will name them. They are—Colonel Cameron, Colonel Stirling, Major Hacket, Major Morris, and Major Sankey. Sir, I have done with the hon. Member for Aylesbury. I will leave this matter in the hands of the House, who will doubtless form their own opinion as to who is right and who is wrong, and whether or not the transaction alluded to is scandalous.


said, that those who were acquainted with the rules of the army knew that the appointments and promotions in the three regiments of Foot Guards did not rest with the Commander in Chief, but with the colonels of those regiments. He was authorised by Lord Strafford, the colonel of the Coldstream Guards, to say that whatever responsibility attached to the appointments and promotions which had been so much canvassed, rested with him, and him alone; and that he was fully prepared at all times and all seasons to justify them, according to the existing military regulations and the well-known precedents applicable to each individual case.


said, the hon. Member for Aylesbury had been asked either to retract what was alleged by him against Lord Hardinge, or else to explain in what manner in this particular case of promotion his Lordship had been guilty of maladministration. Instead of doing this, however, the hon. Gentleman had carefully avoided addressing himself to the case in point, but had dealt in vague generalities; and though he told the House he would not retract, yet he had never attempted to show how Lord Hardinge had had the slightest influence upon his son's promotion. Having addressed himself to this question in the public journals, he (Colonel Lindsay) would not trouble the House with any further remarks upon this subject, except to reiterate all that he had therein stated. The hon. Member had accused the Horse Guards of giving promotion to Captain Heneage, who, he said, was not at the battle of Inkerman. He (Colonel Lindsay) believed it would be found that, if Captain Heneage was not at the battle of Inkerman, it was because at the time he was serving his country in the trenches or elsewhere, and that since this period the gallant officer in question had been constantly under the fire of the enemy. The hon. Member alleged that the rule had been broken through in this instance. Now, the facts were these—At the commencement of the war Captain Heneage was the junior ensign. By mortality, brevet, and other causes, the whole of the ensigns were swept off, and Captain Heneage was left at the top of the list, though at the time he had only seen one year's service. As, however, he had been under the fire of the enemy, Lord Strafford obtained sanction for his promotion, which thus took place contrary to what was then established as the rule of the service—namely, two years' service. This promotion, however, would not have taken place if it had not been for the services of Captain Heneage. With regard to Lord Eustace Cecil, the circumstances were these—A gentleman called upon Lord Stratfford and informed him that Lord Eustace Cecil was most anxious to see service. He told him that when the 43rd were engaged at the Cape of Good Hope, Lord Eustace had then exchanged for the purpose of seeing service, but, unfortunately for him, active service had ended when his Lordship arrived there. The 43rd were then sent out to India, and while they were in that country the war broke out. Lord Eustace Cecil, still anxious to see service, endeavoured to exchange into a regiment at the seat of war, and accordingly exchanged into the 88th; and Lord Strafford considered this so meritorious that he gave him a commission in his regiment of the Guards. Now, Lord Eustace Cecil happened to be the son of the Marquess of Salisbury; but he (Colonel Lindsay) had it from Lord Strafford that, though he was undoubtedly acquainted with the noble Marquess as a Member of the House of Peers, he was also politically opposed to the Marquess of Salisbury, who had nothing whatever to do with the matter, and that Lord Strafford gave his son a commission simply because he appeared to be an officer anxious to see service and to distinguish himself. He (Colonel Lindsay) ought to have said previously, that, owing to the extreme rapidity of promotion in the Coldstreams, eleven officers had, in the course of the last year, been brought into that corps from other regiments, to reward them for their conduct at the sent of war. He must say that, to use the mildest terms, he thought it somewhat unfair that an hon. Gentleman should go down into the country attempting to excite the public sympathies and to justify his opposition to the system of promotions then in force by assertions and accusations every one of which were without the slightest foundation.


said, he only rose to supply an omission made in enumerating the services of Lord Burghersh—namely, with regard to the conduct of that gallant officer in India. At the battle of Chillianwallah, Lord Burghersh served as aide-de-camp to the Governor General of India. Owing to the great mortality of the officers in the 24th Regiment in that battle, his Lordship immediately gave up his staff appointment for the purpose of joining the 24th until fresh officers were appointed. He joined the 24th in time to serve at the battle of Goojerat, since which he had served with credit in the Crimea. As regarded the general system of appointments, he would refer to the case of Major Addison, who was entirely indebted for his present position upon the staff to his talents, and not to his political influence or family connections. Again, Colonel Cuninghame, before his appointment to the Turkish Contingent, had served as assistant quartermaster general to one of the divisions of our army in the East, and was most highly spoken of by the Duke of Cambridge and by Lord Raglan. Hon. Members were accustomed in that House to speak of one another in rather free language, because they had an opportunity of answering such attacks; but he questioned the good taste and the chivalrous feeling of the man who took advantage of a public dinner to heap the utmost obloquy upon individuals who had no means of reply. He would advise the hon. Member for Aylesbury, if he wished to retain the good opinion of his countrymen, to adopt that love of fair play which was the characteristic of Englishmen, and to institute proper inquiries before making these unfounded assertions.


said, he was sorry to say that the present was not the first time that the hon. Member for Aylesbury had made unfair attacks upon gallant officers both of the army and navy. Upon a former occasion he thought proper to traduce the character of a gallant admiral, and his object now was to do the same towards the Commander in Chief. These systematic attacks were not without a purpose, and yet nothing could be more derogatory to the respectability of that House than for an hon. Member to pursue such a course of conduct. He begged to tell the hon. Member for Aylesbury that Colonel Cuninghame was a personal friend of his, and that there was not a word of truth in his statement with regard to that gallant officer. Yet the hon. Member had the temerity and the impudence to rise in his place—


Sir, I rise to order. Surely that is language not suitable to this House.


The hon. and gallant Member has used a word quite unparliamentary.


I would be sorry to use any expression which may be deemed unparliamentary; but I cannot find language sufficiently strong to reprobate the conduct of the hon. Member for Aylesbury. Still, Sir, I am ready to withdraw any expression which you may consider to be improper; but I really do think that the hon. Member should not, without acquainting himself with the circumstances—to put it in the mildest way—venture to asperse the character and conduct of gallant officers both in the army and navy.


said, he would put it to the House whether the discussion as to military promotions ought not to cease. A notice stood in his name on the paper, to the effect that he intended to ask the First Lord of the Treasury what was the opinion of the Government with reference to Lord Dundonald's plan for the destruction of the Russian fortresses, but he had been requested by Lord Dundonald to postpone the question until Monday next, upon which day he would accordingly put it.


Sir, I cannot but express the deep regret which I feel, and which I am sure is partaken by the majority of this House, at the position in which the hon. Member for Aylesbury has this evening placed himself. Every man is at full liberty—and he does but perform his duty in exercising that liberty—to bring forward against public men any charge in respect to which he feels that he stands on good grounds, and in justification of which he can bring forward proofs which will honestly convince himself and any reasonable man that his charges are founded upon fact. The hon. Member for Aylesbury was, no doubt, perfectly justified in making the charges which he has brought forward against my noble Friend at the head of the army, if his conscientious impressions led him to believe that he had good grounds for the accusations; but, after the proofs and de- monstrations which have been this evening laid before the House, that there was not a shadow of foundation for those charges—after every reasonable man must have been convinced that those charges were false and calumnious, I cannot but think that the hon. Gentleman would have pursued a course more honourable to himself if he had—


said, he rose to order. He was a young Member of the House, but he respectfully submitted that the noble Viscount had used words which were altogether unparliamentary, when he charged another Member with stating that which was "false and calumnious." Only that very evening an hon. Member opposite (Colonel Knox) had already been obliged to retract similar expressions—and he (Mr. Otway) hoped that as long as the present Speaker presided over the deliberations of that House, the noble Viscount would not be permitted to indulge in such language. [Cries of "Order," and much excitement.]


What I understood the noble Viscount to say was, that the charges" made by the hon. Member for Aylesbury were false and calumnious.


Sir, I repeat what I was about to say, that when it was proved that the charges which had been made through the hon. Member—if he wishes it to be put in that manner—were utterly false and calumnious, I should have expected that a due regard for himself and for this House would have impelled the hon. Member to acknowledge that he had been misled in this matter, and induced him to bear an honourable testimony to the high character and services of that distinguished individual whom his erroneous statements were intended to disparage. In this expectation I have been disappointed. The hon. Gentleman bas brought charges against a man and against a class. He has brought charges against my noble Friend at the head of the army, which, I repeat, are unfounded and calumnious. No doubt the hon. Gentleman has been made the mouthpiece of others, who wish to undermine and overthrow the character of that distinguished man. Lord Hardinge is not a man who has risen either by favour or by accident to the situation which he so honourably fills. Lord Hardinge is essentially a soldier. He has won his way to the illustrious position which he holds through many a long campaign—through many a hard- fought battle. He has shed his blood upon the field of action, and there is no man who, by his long experience and his splendid services, was pointed out more preeminently than he for the proud and honourable position in which he has been placed. He was placed in that position, not by the present Government, but by another Government, of whom I will say that they did themselves honour by the selection they made. Was it likely that a man who owes his position, as Lord Hardinge does, to merit and long services—who has passed his life with soldiers—who has seen them in every climate throughout the globe—in every position, of camp, of battle, of march, of fatigue, and of danger, whether from the foe or from disease—was it likely, I ask, that such a man should have his feelings so perverted, by the power he possesses, as to be induced, by some trumpery motive of private favour, personal objection, or political influence, to undermine the character of that army with whose glory his own fame is identified, and upon whose efficiency his own honour must depend? I say, that the charges against my noble and gallant Friend are as unfounded in fact as they are utterly without even a colourable pretext in their favour. But the hon. Member for Aylesbury has also attacked a class. He complains that the army is filled with the sons and relatives of the aristocracy; and he says that it is a shame and a grievance that it should be so. Now, I say quite the contrary. I contend that is to the honour of the aristocracy that they throw themselves into the ranks of the army, and into the lists of the navy; and that when danger is to be incurred, and the safety of the country to be defended, they are foremost in the field of honour, and ever most zealous to uphold the dignity and glory of their country. Depend upon it, that when the day arrives, if it ever shall arrive, when the aristocracy of a great nation shall shrink from partaking in the dangers and honours of her defence, and shall seek amid the pleasures of private life to spend their days in luxury and idleness, instead of enduring the dangers and honours of the battle-field and the fatigues of the campaign—depend upon it, that when you see a country reduced to that situation, you may then predict its fall—then, indeed, you may raise your voice against a class so little deserving of the respect of their native land—you may then say that abuses do indeed exist—and you may then, with some show of reason, attempt to excite popular odium against the aristocracy. I am proud to say that that reproach cannot be cast upon the upper classes of England; and, so far am I from being of opinion that the acts to which the hon. Gentleman has alluded are acts which imply a censure on the aristocracy, that, for my part, I accept them as so many testimonies of the public spirit and the manly feeling which characterise the gentlemen of this great country.

Subject dropped.

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