§ On the Motion that Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair upon the Order of the Day for going into Committee of Supply on the Army Estimates,
§ MR. LAYARD
Sir, I trust the House will grant me its kind indulgence while I make a few remarks upon the present aspect of public affairs. Under ordinary circumstances I would not have made such an appeal, but I hope the House will, with its usual kindness, extend to me the indulgence I ask, bearing in mind the deep interest which I have taken in the question which now agitates the country, and my conviction that the present is a most momentous crisis. It was not my intention to raise a debate this evening, but rather to avail myself of the opportunity which would have been offered when the House was called upon to nominate the Committee moved for by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, but I have heard that it is not impossible that some arrangement may be made between my hon. and learned Friend and the Government which will preclude the House from discussing any question that might otherwise have reasonably been brought before it on that occasion. Feeling as I do that the country would not be satisfied if, at a moment like this, an opportunity were not given, at least, to some Members of the 1515 House of expressing their opinions upon the present state of affairs, I think that no better occasion could arise than the present, when we are called upon to vote little less than the sum of 7,500,000l. for the support, the maintenance, and the recruiting of our army, an army, be it remembered, for which almost an equal sum was voted last year—which had been sent out unequalled in discipline, and possessed of everything requisite to render it victorious in the field—and which has dwindled down to little more than 12,000 men, notwithstanding a statement to the contrary which has been made by some members of Her Majesty's Government. Under these circumstances, I feel it imperatively necessary to call the attention of the country to the present state of affairs, for it is my firm conviction that we may be standing upon the very brink of ruin, some may be even inclined to think that we are already falling into the abyss of disgrace. I almost feel degraded in my own eyes, that last year I did not speak out more boldly —that I was restrained from stating those convictions to the House which were working in my mind, and which I should have made known had I not been influenced by a variety of considerations. I trust, therefore, that the House will bear with me while I make one or two remarks upon the actual condition of the Government as it stands.
A short time ago my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck) proposed a Committee of inquiry into the condition of our troops before Sebastopol, and into the conduct of those who had had the management of the present war. That Motion was received on the part of the then Government, not so much as one that might be inconvenient if carried, but as a Motion that involved a direct censure on the members of that Government. That was the challenge thrown out to the House and the country, and both the House and the country accepted it. Not only was that distinctly understood, but every member of Her Majesty's Government who rose in his place upon that occasion stated that the Motion was considered not as a vote of censure upon any one individual member of the Government, but upon the Government as a whole. That challenge, also, was accepted. Now, what was the result? The Motion was carried by, perhaps, one of the largest majorities ever obtained in this House upon a question of such magnitude —it was carried by a majority of more than two to one. The country felt no 1516 doubt as to that result. I know hon. Members who voted for that Motion, who, personally, would rather have opposed it, but were compelled to support it on account of the feeling which pervaded the country. I also know there were some hon. Members who voted against that Motion, the pleasure of whose company, in consequence of that vote, we shall most certainly lose in a future Parliament. In fact, there was but one expression of opinion throughout the country. The Government consequently went out, and for some days it was found impossible to form an Administration. To the causes of that difficulty I will not now advert, although I may do so at a future period. After some days had elapsed the noble Lord now at the head of the Government succeeded in forming an Administration. What then do we see? We find that Administration composed almost identically of the same individuals as the late Government. Under ordinary circumstances, perhaps, in the straits to which the country is now reduced, such an Administration might have been accepted without much remark, but when we are called upon to trust to that Government the conduct of one of the greatest wars in which this country has ever been engaged—when we are called upon to vote large sums for the support of an army which has been reduced to but a fraction of what it was—when Parliament is thus asked to place confidence in the Government, it behoves the House to inquire what that Government is, and what it has done to merit the confidence of the country. It has been said, the same men did not fill the same offices now as heretofore. It is true some changes have been made, but others which might have been desired have not been made. Now, let the House consider how far those Members of the Cabinet who have been retained are deserving of the confidence of the country.
The House was told a few nights since by an hon. Member (Mr. B. Osborne) that even the hon. Member for Aylesbury had not dared to attack the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Admiralty. Now, that hon. Gentleman must have a very short memory, for it certainly was surprising to hear such a challenge after what had passed over and over again in this House upon two of the most important subjects which could be mentioned in connection with the war—namely, the question of blockade and the question of the transport service. Has not the question of blockade been managed 1517 by the Admiralty in such a way as to cause immense mischief, and was it not one of the principal causes of our present difficulties? As to the transport service, have not hon. Members risen over and over again in this House to complain of the utter confusion which existed in that service and the almost helpless condition of the transport system? How, then, could the hon. Gentleman say that his department, or rather the department presided over by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), had completely escaped all blame? Then, as to our diplomacy. I do not wish to say anything against the noble Lord who has the conduct of our Foreign Affairs, but, when challenged, it is the duty of every Member to discharge his duty to his constituents and the country without any false delicacy. There have been most serious mistakes made, in the course of this war, which have arisen, as I have always said, and still conscientiously believe, from the mismanagement of our diplomacy. Those melancholy, conferences at Vienna were a perfect disgrace to the diplomatic body. If a bolder diplomacy had been pursued we should not have been in the present state of war. With regard to the diplomatic service, I must remark that many appointments which have been made in it are not worthy of the country. I do not wish to mention names. I will only remind the House of a transaction between the Minister for Foreign Affairs, a Member of the diplomatic service, and a noble Lord who had retired from that service, whereby the noble Lord who had filled the highest post in the service, but who was from his age past service, was appointed to a mission by what the country called a "job." Such things ought nut to be passed over in silence. Then with regard to the conduct of Ministers representing great departments of State in this House, the people of this country wanted a little more truth —they desired that those who were intrusted with the Government should tell the truth. The country did not want any Member of the Government to give indiscreet answers to indiscreet questions, nor to betray the interests of the country by imprudent disclosures; but, if an hon. Member rose to ask a plain straightforward question, the country expected that a plain straightforward answer should be given, when the question was an important one which the Member was justified in putting. I have frequently asked whether a blockade existed, and was always told it 1518 did; but now, months afterwards, the Government admit by a new order that there has been no blockade. An hon. Gentleman had stated that there were only 12,000 effective men left in the Crimea. A right hon. Gentleman immediately answered that the number was 30,000. The Government, however, refused to show any document to support the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman, and afterwards it was admitted that the former was the more correct number. The country would not be satisfied with such a mode of dealing with these great subjects. When it was stated that our army was starving—that our men were feeding on French bread and clothed in French garments, the reply was made by some Member of the Government who told them that the army was revelling in luxuries and perfectly protected from the weather. The country, I again assert, will not be satisfied with those statements.
Then, I would ask, what has been the general policy of the Government? Some days before Christmas, Parliament was called together upon an emergency to vote upon two measures, the Militia Bill and the Foreign Enlistment Bill. I will allude, first of all, to the second measure. Hon. Members of that House were called upon to swallow all their declarations made upon the hustings, because they were told the Bill was one of the utmost importance and must be passed at once. The noble Lord, then the leader of the Government in that House (Lord J. Russell), made a speech of two hours' duration to prove that the Bill was warranted both in principle and by precedent. I did not vote on that Bill, and I believe that there are Members who did vote for it who now regret that they have done so. The Bill was passed, but I believe that scarcely a man has been engaged under its provisions. When the Bill was brought forward—giving the Government credit for what it was said they were particularly possessed of—administrative capacity and political foresight—it was supposed that they had the measure cut and dried for immediate operation. Not so; far from it; and even up to this moment it is not known how it is to be carried out, and upon what footing those persons whose services are accepted will be placed. The result is, that France has been engaging men, Germany has been placing her armies on a war footing—if not mobilising them, placing them in what is called a state of readiness for war—by which all the horses necessary, all the ambulances, are prepared, so that the armies 1519 could take the field at fourteen days' notice. Thus, then, this country would be unable to get men at all, or, if they did get men, they would be the scum of the Continent. Then with respect to German cavalry, two or three months ago a foreign gentleman suggested to the Government where the best horses could be obtained, but not a step had been taken in consequence of that information, and now the difficulty of obtaining horses was greatly increased, and it was very doubtful whether the Government would be able to obtain such a force at all. I see that the House is asked to permit the Government to raise 14,000 men abroad, upon which point I hope some information will be given, for I do not see any money asked for on that account. Then, with respect to Asia Minor, we have been told that large contracts would be made in that country, but the very gentleman whom I mentioned as best calculated to enter upon those contracts wrote to me only two days ago to say that months ago he offered contracts to the Government, which they refused. He then went to the French Government, who accepted them, and that gentleman was now buying up all the cattle that could be got for transport and consumption on account of the French Government, so that now it would be very difficult for this country to obtain those supplies in that quarter. Last year I suggested to the Government to take measures for the employment of Turks, who were admirable material for soldiers, although I must confess their present officers are bad. Those unfortunate men who have been employed with our army have been thrown into the Crimea without provision for their wants—they have been treated by our soldiers and officers in a manner which I regret exceedingly, and which was unworthy of English soldiers and English officers—they have been driven almost to death by the treatment they have experienced in the Crimea —they were regarded only as beasts of burden—were insulted and even struck by our men. Was this statement true, or was it not? If true, was that conduct sanctioned by the authorities out there, or by those at home—and had any steps been taken to put an end to such a system? I have lately been told that 20,000 Turks have been engaged to serve under British officers, but I cannot vouch for the fact. Such has been the past conduct—the "antecedents," as they were called—of those who compose, with one exception, the pre- 1520 sent Cabinet, and it is proper, therefore, to inquire upon what grounds the House can be called upon to declare its confidence in the new Administration. Supposing that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) pressed his Motion for the appointment of a Committee, what is to be done? I have already expressed my opinion of that Committee, to which opinion I adhere. If the Committee were honestly and fairly worked, going into full details, it must, to a certain extent, be injurious to the conduct of public business, more especially so if the conduct of those actually in the Administration is to be canvassed, because there are Members of the present Administration who were also Members of the late Administration, and who were consequently among those who were blamed for the present state of affairs. The House, therefore, would be, by its Committee, sitting in judgment on the present Administration. There is, however, one ground upon which hon. Members, perhaps, would be justified in agreeing to the withdrawal of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Committee. That would be if they saw new, untried men, in power, whilst the noble Lord at the head of the Government held out such a programme as would insure the confidence of the country. Then, no doubt, hon. Members would willingly vote with the Government, but how can they do so now, when they see the Cabinet placed on the same footing as it stood a few days since? It becomes again, then, a vote of confidence in the Administration; and am I to vote confidence to-day in those upon whom I voted censure but a week ago? It is said that there is a new programme; but is there anything in the programme which should induce the House to alter the decision at which it but a few days since arrived? What are the remedies which the noble Lord proposes? Does he propose to sweep away any existing evil; does he propose to cut at the bottom of any existing wrong; does he propose to recall any individual? No; but he proposes a series of Commissions to go out to inquire into the conduct of persons implicated. Surely we have sufficient facts before us to enable us to judge as to that without Commissions. Take the Commissariat for example—we know that we have a gentleman at the head of the Commissariat against whom I have nothing to say except that he is somewhere about seventy years of age, and that he was an eminent officer in the Peninsular war. Beyond 1521 that, we have this fact, that the Commissariat is in such a state that the men have been starved for want of food. Are not those two facts sufficient to authorise the recall of the man who is at the head of the Commissariat, without sending out a Commission to inquire who would, perhaps, allow him to continue his office with impunity for a month or two longer? Let hen. Members look at the medical department. It is nearly three months since a Commission was sent out to inquire into the state of the medical staff. The same state of things, however, still exists. Dr. Hall is still at the head of the Medical Staff; and Mr. Lawson, after being reprimanded for conduct which the Commander in Chief characterised as disgraceful, instead of being removed from his office, is sent first to Scutari, where lie is put at the head of the hospital, and has since been removed to Rhodes. At least, I asked a question upon the subject the other night, and not having received an answer, I suppose that statement to be true. Well, but will you gain anything more by the proposed Commission of Inquiry into the Commissariat than you have gained by that Medical Commission? Clearly not. Whom have you appointed to conduct this new Commission? I will not say one word against Sir John M'Neill, for I believe that no man in this country has shown greater ability than he has done. He is a man of the highest ability, one for whom I have the highest respect. I have seen him, and he said, that he went out upon this office because he believed that it was a sacred act of duty to go, and he could not refuse. But Sir John M'Neill is no longer a young man. His health is so bad that he has been compelled to refuse offices of high trust and consideration for which his eminent abilities fully qualified him, and he has now undertaken this kind of second-rate duty of going out to inquire into the misdoings of the Commissariat. But how, I ask, can he go into all the corners of the camp and cold, and damp, and dirt? Why, you cannot ask him to do it. I say that it is physically impossible for him to perform the duty which will be east upon him; and, like every other man employed by the late Government or the present Government—for they are the same thing—Sir John M'Neill will lose his well-earned reputation. He will not be able to cure the evil, and you will place upon his head the fault and the blame which ought to fall on others. You are going to send a 1522 Commission also to inquire into the transport system. I surely thought that we had evidence enough of that. Who is at the head of the transports at Balaklava? Captain Christie, an old gentleman upwards of sixty years of age—a gallant gentleman, no doubt; but he probably cannot leave his ship after dark for fear of a catarrh, which might endanger his existence. I know that he was often five or six days without being able to land at Balaklava. Are you surprised, then, that Balaklava harbour should be in the state it was; and do you want a Commission to inquire how old Captain Christie is, or what is the state of Balaklava? Why, there is not a boy in the streets of London who could not answer the last question for you, at all events. What we want are men, and not Commissions. Make up your mind to put. an end to this system at once, and to cut at the real root of the evil. Depend upon it you will be obliged to do it at last, for the country will ere long compel you.
When, at the time of the Revolution, the French army was reduced to that state to which our army is reduced, what did the French Assembly do They sent out their own Members, men who had no party considerations, who cared not for aristocratic influences, who went out determined to sacrifice those who were guilty, regardless of persons. They did so. The result was that in a few months that army achieved deeds which were unparalleled in the history of the world. Unless you adopt some more decisive measures than you have hitherto adopted—if you are to be satisfied with Commissions the country will take the matter into their own hands, have their own Commissioners, and compel you to do what the French National Assembly did. The country is sick of these Commissions; the country wants a man; do not let me be told that you cannot find a man—that is an insult to the common sense of the country. If your man, however, must be seventy years old, a member of Brookes's, and one who has always voted with the Government, I grant you that you may not find one of that class and stamp fitted for the duties which are required of him. But, when I see upon all sides of this great country works unequalled in magnitude since the beginning of the world; when I see men who from small means have risen to the position which they now enjoy; when I see around me an amount of money and internal resources which are unequalled in the history of the 1523 world—why, to tell me that you cannot find a man to put in order the harbour of Balaklava, or to bring it into a state of efficiency, is, I say, a positive insult to the common sense of this country. If you want the opinion of the army as to who ought to command them, you have only got to go to them with a ballot-box. If you went to the Artillery, for example, and said, "Now, every one write upon a piece of paper the name of the man whom he thinks most competent to command the Artillery, and put it into the ballot box;" there would be but one name come out. I would stake my existence upon it. Why, then, send Commissions to inquire whether this man is capable or that man? If you want to act vigorously do not send out despatches implying censure on a man, and then when you are asked whether he is recalled, say that he is not recalled, but that you have insulted him, and know that he must come home. Is that worthy of the country?—Is it manly?—Is it English? No. If a man is incompetent, recall him; but if he is not incompetent, let the Ministers have the manliness to say that he is not so, and stand by him. If you will do that, I undertake to say that the country will support you to a man.
Well, such are the propositions contained in the noble Lord's speech. I have perused it very carefully, and, with the exception of allowing Lord Raglan to be a kind of head scavenger, there appears to be nothing else proposed by the Government. Yes, there is one other thing. You are sending out General Simpson to look after the staff and to make alterations and reports. That is a great mistake. You cannot go on with such a system of divided authority. General Simpson may be the ablest military man that ever lived—he may be the man above all others whom you should have chosen for an appointment of this kind under other circumstances; but, I ask, is it fair to Lord Raglan—is it fair to the public service—to send out a man in the position of General Simpson? If you had in this country a regularly - organised staff, of which General Simpson was the head—having risen through all the grades of that staff, as the head of the staff in France rises—that would be another thing. But you make a new appointment; and you send out a man to look into the conduct of Lord Raglan's staff, the members of which he has appointed himself. Now, has Lord Raglan assented to this, or has he not?
1524 Does he admit that his staff is incompetent, or does he not? If he does admit that it is incompetent, why not send home the officers who compose it? But if he does not, how are you insulting him by sending out men to inquire into the state of it. Do not send out all these Commissions. If you must have inquiry, send out a man in whom you have confidence; and if he will not dine every day with the officers of the staff, but will do as I did, and go about and mix with the regimental officers and the soldiers, I will warrant that he will learn in a very few days where the real evil exists. So much for the actual measures suggested by the Government, for I see no other definite proposals beyond these. There is nothing said about the Horse Guards. I thought everybody admitted that that was a great sink of iniquity; and there is one hon. Gentleman in particular, the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) who with extraordinary zeal made a most telling speech against the system and his colleagues upon the subject. There is nothing, however, about a thorough reform of the Horse Guards in any proposition of the Government. I do not want to look at mere facts alone, but I want to look at principles—not that I wish the Government to say that in a few hours they will carry out those principles, but that they will be prepared in a general sense to act upon them. There is the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Huddersfield (Viscount Goderich) for instance, with regard to the system of promotion in the army; surely the Government might have said something about that. Depend upon it the country will not be satisfied with the appointment of sixty sergeants. They are no longer in a humour to take as a concession and a privilege that which they demand as a principle and a right. Unless a radical change is effected in the Horse Guards, depend upon it that the country will not be satisfied with anything that you may do. The Government themselves admit that the state of the army is desperate. I saw with considerable surprise a passage in a speech made recently by the right hon. Gentleman who till lately held the office of Secretary of War, and which is so remarkable that, perhaps, the House will permit me to read it. The right hon. Gentleman says—We have had that war to wage by the instrumentality of an army which is one of the finest and noblest that ever left the shores of England— 1525 which never met the enemy except to conquer, but which, I regret to say, has met with an enemy more fell and more dangerous to it than the actual foe—that is, disease.Is there nothing else which it has met with; is there no neglect—no maladministration which it has encountered?By which it has been crippled to a fearful extent, and has had to undergo privations and hardships which have been borne with a heroism almost unexampled, but which may be and must be attributed to causes that require searching investigation, in order that the proper remedy may be applied, and that the blame, if blame there be, should fall upon the right shoulders. This inquiry it behoves the Government to lose no time in instituting.This is rather a strange observation for a Member of the Government who has opposed all inquiry.It has been the fashion, perhaps too indiscriminately, to heap blame upon the heads of those who are themselves engaged in carrying on the operations in the Crimea; and I say to those who may think that this is deserved, that there are others besides those who have been engaged in those operations—that there are others besides those whose business it is to minister to the wants of our army who are to blame for these transactions. It is better upon these subjects always to speak plainly the whole truth, however unpalatable it may be, and therefore I say that many of those who have been the most forward to decry what has been done, and to censure those who have been charged with its execution, have been apt to forget how much may be their own share of that blame which ought to be ascribed to those through whose errors those evils have unfortunately happened.He then goes on to insinuate that it is to the House of Commons refusing to support an army equal to the emergencies of the public service that this state of things is to be attributed. Now, I will willingly meet that right hon. Gentleman upon those grounds. It is very easy to throw the blame from one person to another. The general in command in the Crimea says that he is crippled by the authorities at home. The Government at home say that he does not pursue the instructions which are sent out to him. He throws it upon the regimental officers. The right hon. Gentleman says that the soldiers are to blame. Every one concerned blames every one else, and, at last, all agree to blame the House of Commons. Well, let us investigate the accuracy of that charge. If it be the House of Commons that is to blame, let the people of this country force the House of Commons to do its duty. I, for one, do not believe that the blame is to be attributed to the House of Commons. I see by the Estimates that this House has, year after year, voted sums of money 1526 almost sufficient to support the armies of France, or any other of the other great continental Powers. It is not, then, the fault of the House of Commons, but it is to the maladministration of the money which has been voted by the House of Commons that the real blame is to be attributed. I do not believe that the most urgent Reformer has ever objected to a vote taken for a good purpose — no man objects to such votes; but what is objected to, is the system of favouritism and the general system at the Horse Guards. If the noble Lord at the head of the Government intends to act on similar principles, how can he ask for the confidence and support of those who feel that all this misery, that the heartrending and horrible condition of our army, is mainly owing to the state of things at the Horse Guards? I will tell the House where the mischief lies. There is, in the first place, a general fear of taking any responsibility; every one is afraid to act with vigour, and, with the permission of the House, I will mention two anecdotes to illustrate my position: One day, as I was going up to the lines of the army, in company with a gallant officer, we met a number of carts containing men suffering from disease and wounds, some of whom had actually died on the passage down, and with that convoy there were only two or three guards—privates of the line. The gallant officer who was with me was astounded that there was no medical man in charge of so many wounded and sick men. He went and requested Lord Raglan to see that convoy. Lord Raglan expressed that indignation which every honourable and humane man must feel at such a circumstance, and he instituted an inquiry. It was found that the medical man and officers had neglected their duty, and Lord Raglan published a general order, in which he stated that the conduct of certain persons had been disgraceful, but he added that he would spare their feelings and not mention their names. I can honour and reverence those feelings in a man, but I cannot honour or reverence such feelings in a general. What was the result? Why, I will tell the House. Two days afterwards, some of the marines having been landed from the fleet and put under the command of the Colonel who had the charge of Balaklava, they were employed upon the same duty as the troops of the line. At night, while on guard, one of the men was seized with cholera, and was taken to the hospital, but the medical man refused to leave his bed, saying that 1527 the man could not be admitted, as he was a marine. He was then taken to another hospital, where he was also refused admittance, and as the guard could not leave their post, the poor fellow was left upon the shore to die. That circumstance came to the notice of Lord Raglan, and what course did he adopt? He condemned the medical officers, but said that he had recently issued a general order reflecting on the conduct of medical officers, and if he so soon issued another the confidence of the army in the medical staff would be destroyed. I do not want to say a single word against Lord Raglan. I believe Lord Raglan to be an amiable and a good man; but what I say is, that it is not for amiable and good men alone to command armies. The men to command armies should be men of iron will and unflinching determination—men ready to sacrifice relations, private friends—even all they hold dear in the world, if it be necessary to do so, in order to perform what is an imperative duty. If you go on in the way you have commenced, depend upon it—before very few months have elapsed there will be but a very small remnant of that gallant army. Commissions will only increase the evil, and shelter those who ought to be called to account for their misdeeds. Send out a man of vigour who will cut at the root of the evil, who will spare no one or nothing if he deems it to be his duty to cut it down. If you do so at once, there may be a chance of saving the survivors of your gallant army; if you do not, they will all perish, and on your heads be their blood.
I have been told by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies that the British Army is not accustomed to great campaigns, and that we cannot, therefore, do that which can be done by the French. Well, Sir, that is not true. I do not, mean to impugn the right hon. Gentleman's veracity; but what I mean is, that the assumption is false. Are not our campaigns and battles in India greater than those of the French in Algeria? Has there been a battle in Algeria to be compared with that of Sobraon, or a campaign greater than that of Affghanistan? Are the services of men engaged in such campaigns to be surpassed by those of men who have spent their lives in idleness? Through a mean and paltry jealousy you do not employ men who have saved your colonies, who have maintained the dignity of the country, and who have safely extricated armies from 1528 situations of great peril. And why not? Because they are not in the service of the Crown, but take pay from the East India Company. And for that reason you pass by men who have led their troops to glory, who have seen great campaigns, and you send out men of seventy years of age, who have never seen war, and who scarcely know how to put a regiment through its evolutions, but who happen to possess Parliamentary influence or family connection. Such a state of things in the present age is monstrous—it is intolerable. I am told that by taking this course I am pulling down the aristocracy. That is not the case. I want to save the aristocracy. What did one of the ablest men in this country write three months ago? He wrote, "If this army perishes, depend upon it it will be the greatest blow ever struck at the aristocracy of this country." This country is coming to the opinion that you have sacrificed its dearest interests because you will not allow men of talent to come between you and your nobility, and you have raised a voice that will take more trouble to allay than you may think. It is said by some that the Times is raising this cry, as if there were magic in Printing-house Square. Perhaps Charles I. said that the revolution which he thought was ruining the country was the result of the Puritan preachers, not seeing that it was the revolution which made the Puritan preachers. It was not Rousseau or Voltaire who made the general feeling of the French people, but it was the general feeling of the French people that made them; and so now, it is not the Times which is causing the public indignation of the people of this country, but it is the public indignation of the people of this country which has forced the Times to adopt the course it has adopted. No, Sir; it is not the Times which has caused this indignation, it is the mismanagement of the Administration of this country which has taken place. Do you think that the Times would be what it is if it met your views—if it deceived the country as you deceive the country? If you want to have the position the Times has—if you want to be backed by the people of this country—do as the Times has done. Come forward boldly, and tell us what you yourselves think of the present state of affairs, not what you want others to think.
There are many other points upon which I should like to hear the opinion of the Government. We are told—and I believe the statement to be well founded—that a noble Lord the leader of the late Govern- 1529 ment in this House is going on a mission to Vienna; that he is to take a place once filled by Lord Castlereagh, but is he going to advocate the same principles as Lord Castlereagh? Are the "four points" to be the basis of negotiations? Do the Government now take the same views they took a few weeks ago, when we were told that the Cabinet was under the influence of the supporters of the head of the late Government? The noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown might have told us whether he was willing to accept peace on any terms—whether the country was going to engage in prolonged hostilities—whether it was proposed to engage on our behalf oppressed nationalities—whether the Circassians would be assisted by us or not—he might, in short, have conveyed some notion to time House of his foreign policy. The question is of such immense importance that we have a right to ask the noble Lord for plain and distinct information upon these points. How is our position with regard to France? I do not wish to enter into any subject which it would be dangerous to touch upon in a public assembly at a time like the present; but I would ask, does it never strike you that the people of England are placed in a position to bring upon them, on the part of our neighbours, feelings which we most dislike—feelings of contempt? Do you not feel that the country may bitterly rue what has happened, not on account of our own interest, but on account of time impression—the intolerable impression—made by it upon those who are, perhaps, enemies at heart, although they may now appear in the guise of friends? Does the Government forget that we occupy this position in the face of the world, with the eyes of all Europe upon us, and then do they hesitate in taking the necessary steps, or do they permit private, party, or family considerations to fetter their course of action? To do so would be to become a laughingstock to the whole world, and to show that we can no longer hold time high place we have held, but that we shall otter an easy prey to those who may seek our destruction. I hope the noble Lord will not consider me impertinent if I refer to Ids present position. No man had more general sympathy throughout England, or throughout Europe, than the noble Lord. As I have previously told hint, I have heard his name repeated in every variety of form throughout Europe; that came was a magic name, as the representative of tile great principles of liberty. That 1530 reputation was so bright that even the betrayed Sicilians and the betrayal of the cause of Italy in 1848 could not tarnish it; it had passed through every storm unblemished. He rose as no man hail ever risen before, and the whole of this House and the country were ready to support the noble Lord when he took office, because it was felt that in a moment of national difficulty he had undertaken a national task. Will the people of England now be satisfied with what has been done? It is the nature of the English people to be patient and long suffering; but the time comes when public feeling, with the force of a torrent, causes itself to be heard. It was so in the case of Roman Catholic Emancipation, of the Reform Bill, and of free trade. You may say now that the people are quiet, that the lake is still, but you have no security that it will continue so. A storm will arise, and, unless you do something to prevent it, not only you, but others besides you, will be shipwrecked. Sir, the state of public feeling at this moment I believe to be one which should be viewed with the greatest anxiety and pain by those who sit in this House. The country is not satisfied. The country, irrespective of men's qualifications at this moment, I believe, want to see whether they cannot be governed by something new. They do not wish to see the same parties in power over and over again. I have no doubt that a Cavendish in the Cabinet is a very important thing, but the public think more of 20,000 lives than they do of a Cavendish. It will not do. The people of England want thorough and I complete reform, and, if the noble Lord had thought of the wishes of Englishmen, we should have had a Cabinet which at least might have appealed to the House of Commons with some confidence for its support. I entreat the noble Lord to reflect once more, for his own sake and fur the sake of the people of this country. By continuing m his present course he will lose all confidence and all support. By turning from it he will save his own reputation and save this great nation.
said, he was not in the least surprised at the general feelings of indignation which prevailed out of doors as to the state of our army in the East after the manner in which it had been spoken of by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London and the lamentable accounts which reached this country through other channels. He thought, too, it was greatly to the credit of the country 1531 that this feeling had not been confined merely to those who had friends and relations in the army there, but that it was universal. No matter whether those near and dear to us formed part of that army, we all naturally shared in its glories and sympathised with it in its distresses and its misfortunes. We asked, "Can these things be? Can a British army, almost within sight of its own fleet, be suffering every privation and be wanting the common necessaries of life?" It was their duty first to inquire into the cause of these evils, and then to condemn the conduct of those through whose misconduct they had been brought about. The House of Commons, however, had reversed that principle. They had condemned in the first instance, and now they proposed to inquire. They had sacrificed a Prime Minister and a Secretary for War; and he could not, for the life of him, understand why the rest of the Cabinet should not have shared the same fate. He had voted against the Motion for inquiry; not as a mark of confidence in the Government, because he had not supported that Government, except to give it every assistance in his power to carry on the war. He believed that evils did exist in the management of the army, but his vote on that occasion was not one of confidence in the Government, but it was a vote of want of confidence in the tribunal to which they proposed to intrust this inquiry. He thought a Committee of Inquiry on this particular subject about the worst tribunal they could possibly create. He believed it to be unconstitutional, and, moreover, he believed it to be impracticable; and not only that, but he thought that House principally to blame in those transactions. The causes of the evils which were allowed to exist, and under which the army was suffering, were so plain and evident that no Committee of that House was wanted to inquire into them. The Government commenced a great war with inadequate means, and with those inadequate means they attempted more than any army could possibly execute. The cause of those evils was to be found in this—that from Lord Raglan down to the least drummer-boy in the army they had been called upon to perform a great deal more than they could carry out. The cause of the great mortality which had prevailed was that the men had been overworked and underfed. This was entirely borne out by the circumstance of the disproportion between the deaths of the officers and of the men.
1532 The noble Lord the Secretary for War said the other day that he could not account for this disproportion, but it was easily accounted for, and proved the truth of what he was advancing. The officers naturally were not subject to manual labour, and through their own greater command of resources had been better fed than the men. The consequence was, that the mortality among them had been less. This was fully confirmed by the accounts that came home as to the condition of the troops. The climate was healthy enough for those who had plenty of blankets and warm clothing, but to those who perhaps had only one blanket the climate was killing. Overwork, and want of proper food and proper clothing were, then, the cause of the sufferings of our army. It was next necessary to inquire to what these evils were owing. During the whole of last Session, night after night, it was pressed upon the Government to send out more troops to the East. Now, his impression was, that the first great mistake arose from sending out too many troops—more than the reduced state of our peace establishment admitted of. Whether this wish to send out as large a number of men as possible resulted from false pride or from jealousy of our noble allies he would not pause to inquire. The Government sent out in the first instance 27,000 men. To do that they were obliged to encourage volunteering from one regiment of the line into another. By-and-bye they were obliged to send out those regiments, and the consequence was that they went from this country with their efficiency seriously impaired. For example, three battalions of the Guards were sent out. In order to do this they had to draw strongly upon the others; and so, when they wanted to send out reinforcements, they found great difficulty in making up the numbers of another battalion. Now, it would have been far wiser, in the first instance, to have sent out some 10,000 or 15,000 men, and only to have attempted what some 10,000 or 15,000 men were able to accomplish. Instead of doing so, the Government sent out a considerably larger number, without corresponding power in the Commissariat and the medical departments. Now, what had happened with regard to our army in the Crimea? After the glorious battle of Alma the allied forces appeared before Sebastopol. They were at that time nearly equal in point of number, and the siege operations were divided between them. Their great object was to make the attack 1533 as soon as possible, before the Russians had received reinforcements. But after the battle of Inkerman our position was very different. The English troops were conducting the same amount of siege works as the French, with a daily diminishing army, while our allies, with their superior numbers, were able so to spare their men that they probably passed only one night out of four in the trenches, while our soldiers passed three out of four there. Lord Raglan then wrote home for reinforcements, and reinforcements were sent out, but they were composed of such young and unseasoned men that they rapidly died off or became unfit for service. That, no doubt, suggested to the Government the idea of looking elsewhere for men fitted for immediate service in the field; and they proposed the Foreign Enlistment Bill. What was the course taken by that House upon that Bill? Why, they made it a party question. Hon. Members took advantage of the natural feeling existing in this country against the employment of foreigners instead of Englishmen, and they endeavoured to procure the rejection of the Bill. Now, he was as much opposed as anybody could be to employing foreigners, but when Englishmen could not be procured, and it was absolutely necessary to get soldiers somewhere, he would take them wherever he could possibly lay his hands upon them. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) had talked about the blame of the existing evils being bandied about from one to another. Now, as to the army itself, he (General Peel) thought it was impossible to speak in sufficiently high terms of it, whether it was of its bravery in the field, or of the patience and endurance with which it had borne great sufferings and privations elsewhere. Nobody found fault with the army. But then hon. Members turned round and abused the system. Among them was the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, and, after what that hon. Gentleman had said, it certainly seemed surprising he should remain for one instant in office. Now he (General Peel) was of opinion that, as far as our regimental system had gone, and for the purposes for which it was applied, it was perfect. As far as our regimental system was concerned and our regimental officers he did not believe any army in the world could claim superiority to ours. But then it was said we had no able generals and no competent staff. Why, did not the House believe that here again it was our own fault? Did they not believe that these 1534 men who made such good regimental officers would make equally good generals and equally competent staff officers? To complain under such circumstances would be as if a man who kept only a gig should turn round upon his servant and complain because he could not drive four-in-hand. We never gave regimental officers an opportunity of qualifying themselves for more responsible duties, and, therefore, it was scarcely fair to complain of them. He implored the House to hesitate before sacrificing a system which, as far as it had been called upon, had, he believed, perfectly succeeded. The fact was that, if England was going to rival all the great military nations of the Continent, if we were going to pit ourselves against nations who could muster their hundreds of thousands of men, we must go to work in a very different manner. However much we admired a representative Government, the House might depend upon it they would never find anything equal to a despotic Government in carrying on a war. What General Bosquet said of the English cavalry charge at Balaklava might be said of the general result of our whole military system in the Crimea, "it is magnificent, but it is not war." He contended this war could not be adequately carried on by a representative Government. He was willing, for one, to make every sacrifice and use every possible exertion to bring the war to a happy and peaceful conclusion; and as soon as that end was obtained the sooner they returned to their peaceful position the better.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I should be the last man to blame anybody who should bring under the notice of this House any part of our administrative system, whether it be at home or abroad, which he may think has failed adequately to perform its functions, and which he may think ought, therefore, in any way to be improved. But, Sir, I do protest against the language which we have heard this evening from the hon. Member for Aylesbury, who, while he performs what he thinks a public duty, in pointing out what he considers to be errors and defects in the management of the army, says we have disgraced our country, tells us that we are the laughingstock of Europe, and has thought proper to mingle with his observations and recommendations what I must call vulgar declamation against the aristocracy of this country. Sir, I lament as deeply as the hon. Member or any man the sufferings of our brave army in the Crimea. 1535 I am as ready as any man to admit that those sufferings have in part been aggravated by a want of arrangement, and a want of proper management on the part of those who have had the administration of the details by which the wants of the army ought to have been provided for, but I must, in passing, say that it is a great mistake to suppose that these sufferings have been entirely confined to the British troops. Without speaking of our allies, who have certainly endured a great deal, I may say that I know, from pretty good authority, that in the camp of the Russians there are no less than 35,000 men in hospital, sick and wounded, in consequence of the results of the campaign. I say, then, that these sufferings, however they may have been increased by the want of arrangement and the want of proper management, have arisen in a great degree, if not principally, from causes beyond the power of man to control, considering the nature of the service in which the men have been engaged, and the inclemency of the weather to which they have been exposed. So far from feeling that the country stands lower in the estimation of the world in consequence of what has passed in the prosecution of this war, when I look, Sir, to the matchless bravery of the troops, when I look to the victories which they have achieved, and when I look to the share which the gentry and aristocracy of the country have taken in those conflicts, I say that, instead of feeling ashamed that my country stands lower in the estimation of the world, I feel proud of events from the merit of which the hon. Gentleman seeks to detract. Talk to me of the aristocracy of England! Why, look to that glorious charge of the cavalry at Balaklava —look to that charge, where the noblest and the wealthiest of the land rode foremost, followed by heroic men from the lowest classes of the community, each rivalling the other in bravery, neither the peer who led nor the trooper who followed being distinguished the one from the other. In that glorious band there were the sons of the gentry of England; leading were the noblest of the land, and following were the representatives of the people of this country. I say, if any instance be required to show that all classes of the country, from the highest to the lowest, enjoy in common those noblest qualities which dignify mankind, I would appeal to that gallant charge as an immortal proof of the glory of this country. Well, Sir, the hon. Gentleman has certainly followed a line of argument 1536 which has exceedingly surprised me. The hon. Gentleman, I believe, has consented to be a Member of the Committee proposed by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Roebuck), and he will of course vote for the appointment of that Committee. But what was the line of his argument? One of the lines of his argument was, that we, forsooth, are trifling with the interests of the country, trifling with the sufferings, and trifling with the sacred lives of the army, by sending out Commissions to the Crimea with full powers to act, to set right and to reorganise. And what is it he recommends? He approves the appointment of a Committee to examine witnesses, and send forth their Report in a blue book; and in preference to sending out Commissioners—some, indeed, have already gone out with full powers to inquire into and rectify, if possible, the very abuses and want of arrangement of which he complains—the hon. Gentleman proposes the example of the Committee of Safety of the French Revolution, and would have Commissioners sent out with powers to execute summary justice. Why, you might take the hon. Gentleman at his word, and if you were to add this instruction to the Committee, extending its functions, so that the Members thereof proceed instantly to the Crimea, and remain there during the rest of the Session, perhaps that would be satisfactory. Then, again, the hon. Gentleman says we have in some instances abstained from obtaining supplies from Asia Minor, which the French have been enabled to procure. I protest against this invidious distinction being drawn between two portions of the allied army, but I apprehend that Asia Minor may be found sufficiently large to furnish provisions both for English and French. Indeed, as I stated on a former occasion, arrangements have already been made to secure supplies from Sinope and its neighbourhood for the army in the Crimea. The hon. Gentleman, in his own argument, furnishes us with strong reasons against the conclusion to which he wishes the House to arrive. The hon. Gentleman says, the Government ought to have stated to the House what are the terms which my noble Friend the Member for the City of London is about to propose in the negotiations about to take place at Vienna. Why, Sir, this is the first time I ever heard it asked that we should, before entering into negotiations, explain fully to the adverse parties all the conditions we may be willing to ask, and all the conditions which, under 1537 certain circumstances, we may be willing to accept. I think if that was to be the course of negotiations which the hon. Gentleman might be appointed to conduct, I would much rather intrust them into the hands of my noble Friend the Member for the City of London. I think, if the course of policy advocated by the hon. Member were acted upon we should justly lay ourselves open to censure. But, Sir, the hon. Gentleman says that I have, between Friday night and Monday afternoon, fallen greatly in the confidence of the country, and the hon. Gentleman says that arises from the fact that I have not recommended to the Queen a Cabinet of a different complexion. Now, Sir, the hon. Gentleman omitted to state exactly how that Cabinet ought to be composed; but I hope he may have the goodness, in succession to the members of the proposed Committee, to add also the members of the proposed Cabinet. The House would then be able to judge between the Cabinet of the hon. Member and the Cabinet which it has been my duty to propose to the House and the country. Sir, I am not afraid of the denunciations thus made. I am confident that when the people of this country see a Government constituted upon the failure of two other attempts to form a Government, they will feel that the men who have thus undertaken the conduct of affairs have done so because they thought that the country ought not to be left without a Government. They will consider that those who have formed a Government have acted from a sense of public duty; they will believe that they have undertaken the conduct of affairs from honourable motives, and they will give the Government credit for a desire to perform their duties so as to advance the best interests of the country. It is hardly likely, from what may have been said betwixt Friday night and Monday morning, that the public would change their opinion, if it was an opinion such as the hon. Member says existed only at the close of last week. Sir, the Government presented themselves to the country for the purpose of carrying on to the best of their means, with adequate energy and vigour, a war in which the country found itself called upon to engage. We presented ourselves to the country with an earnest and honest intention of availing ourselves of the opportunity—if the opportunity be real—which has now offered itself of terminating the war by fair and honourable means. We will not present 1538 to the country, as a means of that end, a peace which we do not think safe and honourable to the country, which we do not think calculated to secure this country from the recurrence of those events which have compelled us to draw the sword, and which the country would not be glad to accept from any Administration. If we are enabled to accomplish such an end, we shall rejoice at having been the instruments of saving the country from the further efforts and sacrifices which the continuance of war would demand. But if, on the other hand, it should appear that the adversary with whom we are contending has not yet been brought to that temper of mind which will induce him to consent to those conditions upon which permanent peace can for the future be established, why then, Sir, we shall appeal with confidence to the country for support in those greater exertions which a continuance of the contest may impose upon us as a necessity; and, whatever may be said by the hon. Member for Aylesbury, or by others who may rise after me in debate, I feel confident that this country will give its support to a Government which honourably and honestly stands forward to do its duty in a moment of emergency—a Government which has not forced itself upon the country by any vote or Motion in this House, or by any Parliamentary manœuvre—a Government which has arisen in consequence of the failure of others who might, if they had chosen, have undertaken the work, but who shrank from doing it at the time when the offer was made to them. I do not mention this as reflecting blame upon them, but simply as the fact which led to the formation of the present Government. Two endeavours having been made to form a Government, and those two endeavours having failed, I should have thought myself a degraded man if I had not undertaken the task. I feel proud of the support which my hon. and noble Friends have afforded me. I throw myself with confidence upon the generosity of the country and of Parliament, and I am convinced that, if we do our duty—and we shall do our duty as long as we have the support of the country to enable us to do it—if we are enabled by the support of the country to do that which we conceive to be our duty, in spite of temporary reverses, in spite of the momentary aspect of affairs—we shall succeed in carrying matters to a successful issue, be it for peace now, or be it for 1539 peace hereafter; but, whether by negotiations now, or whether by force of arms afterwards, we shall be able to place this country upon that proud footing of future security which its greatness and its power so well entitle it to occupy.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he could not agree with the opinions which had been expressed by hon. Members that the failures which had taken place were in any way to be attributed to the want of means or resources on the part of this country. He considered that if those resources had been properly managed they were more than sufficient for the purpose they were intended to effect, and he thought the country had a right to demand some explanation of the reason why, when ample stores were accumulated within six miles of the camp, 20,000 of our soldiers had been lost for want of those supplies which might easily have been afforded them. The most ordinary precautions would have sufficed to place those resources which England had exhausted herself to furnish within reach of our army. No explanation had been given of the reason why those supplies had not been afforded; no punishment had been inflicted upon those to whom blame might attach; no inquiry had been made as to the reason why the stores which had been collected remained at Balaklava, while our troops were perishing for the want of them at a few miles' distance. He considered that the country had a right to insist upon some inquiry being made as to the cause of that failure. Not only had there been gross mismanagement in the Commissariat Department, but also with regard to the medical stores. What was the cause of the scandalous insufficiency of medical aid provided for the troops? How was it, when a medical officer was censured by his commanding officer on one day, that the next he was appointed to a situation of great trust? These were matters requiring strict investigation, which, thanks to the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, there was a chance they might now receive. He did not concur in the opinion of the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) that a country with a representative Government was ill adapted for carrying on war successfully, for the proposition was contradicted by the experience of European States. The most successful wars had been those in which the energies of free countries had been directed against overwhelming despotism. In- 1540 deed, the history of the United Provinces and of this country afforded a direct refutation of the hon. and gallant Member's doctrine. If a free country placed confidence in its Government, the people were entitled to ask how that confidence had been justified, and, when they found that the national efforts were unavailing, they had a right to inquire whether the confidence they had reposed in the Government had been abused. Would any one deny that such a right of inquiry had been exercised on previous occasions most beneficially in this country? What were the calamities of Walcheren compared with those which had recently occurred? Was there ever a time when inquiry was more loudly demanded and was more imperative than at present? He entertained no hostility to the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Indeed, there was much in that noble Lord's past conduct which he regarded with respect and admiration. He looked upon the noble Lord as having been for many years the champion of freedom and of representative institutions, but at the same time he could not conceal from himself that, with only one or two exceptions, the Government of the noble Lord was precisely that which the House had already condemned by a large majority. The noble Lord ought not to be surprised if hon. Members felt some hesitation in now reposing confidence in a Government which had been condemned by a large majority of that House only three weeks ago. Notwithstanding that, however, he would give the noble Lord the best support in his power so long as the war was carried on with firmness, vigour, and honesty of purpose, yet, seeing how the offices of the Government were filled, he could not avoid confessing that he could not place implicit confidence in the noble Lord's Administration. The right hon. Gentleman who was Secretary at War in the late Government was now Secretary for the Colonies; but he was still a Member of the Cabinet, and must, therefore, be consulted about the arrangements for carrying on the war. When he (Mr. Phillimore) recollected that that right hon. Gentleman had censured the regimental officers, and had praised the staff—when he recollected his plausible statements and the uniform contradiction those statements had received from facts, and saw him still holding an office of great importance and consideration, he felt it impossible to place full and implicit confidence in the present 1541 Government. At the same time, he would not offer any factious opposition to the Government, but would give his best support to any measures which appeared to him calculated to bring about what they all concurred in desiring—a just and honourable peace.
§ MR. WARNER
said, he was ready to support the Government in carrying on the war, and the more so because the noble Lord at the head of the present Administration possessed to an extraordinary degree the confidence of the public as a War Minister; but he (Mr. Warner) could not think that the explanations given by the noble Lord the other night and the remarks he had just made would be entirely satisfactory to the country. The unfortunate events which had taken place in the East had caused great excitement throughout the country, and the people had placed confidence in the noble Lord because they believed he was prepared to act with energy, and to cut up by the root whatever in the existing system was found to be defective. The duty of the Government was not to make a few paltry reforms, which was all the noble Lord had suggested, but to reorganise and reconstruct a new army in the place of that which we had lost. He feared that the proposals of the noble Lord would not realise the hopes which the nation had formed upon his accession to power. There were evidently some misapprehensions which existed with reference to the war, and upon which he (Mr. Warner) wished to say a few words. They were constantly told that England was not a military nation, but how was this when the House of Commons every year voted supplies for the army about equal in amount to those by which the French army was maintained? France was one of the first military Powers in the world, and it was not the fault of the House of Commons if England was not a military Power; yet it had been considered necessary to call Parliament together at an unusually early period in order to authorise the enlistment of 15,000 foreign troops; our artillery, which had been the subject of so much boasting, had proved to be inferior to that of other armies; and our cavalry, he feared, had been virtually annihilated by the unfortunate mistake committed at Balaklava. These misfortunes, however, had not been brought upon the army by any false economy on the part of Parliament, therefore he must object to those observations that had been made by more 1542 than one hon. Member that the disasters in the Crimea were the fault of Parliament. They were told that the Turks, when well officered, were good soldiers, and he wished to know why, in the midst of all their need of soldiers, they had heard nothing of arming a Turkish contingent, and of placing it under European officers? He considered that the greater part of our misfortunes might be traced directly to the system of patronage and purchase of promotions that prevailed in the army; there was too broad a line of demarcation drawn between the officers and the privates, and no chance was afforded to the men of rising by their good conduct and bravery. If the Government desired to encourage a military spirit among the men, they must do so by holding out the same hopes and rewards of the same kind, though in different degrees, to all men in the army. He had voted for the Committee of inquiry because he believed it was absolutely necessary for some body of men or for some man, to inquire into the causes of the misfortunes and sufferings of the army. From what the noble Lord at the head of the Government had said, it appeared that he would undertake to inquire into those grievances, and the noble Lord was certainly in a better position to do so than the House of Commons could be. Whether he should give his vote in favour of the nomination of the Committee would depend on the promises which the noble Lord might make, who, he hoped, would pledge himself to the House not only to institute a searching inquiry into these grievances, but also that he would endeavour to bring to justice those who had been the cause of them.
§ MAJOR REED
said, he had long been of opinion that the whole system at the Horse Guards was rotten throughout, and if anything could render it more disgraceful and injurious to the country, it was the system of purchase that at present prevailed. The jobbery throughout these transactions was disgraceful in the extreme and in many instances they were in direct violation of the Queen's regulations, which stated that only a certain sum should be paid for promotions, but a considerably larger premium was often payed beyond the sum fixed. He considered that so long as this system was carried on—so long as merit and long service were not duly rewarded—they never would obtain efficient officers. He believed that in the ranks would be found men who, though, perhaps, not so well educated, or 1543 born with a silver spoon in their mouths, had yet in them sterling qualities which would make them good soldiers, enable them to take a high position in their profession, and to advance the efficiency of the service and the interests of the country more than those men whose only qualification for their positions appeared to be that they were born with handles to their names.
§ MR. MURROUGH
said, that the House had just heard from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) many strictures on the manner in which the army was officered and affairs conducted in the East; but it appeared to him (Mr. Murrough) that not only there, but at home, the country was in the state of Sinbad—ridden by old men. This was not only the case with the army, but they had a Government conducted by men who were past the age when men were adequate to the calls of public life. When the Ministry was formed only three noble Lords were sent for, as if the monopoly of the talent of the country belonged to noble Lords. He was satisfied a noble Lord might be a man of the same capacity and talent as an ordinary man, when at a mature age, and capable of conducting public business; but when he was passed that age, not only was he an old man, but he was worse, and rendered more incapable when his hands were tied with red tape. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was three days ago that which he was not now—master of the position; and if he had thrown aside precedents and prejudices he might have formed from below the gangway on either side of the House a better and a stronger Government than they had had in that House for twenty years. There might not, perhaps, have been in it the name of a Russell, an Elliot, or a Cavendish, but they would have had men representing and possessing the confidence of large consituencies. The noble Lord had neglected the chance of having the hon. Member for Aylesbury by his side, and now the hon. Member was at his back. If the noble Lord fell, borne down by a Government which this House had condemned, he had only himself to thank, and he would not be pitied by the country.
§ Motion agreed to.