Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Question [17th July], That the Question then proposed be now put—
That this House, deeply lamenting the sufferings of our Army during the Winter Campaign in the Crimea, and coinciding with the Resolution of their Committee, that the conduct of the Administration was the first and chief cause of the calamities which befel that Army, do hereby visit with severe reprehension every Member of that Cabinet whose Counsels led to such disastrous results.
§ Previous Question again proposed—"That that Question be now put."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. MILNES GASKELL
said, it appeared to him that the real question before the House, if stripped of the various disguises with which it had been found convenient to surround it, was a very simple one. It was whether the majority of the House of Commons which had voted with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) for the appointment of the Sebastopol Committee was prepared to ratify the decision at which that Committee had arrived. The Committee had been appointed by an immense majority; a most arduous duty had been imposed upon them—a duty which in his (Mr. Gaskell's) opinion they had discharged with great fairness and great ability—abstaining, and justly abstaining, as far as possible, from the inculpation of absent men, but not hesitating to affix blame in other quarters where they had thought blame was due; and not shrinking from the expression of their opinion that Her Majesty's late Government had been primarily responsible for the difficulties and disasters which had occurred. He owned, however, that he should have been better pleased, if the language of the Resolution before the House had been somewhat different—if it had been directed somewhat more distinctly against the head of the Administration which it censured, and somewhat less invidiously against other Members of the Government—but if the only alternatives that were before them were on the one hand the adoption of this Resolution, as worded by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and on the other hand a vote of confidence in the late Administration, or a refusal to express any opinion upon the subject, he for one could have no hesitation 1052 in preferring the former of those alternatives. He thought it was impossible to read the evidence which had been taken before this Committee without joining in the conclusion to which they came—without a deep conviction that to the conduct of the late Government the disasters which had occurred had been mainly owing. A noble Lord, who had spoken below the gangway the other night (Lord R. Cecil), had told them that errors of judgment ought not to be severely visited, and so far he concurred in opinion with the noble Lord. Undoubtedly there might be errors—even great and grievous errors, and, it might be, most calamitous in their results—which it would neither be just nor generous so to visit; but those must be errors arising from circumstances against which no human foresight could be expected to guard, and they must be redeemed by efforts—earnest and persevering efforts—to redress the sufferings they had caused. He could not say that he thought the errors which had been committed by the late Administration had been errors of this description. He did not think that either the lukewarmness and hesitation which had been shown at first, or the neglect and mismanagement which had followed, could be palliated on such a plea: he could not think that such an error as that of sending peremptory orders to our generals in the East, when the Government was in a state of utter ignorance as to the resistance to be encountered, and the difficulties to be overcome—he could not think that the invasion of a distant country under such circumstances, without making the largest and amplest provision for a winter campaign, were errors which admitted of excuse upon such a ground. Nor was he of opinion that earnest or persevering efforts had been made by the Government to repair those errors. He was not speaking of the private exertions of individuals—the exertions of his right hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert), and of others, had been beyond all praise in that respect—he was speaking of the conduct of the Government as a Government, and he must say he had been staggered by the fact—a fact which had appeared in evidence before the Committee, and which the Committee had noticed with regret—that for a period of nearly two months, at the very time when the safety of our army had been endangered by the 1053 conduct of the Government, the situation of affairs had not been thought of sufficient gravity by the noble Earl, the first minister of the Crown, to require a meeting of Her Majesty's advisers. He (Mr. Gaskell), believed that he was expressing the universal feeling of the country, when he said that it would have been well to have given the appearance of ministerial sympathy at such a time, even if no great practical benefit could have ensued. But a still greater and more fatal error than any to which he had referred, had been the total want of any definite or intelligible policy in regard to the war itself. That no doubt had been partly owing to the composition of the Government—a Government in which every conceivable opinion had been represented, both with respect to foreign and domestic policy—a Government which had included the friends of absolute sovereigns, and the friends of oppressed nations—and which though no doubt containing men of acknowledged ability and of great experience, appeared to him to have been incapable either of unity of purpose, or of unity of action from the vice which had been inherent in its formation. He held that for this evil, the first Minister of the Crown was, in the main responsible; a large portion of responsibility might attach to others, but it was the province and the duty of the first Minister of the Crown to guide, to animate, and to control—and if he failed in the performance of that duty, he was not worthy of the post in which his Sovereign had placed him. What the country wanted, was an intelligible policy. He (Mr. Gaskell), honoured the men who had from the first protested against this war: they were a small minority in that House, but they yielded to few in eloquence, in earnestness, or in ability. And he entertained the sincerest respect for those who held that we were engaged in a great struggle for the liberties of Europe, and that no stone should be left unturned, no resource untried, to bring it to a successful issue. But a policy which halted between these opinions—a policy paralysed by indecision—a policy which involved this country in a desolating war—and could hardly explain to Parliament the grounds upon which the war had been undertaken, appeared to him (Mr. Gaskell) to be the worst and weakest policy which cabinets or statesmen could pursue. It was not to themselves alone that they owed an 1054 explicit declaration of opinion upon this question: they owed it also to the memory of brave and devoted men who had sacrificed their lives in the service of their country, and who, although no blame could attach to them for the calamities which had occurred, had unhappily been involved in those calamities by the misconduct of others—men who had performed prodigies of valour and prodigies of endurance—men of whom it might have been said with truth when they left the shores of England—Nil Claudiæ non perficient manus;if it could have been added—''Quas … curæ sagacesExpediunt per acuta belli.Yes, it was due to the memory of those men that the responsibility for these disasters should be apportioned justly—and, above all, it was due to the memory of a great man, who was now no more—who had been ordered to undertake an expedition which his judgment condemned, and who had pursued the path of duty through evil report and good report with such calm and unshaken fortitude. For these reasons he (Mr. Gaskell) could not vote for the Amendment of the hon. and gallant General (General Peel), and still less could he concur in the proposal of the Member for Cambridge (Colonel Adair). He felt that he was bound to record his vote in favour of the original resolution, believing with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) that the conduct of the late Administration had been the chief cause of the calamities which had occurred. Such, too, he believed to be the almost unanimous opinion of the country, and if the majority of that House had courage enough, and self-respect enough to act in accordance with its convictions, he also believed that it would be the declared and deliberate verdict of the representatives of the people.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Sir, any one who came into this assembly for the first time, ignorant of what has been going on among us during the last few months, and who listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, must have thought the transactions which he was inquiring into had reference to an existing Administration, and not to one long past and gone. The hon. Gentleman has pointed out in what respect, in his opinion, the head of the Administration of that time, when the events to which the Motion has reference occurred, was guilty 1055 of an omission of duty. One would suppose from that speech, that the head of the Administration referred to was the noble Lord now at the head of the Government (Viscount Palmerston), and in that respect it appears to me that many of those who have taken part in the debate have fallen into a similar error. They have totally omitted to take into consideration the position of this noble Lord and of this House itself. One thing I think the House must take into its very serious consideration, whether they can, after the course of conduct which they have pursued, the attitude they have assumed towards the existing Government, in common fairness and justice now seek to visit with censure the noble Lord at the head of this Government on account of transactions which took place anterior to the formation of the present Government? It must not be forgotten that the transactions now under discussion are all antecedent in date to the formation of the noble Lord's Government. It must likewise be remembered that the noble Lord did not seek office, he did not succeed to office immediately on the dissolution of Lord Aberdeen's Government. When that Government fell under the consciousness of a want of confidence on the part of this House, implied by a determination to institute an inquiry, by means of a Select Committee, into the conduct of the war, Her Majesty, in accordance with constitutional custom, laid her commission upon the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), the great leader of the Conservative party, to form an Administration. He undertook the task and failed. The leader of the Conservative party was not then prepared to take upon himself the responsibility of Government, not from their philosophical indifference to office—no one can accuse them of any lack of effort to form an Administration—not from any want of readiness to make all necessary sacrifices to achieve that most desirable end, for they even sought the co-operation of the noble Lord now at the head of Her Majesty's Government—they were prepared to adopt him as their Parliamentary leader in this House, and this too with a perfect consciousness that this inquiry was pending into circumstances which had occurred before that time. Nay, even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) was willing to forego those well-founded pretensions to that leading position in this House for which his transcendant abilities as a 1056 Parliamentary orator have so preeminently qualified him. More than that, the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to sit in the same Cabinet, on the same benches with hon. Gentlemen, who are known to entertain towards him deeply rooted feelings of animosity on account of the insults and contumely which, in the face of the House, he heaped upon that great statesman now no more, whose name as a party they bear, and who must be the idol of their fondest attachment and veneration. I allude to these things to show that it was no indifference to office which induced the Conservative party to decline to form a Government. They did decline—they admitted their incapacity to form an Administration at that time. Under these circumstances, from one end of the country to the other, all men called upon the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) to undertake the formations of a Government—to put his hand to the helm to steer the vessel of the State safely through the quicksands and dangers which surrounded it. What was the language and the attitude of Parliament and this House? Had this House excepted to the noble Lord on the ground that he had been a member of the former Government, the misconduct of which was still a subject-matter of inquiry in a Committee of that House? By no means. Did any one suggest that, as the noble Lord had been a Member of that former Government, his Administration would only be tolerated by the country on condition that the preceding Administration should come unscathed through the ordeal of inquiry? It never occurred to any one. On all sides we heard only the language of adhesion. There was a general acquiescence in the noble Lord coming into office. The language of party seemed silenced and the language of faction was unheard. It was agreed on all hands that there should be one common purpose—that as long as the Administration of the noble Lord conducted the war with vigour and unabated energy, exhausting all the resources of the country in the prosecution of that great purpose, no factious opposition should be offered to the noble Lord. Such was the language which was held on all hands upon the noble Lord's accession to office. I ask whether this House, having adopted such an attitude, and the very opponents of the noble Lord having promised a generous forbearance under the difficult circumstances of the case, it occurred to any man at that time 1057 that if the result of the inquiry of that Committee should be, that the late Government were chargeable with inefficiency, the noble Lord at the head of the present Government should be held responsible for the shortcomings of his predecessors? I say that Parliament ought to give the noble Lord every support, and, if I may use a lawyer's language, that you are "estopped" from going back to transactions which occurred previously to the formation of the Administration of the noble Lord. Is it consistent with justice, or even with ordinary fair dealing, that he should be held responsible, should be stigmatised with the brand of Parliamentary censure, and should be expelled from office on account of transactions which happened at the period referred to? Under what circumstances does the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield bring forward this Motion? What is the course he has pursued? What are the arguments he has urged in its support? The hon. and learned Gentleman says that he was indignant at the recollection of the sufferings of our brave army, and that he is determined that no one who took part in the management of the affairs of the country at the time the army experienced those sufferings should escape censure. If that be the true motive which actuates the hon. and learned Gentleman, one would suppose that those would be the objects of his censure who were at the head of the departments to which the management of the war was principally intrusted. The hon. and learned Gentleman arraigns the prisoners at the bar of this House, and at the bar of public opinion. Those who were at the head of the different departments of the Administration are, he says, the principal offenders; the other Members of the Government are insignificant, though they shall not escape for that. He arraigns them in their order. First comes the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle) then at the head of the War Department; and what says the hon. and learned Gentleman of him? "I have nothing," he remarks, "to say against this excellent man." [Mr. ROEBUCK: I never said that.] You said that which was equivalent to it. You said that he had been indefatigable in the discharge of his duties, [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear, hear!] constant in his attendance, unremitting in his exertions; that he had done all that could be done under the circumstances. [Mr. ROEBUCK: No, no!] The hon. and learned Gentleman asks for 1058 no censure upon him. Next, he takes the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert), and he used the same description of language towards him. He, too, had been indefatigable in the discharge of his duties—he had been constant in his attendance—he had been unremitting in his exertions—he had had no other desire than to maintain the honour of his country; and, if he had committed some errors, they were amply atoned for by his kindness of heart. Then the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), comes under consideration, and, with regard to him, the hon. and learned Gentleman says he has committed many errors; he has sent ships that were too big to the Baltic; he has done many things which ought not to have been done; but then, says the hon. and learned Gentleman, he has been animated by so burning a sense of public duty that I cannot find fault with him. In short the language of the hon. and learned Gentleman was rather that of eulogy and laudation than of condemnation and censure. But there is one man on whom the hon. and learned Gentleman seeks to direct the full force of Parliamentary and public censure. To be sure, he is a man who had nothing to do with the management of the war [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] so far, at least, I mean, as our army in the Crimea is concerned, which is the immediate object of the present inquiry. His administration regarded the interior of the country, the maintenance of peace and order, the due administration of the law, the vigilance and efficiency of the police, the suppression of nuisances—in short, that man was the Home Secretary. Yet that man was made the mark of censure by the hon. and learned Gentleman. Why do you seek to mark him out above all others? Why is he to be pulled down to display your indignation at the sufferings of the army, when you can find the language of flattery and eulogy for the heads of the great war departments? The reason is obvious? it is because he is the Prime Minister—the Prime Minister of England; it is because you desire to upset his Government, and substitute for it a Government chosen from Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman's political predilections and partialities are pretty well known by this time. He sits upon this side of the House, but his sympathies and aspirations are upon the other, and I cannot help saying that I 1059 think he would save himself a great deal of trouble if he would take his seat there, because, as it is, he has to go backwards and forwards to hold constant communications, and to hold conferences in the lobbies with the distinguished Members of the other side of the House. Does the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Sir B. Lytton) express a desire to bring forward a Motion involving a vote of censure on the Government on a particular day, which happens to be just previous to the day fixed for the discussion of the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he is perfectly ready to give way; does the hon. Member for Hertfordshire think proper to withdraw his Motion, the hon. and learned Gentleman is ready to proceed. Nay, it is said, I know not with what truth, that the hon. and learned Gentleman is in alliance, admitted political alliance, with right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite. That is no business of mine; he has a perfect right to form what political alliance he chooses, and to bring forward Motions for the purposes of overturning the Government and substituting another. All I want is that we should clearly understand what this Motion really is, in order that we may properly appreciate its character. The hon. and learned Gentleman claims credit for coming forward during a period of great public excitement with a Motion of this character, but I venture to assert—and I do not believe the hon. and learned Gentleman will deny it—that he has brought forward his Motion for a party and a political puspose. [Mr. ROEBUCK.—I do deny it.] If you deny it, I will not question your denial; still, I say, your conduct has been such as to lead to that supposition. But, Sir, I turn from the hon. and learned Gentleman to right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I ask, in what position do they place themselves by adopting the course which they are now taking? One of those right hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Disraeli) told us the other day that he intended to support the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman below me. But, Sir, a short time since, and subsequently to the transactions with reference to which this inquiry has been made, right hon. Gentlemen opposite were perfectly prepared to associate themselves in Government with the noble Lord at the head of the present Administration; and I take the liberty of asking what—if such an alliance had 1060 been formed, and they were sitting at this moment on these benches under the leadership of the noble Lord—would have been the course which they would have pursued if such a Motion as the present had been made upon the Report of the Sebastopol Committee? Would they, under such circumstances, have abandoned the leader with whom they had just associated themselves; would they have broken up the alliance that they had just formed; would they have put an end to the Government which in co-operation with the noble Lord they were carrying on? No, Sir, nothing of the kind; they would have done all which their ability, their power, and their influence could have enabled them to do for the purpose of resisting and defeating the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I put it to them as men of candour, I put it to them as Gentlemen, to answer this question, and, if they do, I know that there is but one way in which they can answer it. If that is true, what are they prepared to do upon the present occasion? Why, because the noble Lord at the head of the Government would not form an alliance with them and join them in the construction of a Ministry, they would desire to upset the present Government in order to take their places, and, with no other justifiable motives, are prepared, in the face of the House and the country, to assent to the propositions of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I ask, is such conduct consistent with justice? Am I not justified in asking whether they think it consistent with fairness or that courtesy of feeling which should exist even between political adversaries and members of opposite parties, that they should be called upon to treat this as a mere party question? You are acting here judicially, and with what show of justice can you possibly assent to a proposition which will have the effect of expelling the noble Lord from office by an ignominious Parliamentary censure, when, as I have shown, if he had been a friend and an ally, you would have resisted that proposition with all your ability? I do trust that, although the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) has said that he should take that course, other hon. Gentlemen with whom he is connected will reflect before they follow his example. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that it was not without hesitation that he had come to such a 1061 determination, and I can well believe that a Gentleman of his position and character would hesitate and pause before he adopted such a course. Such a proceeding can only be attributed, not to any sense of public duty, but simply to a party and political purpose, seeing that he himself must confess that it is not the course which he would have pursued had he been sitting on this side of the House. When you are trying, then, the character and position of a veteran statesman, who has been serving the country so many years, whose accession to office you yourselves not only sanctioned but hailed with satisfaction, and whose position, if at all involved with his former colleagues, you have condoned—is it fair to adopt a course which you would not have adopted if you had been upon this side of the House? I can picture to myself how these walls would have rung with the eloquent and powerful invective of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire against that supposed proceeding if he had been sitting on this side of the House associated with the noble Lord. If right hon. Gentlemen opposite, however, are prepared to persist in supporting this Motion to achieve a party triumph, I appeal from them to hon. Gentlemen opposite who, I am sure, must see the injustice of pursuing a course which not one of them would have thought of taking if the noble Lord had formed one of the Conservative party. I appeal to them fearlessly, because I am convinced that many of them will not follow the course which they are invited to pursue when they see that it is fraught with the grossest injustice. Independently of that, are we, I ask, in a condition to form a proper judgment upon the matter which is now submitted to us? I turn to the Report of the Committee and I find it expressly stated that they have not the means of coming to a conclusion upon the whole circumstances submitted to their consideration; and every speaker who has addressed the House has adverted to the incompleteness of the evidence. I rejoice, and I do not scruple to say so, that that inquiry before the Committee was proceeded with. The result of that inquiry shows that it may be of the greatest and most extensive utility. It has proved the defects of our hitherto existing military system, and it has held out a warning to those who may hereafter be intrusted with the military affairs of this country; but when, beyond that, you propose to make that Report 1062 the subject of judicial inquiry here, I submit that you have not the materials before you to enable you to form a correct judgment. The hon. and learned Gentleman asks you not only to adopt the Report, but to go further; because, he says, that the expedition to the Crimea, under any circumstances, was an error deserving reprehension. [Mr. ROEBUCK: No, no!] I certainly understood him to say so. At all events, I think we are now tolerably satisfied that it was accident only which prevented that expedition being at the outset successful. Had it been pushed at the moment after the battle of the Alma, very few people doubt that Sebastopol would have fallen. What then would have been said? By all, the Government would have been lauded and upheld for the boldness and courage of the enterprise. The hon. and learned Gentleman now proposes to take a different course, and to censure the Government for sending the expedition to the Crimea. So, also, he proposes to throw upon the Government the responsibility for all the want of success and all the disasters which have occurred. But that has not always been his view. In the Report which he prepared he proposed to stigmatise with the severest censure that revered commander who is now no more. Then he was of opinion that—The Commander of the Forces, Lord Raglan, by his want of vigour and foresight, is in a great degree responsible for the sufferings of the army. Had the requisite firmness and prudence been shown by him, much of the misery resulting from the want of land transport, from the want of a road from Balaklava to the camp, from the want of an efficient ambulance, from insufficient and improper food, from the want of shelter, clothing, and fuel, might have been prevented. It is but too plain that Lord Raglan did not not keep the Administration at home duly informed of the actual condition of the army under his command. By the statement of Lord Aberdeen himself it appears that the Commander of the Forces failed in this part of his duty, and therefore, in so far as the wants and sufferings of the army resulted from the continued ignorance of the Administration, Lord Raglan is responsible for the misery which was the consequence of that ignorance.And now, Sir, Lord Raglan having fallen an illustrious victim to his exertions in the public service, the hon. and learned Gentleman knows full well that it would not do to whisper in this House a breath against the memory of that much respected man. The hon. and learned Gentleman, therefore, comes down and makes a tardy atonement for that most unfounded charge, and now, no longer of opinion that the responsibility for the sufferings and 1063 misery of the army rested with Lord Raglan, he seeks to throw the whole burden of the blame, not upon the Administration even which then existed, but upon the Administration which has since been formed. The matter, then, now stands thus:—All that you asked for upon the accession of the noble Lord to office was, that the Government should prosecute with untiring and unabated energy the war in which this country was involved. Have the Government, I ask, done their duty in that behalf? I put it to the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. What are the reports which you receive from the Crimea? Is the condition of your army not improved? Food, clothing, and nourishment, medicine and arms, and ammunition are admitted to be everywhere supplied. The courage and ardour of your army are undisputed, and there is no doubt that they will be ready to go forth to battle whenever the occasion shall occur. Who is it that has brought about that great improvement? It exists, and the change has been effected since the accession of the noble Lord to office. With respect, then, to the administration of the war, since that time you have no fault to find. Even the sharp criticism of the hon. and learned Gentleman can find nothing of which to complain in that respect. Then, I ask, what right have you to go back upon insufficient evidence anterior to the period at which the noble Lord took office? What right have you to go up the stream and to visit him with your condemnation, seeing that since he has taken the administration of affairs you can find no fault? Is it justice that you should seek to visit upon him the shortcomings of his predecessors? Sir, I say that you have not the means of forming, with regard to the expedition to the Crimea or to the difficulties which beset you there, a fair judgment, or of coming to a sound and safe conclusion. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) says, that he demands an absolute acquittal; but I must say that I was struck by the somewhat logical inconsistency of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman begins by saying, that the information before the Committee is imperfect and incomplete. How, then, if that be so, can you acquit the right hon. Gentleman upon imperfect evidence? I can see the difficulty of the question, but I think that the right hon. Baronet has complicated the position of affairs by insisting that to negative the hon. and learned Gentleman's 1064 motion necessarily involves an acquittal. I do not understand anything of the sort. Many may say that it is not just to the noble Lord to vote for the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, or that it is inexpedient in the present state of public affairs to turn out a Government which is carrying on the war efficiently in order to put in its place a Government whose efficiency they have not had an opportunity of testing. There may be many who upon both those grounds would negative the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman. On the other hand, others may say, if it be understood that the negative of that proposition involves an absolute acquittal, that they are not prepared, until the whole transaction is before them, to come to a verdict of that description. It strikes me, therefore, that there was a logical inconsistency in the arguments of the right hon. Baronet which is calculated somewhat to embarrass the House. I repeat, Sir, that at the present moment you are not in a position to form a positive and conclusive judgment in a matter affecting the character of public men, and I say that you cannot come, with justice or fairness, to a conclusion adverse to them. On the other hand the Committee have furnished you with materials which are not unimportant for your consideration, and it appears to me, therefore, that the safe course to adopt is that which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), with a proper sense of justice and expediency, has proposed. [Mr. ROEBUCK.—Expediency!] I hear the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has interrupted me at various times, during my observations, repeat the word "expediency." I say expediency, because it is inexpedient, when the war is being prosecuted with vigour and energy, to introduce confusion and disorder. What a spectacle shall we present to Europe if Government after Government is changed, if Motions of censure are continually made, and if, when you have a Government which is carrying on the war with vigour, and energy, and success, you turn round upon them because a Report has been made by a Committee which contains something of censure upon a previous Administration. I say that it is inexpedient to pursue such a course. I quite concede that, when the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir B. Lytton), gave notice of his Motion, that Motion was one which, under the circumstances of the 1065 case, he was perfectly justified in bringing forward. The hon. Baronet conceived that there was in the councils of the Crown an element which might produce hesitation and timidity, and which might produce in the Administration a desire for peace which would hinder them from prosecuting the war with energy and resolution. The hon. Baronet, with that view, gave notice of a Motion, and if he believed that the element to which I have referred existed in the Cabinet, he was perfectly justified in adopting that course; but when he found that the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), against whom his Motion was principally directed, had retired from office he withdrew that Motion. Now let me ask, is there not a striking difference between the Motion of the hon. Baronet and the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck)? The Motion of the hon. Baronet proceeded upon the ground that the Government were not in a condition to prosecute the war with vigour and energy; but no such ground has been suggested for the present Motion. The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot venture to put forward as an argument in favour of his Motion that the Government are hesitating in carrying on the war, and, therefore, he stands on quite a different footing from that which was occupied by the hon. Baronet; and I must say that it appears to me that the course which he has pursued of going back to circumstances anterior to the formation of the present Government, in order to make an attack upon it, can only be dictated by a spirit of party and of faction. Such a course is not altogether consistent with the promise given to my noble Friend upon his accession to office, that no spirit of party or of faction should be brought to fetter the action of the Government if they evinced a determination to carry on the war with vigour and energy. Well, Sir, we are carrying on the war with vigour, with energy, and, I may say, with success, and, under these circumstances, I trust that from a sense of fairness, of justice, and of equity the House of Commons will give to the Government its support. I shall, Sir, for the reasons I have advanced, give my decided negative to the Motion. [An hon. MEMBER: A negative to what?] I mean, of course, that I shall support the Motion of the hon. and gallant General the Member for Huntingdon.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
If ever a question 1066 of importance has been properly brought before the House of Commons, that question is the one involved in the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. It strikes me, Sir, that this Motion involves a principle even more important than the policy of the war in which we are engaged, for it involves a question touching Parliamentary authority and Ministerial responsibility. I had hoped that, as in this crisis the Ministry called the hon. and learned Attorney General to their rescue, he would have done justice to his comprehensive intellect, and would have expounded to us, as he is so well qualified to do, the great principle involved in the issue at stake; but, instead of so doing, he has taken refuge in an unworthy course, and from the beginning to the end of his speech he has made this a personal question, and has shown us how a man can speak with ability and eloquence, and yet not touch upon the subject-matter of the discussion. What are the facts. Terrible disasters overtook our army, a spirit of indignation was roused throughout the land, and the voice of the country called loudly for an inquiry into the causes of those disasters. That inquiry was granted, the witnesses have been examined, their testimony has been considered and believed, the verdict of the jury has been returned, and this great national cause now stands for judgment. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) does not attempt to deal, as has been asserted, with the question of the policy of the war, or with the wisdom or folly of the expedition to the Crimea, or with the skill or incompetence, if such there were of our naval and military commanders; but he attempts to deal with facts of a totally different character. Was the Report of a Committee appointed to inquire into a subject of such importance as the state of the army before Sebastopol to lie unnoticed upon the table? and if not, how could the Attorney General justly assail the chairman of the Committee with presumption in bringing it before the notice of the House? Was it right to charge the hon. and learned Gentleman, as he has done, with being a concealed and skulking confederate of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli), when the Attorney General ought to have known, or the noble Lord at the head of the Government ought to have informed him, that, when the existence of the Government was at stake, the hon. and learned Gentleman voted against the Motion of my right hon. Friend? The 1067 Resolution before the House divides itself into two or three parts. The first part is an expression of our regret at the sufferings of our army during the winter campaign in the Crimea, and that part of the Resolution may be disposed of in a few words. The mighty heart of the nation throbs with indignation at the unparalleled sufferings which the troops underwent—sufferings mitigated not by the foresight and care of the Ministry nor by official zeal, but by the generosity of private benevolence. We may regret the death of the young and brave who fall upon the field of battle, but they at least may fall with the shout of victory in their ears, and with the knowledge that their memory will be recorded in the grateful recollection of their country. Much more bitter is it to contemplate the fate of those who, drenched in the trenches, half starved, and ill clad have perished by disease, some after being hurried on to abominable transports and huddled into the charnel houses which were called hospitals. It is in remembering the fate of those brave men that the nation expects us to give a just vote upon the important question now before us. Two classes of speakers have spoken on this subject: I prefer addressing myself first to the opinions propounded by hon. Gentlemen who sit on the same side of the House with myself. The hon. and gallant General (General Peel), has told us that we ought to vote for the previous question because the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman condemns the policy of the expedition to the Crimea; but that is the very thing which the hon. and learned Gentleman does not do, and which he himself, at the outset of his speech, declared he would not do. It is but just to place the argument of an opponent fairly before the House, and then the answer to it is the more satisfactory; but I have observed that two or three hon. Gentlemen have stated that the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman condemns the policy of the expedition to Sebastopol, whereas, in point of fact, it does nothing of the kind. The hon. and gallant General asks us to vote the previous question, while he, at the same time, in an admirable speech, showed clearly that the Government had neglected their duty; but, in addition to that, the hon. and gallant General proposed certain resolutions in Committee, which I have read with the attention due to this high authority. I find that the hon. and gallant General expressed the opinion that— 1068The men were overworked, occasionally not well fed, had not sufficient clothing, and were exposed, under single canvas, to wet, cold, and the mud, and inconvenience arising from the nature of the soil. The men in hospital, in addition to much of this suffering, were not adequately provided with sufficient medical attendance, medicine, and medical comforts. There was some delay in removing the wounded from the field after the Battle of the Alma, and as it always must have been contemplated to employ vessels to convey the sick and wounded from the Crimea, there appears to have been great neglect in not properly preparing any for the purpose. This calamitous state of things was the result, mainly of the Administration having unwisely engaged in great military operations with reduced peace establishments, and having, with inadequate means, undertaken more than they were able to perform.The gallant General, in condemning the conduct of the Administration, does justice to that of the troops, for he says—There is, however, one bright spot in this dark picture. The patience and fortitude of the army demand the admiration and gratitude of the nation on whose behalf they have fought, bled and suffered. Their heroic valour, and equally heroic patience under suffering and privation, have given them claims on their country which a grateful nation will doubtless be eager to satisfy.I feel convinced, Sir, from reading these Resolutions proposed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that his proposition to meet the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman by the previous question is untenable, and I trust that, whatever may be the fate of the Resolution itself, the House will not offend an indignant nation by taking refuge in the previous question. The noble Lord who seconded the Motion objected to the Resolution as being retrospective, but surely there can be no such thing as prospective censure, and therefore, if the noble Lord objects to retrospective censure, he objects to all censure. He says the Ministry have only committed errors of judgment. Now, I hold the opinion that Ministers are bound to exercise sound judgment in respect to the State they profess to govern, and that it would be no answer to this country or this House to say that these Ministers have been rash, that they have been ill-advised, imprudent, senseless. No stronger condemnation could be passed upon public men, although with regard to private individuals, and in private matters, probably, the argument of the noble Lord might be admitted. But what did he conclude by telling us? That we might as well propose a vote of censure upon the conduct of Sir Robert Peel in 1846—that we might as well propose to censure Sir Robert Peel for his general misdeeds in reference to the corn laws as 1069 found upon this Report a vote of censure upon the Members of the late Administration. I confess I cannot see the force of that argument, and I do trust and hope that it will not have had weight with hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. Then, Sir, a noble Marquess (the Marquess of Granby), for whom I entertain feelings of esteem and respect, likewise delivered his opinions upon this question, and I wish to notice what he said, because, when a man of his influence addresses the House his opinions are deserving of every respect, and it is right not to appear to have forgotten what has been advanced on either side of the House. I protest against the censure he has cast upon the House of Commons. I protest against the censure he has cast upon the English people—that people who have made every sacrifice which any nation could he called upon to make, in order to carry on this war, and that House of Commons which has granted everything they were asked to grant with a generosity unequalled in Parliamentary history. Much, therefore, as I respect the noble Marquess, the reasons he has assigned for his opinions are not sound or satisfactory, and I cannot be influenced even by the weight of his example in voting against my conscience and against the truth. An hon. Baronet on this side of the House has also spoken, and he surprised me very much likewise, for, having condemned the Ministry from the beginning to the end of his speech, he says that he does not think he can do less than vote for the previous question, because he declares that the House of Commons is partially to blame. Now, as I have before remarked, I think the House of Commons is not to blame, except in having too long endured the delinquencies of public men. But the noble Marquess and the hon. Baronet found an ally in voting for the previous question in the person of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty. He wishes to take a bold and decisive course; he is an advocate for a manly policy; and having witnessed with what dignity and manliness the right hon. Baronet the late First Lord of the Admiralty approached this question, let us see how it was met by the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood). He says, "Oh, the case is not quite proved. If it were I should be the first man in the world to divide with you;" and, under these circumstances, the noble Lord at the head of the Government who only desires to adopt a manly course upon a great question—whose 1070 downfall the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Attorney General) has so sincerely deprecated—he, I say, and the First Lord of the Admiralty are perfectly satisfied to get rid of the matter by voting for the previous question. Now, what is the principal argument used by the right hon. Baronet? "You have no right," he says, "to fasten upon us that we have not succeeded. We have done all in our power to insure success and we may yet succeed." Sir, two thousand years ago, and more, that argument was urged by an accused patriot in the Athenian Senate, but how differently in its force and application. "Prove that I did not make all the preparations which wisdom, foresight, judgment, and prudence could dictate, and then condemn me. Am I to blame for the thunderstorm that burst over Greece? The provident merchant supplies the sails, strengthens the tackle, finds the pilot, and makes every preparation necessary for the voyage, but if the good ship is struck by lightning, or overwhelmed by the tempest, ascribe not the calamity to him who did all in his power to avert it, but to that Providence who governs all things." Such was the argument of the "old man eloquent." So I say in this case—the answer would be perfect if the facts were as they have been misrepresented. If the right hon. Baronet or the noble Lord could show that every preparation was made which wisdom and foresight could suggest, their case would be triumphant. It would be ungenerous and unjust to visit upon the noble Lord, or upon any Ministers, the consequences of unavoidable failure. But, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, raised another and most important question, which seems to me to reflect somewhat upon the noble Lord (Lord Seymour) who framed this Report. I believe I speak the sentiments of every Gentleman on this side of the House when I say that the noble Lord who drew that Report is entitled not merely to the respect of the House, but to the confidence of the public. I believe that the weight of his character, that his impartial spirit, forbid the notion that he would put his name to a Report in which he did not believe, or that he would be guilty of what the First Lord of the Admiralty may not have understood that he imputed to him—namely, that in the absence of evidence, and without evidence, he found a verdict and pronounced a judgment which affected the political position of hon. Members—his Friends, whom he 1071 has hitherto supported with his powerful aid. The point of this great question, I maintain, Sir, lies in a nutshell. What is it that the Committee have found in this Report in reference to the causes of the calamities which befel our army? They have found this—It appears that the sufferings of the army resulted mainly from the circumstances in which the expedition to the Crimea was undertaken and executed. The Administration which ordered that expedition had no adequate information as to the amount of force in the Crimea or Sebastopol. They were not acquainted with the strength of the fortresses to be attacked, or with the resources of the country to be invaded. They hoped and expected that the expedition would be immediately successful, and, as they did not foresee the probability of a protracted struggle, they made no provision for a winter campaign; what was planned and undertaken without sufficient information was conducted without sufficient care or forethought. This conduct on the part of the Administration was the first and chief cause of the calamities which befell our army.Now, what is the argument against that terrible passage in the judgment which was expected to affect the understandings and influence the votes of those present? The argument is that it was carried by a casting vote only. Now, look back upon this Report; I ask any hon. Gentleman who may have read the Report from beginning to end, if that passage were not there at all, whether there are not from twenty to thirty distinct and separate grounds upon which this vote of censure might rest? Why, in reference to that very passage, the House will see that substantially the same thing has been said before. I know that the matter of that passage is fundamental; I know it is vital; but what do the Committee say in a previous passage, in page 4 of the Report?—Your Committee have inquired what information the Government had obtained which induced them to order this expedition. In regard to this matter, it may be observed that the Duke of Newcastle had, in his despatch of the 10th of April, estimated the Russian forces in the Crimea at 30,000 men, and he believes that when the expedition was ordered no more reliable accounts had been received. Sir James Graham says, however, that at a later period—namely, the last week in July—he had obtained 'from a Crimean authority a complete account of the Crimea, its localities, its harbours, its roads, its productions, and supply of water, and, what was most important of all, a statement of the force, which was estimated by his informant at 70,000 men, 8,000 of which were cavalry, 40,000 constituted the garrison of Sebastopol, and the remaining 30,000 were dispersed through the Crimea.' Vice Admiral Dundas had, on the 10th of May, 1854, written to Lord Raglan a letter in which, relying upon information which he had obtained, he estimated the 1072 Russian forces in the Crimea at 120,000 men. The Embassies at St. Petersburg and Constantinople were unable to furnish any information upon these important subjects. Lord Raglan, in his despatch of the 19th of July, states that 'the descent on the Crimea is decided upon more in deference to the views of the British Government than to any information in the possession of the naval and military authorities, either as to the extent of the enemy's forces or to their state of preparation.' The terms of reference do not call upon your Committee to pronounce any opinion in regard to the policy of the Government in ordering the expedition to the Crimea; but it is their duty to Report how far the preparations made were adequate to the operations which had been ordered.How was it possible for any man possessed of the very highest amount of human ability, to prepare for the attack of Sebastopol if he knew not what army was in the Crimea, or what was the strength of that fortress? I will give a single quotation from the evidence, and I think that when this narrative comes before the future historian, unless he satisfies himself by diligent inquiry that the thing occurred, he would be very doubtful of the fact. It is a question asked by my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) of the Duke of Newcastle, with his reply, and is there anything like this in the annals of political history from a War Minister?—Sir J. Pakington.—Your Grace's despatch to Lord Raglan of the 10th of April suggested several very important inquiries as to the forces of the Russian army in the Crimea, the strength of the fortress of Sebastopol, and other points. I wish to know whether you received any information in answer to these inquiries?—No. I may say that in the very despatch which the Committee has decided to move for, Lord Raglan says he has not been able to obtain any of the information required by my despatch.Have you Lord Raglan's replies to your despatch?—I have one here dated July 19, from Varna.That is the answer of the Duke of Newcastle. Turn, then, to the other piece of evidence upon which the noble Lord framed his Report, and I should like to hear from any sensible man an answer to the argument which it affords. I find Lord Raglan writing—Having stated to your Grace the result of the discussion which took place yesterday, and which, was carried on in a manner quite satisfactory to all the parties present, it becomes my duty to acquaint you that it was more in deference to the views of the British Government, as conveyed to me in your Grace's despatch, and to the known acquiescence of the Emperor Louis Napoleon in those views, than to any information in the possession of the naval and military authorities, either as to the extent of the enemy's forces or to their state of preparation, that the decision to make a descent upon the Crimea was adopted.1073 So much for the knowlege and favourable opinion of the Commander in Chief of the policy of the expedition. Now, there is one other point to which I would refer, and that relates to the judgment of Lord Lyndhurst. The thrice Lord Chancellor of England has pronounced, I may say, a judicial opinion on this question, and he grounds his judgment upon the answer of the late First Lord of the Admiralty. What does the noble Lord, the exactness of whose logic, whose weighty arguments are not merely instructive to the House of which he is a Member and the brightest ornament, but to all Europe—what does the noble and learned Lord say?—We have it in evidence that the right hon. Gentleman then at the head of the Admiralty was informed that the Russian army at Sebastopol consisted of 70,000 men, 40,000 of whom formed the garrison of the fortress and 30,000 of whom were in the field. I may venture to make this observation, that if we seriously intended to invest Sebastopol, besides having a covering army in the field, our besieging force ought to have amounted to three times the number of the troops by whom the fortifications were surrounded. I think, then, we may be satisfied of the injudiciousness, may, of the absolute rashness, of our proceedings.Well, with these facts before the House, what is the argument addressed to its reason? It is this:—"You cannot join in a vote of censure because there is inadequate information, because there are many witnesses in the Crimea and elsewhere who ought to be examined." Is that a valid argument upon this fundamental question? Why, if all the men in Europe were examined, could they state what the Duke of Newcastle knew so well as the Duke of Newcastle himself? Who can speak upon this subject better than the Duke of Newcastle? He is asked plainly—"Did you know anything about the country you were about to invade?" to which his answer is, "Nothing;" and therefore rashly, ignorantly, and blindly, the Government invaded the Crimea, and here, as this report asserts, was the principal cause of the disasters which befel our army. I cannot, I confess, understand how that argument is to be answered. "Oh! but," it is said, "the Report is full of imperfections." Now, the passage quoted in the speech of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), a Gentleman remarkable for the clearness of his intellect, must surely have been misconceived by him. At all events, the paragraph upon which his opinion is 1074 based appears to me to be decisive against him, and I shall claim his vote against the previous question. He says you are to give no weight to the Report for this reason, and he then read the following extract from the Report compiled by the noble Lord—The difficulty of this task has been enhanced by the impossibility of summoning some persons as witnesses who might have furnished important information. From the same cause some persons are left under imputations in regard to which your Committee regret that they can pronounce no conclusive opinion. The fulness of the investigation has, moreover, been restricted by considerations of State policy.Very good; but what is the force of that argument upon the question whether the soldiers had food in their stomachs, shoes on their feet, medicine when struck down by the cholera and diarrhœa, and transports and a hospital to receive them when sick? What is it that the hon. Member for Kidderminster—an able and clearheaded man—contends for? He says, "The Committee were precluded from touching on matters of State policy, because they were expressly forbidden to do so; and that they did not pronounce any conclusive opinion against certain persons against whom the evidence was imperfect." Because they did not pronounce any opinion against individuals against whom the evidence was inconclusive and imperfect, the hon. Gentleman argues that, therefore, their Report is to be disregarded and slighted in reference to persons against whom the evidence was complete, who were in the country at the time, and who were heard in their defence. [An hon. MEMBER: Read on.] An hon. Gentleman says, "Read on." The extract quoted by the hon. Member for Kidderminster goes on to say—The fulness of the investigation has, moreover, been restricted by considerations of State policy, so that, in the outset of this Report, your Committee must admit that they have been compelled to end an inquiry which they have been unable satisfactorily to complete.Certainly; but what does that prove? That the noble Lord (Lord Seymour), and every Gentleman who signed the Report, merely found a verdict against those persons in whose cases the evidence was complete. I submit to the hon. Member for Kidderminster that, if he reads over the paragraph which he quoted, he will find upon reflection that the only object the Committee had in view was to exclude the 1075 several matters upon which they have offered no opinion, for the simple and satisfactory reason that they had not sufficient materials to enable them to find a verdict upon them. But do they offer any opinion upon the facts which I have just before stated, namely, the confession of the Duke of Newcastle that he knew nothing about the Crimea? They offer upon that an emphatic opinion, and I should be glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman what evidence can be as satisfactory as the confession of the accused man himself. If the Ministers of the Crown had not been heard—if the Committee had been guilty of the injustice of not hearing the Duke of Newcastle fully and fairly—then the criticism of the hon. Gentleman would have been just; but they were all heard, the evidence against them was admitted, and, under such circumstances, the Report cannot be controverted or denied. Looking through this Report, I ask the hon. Gentleman if there is on record so awful a Parliamentary document? I have read it over more than once, in reference to the clothing of the troops, to the feeding of the troops, and to the medicine supplied to the troops; and, in reference to every matter over which the Ministry had power and control, I find an express and positive condemnation. In all that ought to have been obtained for the relief of the sick and wounded the Committee say that, from first to last, everything was wrong, and, finally, in the appendix they set forth evidence which it is almost impossible to read without horror, stating that "for days and weeks together the soldiers went into the trenches with an insufficient meal and sometimes none at all, save a little biscuit and a little rum." Is that any evidence against the men who have conducted this army to destruction? The Committee proceed further, and when they deal with the foolish explanations which were submitted to them respecting the coffee and other matters, they indignantly dismiss the ingenious explanations offered to them as absurd. From first to last this Report is an emphatic condemnation of the Ministry. If I could find anything in favour of Ministers I would gladly state it, but I can find nothing. When the Committee come to deal with individuals, what is it they say? They tell you that at the most critical period of the year, when every Minister ought to have been at his post discharging his duty, the whole of them 1076 were away. The noble Lord the Member for Totness has made a speech in favour of the previous question, but, paying the utmost deference to everything the noble Lord stated, I submit to him that upon reflection his better judgment will convince him that it is impossible to sustain his intention of voting for the previous question. The noble Lord has been good enough to favour us with his draught Report, and, comparing his draught Report with the Report on the table of the House, I must say that I think his draught Report is the worse of the two. Every honest decision upon every important question is found in his draught Report, settled by his own hand. That draught Report and the draught Report of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Peel) are contained in this book, and substantially they correspond with the Report of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. Under such circumstances I cannot comprehend upon what grounds we are to vote for the previous question, instead of voting for the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It has been asked how it would be possible to agree to a vote of censure that would affect the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government? Now, I am one who think, for a reason which I shall shortly state, that of all the Members of the last Administration the noble Lord was the worst. I listened attentively to the personal explanations which were inflicted upon the House some time ago, and I attentively watched the noble Lord the Member for London when he explained to the House that the grounds upon which he had been disposed to quit the then existing Ministry were that the same Ministry had not conducted the operations of the war with vigour, and that they had not acquiesced in his propositions with readiness and alacrity. I will not be a party to charge the noble Lord with hypocrisy, nor will I say that the noble Lord had not a conscience, because I am satisfied that when he was in that Ministry he felt that the war had not been conducted as it ought to have been, and that it was his duty to interpose. I leave it to his friends to slander him, and I will not be a party, myself, to cast any imputation upon his honour and truth. The noble Lord was affected by what he saw and knew, and, being about to take a decisive step, unfortunately for his fame, whom did he consult? He consulted the present First 1077 Minister of the Crown. And this is the statement which the noble Lord made in reference to that matter—When I stand here to justify my resignation, and when I am told, as I have been that I have acted prematurely, I own that the doubt that presses on my mind is, whether I ought not at that time to have brought the question of this charge to an issue. But among those who urged me not to do so was the noble Lord himself, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who at the time when the correspondence took place was absent, but to whom I afterwards read it. He urged me, considering the objection which had been made by Lord Aberdeen, not to press the matter any further.Was that the course which the noble Lord ought to have pursued? In my humble opinion he ought at once to have resigned. The noble Lord felt himself that it was his duty to resign, and that the interests of the country were jeopardised by the Ministry of which he was a Member; but, in the first instance, he consulted the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, who advised him not to press the matter further, considering the objections which had been made by the head of the Ministry. Was that the conduct of one who had the interests, not of party, but of his country at heart? Are the Whigs unmindful of their former policy? Are they unmindful of that celebrated question which was once brought before the House of Commons upon the conduct of Ministers in reference to the Walcheren expedition? Are they unmindful that at that time they united altogether to expel the War Minister from office, and that the massive intellect of Romilly and the eloquence of Ponson by and of other great Members of their party were ably exercised in insisting upon the right of a Parliamentary inquiry and investigation into the conduct of every department which had any connection with the expedition? The state of affairs, then, seems to me to have so pointed an application to what has happened in our day that, with the permission of the House, I will call their attention to a passage from the speech of Mr. Ponsonby in reference to the conduct of a Ministry with regard to the mismanagement of a celebrated military expedition, and upon a discussion then raised of taking refuge in the previous question. I think that no Whig can object to the passage which I am about to read, though I have heard with astonishment the speeches which one hon. Gentleman after another has made upon that side of the House. In listening to their arguments I almost thought that I had lost my 1078 memory, and had forgotten all I had read. Are they the followers of Charles James Fox? When the conduct of Ministers was in question, what was the language of Mr. Burke and Mr. Pitt? What was the language of Mr. Fox? He said that "an indignant nation would make the noble Lord expiate his offence on the scaffold." And what was the language of Mr. Ponsonby? He said—This night the right hon. Gentleman, unable to oppose the propriety of the course we have pursued, ventures to attribute certain motives to Gentlemen on this side of the House. He tells us that inquiry is not our aim, but that we are endeavouring to procure a vote of this House against Ministers—in order to procure their removal from office, and pave the way for our own elevation to power. And in the very breath in which he makes this charge he laughs us to scorn for our unjustified confidence and signal disappointment. We know that the enemy has said that it was the genius of France conducted the British armies to Walcheren in the last expedition. But no! it was not the genius of France, it was the demon of England, nurtured into malignant influence by the base dissensions and unprincipled cabals of a weak, divided, insincere, and incapable Administration—an Administration, ill thought of by all, suspected by themselves, and despised by the country—an Administration, a constituent member of which was engaged in a low and unmanly conspiracy to expel from station another constituent member of it; an Administration, at the head of which now stands this Minister, who through an intrigue of this base, ungenerous, and unmixed quality, was in progress for months, has been obliged in this House to offer up his own defence, that he was innocent because he was ignorant? This is the picture which he and his colleagues have drawn of themselves. What need was there that genius should confound what unequalled ignorance had devised? What needed our enemy to interpose his great power or his greater abilities when he had our Ministers for auxiliaries? Why array the highest talents to oppose the efforts of incapacity the most evident to frustrate the councils of insincerity the most degrading? Behold at the head of the nation's councils a Minister who, knowing that, after this intrigue for months had terminated in an agreement to remove a colleague from an active and efficient situation in the Cabinet, under the alleged imputation of his incapacity to discharge the functions of office, yet still suffered him, though thus pronounced incapable, to retain for months his office of War Secretary, upon no other ground save that he could not reconcile the communication to his feelings. Where were his feelings for the people of England? Where were they for the liberties of Europe, whilst he suffered an incapable Minister to remain in office? Where did the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman slumber when the best blood of the empire was shed to putrify in the poisonous air of Walcheren—there, amidst pestilence and death to linger, and to perish, in order to afford a colourable pretext to the noble Lord for retaining office until the Minister of England could reconcile to his feelings the communication of the noble Lord's (Lord 1079 Castlereagh) acknowledged incapacity."—[1 Hansard, xv. 194.Well, Sir, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was in the Cabinet when that intrigue took place to expel the War Minister. One of that Minister's own colleagues believed that he was incompetent and he consulted the noble Lord; and these two eminent patriots, interested in the welfare and honour of their country say, the one to the other, "Conceal your opinion, suppress your feelings! The safety of the army, the glory and, perhaps, the existence of the State may indeed be at stake; but what are these things compared with our continuance in the possession of power?" The Attorney General has delivered a speech to-night which I shall not speedily forget. He is a constitutional lawyer, and I expected something from him that would have been worthy of his high reputation. But when he came to touch the real matter now under discussion, I must say that the weakest and worst arguments that I ever heard uttered fell from his lips. The hon. and learned Gentleman is a Whig, and I therefore ask him, "Do you mean to draw a distinction between the noble Lord and the other Members of the Administration, and do you contend that because he was in the Home Department he is to escape responsibility?" By the way, this argument is one that I have seen within the last forty-eight hours, well dressed up and set forth in the public prints, where it has been urged that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was relegated to a quiet and secluded department, where he could not interfere in the conduct of the war, and where he could not have been expected to interfere "to worry Lord Aberdeen—to worry the Duke of Newcastle"—but must look on in silent acquiescence in the ruin of his country. But does the hon. and learned Gentleman not know that Whigs write books, and that there sits on a bench near to him the brilliant historian of our times, the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay)? Does he not remember that right hon. Gentleman's sketch of Lord Halifax, or can he not recall his statements as to the theory of our constitution before the Revolution compared with its principles after that great epoch. Lord Halifax differed from the Cabinet of which he was a Member, and thought that his colleagues were doing many things that were wrong; "and," says the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, "he was very near 1080 turning a Whig;" which, I suppose, is about the highest compliment that the right hon. Gentleman thinks he can pay any one. But, after pourtraying the character of Lord Halifax, this distinguished author then moralises, and proceeds to expound—accurately, as I believe—the true theory of Ministerial responsibility. The Attorney General says that the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) is not responsible for the actions of the late Ministry. Let him listen to the language of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh on Ministerial responsibility—Some modern writers have blamed Halifax for continuing in the Ministry while he disapproved the manner in which both domestic and foreign affairs were conducted. But this censure is unjust. Indeed, it is to be remarked that the word 'Ministry,' in the sense in which we use it, was then unknown. The thing itself did not exist, for it belongs to an age in which Parliamentary government is fully established. At present the chief servants of the Crown form one body; they are understood to be on terms of friendly confidence with each other, and to agree as to the main principles in which the executive Administration ought to be conducted. If a slight difference of opinion arises among them it is easily compromised; but if one of them differs from the rest on a vital point, it is his duty to resign. While he retains his office he is responsible even for the steps which he has tried to dissuade his colleagues from taking.So that, if the noble Lord the Member for London and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had both joined a Cabinet with the views of the other members of which they could not agree, and had then argued and reasoned with their colleagues and earnestly implored them not to take the course they were contemplating, nevertheless, they would be equally responsible with the rest for all the steps that might afterwards be taken. Therefore, the argument of the Attorney-General, according to the doctrine of the Whig historian, is utterly groundless.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
I beg the hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon, but I never for a moment insisted on the proposition which he has imputed to me. All I said was, that I thought it extremely hard that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) should praise those other Members of the Cabinet to whom the administration of the War Departments were intrusted, and should seek to visit his severest censure on the head of the noble Lord who held the office of Home Secretary.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
I should be sorry 1081 in the slightest degree to misrepresent the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument, but certainly I understood him to say that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was occupied by the sewers of the metropolis, and the other special duties of his particular office, that he, therefore, stood separate from the rest of the Ministry, and that this House, would not be justified in visiting upon him individually the blame of the failures of the War Department, in which he was not engaged. If, however, the hon. and learned Gentleman explains what he means, I do not wish to fasten this mode of reasoning upon him; but I say that if you admit this line of argument every incapable, every rash, every insincere, man who becomes a Cabinet Minister might, with perfect impunity, inflict on his country the consequences of his own folly and his own recklessness. But the hon. and learned Gentleman offers another argument. He says, "What! do you intend to level your censures at the head of the noble Lord, when you know that he became Prime Minister without notice and without warning?" I answer,—Yes. He became Prime Minister when this committee was sitting, and with a full knowledge that it would continue its inquiry. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) and his colleagues manfully told the noble Lord that they could not submit to that committee, that they would never assent to it; and they called upon him to resist it. The noble Lord, however, submitted to it, as he would submit to anything else in order to retain office, and now, forsooth, his Attorney General stands up and says, "Oh, you did not give him notice and warning that you would try him for his alleged political offences." Why, Sir, having been asked to resist the committee and to arrest its progress, and having declined to do so, the noble Lord is bound now to abide by the issue of its investigations. The Attorney General, however, tells us, in legal parlance, that we are all estopped from inflicting on the noble Lord the severe consequences of our censure. He says, that the Tories are estopped, that the House of Commons is estopped, and that the Whigs—no doubt to their great delight—are also estopped. But how does he prove this? He did not discuss the findings of the Report or enter into its matter, to show that it has been improperly drawn up, or that the evidence has been misquoted or strained by one hair's 1082 breadth from its true meaning. Nothing of the kind; but he says that we are all estopped, because the noble Lord was called to the head of the Government pending the deliberations of the committee, before those revelations came to light, and before those awful disclosures were made which now stand recorded in the documents on our table, and which stirred every man in the kingdom to the bottom of his soul, and thrilled him with horror at the terrible sufferings undergone by his fellow-countrymen engaged in fighting for England's glory and greatness. We on this side (the Opposition), it is said, are to be estopped; and why? Because Lord Derby called on the noble Lord before the Report was prepared, and asked him to join him as a Minister. And then we are asked, "What would you have done if, after the noble Lord had become a Member of a Derby Cabinet, public opinion, public censure, and the judgment of a committee had rendered it necessary for him to retire?" Why (turning to the Ministerial bench), ask the noble Lord the Member for London what might have been done in such a case. Ask him, the foremost man of your Ministry, and one of the first men in the country, whom you have compelled on similar grounds to withdraw from among yourselves. Ask that noble Lord what is to be done in such an untoward event. If the influence of public opinion demands that a Minister should retire we have seen that he may retire; and you have yourselves shown us an example of how, even by other artifices and other means, it is possible to get rid of one whose services are no longer wanted. But the hon. and learned Gentleman has raised another and very important issue. He has repeated the assertion which was previously made by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe)—namely, that the adoption of this Motion would damage the French alliance. Now, I must, once for all, beg leave to say that an alliance with any continental nation will become a very inconvenient connection if it is to be considered as tying our hands or preventing us from getting at the truth on questions of vital interest to this country. But how will this resolution endanger the French alliance? We say that our Government's preparations were not sufficiently effective—that our militia force was very inadequate—that our troops were not numerous enough—that they were badly fed, clothed, and sheltered; 1083 and how can these statements imperil your relations with France? Why, these are the very things which the French themselves say; and let me tell hon. Gentlemen that the representatives of this great empire are not to be silenced by references to this country or to that. If we are to be thus overawed, we may soon become like the stolid subjects of some petty German prince. Reverting to the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, I confess that I for one have no confidence in him with reference to this great question. That noble Lord resisted this inquiry, and perverted the principles of the constitution. This I charge upon him distinctly; because the very difference between the constitution before the Revolution and after that great event, according to that eminent Whig authority whom I have before named, is, that the right of the House of Commons to inquire, to censure, and to punish has been firmly established since 1688; and the first example of the exercise of that right mentioned in the records of Parliament is the case of the inquiry into the causes why the siege of Londonderry was not relieved, when this House investigated the conduct of captains and commanders. This right was then clearly affirmed, and that honest writer, Mr. Hallam, asserts that no courtier, however corrupt, was afterwards found bold enough to deny it, although many might have endeavoured to elude its force. If that is the case, and it is not inconsistent with the principles of the constitution to inquire, upon what ground is it that, having inquired, we are not to censure? The purpose of inquiry is to ascertain facts and to obtain information. We have the information, we have ascertained the facts; if they convince our judgment, are we not to find our verdict? The hon. and learned Gentleman says we are a judicial body now. Be it so. Then, as a judicial body, I say we ought not to decide upon personal questions, but upon the truth and the facts within our knowledge, and therefore the hon. and learned Gentleman answered himself. But, as I before said, he raised a great issue, and I admit, though it does not touch the very question, yet it is most important. The hon. and learned Gentleman warned us how we ventured to vote in such a manner as to disturb the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown. We are bound, I admit, carefully to consider that question, and we are bound to consider, likewise, 1084 the conduct of the noble Lord from the day he attained to supreme power, not in reference to complaints for a little want of temper—which is but passing—or for a little want of courtesy in language towards Members of this House, but as affecting matters of more importance. I have been told that I ought to study what fell from the noble Lord, and I have endeavoured to do so. I have respect for his abilities and high position, and I never will be a party to the ungenerous idea that because of his rank or lineage he should not be Prime Minister of England. In my opinion it is in his favour, as it is in favour of his late more illustrious colleague. But if the Romans looked back to the images of their ancestors, it was not to gratify a silly pride, but to inflame their patriotism, to inspire their genius, and urge them to the performance of illustrious deeds. How has the noble Lord, since he has been Prime Minister, judging fairly by his actions, his conduct, and his speeches—how has he recommended himself to us as that Minister? on whom we can rely for undaunted courage and elevated wisdom. What brilliant enterprises has he attempted, what splendid measures has he carried, what great actions has he performed, in this crisis, worthy of England and of her ancient renown? And are we lost as a nation if we venture to disturb him? I rest the question, not on the policy of the expedition to Sebastopol, not on the conduct of generals or soldiers—I rest the great question of Ministerial responsibility on the accountability of a united Cabinet for the acts, for the counsels, and for the proceedings to which every one of its members was a party. I put it to the House of Commons that it is a question of overwhelming interest, one in which the whole nation is concerned, and one on which I believe every man's vote will be carefully watched. I admit the noble Lord may escape. I am reminded forcibly of the theory of the responsibility of Ministers, considered once by one of the famous men of my own country, who was excluded from the Cabinet of England by an oligarchy which then governed it. I have heard he was objected to by a Duke of Newcastle on the score of his genius and his brogue. Burke has discussed the doctrine and theory of Ministerial responsibility, and by a reference to his great authority I conclude my observations; "When I speak of responsibility, I do not mean to exclude that species of it, 1085 which the legal powers of the country have a right finally to exact from those who abuse a public trust, but high as this is, there is a responsibility which attaches on them from which the whole legitimate power of this kingdom cannot absolve them—there is a responsibility to conscience and to glory—a responsibility to the existing world, and to that posterity which men of their eminence cannot avoid, for glory or for shame, a responsibility to a tribunal at which, not only ministers, but Kings and Parliaments, and even nations themselves must one day answer."
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I rise, Sir, to speak on this great question without any wish to diminish or undervalue, still less to escape any part of the responsibility which I feel I have incurred. I will not, therefore, accept for myself, and I hope my noble Friend the First Minister of the Crown will not accept, the excuse made by the hon. and learned Attorney General, that the head of the present Administration occupied, at the time this expedition was conceived and sent on its mission, the post of Secretary of State for the Home Department. Sir, it is my belief, and I know not any constitutional authority which can the least impugn that belief, that every Member of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet is and remains responsible for that expedition, and the conduct of it, so long as he remained a member of that Administration. This, however, is a great question of justice and of policy. I say, a great question of justice and of policy, because, though no doubt it is a question of justice, it is not a question of justice only. The House of Commons, in its deliberative capacity, holding within its scope and directing by its vote the men and the measures which are to govern this great country, has always to consider, first, what the precise justice of a case requires; and next, to what decision it is expedient to come with a view to the general interests of the country. I remember a distinguished Member of this House, who was a Member of it at the time of the Walcheren expedition, and who was not friendly to the Ministers who undertook that expedition—Mr. William Elliott—a man distinguished no less by his virtues than by his talents—I remember he told me he thought the House of Commons had come to a decision on the Walcheren expedition in conformity with the wishes of the country, because, although the country found much 1086 to blame in that expedition, and nobody could defend every part of the conduct of Ministers, it was the general opinion of the country that those Ministers were carrying on the war, in which the whole heart of the country was engaged, with vigour and effect, and that it would be injurious to the country if they were displaced. Whether you agree or not in the decision to which the House of Commons then came, I think you will agree that it was a House of Commons that had a proper notion of its functions, and that it was justified in the decision at which it arrived.
No doubt this is a question of justice, but, looking at it as a question of justice, I must be permitted to remark on the manner in which the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) stated his case. Nothing can exceed the gravity of the decision which he has asked this House to pronounce. According to his own opinion—and I will not dispute that opinion—it is a Motion intended to disqualify for power, and to exclude from office, almost every man in this House who has ever been concerned in proposing and carrying measures of what is distinguished as a Liberal policy. The followers of Earl Grey, who carried reform, the followers of Sir Robert Peel, who carried free trade, are alike denounced, and are alike to be disqualified. By the hon. and learned Gentleman, who himself professes liberal opinions, it must be considered as a grave decision that none but men who have agreed with those who were opposed to Catholic emancipation, who were opposed to the Reform Act, who were opposed to free trade—that none but men of those opinions, be their talents howsoever great or their characters howsoever high, that, generally speaking, none but they are qualified for conducting the affairs of the country. If the issue is to be so great, one would think that the hon. and learned Gentleman would cautiously keep himself within the strict lines of truth and accuracy; that he would not overstate any of his charges upon which a decision is to be founded, which he must feel, if it has the advantage of justice, has many counterbalancing disadvantages; that he would not press the case unfairly against those whom he was about to accuse; and yet, Sir, I cannot but observe that in several particulars the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman was anything but a fair and correct one. An instance of it 1087 was noticed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle. (Sir J. Graham), who pointed out that, in giving an extract which seemed to be a correct quotation of Lord Raglan's letter, "the known acquiescence of the Emperor of the French" in the policy of sending out the expedition, was a phrase carefully omitted.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I read from the Report which was written by the noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour); I quoted from his Report.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I think the hon. and learned Gentleman must have known what Lord Raglan's letter contained, and that there was a suppression. It may not have served the purpose of condemnation, but I think even in mercy if not in justice he should have given those he was accusing the benefit of that which he knew to be the fact. But the hon. and learned Gentleman accuses the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet of having been absent from London for a considerable time, with certain exceptions. Well, that I may speak of by and by, as to whether it is a charge which the House ought to entertain; but at least the hon. and learned Gentleman should have stated the charge correctly. Now, what was it that the hon. and learned Gentleman asked? He said, "Why were you not at your posts? Your army was dwindling away; cold, hunger, and tempest were coming upon them, and yet you were not at your posts; and are these the men (said the hon. and learned Gentleman), who thus forget their duty, to be entrusted to conduct the affairs of the country?" The hon. and learned Gentleman tried to make an effect by urging this point, and he did make an effect, because loud cheers followed the assertion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that while cold, hunger, and tempest were afflicting the army the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet were absent from their posts. Now, what was the fact? Why, the Members of that Cabinet, with some exceptions, were absent from London from between the 12th and 14th of August to the 15th or 16th of October, when all were again present in London. Now, I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether it was before the 17th of October that cold, hunger, and tempest had assailed the army? Were we absent from our posts while the army was dwindling away? The hon. and learned Gentleman knows it was not so. But the hon. and learned Gentleman knowing that for 1088 a certain period the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet were not present in London, and knowing also that at a different period cold, hunger, and tempest, had afflicted and decimated the army, applies that which is true with regard to one period to another period, to which the application is false; and thus he endeavours, for the sake of justice, of pure justice, to fabricate a charge against the Ministry of Lord Aberdeen which is false. But this is not quite all. The right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir C. Wood) has proved that it was impossible that the charge against the Ministry in general could be true, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated it, if it be not true as regarded particular Members of that Administration. It might be true, possibly, that certain Members of the Administration, who had to supply the wants of the army, were culpable, and that that culpability was more or less shared by those Members of the Cabinet who were not immediately engaged in administering to those wants; but it was quite impossible to be true that the Secretary of State for War, the Secretary at War, and the First Lord of the Admiralty should be blameless in their several departments, and yet that the other Members of the Government should be held responsible for the ill performance of duties which had been well performed by those who were to discharge them. Well, the hon. and learned Gentleman, anxious as he is for justice, has so misconceived his case, and has so misled himself by a sort of pleasure which he seems to have in accusation and in finding fault with others, delighting, as he evidently does, in having an opportunity of casting charges on anybody, and indulging in that abundance—I will not say of venom, I will not say of poison, but of vituperation, which is evidently inherent in his nature, that he has employed it even though it disserved rather than advanced his purpose. And let me here observe, Sir, that I could not help remarking in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman a defect which I have over and over again observed in the speeches of the hon. and learned Member. I am constantly disappointed when listening to the hon. and learned Gentleman's speeches. He begins with a very strong exordium. He places in the strongest light, in the most forcible language, and with the greatest effect the argument upon which he is about to dwell, and he ends 1089 with a very admirable peroration; but, with regard to the argument itself, which should come in the middle—with respect to the proofs with which an accuser should always be abundantly prepared—in short, with regard to the substance of the speech itself, the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman is always entirely wanting. There are the beak and talons of the bird of prey, but the inside is nothing but straw. Such was the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the other night. I have looked into the precedent which the hon. and learned Gentleman talked of, and have considered the course pursued towards other Statesmen who were in the same unhappy position in which we now find ourselves placed—Statesmen who had sent out an expedition to Walcheren, and who were made answerable for the misfortunes which befel it. I have looked to see in what manner the accusation was made against them. I have read the speech of Mr. Ponsonby, and the most able speech of Lord Porchester when bringing forward Resolutions with regard to that expedition, and I find that they took the utmost pains to marshal their arguments and to prepare all their materials and facts, in order to show the House that they were justified in coming to the conclusion which they called upon the House to sanction and adopt. Now, I ask has the hon. and learned Gentleman done anything of this kind? No. He was so full of indignation—his veins were so boiling with it—that he left out proofs and arguments altogether. Indignation may make very good verses, but it does not constitute proof or argument, and arguments the hon. and learned Gentleman entirely omitted. The hon. and learned Gentleman reminded me of an eloquent passage, with which most persons must be acquainted, in a speech of that great orator, Mr. Curran, who, when addressing a well known statesman, then Lord Chancellor, said, "I am aware, my Lord, that truth is to be sought only by slow and painful progress; I know, also, that error is in its nature flippant and compendious; it hops with airy and fastidious levity over proofs and arguments, and perches upon assertion, which it calls conclusion." That was the course which the hon. and learned Gentleman has taken. He has perched upon assertions and has called them conclusions.
Now, Sir, with respect to this great subject, there are two very different questions 1090 which I think have been often confounded, and by no person more than by the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last. The one is as to the question upon which the Committee was appointed. The Committee was appointed to consider the condition of the army in the Crimea, and into the conduct of those departments whose duty it was to minister to the wants of that army. This appeared to me, I own, to be a very fair subject of inquiry. I believe that the people of this country would never have forgiven this House if they had refused that inquiry. I therefore differ with many on that point, with whom I agree on other points of the subject. I concur in the opinion of Lord Castlereagh, who ordered the expedition to Walcheren, and who said, "I court investigation, for my case stands upon a rock, and I have no fear of an inquiry." However, be that as it may, this investigation evidently might have been conducted without raising any other question than the one as to how the wants of the army were supplied. It might be that the French army was admirably supplied, or it might be that it was ill supplied; but that was a question which did not enter into an inquiry as to the mode of supplying the English army, of reinforcing it, or of furnishing it with ammunition and other necessaries. Such matters were quite independent of any question with regard to the French. But is that the question which the hon. and learned Gentleman has brought before the House? No, Sir, that is not the question. It is very difficult indeed to say what the question is that the hon. and learned Gentleman has brought before us. But the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington) and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) who has just spoken, seem to think that the charge on which the sense of the House is to be taken is that the Government of Lord Aberdeen, with insufficient knowledge, sent an expedition to the Crimea to undertake a task which it was utterly impossible it could accomplish. But is that the charge? I am standing here about to be condemned without knowing what is the nature of the indictment I have to meet. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman means to confine himself to one charge or to another, or whether he wishes to take the chance of both, so that one man might vote on one view of the question, and another on another view of it, so general is the hon. and learned Gentleman in his 1091 terms of accusation; but by this proceeding hon. Members would be saved from the obligation of saying on what specific charge they had found the Ministers guilty. That was not the course pursued by Lord Porchester in regard to the Walcheren inquiry. That nobleman drew up a series of most elaborate Resolutions, and stated to the House distinctly what it was the Government had done; and then, and not till then, did he ask the House to confirm those Resolutions, and pass a vote of censure. But the hon. and learned Gentleman, in his love of truth and justice, thinks it expedient to conceal the nature of his charge, and to leave us to guess for what it is that he proposes that the House should condemn us.
With regard to the second question, it is, in my opinion, one of a totally different nature. It cannot be denied that by an inquiry being made it might be found that the army had not been duly supported, and that there had been great carelessness and neglect in that particular, for which certain official persons ought to be censured. That would not have tended to embarrass our alliance. But when you ask, was there a sufficient army sent to the Crimea, you then touch upon a totally different point, because then you will be obliged to ask, did the Ministers consult with the French Government?—did they consider what was to be done?—what were the numbers of the troops agreed on by the two Powers?—did the English Government send the utmost force it was possible for them to send?—did they rest satisfied with the number which the French could send?—and if the French army was deficient in numbers, was it because the French Government had no means of transport? In fact, how came there to be any deficiency of force? But that implies an inquiry into the conduct of France. I agree with my noble Friend the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) in that respect. The inquiry was, and must be, incomplete. Until you know the reasons, the correspondence which took place, what was agreed upon, and what was omitted, it is impossible for you to come to anything like a just decision upon this question. Well, so again with regard to one great cause of the sufferings of the army—sufferings which we all lament, and for which all must feel the deepest sympathy—no one can doubt that, independently of other causes, the very hard work in the trenches which was entailed upon our diminished force—diminished 1092 on the 10th of November as compared with the force on the 14th of September,—no one can doubt that severe labour was one great cause of the suffering and mortality. Everybody knows also that the French army was conducting, as it were, by our side, a separate siege, and their numbers were increasing. Well, but this is very delicate ground. Did Lord Raglan ever ask the French general to assist him? What was the answer of the French general? Had not the French general made trenches of six or seven miles in length? Did he consider that a work of such importance, and one which required to be so well defended, that he could not spare any men? or did Lord Raglan not ask for any assistance? What were the facts? This, as I said before, is delicate ground, but, unless you know the real truth, it is impossible that you can come to a vote of censure upon a Ministry for having imposed too severe work upon the English army. The hon. and learned Gentleman conveniently keeps all this out of sight, and, although no doubt it would be more satisfactory to myself to follow the course recommended by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), and come to a direct vote of aye or no upon this question, I cannot deny that the hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Peel) who has moved the previous question, and the noble Lord the Member for Totness who has supported it, have good Parliamentary grounds for saying the previous question should be put upon an occasion of this kind.
But passing by the great question, of which it is impossible to say whether it is raised or not by this Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I will state in a few words what I consider to be the defence of those who ordered the expedition. An army had been sent out from this country, an army had been sent out from France. The immediate purpose of those armies, was to defend the capital of the Turkish empire from occupation and conquest. It was found that on account of the expectation of the arrival of those armies, and also of losses, and from other causes, the Russian army retired even from before Silistria. I own that was an event to me quite unexpected. I did not expect that the feeble intrenchments—and all now know that they were exceedingly feeble—of Arab Tabia and the outworks of Silistria would have defied the Russian army for a whole year and eventually have compelled 1093 them to retreat. But such being the case, it became a serious question what was to be done with the allied army. Now, I think every one will agree that if those forces had been withdrawn to the neighbourhood of Constantinople there would have been general disappointment. The belief would have been that the war was not to be prosecuted with vigour, and even the Russian Government would have been led to believe that they need make no concessions,—that if they kept within their frontiers they could easily defend themselves for years against such enemies. Was the allied army to be sent across the Danube into the Principalities? We found then that Austria was quite willing to drive the Russians out of the Principalities, but we also knew that if the Russians evacuated the Principalities, or even were driven out, the Austrians would not cross the Pruth. What would have been the position of the two allied armies—say, increased to 60,000 or 70,000, in a difficult position and opposed to the whole of the Russian forces? The armies could not have marched without great preparations and large means of transport, which would have occupied two or three months before they could reach the enemy, and then there can be no doubt the Russian army would have been vastly superior in numbers to the allied armies, which, not strong at first, would have been by that time weakened by disease. That course, then, was found impossible. There remained the course of sending the army to the Crimea. Hon. Gentlemen say we had no sufficient information. We had all the information that could be obtained, and, as usually is the case with regard to enemies, there were various accounts and different results. I may observe the same thing occurred to no inconsiderable commander. Napoleon, with respect to Spain, did not know the number of the English forces nor their position. We had information, but not such as we could thoroughly rely upon. Lord Raglan, although desired by the Duke of Newcastle to get information, never had such information as he could entirely rely upon. But we supposed, from the information we had, and which Marshal St. Arnaud had received at the French camp, that there might be about 45,000 men in the field, and about 15,000 in Sebastopol, making altogether about 60,000 Russians in the Crimea. Was it possible or not to take Sebastopol, then, by the means of the allied army? I believe it 1094 was possible. I believe that if we had effected that object we should have gone far to gain our object, for, undoubtedly, the long defence of Sebastopol has increased the Russian obstinacy. We should have struck a great blow, which would have induced the Emperor of Russia to shorten the duration of the war, and to assent to reasonable terms of peace. It is very easy to say now that Sebastopol has not been taken—that it was impossible to take it. Now, as to the defence of Sebastopol—we have had great defences to struggle against there—great artificial defences. It cannot be denied, however, that last year a great part of the town was defended by a simple wall, and that the skill of the engineer had not been exercised in that portion of the defences of the place. Well, was it impossible or not that the allied armies landing in the Crimea should gain a great victory, and that the effect of that victory should be such that the gates of Sebastopol should be opened to the allies? I believe it was perfectly possible. I remember speaking once with an illustrious soldier, now gone from us, the late Marquess of Anglesey, when he said, "When a French and English army act together there will be such an emulation, such a spirit of rivalry, that nothing can withstand it." I say we found that at the battle of the Alma. Was it possible, or not, that the allied army, after gaining a victory like that of the Alma might have been able to push on and close upon Sebastopol, while the Russian army was still in confusion? Supposing that not to be done, was it impossible that the English and French armies, arriving on the south side of Sebastopol, might have attacked those weak defences, and in the course of a few days have made themselves masters of that fortress? It has not happened, for it is the fortune of war that we cannot be sure of events of this kind; but I say it was a chance worthy of the risk. To strike so great a blow those who undertook that expedition, although they knew, and must have known, the responsibility they were incurring, felt they were fighting for a great prize, and that if they were victorious, not only glory and triumph, but peace would be the result of success. That, therefore, is one part of the case.
Another part of the case regards those who were entrusted with the duty of supplying the wants of the expedition. The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen 1095 (Mr. Whiteside), like the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir B. Lytton), on a former occasion, has referred to me as an accuser and depreciator of the Duke of Newcastle. Now, Sir, I beg leave to say, in the first place, the comparison of the hon. and learned Gentleman is entirely out of place, that I made no accusation that was kept a secret from the Duke of Newcastle; that before my noble Friend then at the head of the Government knew anything about the correspondence, it had been laid before the Duke of Newcastle, and, I believe, was seen by other Members of the Cabinet. It was not that the Duke of Newcastle was deficient in the conscientious discharge of his duties, or that he was not a most laborious Minister; on the contrary, I believe he was both conscientious and laborious, and not only will I say this, but that he was a man of sound judgment. But it appeared to me that he did not possess sufficient authority in his office to carry on with energy and with vigour the operations which were required by so great a war as that in which we were engaged. Sir, that opinion of mine might be wrong; it was not shared by any of my colleagues, who, on the contrary, had the fullest confidence in the administration of the War Department as it was then conducted. With respect, however, to the Duke of Newcastle and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. Sidney Herbert), I think no one who has looked at the evidence given before the Committee will deny that, in spite of defects, in spite of an organisation which has been left too long at peace without interference or reform—in spite, I say, of those defects and that organisation over which it would have been difficult for any man to triumph, great activity was shown in despatching to the Crimea the men, the food, and the clothing which the army required. No doubt many defects existed, and the accurate and sagacious mind of my noble Friend the Member for Totness has pointed out where, in various respects, our organisation was defective, and where evil consequences resulted from that organisation; and I think that the labours of the Committee will not have been thrown away if, with the knowledge they have gained in consequence of its appointment, the present Government are enabled, and Lord Panmure is enabled, to give a more concentrated power to the War Department, and to prevent those delays and 1096 supply that want of energy which resulted from the organisation of the former War Departments, of the Ordnance, and its corresponding military departments. That, I think, will be a great advantage; but I submit that it does not form a case for this House to pass so bold a censure as is now proposed—it forms no case whatever to blame the whole of the Administration. The whole of the Administration were engaged in considering whether such an expedition should be sent—whether the force proposed would be sufficient for the purpose intended—whether we could send a greater force, or what could be done—what would be the consequence of not sending the expedition in 1854, and in what state we should find the Crimea in 1855. All those questions were naturally questions for the whole of the Government and for every Member of the Government; and I cannot say I think that every obstacle which the Minister of War found in the fulfilment of his orders respecting the huts and clothing in the departments under him furnishes the ground for such a censure as is now proposed; and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) feels this so strongly that he wishes the House to conclude that it is based upon other grounds, though he does not positively mention them in his Resolution. If this is the state of the case—if it is the fact that at the commencement of a great war we have sent out an expedition consisting of as fine an army as could be collected, and that that army, which has been most successful in its battles, has not been successful in its immediate object, which was the capture of Sebastopol, is it, or is it not, desirable that the House should inflict its censure upon those who projected that expedition? I own it appears to me that if they come to that conclusion the House will commit a very great injustice, for they will commit an injustice against men who had endeavoured, to the best of their powers—and they were men of no ordinary capacity who formed the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government—to frame an expedition which was to direct a blow that would have been effectual for its purpose, but which, owing to the various accidents and the various fortunes which befall warlike expeditions, has not hitherto been successful, further than in maintaining the honour of the arms of both countries. That success, however, we hope will yet crown their exertions; our expectations may be fulfilled, and we may be enabled 1097 to say that we have defeated one of the great means Russia had devised, and destroyed one of the greatest fortresses she had raised for the accomplishment of her purposes.
Sir, I said that I would say one word with respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman's charge that while this expedition was being carried on the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government were absent from their posts. The Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government who decided on this expedition had received from Lord Raglan the information that the expedition would sail, and that every measure of preparation had been completed. I know not that any others are required to communicate with the Commander in Chief than those who are directly connected with the War Department; and I am sure that if you are to insist that in critical times every Member of an Administration who is likewise a Member of the House of Commons must remain in London, and not, for the sake of health, resort to other places, it would not tend to the efficiency of public business. The work of this House is so severe—the work of attending eight or nine hours at night to take part in every debate, added to all the official duties and all the Cabinet Councils, is such that you might have men broken down, you might be obliged to replace Ministers whose health had entirely failed, but you would not gain your object of having an Administration composed of men who were fit to resume their work with that vigour and in that full possession of health which is necessary to those who have to administer the affairs of this country. But what, Sir, was the period when the absence of the Ministry was complained of? It was from the middle of August to the middle of October. In that period the battle of the Alma took place, but the accounts of the formation of the siege of Sebastopol—the most important accounts—are dated between the 1st and the 8th of October, and were received at a time when the Cabinet were about to assemble, and everything that could be considered by Ministers was at a time when the Cabinet were, from week to week, and almost from day to day, in the habit of assembling; so that it is not true that any great question was neglected in consequence of the absence of the Cabinet; and nothing but the ingenious device of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, of applying a reproach to one period of time which probably 1098 belongs to another, could make any charge out of this fact. I have stated the question as respects the justice of the case, and I think I have shown that the great, the main question, whether it was right to send that expedition to the Crimea—whether it was right to send an army for that purpose, or to send to the ports that were sent to, is one on which you can hardly come to a right conclusion without entering into all that was done by the Government of France as well as that of England. I think I have shown, at least as well as the hon. and learned Gentleman has shown to the contrary, that when the army was in the Crimea, the army departments at home took care, as fast as they were able—that there were many defects and delays I confess—both to reinforce that army and to furnish it with the food, clothing, and shelter that it required.
We then come to the great question of policy. It is desirable at the present moment—on the 19th of July—that the House of Commons should come to a vote which will not merely have the effect of casting upon us who are out of office a stigma with respect to which there will be no impolicy, but which will also have the effect of depriving the Government of the country of its head and many chief Members of the Administration? That, Sir, is a grave question, and I agree with the hon. and learned Attorney General that it is a question not so much of whether or not those Ministers are carrying on the war with vigour, as whether you think that by replacing them by Lord Derby and those who are joined with him in party you will obtain a more efficient administration of the war. I cannot believe that you will. I can see the great inconvenience and the great confusion that will arise for a time by displacing those who are now engaged in sending out orders to the General Commanding in Chief in the Crimea, and who are organising and directing the fleets of this country. That a change of that description should take place without some confusion is impossible, but when you have got through that confusion, will you have a better Administration? It is for this House to say, because it is a question of policy as well as a question of justice. If those men who now belong to the Ministry, and who formed part of Lord Aberdeen's Ministry, had shown themselves utterly incompetent and incapable—if they are 1099 strangers to the proper duties of an Administration—why then there is a case for dismissing them, and dismissing them with disgrace. But I submit that there is no such case which the hon. and learned Gentleman can produce against a Minister who has alwas turned his attention, not only to our relations with foreign Powers, but to the efficient conducting of departments of war, and the manner in which the armies of this country can best be guided. Will you gain any advantage; will not the country, on the other hand, suffer great disadvantages by your deciding at once that there shall be a change in the Administration? If you do nothing else, will you not to some degree check and abate the spirit of those who have to succeed them? Will you not infuse into them such a degree of caution that the whole soul of enterprise may be damped, and the vigour which should animate our exertions against the enemy be chilled by the damp that you would cast on the Administration? Sir, I have a quotation here, which is somewhat long; but, as it states what I wish to say in so much better language than any I can use, I entreat the House to listen to it, as it is not inapplicable to the present circumstances, and with that I will conclude what I have had to deliver to this House, feeling convinced that the House will decide fairly upon the whole question, being ready myself to accept the Motion of the hon. and gallant general the Member for Huntingdon, for "the previous question," but equally ready, should the House decide against the previous question, to contend against the justice and policy of the Resolution of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck); and I should not be afraid that the House, upon the merits of the question, would come to a decision adverse to the Administration of the Earl of Aberdeen. Now, Sir, the extract is from a speech upon the Scheldt expedition, delivered in this House by Mr. Canning on the 29th of March, 1810, who had been a Member of the Cabinet which sent out the expedition, and being no longer in office when the vote of censure was discussed. He said—Something yet remains to be said upon one topic, on which much stress has been laid by our accusers—the policy of marking with extraordinary severity a failure so disastrous as this is represented to have been of an enterprise (as it is averred) so rashly undertaken.So far the averment is not very different 1100 that of the hon. and learned Gentleman.Sir, of this policy, as a matter distinct from justice—I take the liberty to entertain great doubts. I doubt whether the vice of the British Constitution and Government be a too great proneness to undertake splendid and daring enterprises, or its main perfection and uncommon facility for conducting the operations of war. There is enough already, as it appears to me, both of difficulty to impede and of responsibility to daunt any Administration in this country to whom the conduct of a war is intrusted, and when that war is to be carried on against such an enemy as him with whom we have to contend at present, it s not, in my humble opinion, politic to go one step beyond what justice may prescribe to enhance that difficulty and press the weight of that responsibility upon the Government. Possibly I might think, that even to stop something short of an extreme and vigorous account might be the more politic alternative of the two. We have to contend against an enemy who, with whatever qualifications he may be endowed by nature, has full scope and play given to all his faculties and views by the unlimited power, the irresponsible freedom with which he acts. He asks no consent, he renders no account. He wields at will the population and resources of a mighty empire and its dependent States. His successes are magnified with enthusiasm, his failures silently passed over. And against this unity of counsel and this liberty of action, we have to contend under the disadvantages of a mixed and complicated Government. Disadvantages in this respect they are, though happily and gloriously redeemed and compensated by the great and manifold blessings of a constitution unequalled by any other system of human policy in the history of the world. Secrecy of design, celerity of execution, a boldness of adventure arising from fearlessness of responsibility for ill success are the qualities the most useful for the vigorous prosecution of military operations. They are advantages which our despotic adversary enjoys in the most eminent degree. They are those which a free Government necessarily wants. I doubt whether it be politic to aggravate the inequality of such a contest by a severity of scrutiny and a hardness of animadversion upon failure which, by making responsibility too heavy to be borne, has a tendency to make all enterprise too hazardous to be attempted. Neither, again, while I admit and lament the failure of this expedition, can I agree with those who consider the disappointment of a great object of national policy as synonymous with national disgrace, and as pregnant with national ruin."—[1 Hansard, xvi. 350.]So, Sir, say I. I cannot consider what has happened as synonymous with national disgrace, or as pregnant with national ruin. I believe that by going into war suddenly, with an organisation very defective, with an enterprise of more than usual hazard, we have suffered more than ordinary calamities; but, Sir, I look at many things which are sound, both in our military and our political constitution. I cannot but believe that the army which stood—I will not say the battles of Alma and Inkerman, 1101 but which stood the hardships and severities of that winter siege of Sebastopol unbroken, and with its discipline unimpaired, must be formed by a military system equal to its objects, and which teaches men to endure hardships and to meet death—not glorious death, but inglorious death—with calmness in the service of their country. I cannot but think that an army so organised, when reinforced, and with difficulties less arduous to contend against, is sure to give to their country victory, and to Europe safety and repose. I look, Sir, to our political constitution. I see in that political constitution defects. I see, moreover, in some circumstances, which did not exist when Mr. Canning spoke, great obstacles to the efficient operations of the war; but I believe that there is virtue even in the worst of those defects, and in the most trying of those difficulties. I believe that that which has been found fault with will be repaired, owing to that general spirit which prevails of looking into every branch of the Administration with a view to its correction. I believe, likewise, that the spirit of the people of this country is as high as it ever was during any period of the war, and that the people will stop short of no sacrifice which they think is necessary to maintain the character of the country. Well, Sir, I should hold in these circumstances, with these prospects before us, and with that organisation, both military and political, that a vote to displace an Administration upon assertions that the war had not been well conducted, and, above all, that it was rash to undertake the expedition to the Crimea—I should hold, I say, that such a vote of the House of Commons, far from aiding, far from promoting, the success of the war, would, on the contrary, tend to damp the spirits and to confuse the minds of the people of this country. I am convinced, therefore, that this House will best perform its duty by giving no countenance whatever to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, which I believe to be conceived in malice, and which can tend to no object useful to the State.
§ MR. BRIGHT
Sir, I shall occupy the House only a few minutes while I explain my view of the Motion which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield has submitted to the House. I am one of those who did not vote for the Committee which was appointed upon his Motion, and I did not vote for it on this ground—that I thought I perceived in the words of the 1102 Motion a one-sidedness with regard to its application to different Members of the Government. I thought it indicated—and I use the word without offence, and in its literal sense—something of a "conspiracy" against the noble Earl then at the head of the Government and that portion of the Cabinet who were supposed to be peculiarly associated with him. Upon that ground alone I refused to give a vote upon that occasion, although I approved entirely the course which the House took in appointing the Committee, as I am now prepared to give my entire approbation to the conduct of the Committee and to the Report which has been brought up, which I think admirable and judicious in every respect. But when we have a Report I think that the House is bound, according to all ordinary proceedings, to take some steps with regard to it. The noble Lord who has just sat down has been somewhat severe on my hon. and learned Friend; and I do not blame him for that, because my hon. and learned Friend did not spare the noble Lord the other night; but the noble Lord says that my hon. and learned Friend gave us a magnificent opening of a speech, that the conclusion agreed with the opening, but that the middle was left out. Did the noble Lord expect that my hon. and learned Friend was going to read the whole of the Report, or the whole of the evidence? My hon. and learned Friend presumed that the noble Lord and other Members of the House had made themselves acquainted with the facts of the Report, and that, being laid before us by an unanimous Committee, those facts would be taken as not to be disputed. It was not necessary therefore, for him to marshal them in his speech. But I wish to ask the noble Lord what that Committee was appointed for, if the Report being upon the table, no further proceedings are to be taken upon it? Are all those facts collected just as some antiquary collects curiosities, merely that he may put them in a museum, and that himself and others may look at them? I thought that the Committee was appointed for some great public object, in order that the House might take the steps which might be required in case the allegations which were made should be substantiated on the evidence that was produced. And, now, does any man say that the Committee have not discovered this fact, that all the case which was submitted to the House by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield, when he moved for the Committee, has been more than substantiated 1103 by the evidence which was brought before them? I think that no Member of the late or of the present Government will at present undertake to deny the statements of miseries endured which appalled the country when they were made—statements which were denied, but which have since been proved to be correct by evidence taken before a Select Committee, which has been laid upon the table of the House. Then, under these circumstances, are we to say that the whole end of this matter is to be that some changes shall take place in the War Department, and that there shall be a concentration of offices? Why, the noble Lord the Member for London and the noble Lord at the head of the Government know very well that they have known for years that those changes were required in that department. I recollect that a lamented Friend of mine, the late Mr. Hume, year after year proposed many of these changes, and in doing so he met with no stouter opponents than the noble Lord the Member for London, and the noble Lord at the head of the Government; and yet now the noble Lord wishes to ride off, on that system which he previously refused to change, the misfortunes which have happened through the neglect of the Administration to which the conduct of the war was intrusted.
The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) has referred to one question which appears to me to be of considerable importance, and that is as to what Parliament ought to do with regard to Ministerial responsibility. We do not in these days, send Ministers to Tower-hill, and no one approves more than I do of the change in that respect; but, at the same time it does not follow that, when the House finds the public service neglected, and consequently calamity brought upon the country, it should not express its opinion firmly and boldly, and bring home to a sense of responsibility not only the existing but also future Cabinets. The noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) who had the capacity and power to draw up the Report of the Committee, must have been puzzled to oppose this Resolution on the ground of its being a retrospective censure. Why, Sir, I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Recorder of London (Mr. Stuart Wortley) if he had ever heard of such a plea being brought forward in the Central Criminal Court, and he answered "No, because all censure must necessarily be retrospective." I think that the noble Lord must have felt 1104 that his cause was a weak one when, upon that ground, he asked the House not to censure any Member of the existing Government. Then it is said that a portion of those who are charged with maladministration have been already punished. Well, they have, to a certain extent, inasmuch as they have been excluded from office; but it does not follow that, because some have been punished, the others should escape. I myself do not know who has so much right to escape, if any one should escape at all, as the noble Lord the Member for London, for that noble Lord, when he found that his confederates were going to be captured, turned king's evidence; and I believe it is customary to allow persons who turn king's evidence to escape punishment. The noble Lord at the head of the Government is as much responsible for the mismanagement which is now so clearly proved as any one is; but he has not been punished, but, on the contrary, he has been, according to the rule which prevails in the Government of India under the rule of the East India Company, when anything is done wrong, promoted to a higher office and to greater dignity and power. I myself regard this Resolution as a vote of censure upon the existing Government, and more particularly upon the noble Lord at the head of it, and I believe that that is the point of view from which, after all, hon. Gentlemen will be obliged to regard it. I do not see how it can be regarded in any other way after the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who paid compliments, as I thought, of a rather high-flown character to the right hon. Gentlemen who left the Government of the noble Lord; but, whether those compliments were deserved or not, it appears certain that the hon. and learned Gentleman had no intention of disparaging the character of the Duke of Newcastle, the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. Sidney Herbert), the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), the Earl of Aberdeen, or the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). As the hon. and learned Gentleman excludes them, perhaps he thinks that they are expiating their misdeeds by being excluded from office, and no doubt he has a high opinion of the pain of being excluded from office, and in that way are suffering the penalty for their misdeeds; and under these circumstances he wishes to concentrate the opinions of the House upon those Members who still remain in the Administration, and more especially on the noble Lord at 1105 its head. I do not think that the noble Lord will accept the shabby excuse made for him by his Attorney General. The noble Lord who has just sat down has said on that subject, and I may say for myself that I have observed, and others have observed, that these great lawyers do not have all their wits about them unless they are engaged in their own sphere, and have a fee absolutely written at the back of the brief. I do not think that the noble Lord will accept that excuse, because the excuse is a bad one in itself, for there is no proof that the noble Lord managed the sewers better than the Duke of Newcastle managed the war, and also because I am satisfied that upon foreign affairs the noble Lord was the most important Member of the Cabinet of Lord Aberdeen.
When the Government of Lord Aberdeen was formed, the noble Lord, the present Prime Minister, was taken into it—why, I will not say—but no doubt it would have been dangerous to leave him out. However that may be, the noble Lord was, I believe, the Member of the Cabinet to whom his colleagues most deferred on questions of foreign policy. Why, look at the varied experience of the noble Lord with regard to the question of going to war. The noble Lord had a war in India in which a British army was sacrificed; a war in China, which some people say was not the most creditable war in which this country has been engaged; he had a war in Syria; afterwards he very nearly had a war with Greece; and in both the latter cases he nearly endangered our relations with France. The noble Lord is also most familiar with treaties. I have heard him comdemn the beneficent sagacity of Sir Robert Peel when he avoided a war with the United States of America by a treaty concluded by Lord Ashburton—a treaty which the noble Lord characterised as the "Ashburton capitulation." What other Statesmen have we who has had more experience in negotiations than the noble Lord? The noble Lord has written to Spain in a manner that caused the recall of our Ambassador; he has written to Vienna and to Russia in a manner which called forth a rejoinder of an offensive and insulting character, which the noble Lord accepted with a humility truly edifying. The noble Lord, too, sanctioned the invasion of Hungary by Russia, and no man—whether the policy of the noble Lord has been good or bad has nothing to do with it, I believe it to have not been good—in the Government 1106 of Lord Aberdeen would be likely to be deferred to so continuously and constantly as the noble Lord upon those matters which were then beginning to assume a formidable shape. I do not think that I am overstating the case, and certainly, were I in the position of the noble Lord, I should accept the position which I now assign to him. I feel convinced that I am right, because I perceive the spirit and principle of the foreign policy of the noble Lord in all the vast calamities which have fallen on the country during the last two years. The noble Lord the Member for London has made an unfortunate admission with regard to the reasons for the expedition to the Crimea. I am not now going into the question of the policy of the war, because I think that, if conviction has not already entered into the minds of reasonable men, any argument which I could advance would be lost upon them, and therefore I shall not touch upon that subject. But with regard to the expedition to the Crimea, I think that the noble Lord has made an unfortunate admission. The noble Lord referred to the condition of the army at Varna, and then he asked, would there not have been great disappointment if the army had returned to Constantinople? Was that the reason the army went to the Crimea? I believe it was. I believe it was the articles in The Times newspaper and in the columns of the daily press, and the fear of the Government to meet unpopularity, that impelled the Government, instead of endeavouring to confine the war, to give it a new character, and, instead of restricting it to the defence of Turkey, to undertake the unspeakable madness of invading Russia. Then, how was it undertaken? I will not in more than one sentence refer to the time of year, the amount of the force at your command, and the various circumstances connected with the expedition; but I must say that it appears to have been undertaken without sufficient information. We are told that the Government took great pains to procure accurate information, but it certainly does not appear from the Report or from the evidence taken by the Committee that much pains were taken. Then it is said that Russia knows everything which goes on in this country, as well as all over the world. Why, surely, your Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls, and agents ought to be—though I believe they are not—just as capable of getting you information as the corresponding authorities in the service of Russia. But, if the 1107 people of this country be, and have been, profoundly ignorant with regard to this question, and, if the Press be either ignorant or profligate—and a portion of the Press has been both—that is no excuse whatsoever for a Cabinet intrusted with the vital powers which refer to the Administration of a great nation. Now, was everybody so ignorant? Is not the noble Lord aware that, when he is telling us he got all the information he could, and that the Government are not to blame for being ignorant of that which was not to be known—is he not aware that there were persons in this country who did know, and who told the Government and the country, precisely that which they would have told the Government and the country if they had lived eighteen months in advance? And yet it made no difference in the policy of the noble Lord and his Friends. I have heard that military authorities in this country—very many of them—entirely disapproved this expedition, and that there was not in Europe anything like a preponderance of military authority in favour of the expedition, either in the manner or at the time at which it was undertaken.
But now I will read one statement with regard to this which was patent to everybody. I read it, I believe, on about the 6th or 7th of July in last year—about two months before the expedition sailed—and there was not a Member of the Cabinet who did not have this passed before his eye, though they probably did not read it, or else, if they read it, they pooh-poohed it as Cabinet Ministers are apt to do all which happens outside the charmed circle in which they live. I will read to you what was said last July by a poor exile. Kossuth is a man who has not 5.000l. a year; he is not a trustee for this nation; he has not a legion of emissaries to procure for him information of this nature; it was no business of his to make every possible exertion in order to find out the truth. He was, therefore, in a position far less favourable for knowing the truth than the Members of Her Majesty's Government, and yet this is what was stated by him on the 5th of July, 1854, to an audience he was addressing in the city of Glasgow—I don't think you can take Sebastopol by sea. It would cost sacrifices which you neither can afford nor risk. And as to taking it by land, to take an entrenched camp, linked by terrible fortresses, and an army for garrison in it, and new armies pouring into your flank and rear—and you in the plains of the Crimea, with almost no cavalry to resist them—that is such an undertaking 1108 to succeed in which more forces are necessary than England and France can ever unite in that quarter for such an aim. You will be beaten; remember my word. Your braves will fall in vain under Russian bullets and Crimean air, as the Russians fell under Turkish bullets and Danubian fever. Not one out of five of your braves, immolated in vain, shall see Albion or Gallia again.Why, if one of the old prophets had arisen in your midst, speaking under the direct inspiration of Heaven, he could not more exactly have pointed out the desperate expedition which you were about to undertake, or the frightful disasters which you were entailing upon your country. There were great instructors of the people, who have had no little influence in promoting these disasters, who wrote about the same period in a very different sense. This speech was delivered on the 5th of July, 1854, and here is what appeared in The Times newspaper on the 5th of August. I would not quote The Times here but for this—that we in this House can feel from day to day, unfortunately—for I conceive it to be a great misfortune —that the Cabinet of this country—and not only the present but the last and previous Cabinets—have altered their policy, and Ministers have altered their language, in deference to the dictation which they received from that journal. No blame to the journal. Wonderful instance it is of energy and skill and success; but, Sir, I despise from my heart the Minister who, sitting on that bench, enters, from clamour of the Press, or from clamour of the people, into any matter of importance contrary to his own conscientious convictions of what is for the true interests of his country. I have read what Kossuth stated on the 5th of July in last year. What was it The Times said on the 5th of August?—It is very obvious, on the first sight, that this great Sebastopol, that seems to challenge the united power of all the fleets in the world, and threatens to pour, as we are told, at least a thousand shot at once into any vessel that runs the gauntlet of its terrible batteries, is built on the idea that it never can be attacked by land. It is made against everything that swims, as if the land would take care of itself. This was an oversight, if, indeed, it was an oversight not to reckon on the possibility of 100,000 English and French soldiers being afloat in the Black Sea. How far the omission has been repaired during the last few weeks it is impossible to say, but such is the nature of the ground immediately above Sebastopol that it would be impossible, even with a very long notice, to raise works of defence upon it which would not be commanded from other ground near. It is possible the attack may degenerate into a blockade, and if we only persevere we must ultimately starve out the garrison of this 1109 proud fortress. But we hope to report an end of the affair long before it comes to that pass, and, with the forces at our disposal, there is no reason why every stone and every plank in the fort should not be at the mercy of the allied armies in a very few weeks, or even days.Now, I am myself very glad to read The Times for the varied information I find in it; but I must say that, regarding that paper and most of the other leading journals in this country, their conduct during the whole of this war has been of a nature which should, I think, withdraw from them, with respect to their opinions, the confidence of the people, for I believe there is not one single prophecy they have made with regard to the progress of this war which has not been falsified by the event. Well, but the noble Lord at the head of the Government is partly responsible for this, because I recollect he made a speech in this House, in which he told us—I have the exact words here, recorded in Hansard—that, although Russia was powerless to undertake aggression, she was very powerful for self-defence. Here was what the noble Lord said, speaking in this House on the 24th of February in last year—I must say that, in my opinion, there never has been a great State whose power of external aggression has been more over-rated than that of Russia. It has been said, that Russia is powerful in self-defence, and it is inferred from that that she is equally powerful in aggression. But, the very circumstance which makes her so powerful within, makes her also comparatively weak without."—[3 Hansard, cxxx. 1038.]The noble Lord holding these views—and I think the Cabinet must have held the same—was, in my opinion, especially bound to protect the country against such a monstrous act of lunacy as that which he and the Cabinet committed. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London has left the Cabinet, and there may be Gentlemen in this House who think the Cabinet is more worthy of confidence than before he left it. Now, I am of a very different opinion. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London knows very well that I have had occasion to disapprove pretty strongly the policy he has adopted with regard to this question, but he will, I hope, give me credit for having acted towards him in this matter with perfect frankness and sincerity. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] The noble Lord, I always said, had some sense of responsibility; there were lengths to which I thought he would not go in a course which was hazardous; and I suspect we have now had a proof of it in the course he 1110 pursued at Vienna, and when he came from Vienna. I shall not undertake at all to defend the noble Lord. After the obloquy which has been thrown upon him during the last week, I think the House will admit that the noble Lord has spoken tonight as if he were not under a cloud, and as if he were determined, notwithstanding leading articles in newspapers, that he will not yet be quite extinguished. I am inclined to fear, however, that the noble Lord has been made an instrument for great mischief. I suspect that when he went to Vienna, although he was perfectly honest in his anxiety to make peace—I thought so then and I think so now—yet I am inclined to believe that there were Members of the Cabinet who had no intention whatever of making peace; and, as the expedition to Sebastopol was undertaken principally in deference to the clam-our raised in this country, and, perhaps, contrary to the convictions of some of the Government, so I am very much afraid that terms of peace, which might have been accepted, and which in all probability we shall all live to regret, were rejected—I say, I think it is not unlikely that those terms of peace were rejected in consequence of a temporary clamour which it was attempted to get up against the noble Lord. Now, I want to know who it was in the Cabinet who instigated the journals in a particular week, a critical week, to attack the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, because he was said to be in favour of a peaceful solution of this question? Who was it that communicated to The Times newspaper that not only the noble Lord, but a certain number of other Members of the Cabinet, were in favour of peace? Who was it that prompted the three or four lending articles which appeared day after day for the purpose of making it appear that the country would be dissatisfied with peace? I think there is treachery somewhere. I know nothing of it; I point to nobody; but this I will say, that it is to be regretted beyond all things that have ever happened in the life of the noble Lord—except that he ever went into this war—it is to be regretted beyond all other things that, coming back from Vienna, feeling as he did feel that peace might then probably have been concluded, he did not stand upon his own convictions, meeting for the moment the temporary clamour which would have been excited (for temporary only it would have been), and coming up again within the next three months, as he would have done, with his character 1111 brighter than ever, and with an increased confidence in his honesty and in his judgment on the part of the intelligent classes of the people of this country. I have sometimes talked with friends of mine in this House as to the possibility of a man remaining a Minister and standing by his convictions. I believe that, whether in the management of the country, or whether for the purpose of maintaining and securing confidence in this House, there is nothing that so entirely binds numbers of men to the leadership of one man as the perfect confidence that in all matters which are vital and important that which he holds to be dear and priceless and never to be sacrificed are the hearty and clear convictions of his own understanding.
But, Sir, the noble Lord has not been subject to obloquy from newspapers only, and from those out of doors. He has been subject to a cabal indoors. The noble Lord made a reference to it in his speech, and I confess that I sympathised with him in the expressions which he then used. I should like to know where the ten or a dozen subordinates of the Government met. Was it upstairs? Was it downstairs? Was it in the cellar sacred to Guy Fawkes? Was it in a sewer—for there it certainly should have been, if it was intended that the locality should harmonise with the objects of the meeting. I am told that there were civilians there and lawyers—civilians trembling for their places—lawyers in terror lest the death of some judge should find them sitting on that (pointing to the Opposition) side of the House. It was a saying of the late Lord Stowell, speaking of the effects of ambition, that "ambition breaks the ties of blood and forgets the obligations of gratitude." Here we have men who owe to the patronage and favour of the noble Lord their partial emergence from Parliamentary obscurity, and they have joined in this disreputable and contemptible cabal against him. But, Sir, the noble Lord at the head of the Government did not satisfy my notions of what was right in the observations which he made the other night upon this question. I shall not comment upon what he said, but rather upon what he did not say. I did not hear from him even the slightest whisper of regret that the noble Lord the Member for London had left the Government—I did not hear from him even the slightest return of the sincere expressions of admiration and the compliments which were paid to him by the noble Lord who had just seceded. I thought that the noble 1112 Lord was intoxicated—[Laughter]—no, no, I do not mean that—intoxicated with the notion—in fact, that he was willing to say and feel exactly what Sir Robert Walpole felt and said when he prevailed upon Mr. Pulteney to accept a peerage, when he said, "I have turned the key of the closet against him," and it appeared to me as though the noble Lord thought he had got rid of his ancient rival, and that he now stood upon the floor of this House without a competitor as leader of the Whig party. I said in the first part of my observations that this was a question of a vote of want of confidence in the noble Lord. I understood the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel), who moved the previous question, to say, that if it was a vote of want of confidence he should support it, and I think the noble Lord who seconded that Amendment also expressed the same opinion. Well, Sir, I regard it entirely in that light—namely, as a vote of want of confidence in the noble Lord, and upon that ground I shall give it my support. And here I would ask the House—I would ask the hon. Gentlemen near me, who were in the House on Monday night, and who heard the speech of the Prime Minister of the Crown—and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) dealt with it with some degree of severity on that occasion—to recollect what was the assembly to which the noble Lord spoke. It was one of the most august assemblies in the world—the select men of this great empire. What was the subject which we were discussing? A subject of vital importance to the present and future prosperity of the kingdom. What was the time? A time the most critical that can be conceived in the circumstances of this kingdom. And who was the speaker? The speaker was a man to whom the Queen has delegated the functions of the highest office in the kingdom under the Crown. And what a speech it was! I will not describe that speech with minuteness, because the impression made by it must be upon the minds of all who heard it. Since I have been in this House the noble Lord is, I think, the fourth person I have seen occupying his position. I recollect Sir Robert Peel being Prime Minister and leader of the House of Commons, and I appeal to all who were in the House when he was here whether they do not well recollect the gravity, the moderation, with which all his proceedings were conducted, and the respect which he always showed both to 1113 himself and to this House. I have seen the noble Lord the Member for London at the head of the Government, and leader of this House; and if the noble Lord, as leader of this House, manifested somewhat less force and somewhat less success, yet there was not less marked in him gravity, attention, moderation, and dignity, and a great respect for the House of Commons. I have also seen the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, not in the office of Prime Minister, but in that only second to it—that of leader of the House of Commons—and for a longer time, too, than the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston). Assailed as he was by a known majority, assailed with unusual virulence, assailed by those who were only anxious to devour him, the right hon. Gentleman fell, but he left no stain upon the distinguished office which he had held; and I appeal to every Member of this House—except, of course, the various Members of that cabal who excluded the noble Lord the Member for London—I appeal to every other Member of the House whether, if they look to the time of Sir Robert Peel, to the time of the noble Lord the Member for London, or to the tenure of office of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, they will not find in each of those cases something to admire and applaud, while they will find in the conduct of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton that at which they are humiliated, and that which they must necessarily condemn. This is a proof of what a little reflection would show us, that the Queen may make a Minister and a Prime Minister, but it is not in Royalty to make a Statesman. Sir, if I had no quarrel with the noble Lord upon his policy—if I felt to him that sort of indifference with regard to his policy which I do with regard to many men in this House who are in a prominent position—still I could not reconcile it to my duty to this House and to the country to refrain from commenting upon a course of conduct which I think no Prime Minister and no leader of this House ought to be guilty of. If the waters wore smooth, if the skies were clear, I could not have confidence in the noble Lord. But, Sir, the waters are not smooth, and the skies are not clear. They never were less so. You are at a most critical hour of your national career. You have a war on your hands which the noble Lord the Member for London has measured very differently from the measure which he gave to it some year and a-half 1114 ago. The noble Lord, when he introduced his Reform Bill, on the 13th of February, last year, objected to those who proposed that the Bill should be withdrawn on account of the war. He said—''Much as I abhor war, much as I deprecate the evils of war, I confess I do not view a war with Russia with that apprehension with which some Gentlemen seem to regard it." [3 Hansard, cxxx. 493.]I recollect the noble Lord once telling me that men who spoke so often and so much were not to be held closely to a single expression which might drop from them; but when it is a question of peace or war, affecting the interests of this country, not for this generation, but for future generations, every word of a Cabinet Minister should be weighed as though it were dropping from a Judge on the bench and affected the life of a convict at the bar.
This war, in my opinion, Sir, is taking dimensions very different from those which this House expected. You have now in the Crimea an army, I suppose, somewhat about the size of that which went there, or it may be a little larger. You cannot persuade your population either to pay taxes for the war or to fight your battles. Your Chancellor of the Exchequer—even the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), whose good intentions in this matter I greatly respect—must admit that he himself, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, or his successor, would be unable to meet the expenses of the war by the taxes of the year. If that is so, it only shows that there is an indisposition on the part of the people, clamour as they may for war, to pay the just burdens which the war imposes. More than that, the Government are obliged, or say they are obliged, to enlist foreigners from every nation under Heaven, because they cannot prevail on their own countrymen by any moderate bounty to enter their service and go to the war. I met a gentleman last night who told me a very distressing fact regarding a relative of his own, a young boy only seventeen years of age, who had undergone no military drill or studies whatever. This lad was ordered abroad. His father applied to the Horse Guards, and remonstrated against his being sent to the Crimea, where in all probability, from his youth, he must immediately fall a victim to the climate. The father was told by the authorities that he need not be alarmed, that his son would only go to Malta, where he would remain for a twelvemonth, and 1115 be put through the drill, and then he could go on to the Crimea, if necessary. The lad, however, had not been at Malta three weeks before he was sent to the Crimea. He landed there on the 16th of June; on the 17th he went up to the trenches; on the 18th, with his company, he withstood that murderous fire from the Redan; and now, according to the last accounts from him, he is still day after day subjected to the horrors of the siege. [A Laugh.] Of course the hon. Gentleman laughs; but I want to know whether it is the intention of the Government or of the Parliament of this country to carry on wars with boys of seventeen years of age to officer your armies, who have moreover undergone no preliminary drill? Do not facts like these show the difficulties you are encountering and the magnitude of the contest on which you have entered? Many other circumstances have come to my knowledge some of which I will refrain from stating here at any rate, because I do not wish to say anything that may adversely influence the fortunes or the interests of this country. I have said that I can have no confidence in the noble Lord in regard to this vast undertaking. I am afraid that Parliament is about to separate—I presume only till November at the latest, and that for a period of three months the conduct of the war and all the affairs of the country are to be left in the hands of a Government, in whom—and I say this advisedly as a fact of which I am quite sure—a large majority of this House do not feel that confidence which we would wish to repose in any Cabinet which had the public administration intrusted to it. It may be that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton does not shrink from the policy which he is pursuing. Bear in mind that his policy is not that of Lord Aberdeen, nor that of the right hon. Member for Carlisle, of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, or of the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire; neither is it that of the noble Lord the Member for London. It is not the policy of any one of the Statesmen whom I have named; and probably, also, it is not even the policy of some who now sit on the Treasury bench. It is the policy of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He will not blame me for thus fixing it upon him, for he does not shrink from avowing it. The noble Lord appears to me to be insensible to the fact that clouds are now gathering about the horizon of this country, and seems not to know 1116 that his policy in the continuance of this war is the doom of death to thousands and tens of thousands—of desolation to many homes in England, and of sorrow to millions of hearts. He may, perchance, never see that which often comes to my vision—the interminable and ghastly procession of our slaughtered fellow countrymen, to which every day and every hour is adding fresh lists of victims. Sir, I behold all this—I speak under the apprehension of it. I have no faith in the policy of the noble Lord. I believe his conduct as a Minister to be humiliating to the House of Commons, and full of peril alike to the Crown and to the country.
§ SIR DE LACY EVANS
Sir, I feel somewhat embarrassed in rising to address the House immediately after the eloquent speech to which we have just listened, but, sharing as I have done in many of the operations, and some of the sufferings of our army in the Crimea, I feel bound to offer a few observations on this Motion. I entirely concur, Sir, with the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) in considering that the tone and manner of the noble Lord at the head of the Government have not been satisfactory or respectful to this House; but, nevertheless, that I regard as a very subordinate and secondary matter, in comparison with the policy of this country in regard to the great contest in which we are engaged. I must congratulate the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell) on the eulogium which has been pronounced on him by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last. Ever since the noble Lord returned from Vienna, to the surprise of the country, as the apostle of peace, of course he has been received with open arms by the hon. Member for Manchester and his Friends. The House, Sir, and the country are, in my opinion, greatly indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) for his labours in presiding over the Committee, and for the just and impartial spirit by which he has been guided. The results of the inquiry I regard as being of the highest importance; but the hon. and learned Gentleman has, I think, made a mistake in supposing that those results are only available as affording materials for a denunciation so sweeping as that which he has embodied in his Resolution. Indeed, I should have perhaps had less difficulty in supporting the hon. and learned Gentleman, had he not, by the intensity of his feelings, been led into proposing so comprehensive and vehement a 1117 declaration of censure. The Resolution, if carried, would have the effect of, as has been already stated by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, excluding from office almost all the eminent men of any note in this House, and prevent them hereafter from holding office. I think it would be impolitic to condemn the body of these Gentlemen to utter exclusion from the public service. At the same time I cannot concur in giving this subject the go-bye by means of the previous question, as proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel); neither can I concur in the proposition of the hon. and gallant Member for Cambridge (Colonel Adair). I must say, at the same time, that the vehemence of the hon. and learned Gentleman's denunciations is greatly extenuated by the shortcomings of the late Government, and—I am also sorry to say—by the deficiency of energy shown by the present. Our Government had had two years' notice of tins conflict, the date of Sir Hamilton Seymour's most important series of despatches going as far back as January, 1853. These despatches only came to the knowledge of this House accidentally last year; but it was impossible to read them without seeing that a great contest was impending over Europe. The Government of this country, however, did not then make the smallest effort to meet so serious a contingency. They, indeed, about that period took alarm, groundlessly as I thought, at the danger of a French invasion; and the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) then insisted that nothing would; place England in a position of safety but a militia. I and others, who did not share in the apprehensions of danger from that quarter, admitted, nevertheless, that the Government ought to be better informed than we could possibly be; and we, therefore, recommended that, if an invasion was really threatened, it should be met by an addition to our regular army. Our advice was, however, totally rejected. That is the first instance of want of due attention to contingencies that were imminent. Then we have it in evidence that Lord Aberdeen saw reason to apprehend the present contest about three months before war was declared; but was there a sailor or a soldier added to our force on that occasion? It was said that, at all events, the militia should be put upon an adequate footing; but no, the noble Lord stated it was much more prudent to allow the body of the people to be employed in the business 1118 of the harvest, and it would be inconvenient to interfere with the operations of agriculture. No very great while ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) complained of this very thing, and the noble Lord rose in a towering passion, and spoke of the impolicy of taking such a step while negotiations were going on. Well, negotiations went on for a long time, but at last the Government was obliged to proceed to action. What was done then? Why, 10,000 men were sent to Malta, and afterwards moved on to Gallipoli, and after that to Scutari. In fact, it had been supposed we could carry on war against the greatest military Power in the world by means of demonstrations and protocols. But what could 10,000 men effect against a military Power like Russia? Some evidence has been taken as to putting this small army into a moveable state, and strong assertions have been made on the subject by the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Sir Charles Trevelyan, who at the time had the direction of the Commissariat. As I happened to pass through Malta immediately after the Commissary General, sent out under the direction of Sir Charles Trevelyan, I asked by accident what means of transport had been procured, and I found that, in order to provide for this army of 10,000 men, he had bought thirty mules and thirty carts. It may have been thirty-five, but I believe I am correct when I say thirty was about the number. This Assistant Secretary to the Treasury gave his evidence before the Committee in the most haughty style, repudiating the humble statements of officers of all ranks, and saying that it was high presumption on their part to pretend to know anything at all about the Commissariat, that he had been fifteen years at the head of the Commissariat Department, that he knew better than they did, and that he had letters from Commissariat officers in the Crimea contradicting the statements which had been made. Now, I observe that, in a book recently published in defence of the late Ministry, every statement of Sir Charles Trevelyan is quoted as a positive fact, and every statement of other witnesses, contradicting him, as just the reverse. How is it, I ask, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) allowed the army to depend for everything on this Gentleman of red tape, who so presumptuously talked of 1119 having conducted two Cape wars, as though it were the easiest thing in the world to conduct war from a Treasury closet. This Gentleman did not seem to know that a Cape war was no rule or guide in this matter. Operations at the Cape were conducted by very small columns of men, seldom exceeding 1,000; and, to show the enormous means of transport which the country afforded, I may mention that Sir Harry Smith took no less than 500 waggons with only 900 men, in one expedition. I just allude to this because, really, the noble Lord at the head of the Governernment and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London ought to have stepped forward and assisted the Duke of Newcastle, since they knew of the condition of the military departments. I say they specifically were wanting in consideration for their colleague, because they sat on a Commission seventeen or eighteen years ago for examining into the whole of the military departments of the country, which reported that those departments were in a most unsatisfactory and disorganised state, and ought to be consolidated and put on a new footing altogether; and yet they never did anything to relieve their colleague from these great embarrassments with which they were so intimately and peculiarly acquainted. There was every species of tardiness with regard to putting the army we had sent to the East into a state of movement, and I am afraid what the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), states is not without foundation, that subsequent operations were guided chiefly by the current of public opinion, and the great dissatisfaction which the public Press, representing the public mind, expressed at the prevailing inaction. But I do not concur with him in his denunciation of the public Press, or of the particular journal to which the hon. Member alluded. Whatever unfounded observations may have been made on individuals, when we recollect the immense benefits conferred on this country by its being awakened to the state of the army, I cannot believe that any man with a heart in his body can condemn the Press. For my part, I know not, had it not been for the public Press of this country, and for the chivalrous and energetic conduct of our noble ally, the Emperor of the French, whether our army might not have perished. It is very unwillingly, indeed, that I make these remarks. I would much rather have said nothing whatever upon this debate, but some of the observations 1120 of the hon. Member for Manchester impose on me the necessity of saying I totally and completely differ from him in all those repeated observations about the calamities, the disasters, the misfortunes, the perils, and the frightful condition of our army in the Crimea. I think it unfortunate that Gentlemen should repeat these statements so frequently, though I am not surprised at it. No doubt our army has suffered very much, but I have known sufferings before, though, perhaps, not so unnecessary. I have every reason to think that there has been a good deal of exaggeration. I deeply lament what has occurred, but when this part of the subject is dwelt upon so much, it conveys an erroneous impression throughout Europe and throughout this country. We have suffered very much, it is true, but not to an extent to cause alarm or apprehension as regards our national power or the results of this contest. Before I proceed further, I will say I differ also from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) with regard to the policy of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. I have a considerable degree of confidence in his spirit and determination, and, therefore, whatever other opinions I may have I do not feel justified in giving a vote which will precipitate him from power. But I am not completely content. I am not satisfied that the noble Lord has shown that energy which his supporters expected. He has now been some months at the head of the Government, and I do not see any great augmentation of our military force. I am sorry to say that up to a recent period this system of protocoling and depending on Conferences at Vienna has weakened and paralysed the operations of the Government. The Duke of Newcastle, much impugned as his conduct has been, before he went out of office authorised a treaty with the Turkish Government for the formation of a contingent of 30,000 men. Six months have elapsed and not one battalion has taken the field. I speak from experience, and I know, in the case of a foreign legion which I commanded, a considerable portion was under fire before the enemy within six weeks of authority being given, and that was under the direction of the feeble and unenergetic Government of Spain. Six months have passed; some 5,000 or 6,000 men of the Turkish contingent have been collected on the Bosphorus, and drilling is still going on. That, I think, affords no great proof of the practical energy of the noble Lord, nor can he claim 1121 much credit from the state of General Beatson's corps, which I know was organised eight or nine months ago, and yet I do not believe that the horses are yet procured. The noble Lord at the head of the Government was at one time considered the beau ideal of a militia Minister, but, although a militia force has been voted by the House, little more than one-third of that force has yet been raised. I think the noble Lord has expressed his opinions so strongly upon the subject of the militia, because during the French war that portion of our military force was of very important service. There is, however, no very great likelihood that we shall now want a militia as much as when we were engaged in a war with France, and when there was a perpetual necessity of guarding our coasts from invasion. We are now completely free from any ground of apprehension of that nature; therefore it is not certain to my mind that it is expedient to have a large and extensive militia. I find the Estimates for the regular army to be about 7,300,000l.; and the Estimates for the militia to be 3,800,000l., and that for a militia which is unavailable for the war which is now being carried on. It is true, we have gained a considerable reinforcement to our army by the system of volunteering, but, in consequence of placing the recruiting system on a false basis, we are in fact checking enlistment in the army. The consequence is that, on one side of a village we are enlisting for the army, and on the other side we are enlisting for the militia. This is one of the chief obstacles to the reinforcement of our army. With regard to the Foreign Enlistment Bill, I entirely disagree with hon. Gentlemen who endeavour to cast obloquy on the Government for endeavouring to raise that force. It ought to be remembered that this is not the first time England has employed foreign troops. During the last war 52,000 foreign troops were engaged in the British service, who afforded excellent assistance to us by their bravery. I am not quite sure whether we do not owe our liberties to some 14,000 of Dutch troops who came over here at an important crisis. I do think there has been great laxity on the part of the Government in carrying out the Act of Parliament on this subject. What has been the result of that Act which was passed seven months ago? Comparatively nothing. I have very little doubt that if the Act were effectively enforced a very 1122 powerful body of men might be raised. I am glad to see the recent appointment of the Duke of Cambridge as Generalissimo of the Foreign Legion. It reflects high credit on his Royal Highness to have allowed himself to be placed at the head of that force. I suggested it myself six months ago, feeling that nothing but good to the country could result from it. There is a practice prevailing in this country with regard to the enlistment for the army which I have always denounced; I mean the giving a nominal bounty, which has the effect of deceiving the men who enlist. You profess to give, for instance, a bounty of 6l.; but when the man has been induced by the offer of that sum to enlist, you immediately deduct a large portion of it for what you call supplying the men with necessaries. This is a deception, and greatly discourages men from entering the army. An end should be immediately put to it. It is altogether an unbecoming practice. It impresses the mind of the soldier with a feeling on his very entering the army that he has not been fairly treated, and it leaves a bitterness in his mind which is prejudicial to good discipline. During the French war a much larger bounty was paid than is now offered, although the urgency of the case was not greater then than it is now. How can you expect to get ablebodied men to enter your army for such a small bounty as that which you now offer them? It should also be considered that, notwithstanding the increase of population since the last war, there are various circumstances which drain your population now that did not exist forty years ago. Emigration to the Colonies alone takes upwards of 350,000 of your people a year from this country. Still, the increase of population would afford that draught upon it, and yet leave a good supply for your army, provided you offered an adequate inducement. And why should not this be done? If your population has doubled, your material resources have quadrupled since the last war. Add to this the improved state of moral feeling and of intellectual improvement—circumstances which contribute materially to the military power of a country. And yet, even forty years ago, we were able to command in Spain a force of not less than 67,000 men. I do not, therefore, think that the army which is now in the Crimea—some 30,000 men—adequately represents either the moral, the physical, or the material power of this country. I hope the 1123 noble Lord will display all the energy that has been attributed to him. I trust that the confidence which this House reposes in him will induce him to exert himself with rather more vigour than he has hitherto exhibited. I am of no party, either in this House or in the country. Those who will carry on the war most vigorously, whether called Tories, Whigs, or Liberals, shall have my support. Give me evidence of your determination to do all in your power to reinforce our army and keep up our fleets, and I will support you. We have a large army in India, numbering 280,000 men, of which 40,000 were English troops; and India is in a state of perfect tranquillity. Why should not the Queen's troops which are now there be called to the seat of war? Whatever may be said about the East India Company, one thing is certain, that they have so conducted their affairs that the inhabitants of India consider it a boon to be allowed to enter the army. I may be told that sepoys are inadequate to the performance of duty in our colonies. But will it be said that the regular sepoys are not competent to deal with Kafirs? Indeed, I doubt whether we ought not to have carried on all our military proceedings at the Cape by means of sepoys. Then, again, with respect to the Chinese colony of Hongkong and the island of Ceylon, sepoys are the best soldiers we can have there. I repeat, we possess in India means of which we ought to have availed ourselves before now. 40,000 European troops are not required in that country; instead of sending two regiments of cavalry we could with great safety and advantage bring away 5,000 of the Company's troops out of the 14,000 there, and 5,000 of the Queen's troops, which would be most valuable assistance in the Crimea. I am not gifted with the boldness of the noble Lord the Member for London, and shall not follow him in criticising the operations in the Crimea. Even were I competent to do so, the recollection that the grave had hardly yet closed over him who chiefly conducted those operations would induce me to pause; and, even in the difficult position of the noble Lord, I think it would have been as well if he had abstained from that course. But the noble Lord is a great authority in this House, and therefore all I say is, I have not the courage to follow his example. This is not the time nor the place to enter into a discussion of the policy of the expedition to the Crimea. Although I think 1124 immense mistakes were made, but chiefly arising from the Government not being in earnest and not being determined in their conduct of the war, when we look back I cannot find any cause for the apprehension and alarm for the future expressed by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright); but I rather draw from the events of the past grounds of considerable encouragement and hope. Neither is this the time or place to show the necessity of the Western Powers pursuing this contest until the object we have in view is gained. It is important, however, to point out to the public of this country and to Europe that the allies have not sustained any disasters except certain losses from the climate, and from deficiencies of preparation, but they have met with no disaster at all of a military character. On the contrary, it is astonishing what dilemmas and disgraces have befallen the boasted immense military power of Russia. In the first place, although the late Government allowed the army to remain at Varna, or Gallipoli, or at Malta, instead of sending it on at once to co-operate with our gallant Turkish allies, yet I say no error was committed so egregious as that of the Russian chief in passing the Danube. The attempt to take such a wretched place as Silistria, defended by gallant but imperfectly organised Turks, was unsuccessful, and the Russian troops had to raise the siege, and were forced disgracefully to fall back across the Danube. Thus, after having for months treated English and French diplomacy with disdain, the Russians were driven out of the Principalities to their own territories. If nothing else had happened to damage Russia, I should say that she had suffered complete disgrace. In the next place, it is said an imprudent and hazardous enterprise was resolved upon late in the season. I am not prepared to decide that; but I was rather surprised to hear the right hon. Baronet behind me (Sir J. Graham) give an opinion that it was precisely the right time and place. For a civilian, I must say, that was a bold statement; however, I shall not enter upon that point. The expedition was resolved upon, carried out, and what disaster had there been? Our troops have overwhelmed the enemy in every serious affair, and it is a grievous error to allow it to be supposed that we have been defeated. Instead of that, we have inflicted severe humiliations upon the military power of Russia which domineered over Europe—we 1125 have beaten her armies, and we have maintained ourselves in the most vital part of the Russian territory. Upon the very first occasion that the allies met the enemy at the Alma, the Russians were defeated most signally, and so beaten were they that, although we marched through a country favourable for the operations of cavalry, of which they had a large number, while we had almost none, they made no attempt to impede our advance. I repeat, then, this is a most inappropriate time to allow it to be supposed by that ambitious, unprincipled, aggressive Power, that we shall cease our exertions until we have succeeded in inducing her to yield to fair and reasonable conditions. Even our present position on the Russian territory is a humiliation to her, and I have every reason to believe the siege works are going on well. I may here remark, that the description of troops sent out lately are not exactly such as could be desired. I have received a letter from an officer in the camp, who tells me I should not know my old division, so young and inexperienced are the men. However, what are the prospects of the army? The noble, indomitable spirit evinced by the people in regard to this war, of which the hon. Member for Manchester complains, to my mind holds out the most hopeful prospects. I am glad to find that spirit also pervades this House, which certainly has not rendered itself obnoxious to the reproach of having in any way impeded the conduct of the war. The most ample supplies have been voted, and every assistance has been granted to the Government to carry on a war the object of which is not an extension of territory, but the maintenance of an European Power and the defence of a threatened nation. When the expedition was first decided upon, many persons supposed we had not provided an adequate force; but I believe that even if our present army were to be absolutely annihilated this country would soon furnish a greater and more powerful one for the purpose of carrying on the war; but there is no such contingency likely to occur. The French Government have done their duty most nobly. They have done what is unexampled in the history of the world, in sending 200,000 men to such a distance, amply provided with every necessary. The public lose sight of the fact that the war has hitherto been carried on with uninterrupted success, and the slightest check is magnified into a great disaster. After the 1126 attack upon the Redan, the other day, every one seemed to think that we were ruined, that our army was destroyed, and yet we did not lose an inch of ground; on the contrary, I believe, our works have since then advanced. This impression on the public mind, therefore, ought to be corrected, for no war can be carried on without some checks. Public attention is directed at the present time solely to the succesful termination of the last war, but at some periods that war was infinitely more disastrous than this has been or is likely to be. But, suppose that all we have done proves unavailing, and we are obliged to raise the siege or to convert it into a blockade, what will be the consequence? I deny that we are unable to withdraw our forces if we think proper. We may put a large portion of our army on board ship, and ravage the Russian coasts north and south. What is the state of the coast of the whole Russian empire? Not a vessel is to be seen near it which bears the Russian flag. Our vessels can even penetrate to the Sea of Azoff, and bombard the towns on its borders. Is it to be supposed that the Russian people do not feel this to be a real calamity? Continue, then, the course you have begun, and I hope that no feeling will be permitted to direct our fleets similar to that which I am afraid prevented the bombardment of Odessa. [Sir J. GRAHAM dissented.] I am glad to hear that it was not the case. Do you believe that the Russian Government would spare any towns of ours if they had them in their power? Be earnest, and if the Russian Government choose to continue the contest, an unequal contest for them, against the united Powers of France and England, I am sanguine in my hopes that a total break-up of the vast Russian empire may be effected.
said, although he was a very humble Member of the Committee, and was not appointed until an advanced period of the investigation, he wished to state the reasons which would induce him to vote against the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck). He had no desire to serve on the Committee, both because he thought his position in the House was not such as to entitle him to be appointed, and because from personal considerations, which would be understood by the House, he was, he considered, in a great measure, disqualified from entering into the inquiry. He had left town, and on his return was 1127 much surprised to find that he had been nominated a Member of the Committee, but he bowed to the decision of the House and did his duty to the best of his ability. He had voted for the last paragraph but two in the Report, in which the calamities which had occurred were attributed more directly to the want of care and foresight on the part of the Government, and he cordially agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), in declaring the perfect unanimity which prevailed in the Committee up to the proposition of that paragraph. There was hardly any difference of opinion as to the allegations contained in the paragraph, but some hon. Members voted against it because they thought it implied a censure on the policy of the expedition. If that had been his opinion he should certainly not have supported it. The hon. and learned Member who proposed the Resolution was not opposed to the policy of the expedition, and the Committee, in an early part of their Report, expressly precluded themselves from offering any opinion on that policy. He felt no difficulty therefore in concurring in the first part of the Resolution, but nothing would induce him to concur in the censure contained in its concluding part. It was as well that the House should understand that these Resolutions were in no sense the Resolutions of the Committee—ten out of the eleven Members of the Committee were opposed to such a course. Some thought that it would be unwise and injudicious to bring them forward, others opposed them on stronger grounds, and the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Roebuck) was the only one in favour of them. He would briefly state why he could not vote for a Resolution censuring Members of either the late or the present Administration. When he considered that the Ministry against whom, properly speaking, the Resolution was directed, that high compliments had been paid to the Duke of Newcastle and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite—which he cheerfully acknowledged were well deserved—and also the length of time which had elapsed since the resignation of the Aberdeen Administration, he could not but think that the present Resolution would have the appearance of vindictiveness; though he was quite satisfied that the hon. and learned Member who had brought it forward had only done so because he believed it was a duty which he owed to the 1128 public. He (Captain Gladstone) could not vote for the Resolution, because he believed there was no precedent for such a proceeding. In all cases in which a Committee had been appointed to inquire into the conduct of the Government, and the Government had resigned, no further proceedings had been taken, whatever the Resolutions of the Committee might have been. The Walcheren expedition, which had been alluded to as bearing an analogy to the present case, did not apply to it, because that inquiry took place before a Committee of the whole House after the expedition, and the Committee came to the resolution that neither those who had ordered the expedition, nor the admirals, nor generals who had the conduct of it, ought to incur the censure of the House. He also felt that he must bear in mind that, after forty years of peace, not only would the heads of departments, but the juniors also, be unaware of the demand which war would make upon them, and that under such circumstances, whoever might be Minister for War, great errors must of necessity be committed. The Committee did not think that all the evils which had arisen were owing to the conduct of the late Administration, but that a great many evils had been caused by the state of ignorance in which the Government were kept as to facts of which they ought to have been informed at an earlier date. He also felt bound to remember that the Report of the Committee was not complete, though the opinion to which they came was fully borne out by the evidence before them; yet he could not but bear in mind that, if they had not been precluded from going into subjects, or from examining witnesses whom under the circumstances it was impossible that they could examine, then some of the opinions which they had formed might to a certain extent have been modified. It appeared to him that there was a wide distinction between appointing a Committee to inquire into the evils of commission and omission of the present case—which might prove a very useful beacon and warning for the present and future Administrations—and passing the most severe censure which that House could upon men of high honour and integrity, against whom no moral delinquency had been charged, but who, at the worst, had been guilty of errors of judgment, but who had exerted themselves to the utmost to repair evils as soon as they were aware of their existence. For these reasons he could not vote for the 1129 Resolution of the hon. and learned Member; but in this he was not influenced by any desire to qualify the Report of the Committee, neither was he influenced by any feeling of confidence in the present Government, for this was not a question of confidence in the Government, and he believed that would be proved by the division list of that night. He was influenced in the vote he should give, solely by a desire not to be a party to pronouncing a severe censure on those whose counsels had led to a certain extent to calamities which they all deplored, for he considered that passing such a vote of censure would be an act not only of harshness but of injustice. Before he concluded he was anxious to make an explanation which Admiral Dundas had desired him to do. The gallant admiral was anxious to read before the Committee certain letters and documents, which he was precluded from doing because he had not asked the consent of the Government, and he thought that they were essential to prove that he was not guilty of neglect with regard to the fitting up of transports for the sick. The gallant admiral considered that the transports were not under his command, but under that of the Commander in Chief of the forces and Captain Christie. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), in his evidence before the Committee, declared that the transports were under the command of Admiral Dundas, and so undoubtedly they nominally were, but practically he appeared to have exercised very little control over them, being for a great portion of the time at a distance of ten or twelve leagues, and they were, in fact, under the command of the Commander in Chief and Captain Christie. The House would recollect the dreadful sufferings which were caused by the neglect to fit up transports for the sick, and would be surprised at the statement which he was about to read, but he thought that it ought to be given, in order to show that there was, among those in authority, considerable difference of opinion as to the necessity of fitting up transports at all. The information he was about to give to the House was derived from the secretary to Captain Christie, who had arrived in England, but too late to be examined by the Committee. He stated that "before the battle of Inkerman, or about that time, Captain Christie held a Board of army medical officers to decide on the fittings required for the steamers told off for the service of the sick, and this Board decided 1130 against any fittings whatever, recommending for the sake of better ventilation and cleanliness that the patients might be placed on beds laid on the deck. For this reason, and this reason alone, no steamers were at that time fitted up for the use of the sick." It was not for him (Captain Gladstone) to offer any opinion on the reason thus given for not carrying out the orders of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), but he thought that, as Admiral Dundas had been precluded from giving his explanation, he ought now to have the benefit of it. Having made the above statement, he should feel it his duty to vote against the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, that he rose to state why he felt compelled to vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. It appeared very strange to him that, as there was great fault somewhere, as there were great disasters, troubles, and losses, and as the whole nation was ringing with complaints, it appeared strange that there was no one in fault. He would then ask at the outset a very simple and plain question—he wanted to know who was in fault? There never was smoke without fire; and he was certain that, in this case, where there had been so much mismanagement, some one was to blame, though he did not pretend to say who those individuals were. In private houses, when anything was broken or went amiss, it was said that "the cat did it;" and the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) had partly let a cat out of the bag when he said that Sir Charles Trevelyan had made so few preparations for moving the troops; but how many more cats there were to be let out, he could not say. He did not think that it was necessary to go through the evidence of the Sebastopol Committee, or to refer to the information given by the Press, to ascertain whether the late Government was to blame—it was only necessary for them to read the letter of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London to Lord Aberdeen, in which it was urged that the present Prime Minister should be Minister for War. From that letter it was evident that the noble Lord thought that the war was not carried on with sufficient energy. He (Mr. Muntz) considered that all the Members of the late Government were to blame; he could not admit that only one was to blame, as then all the censure might might be thrown upon some 1131 scapegoat, and all the rest might escape. He charged Lord Aberdeen's Administration with a want of foresight, candour, determination, preparation, care, and a want of knowledge. They wanted foresight, or they would have foreseen what the intention of the Emperor of Russia was, for it was perfectly evident, from what was stated by our Ambassador, that the Emperor intended to make war upon "the sick man." They wanted candour, or they would have told the Emperor that if he did make war upon "the sick man," not only would they oppose him, but that they would make war against Russia if she crossed the Pruth. Had that been clearly stated, he believed that Russia would then never have crossed the Pruth. The Emperor of Russia would have remained satisfied on the principle that he would do it if he could, but that he could not if he would. An endeavour had been made to separate from the question now under consideration the policy of the expedition to Sebastopol, but he did not see how they could separate those questions. He had supported the principle of a defensive war for the protection of Turkey, but had never dreamt of an offensive war, and he was therefore astonished when he heard of the intention of sending an expedition against that place. The House and the people of England had been cautioned by him at the time not to disdain the Russians, and hold them too cheap. He had quoted the remark of the Emperor Napoleon, who after the battle of Austerlitz, had observed that no troops could have beaten them but his own, and, although our soldiers had displayed the greatest courage and ability, they must remember that, notwithstanding, many of them had been destroyed in their encounters with the enemy. It was in his opinion a most unwise determination to besiege Sebastopol as we had done without previous inquiry as to the strength of the fortification, the extent of the force that would be required, the resources of the country, and the possibility of investing the place. It was a worse policy than that adopted nearly 2,000 years ago—for Julius Cæsar had, before invading Gaul, taken every opportunity of examining merchants, travellers, and others respecting the country, its resources, and the character of its inhabitants. From not having pursued a similar course, we were now, before Sebastopol, more as the besieged than the besiegers. He would ask, too, whoever heard of a 1132 fortified town being assailed on one side with every facility existing on the other for reinforcements of troops and fresh supplies of food and ammunition being brought in? Having, however, gone to Sebastopol, he trusted the allied army would not retire until the place was taken. He disliked war even as much as the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), but he was of opinion that the retirement of England and France from the Crimea would induce Russia to carry her encroachments upon the liberties of Europe, even farther than she had hitherto done, and leave her more powerful and more encroaching than before. He could have wished that the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman had not been brought forward, for much of the blame was to be attributable to the late Government, and though many Members of that Government formed part of the present Ministry, there was a vast distinction between the two cases. On the whole, he was disposed to vote for the Motion more immediately before the House; but he warned the Government that no Administration could long retain power which was not united in itself, and determined to carry on the war with vigour. There must be no peace party and war party in it, for it was necessary that both our friends and enemies should know that the Government of the country were united, heart and hand, in the prosecution of the war.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
I hope, Sir, that the House will be inclined to grant me its indulgence on a subject with which I am particularly connected, and upon which, therefore, I am more than usually anxious to receive that indulgence. In the first place, let me state that it is my intention to vote against the Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend opposite (General Peel), and I will tell the House why in a very few sentences. Personally I stand in a position different from that of most hon. Members, being one against whom, in the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, counts of an indictment have been preferred. It has been said I and my friends near me attempted to burke the appointment of this Committee; that we were afraid of the investigation; that we shrank from an examination of our conduct. If we laboured under such a suspicion it shall not be said that, when that investigation was completed, we shrank from meeting the verdict of the House of Commons upon the evidence laid before them. I cast no 1133 blame on the present Government, many of whom were my colleagues, and are included in the condemnation of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield; but I say we are justified, after all the blame cast upon us, all the accusations which have been brought against us, all the exaggerated statements that have been made, in asking the House to discriminate and say how far we are personally culpable. There is some difficulty in knowing whom the Report of the Committee intends to distinguish, and, indeed, there seems to be some difference of opinion among the Members of the Committee upon that point judging from their speeches, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) says, "Recollect, you are not discussing the policy of the expedition to Sebastopol." I thought when I read the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) with reference to the whole of the Report, that it contained not only an opinion, but a strict condemnation of the policy of undertaking the expedition; and when the right hon. Baronet made the statement I have just alluded to, he said—If you look, after all, at the résumé at the end of the Report of the noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) you will see exactly the opinions expressed in the Report, and, on looking, I find under the very first head that the expedition to the Crimea was undertaken with means inadequate for the military operations to be performed.[Sir J. PAKINGTON: Hear, hear!] Well, is not that a condemnation? Do subsequent circumstances alter the efficacy of the means which were first adopted? To be plain on that question, I do not shrink from discussing the question of the policy of the invasion and the siege of Sebastopol. All I wish to say is, that the right hon. Baronet opposite is entirely illogical when he says that we can discuss the Report without meddling with the question of policy. The right hon. Gentleman says that we must not discuss that policy, because we shall trench upon delicate questions affecting the alliance between England and France. It may be in the recollection of the House that, in the discussion upon the appointment of the Committee we took the liberty of informing the House of the danger that would arise from an investigation of this sort; we said, "One of two things must happen, either you will enter into questions that will give offence in France, because you will have to be 1134 giving critical opinions upon the conduct of the French Government, or by avoiding those questions you will come to no conclusions or come to conclusions on insufficient grounds, and be unjust to individuals, making attacks upon men who will not have the opportunity of being put face to face with their accusers."
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich said with great solemnity that he would not consent to be a Member of the Committee except on two or three conditions—the first of which was, that the investigation should be a searching one. Well, but has it been so? What do they say almost in the very first sentence of their Report? They regret that persons are left under imputations with regard to which they can pronounce no conclusive opinion. The fulness of the investigation has been restricted by consideration of State motives, and so on. That, I think, is a perfect admission that one condition which the right hon. Baronet put forward has not been fulfilled, and, therefore, the opinion which he has given loses the weight which it otherwise would have had. The right hon. Baronet has put himself out of court by showing that he went into the Committee-room under circumstances which made it impossible for him to arrive at a fair conclusion on the issue committed to his judgment. Let me say, that I believe that all those Gentlemen went into the Committee-room sincerely and honestly determined to do their duty; but they had a duty put upon them which it was impossible for any men properly to discharge. That, however, was not their fault, but the fault of the House of Commons. The hon. and learned Gentleman below me (Mr. Roebuck) discharged his duty as Chairman of that Committee with great assiduity, and the course which he has pursued in bringing this Motion before the House is one of which I do not in the least complain. He was Chairman of the Committee, and when the Committee had reported, and he had laid that Report on the table, nothing could be more just or more constitutional than that he should make a Motion in accordance with that Report, to test the opinion of the House as to whether it thought the Committee had discharged its duties rightly or not. When I say, therefore, that the Committee have done injustice, I do not mean to cast imputations on them. I have no imputations to bring against the Committee, but I say they had no option left to them; 1135 they must either have gone into questions which would have trenched on delicate ground, or else they must have had, as they have had, a half investigation. They must either have acquitted men for want of sufficient evidence, or they must have condemned men on a guess that there was evidence behind which would have condemned them had it been brought forward. I saw this plainly from the first, and, I was almost going to say, that I could have written the Report beforehand, but there are some parts of it certainly which I could not have written. It was impossible for the Committee to have avoided it, but they have left imputations by insinuations rather than by open attack, upon absent men who have never been heard, and who, in one or two cases, I grieve to say, never can be heard. The right hon. Baronet says we must admit that the Committee has been very guarded in not going into questions of a delicate nature, that there is nothing in the Report which touches upon the subject of our alliance. But is that so? He says the Committee give no opinion as to the extent of the lines, the distribution of men, and questions such as that, which were to be settled between the allies; but the Committee do say, that one of the great causes of the sufferings of our army was overwork, from the inadequacy of the force to the mileage of the lines which it had to occupy. Now, the army before Sebastopol, mind, is an allied army—to be treated as one force; do you, then, mean to say that the whole force—English and French combined—was inadequate to the occupation of the lines? You cannot mean that, I imagine, because that is an imputation at once on the French Government? Do you mean, then, that the English force was inadequate, and not the French? If you do, have you asked why arrangements were not made for a better distribution of the forces? No, you have not; you have left the question without determining it, but with an implication of blame both on the French and English Governments which you could not justify, because you were obliged to abstain from taking any evidence which would have thrown light on the point. The right hon. Baronet, therefore, with all respect, assumes too much when he says the Committee have successfully avoided this danger. Now I want to show how, in spite of themselves, the Committee have been obliged to run into these errors. They say that the expedition to 1136 the Crimea was undertaken with inadequate information, an assertion which I do not think they were justified in making, for, though it may be true, they certainly had no means of knowing whether it was or not. Now, whatever information the English Government received it placed at the disposal of its ally, and whatever information the French Government received it of course placed at our disposal; and if the information, therefore, on which the expedition was sent to the Crimea was insufficient, you blame both the French as well as the English Governments. If you cast blame upon one you must cast blame on the other. You cannot escape from the dilemma.
The right hon. Member for Droitwich says we are not to discuss the expedition to Sebastopol, but I think the Report itself has necessitated that discussion. All that we have to discuss, according to him, is the truth of the Report, and he maintains that the truth of the Report is unassailable, because, if we look to the margin of each paragraph, we shall find references to the evidence on which it is founded. Now, with regard to that point, I must say I do not think the Report itself goes so far as the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman below me (Mr. Roebuck). The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of the army as being starved, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) followed in the same strain, but the Report does justice to the Commissariat in this respect; and, certainly, it is going very much too far to say that everything which was asserted during the winter is proved by the Committee. First of all, it was stated that the men were dying of hunger; but what turns out to have been the case? That short rations were issued during the space of some days; but here the Committee omit to mention that even short rations there are large rations, because a ration in the Crimea is twice as large as a ration in England. The general tenour of the evidence is that the men were well fed; all the officers concur in stating that. My noble Friend who drew this Report must have drawn it, I think, in a great hurry, if he will allow me to say so, for in one or two cases he has done grievous wrong to some public servants by it. In one part he quotes a statement by a Board of officers, contained in the appendix, to the effect that the men for some time went to the trenches with an insufficient meal, and oftentimes with 1137 none at all, save a little rum and biscuit, and he goes on to remark with great truth, that any result derived from an average of rations is delusive, because privation on one day cannot be compensated by superfluity on another. It certainly would have been only just to the Commissariat to quote the very next paper in the appendix, signed by Deputy Assistant Commissary General Bartlett, which entirely contradicts that statement. Mr. Bartlett says—With reference to the last part of the above statement, I beg to observe that the daily issues to the division in December and January are shown in the two statements forwarded by me some time back, and that such issues were made between morning and night of each day; the supplies short issued in the beginning of the fortnight were not, therefore, made up by supplies served out in the latter part of it.The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield stated last night that our men were badly armed, but that has been contradicted by the hon. and gallant General (Sir De Lacy Evans). One or two points of that kind were made by an hon. Gentleman opposite, who repeated many of those assertions which were made in the winter, but which the evidence before the Committee has pretty satisfactorily disproved. Why, I remember how my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Gladstone) was attacked for contradicting a statement which was then afloat to the effect that our army in the Crimea was reduced to somewhere about 8,000 men, I believe. Well, that estimate of our force turned out to be grossly erroneous. I do not mean to say that these things are falsehoods; they are the gossip of the camp, picked up by men who do not understand the facts, and spiced with a few touches of the imagination in order to make them more readable in this country. You did a great injury to your army by these assertions, because it was naturally said, throughout Europe, "The English would never make these statements about themselves unless they were strictly true." Now, I will read you a Sardinian opinion upon the state of the English army. A correspondent of the Opinione, of Turin, writing from Kamara, says—Arriving here, I thought to find the English army in a miserable condition. But imagine my surprise to behold a magnificent army, largely provided with everything you can imagine, full of enthusiasm, and complete in discipline.[Mr. OTWAY: What is the date of that?] About a month ago; but let me remind the hon. and learned Gentleman below me of the 1138 prophecies which were uttered as to what was to happen. You said that when the summer came nothing would be left but Lord Raglan and his staff, and the plate and china. We have gone on fouling our own nests in that way, and have forgotten the great and eminent successes and triumphs which have been accomplished by that army. We have not done justice to their efforts, because we have forgotten also the extent of the disgrace and failure which has attended the Russian arms. The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) spoke at considerable length upon a subject which forms one of the principal portions of the discussion, because it bears upon the policy of the attack upon Sebastopol, and he said that we had no information as to the strength and capabilities of the place which we were about to attack. But how did the Committee arrive at the fact that we had no information? They examined two persons upon the subject. They examined my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), and they asked him whether, in his opinion, the information which had been obtained by the Duke of Newcastle was reliable information? My right hon. Friend said, in answer to that, "Instead of giving you an opinion, I will give you a fact;" and he then related a story of how a gentleman went to him and gave him such and such information. The Committee thereupon seem to have jumped to the conclusion that that was the only information possessed by my right hon. Friend. Then they asked the Duke of Newcastle—You have stated that you have received reports from our Consuls in the East as to the condition of the Russians in Odessa and the Crimea?" He answers, "I did." They ask, "Would it be unadvisable to submit these Reports to the Committee?" and he answers, "I think so; but I should not have the slightest objection to give a sufficient outline, in the first instance, of the Reports.He mentions that he obtained a good deal of valuable information from the late Colonel Du Plat and others; and then they asked—Had you no information from anybody in the Crimea; we had no Consul there; had we, anywhere nearer than Kertch?" His answer is, "No. Odessa is on the one side and Kertch on the other.But the Committee never asked, "Had you any further information?" and they jump at the conclusion that the information from the Consuls at Kertch and 1139 Odessa, and from the late Colonel Du Plat, was all that the Duke had received. How stands the fact? Who gives that information? Is it given, do you suppose, by persons who produce documents and vouchers? No; the whole thing, generally, is surreptitiously obtained—you must gather it by comparing reports one with another, and must do the best you can; but bear in mind that it is generally secret information. I will just give you an instance to show you how secret it is. The noble Lord now at the head of the Government got some information of a remarkably accurate description. It was given to him in the strictest confidence. It was contained in letters written by a man evidently intimately acquainted with the subject upon which he was writing. Persons reading the letters might, perhaps, form a guess as to who the writer was, but the information was given to the noble Lord under such a seal of secrecy that he never revealed to his colleagues whence it came, and nobody, save himself, with the single exception, perhaps, of Lord Clarendon, has the remotest notion at this moment who was the writer of those letters, which were singularly accurate, and showed a remarkable and minute knowledge of the subject, which was of the greatest value to the Government. But the Committee had no right to say, because these things were not placed before them, that, therefore, they did not exist; because, in doing so, it is not the English Government only that they blame, but the French Government also—those masters of strategy whose military system is so perfect—and the Committee also make a charge against the Government that they sent an expedition to the Crimea upon nothing but information from a gentleman from Kertch, who gave it to the right hon. Baronet some time after the expedition had sailed.
I now pass to another question which it is necessary to touch on, merely premising that there are some small acts of injustice personal to myself in the Report of the Committee, of which, however, I do not complain. For instance, it is said that there were no forms to check the accounts.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
The noble Lord asked me—Then, with regard to the apothecary, who, at least, if he did not give medicines, ought to have 1140 kept accounts, it is stated, at Question 12,979: Mr. Maxwell stated, 'I do not understand much about book-keeping, but, upon examining those books, I found that there had not been an entry made in either of them, from the 24th of September to the 28th of November!' I said, 'I have since heard of that.' The noble Lord asked, 'Therefore there was no check as regards the accounts?' My answer was, 'Certainly not, if the check was not exercised.' And then the noble Lord said, 'So that, in fact, while, on the one hand, the public were not getting the advantage of a check, on the other hand the poor soldiers got no advantage from the medicines, or medical stores?' To that I answered, 'Yes; but it was not the fault of the system; the system gave a check, but it was gross dereliction of duty on the part of an individual.'What were the circumstances? That unhappy apothecary died suddenly. His books were overhauled and were found in an unsatisfactory state; but how was the default detected if there were no checks and no forms? Why, it was detected by the forms, and by examining the books which were there. [Lord SEYMOUR: There was no entry.] There has been a great bankruptcy in this town lately—an eminent firm has acted in a most discreditable manner; and, therefore, I presume the noble Lord would say, "It appears that there are in the whole banking system of London no forms for the detection of abuse." [Lord SEYMOUR: No; in that one house.] In that house, then But what is the case? I apprehend that Messrs. Paul, Strahan, and Bates signed receipts, that their customers wrote checks, that all the usual forms were gone through, and yet you may find, perhaps, that the accounts and books have been falsified. I say, therefore, that it is unjust to assert that there were no forms because an unhappy man, who appeared to be a defaulter, chose not to comply with the forms provided. There are some other matters in the Report equally minute; but, as they are personal to myself, it would not be becoming in me to detain the House by entering into them. But there are cases where statements are made which affect other persons, and there, I confess, I think that the House ought to pause before it accepts them. For instance, an accusation is made against Lord Hardinge for not providing an ambulance corps; and the noble Lord complains, and very justly, that, though referred to by name in the Report, he was not asked a single question on the subject when under examination before the Committee. I point out these circumstances merely to show that the noble Lord is right in stating that the inquiry is incomplete, 1141 that you cannot come to an accurate conclusion upon it; and in order to warn the public against giving implicit credence to all these details, many of which may appear in a very different aspect when evidence comes home from abroad.
I now come to a question which is a rather serious one. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich says, that you will test, by the references in the margin, the truth and accuracy of all the statements that are made. Well, Sir, there is one statement which has been made, and that is, that the Government prepared no reserve. Now, I am unable to test the accuracy of the statement by the notes in the margin, because those notes only refer to a reserve at Malta. The Report states that—At the date of the expedition to the East no reserve was provided at home adequate to the undertaking. Mr. Sidney Herbert states, in his memorandum of the 27th of November, 'The army in the East has been created by discounting the future. Every regiment at home, or within reach, and not forming part of that army, has been robbed to complete it. The depôts of battalions under Lord Raglan have been similarly treated.'Now, any Gentleman who has gone carefully through these papers will have perceived that this statement is preceded by a statement that after a long peace we never have any other means of augmenting the army. Why, it is a singular fact that this system of robbing certain regiments, in order to increase the strength of those despatched to the seat of war—a system which I admit is objectionable, but to which we were obliged to resort from want of other means—has been resorted to by France, as a reference to the Moniteur of a few months back will show, although she possesses an army of nearly 400,000 men. This fact shows how great is the pressure of war even upon the best organised military system. We do not profess to be a military nation, and I do not think that the Government ought to be blamed for having recourse to a system which, however objectionable, France has been obliged to adopt. The Report goes on to state—The men sent out to reinforce the army were recruits who had not yet become fit for foreign service, and the depôts at home were too weak to feed the companies abroad. The order to attack Sebastopol was sent to Lord Raglan on the 29th of June; the formation of a reserve at Malta was not determined upon until early in November.And three sentences later it says—Your Committee must express their regret that the formation of a large reserve at home, 1142 and also in the proximity of the seat of war, was not considered at a much earlier period; and that the Government, well knowing the limited numbers of the British army, the nature of the climate in the East, as well as the Power we were about to encounter, did not at the commencement of the war take means to augment the ranks of the army beyond the ordinary recruiting, and also that earlier steps were not taken to render the militia available both for the purpose of obtaining supplies of men, and also, in case of necessity, for the relief of regiments of the line stationed in garrisons in the Mediterranean—measures which they found themselves compelled to adopt at a later period.Now, let us see upon what evidence those statements are founded. The Duke of Newcastle, in his examination by the right hon. Member for Droitwich, who, by the way, appears to labour under an hallucination that no attempt was ever made to establish a reserve, gives evidence upon that subject. The Duke of Newcastle is asked if there was no reserve:—You also stated yesterday, that the recruits which had been sent out had been, in a large degree, raw recruits—very young men; I wish to understand more distinctly what was the nature of the arrangement made by the Government with regard to the recruiting of the army after the expedition to Sebastopol was ordered after the 29th of June; there was no reserve, was there?—Yes; there was a reserve at that time. I have already explained that; it has been insisted upon several times in this Committee that there was no reserve; whether it was an adequate reserve is a matter of opinion; but that there was a reserve is undoubtedly the fact; in the first instance, I said that from the first moment when the expedition sailed there was a reserve, what was called the 'reserved division,' which was subsequently Sir George Cathcart's division, amounting to between 60,000 and 7,000 men; and when they left the country there was a further reserve. I do not recollect the amount at that time, but it subsequently amounted to 10,000 men, the whole of which number was sent out to Lord Raglan after the battle of Inkerman; therefore up to that time there was a considerable reserve.As far as I understand the drift of the argument of the right hon. Baronet, it is that Cathcart's reserve was no reserve at all, because it went to the Crimea, and that the other force of 10,000 men was no reserve, because it was sent to join Lord Raglan's army; but how does the case really stand? A reserve is a body of men kept at home to feed the army in emergency, and when first one body forming a reserve, and then a second body, is sent to join the army in case of emergency, it cannot surely be argued that there never was any reserve at all. If a spare mainsail, which happened to be on board a ship, were bent, upon the mainsail being lost, it would be just as reasonable to say that 1143 she had never had any spare mainsail at all. Well, Sir, I say that the 10,000 men were sent to Lord Raglan when he asked for that reserve. That gallant officer complained of the youth of the men, and that is a fair subject of complaint, but it is not fair to say that no reserve at all had been prepared. What does Lord Hardinge say? I will read part of Lord Hardinge's examination:—When that force was sent to the East, you also organised reserves to maintain it in a state of efficiency up to that time?—Yes.That was, during the last year, the state in which it was considered necessary to maintain our military force in the East?—Certainly. I can show that the first reserve under Sir George Cathcart, composed of seven battalions and 6,000 men, was ready in September, and they had arrived at Varna at that time, and in my opinion, instead of remaining as a reserve nearer home, they did right in immediately joining the army, and aiding Lord Raglan at the battle of the Alma with that additional force. Of course we all agree that it is much better, when you are going on an expedition of that kind, to have 6,000 more men than to leave them at Varna; because, though people do talk of the propriety of having a reserve, it is always found in practice to be very desirable to fight as many men as you can upon a given point. The Duke of Wellington, as is well known, in his first campaign, in the operations at Assaye, detached Colonel Stevenson, leaving himself with only 5,000 men, and Colonel Stevenson with 6,000—and the Duke fought the battle of Assaye with half his force, but he never repeated that experiment. In his subsequent career he always brought up to fight the largest force on the most important point; therefore, the Duke of Newcastle was right in bringing the reserve under Sir George Cathcart to bear upon the expedition in the Crimea.I ask now, can any one, after reading these words, say that the Government sent out an army without any thought of a reserve; and, also, if it does not appear that the Committee have, in this respect, arrived at a conclusion not reconcilable with the evidence?
There is one other point with regard to which I do not think justice has been done to the late Administration. Any one on reading the remarks upon military organisation in the Report of the Committee would think that the late Government did nothing to remedy the defects which existed; but such is not, in reality, the fact. The Duke of Newcastle established a separate Land Transport Corps, to which, I think, much, of the present efficiency of the army may be ascribed, and no mention whatever of that is made in the Report; no mention either is made in the Report of the establishment of a separate hospital staff, or of the efforts that were 1144 made to give greater vigour to the war, and therein I think we have been treated rather unjustly. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General has apparently forgotten that which I will recollect—namely, that he was Attorney General to the late as well as to the present Government. His innocent and candid mind has been impressed by this Report, and he, being versed in legal rather than in military matters, has fallen into the belief that all these changes date from the appointment of Lord Panmure as Minister for War. Now, Lord Panmure, in a spirit which did him credit, acknowledged, in a speech in the other House of Parliament, that these changes were instituted before he came into office. That noble Lord did not attempt to purloin from his predecessor, because that predecessor had been driven from his place by popular feeling, the merit of the changes which he had instituted—changes which, I believe, Lord Panmure has since most fairly carried out. I am also anxious to say that, although I am glad to have obtained the good opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield—for I am sincere in saying that his good opinion is worth having—I cannot accept the compliments of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I am sure that I speak the feelings of my right hon. Friends near me, if they were intended to contrast my conduct with that of those Gentlemen who were then my colleagues, and for whom I entertain the greatest respect. Well, there are points in relation to which, if the Committee were placed in difficulty, we, likewise, are placed in difficulty. There are points in respect to which we could make a defence, and yet we find ourselves in a position which prevents us making that defence. The right hon. Member for Droitwich said that in the Committee he always avoided delicate ground, as he did not know where dangers might lie. I find a sentence quoted from a letter of the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) in which he says that some of the omissions of which he complained were rectified in the late meetings of the Cabinet. I recollect to what he alludes. I see a statement that the Ordnance Department was dilatory in sending out huts, clothing, and stores. There is a connexion between the sentence of the noble Lord's letter and the dilatoriness of the Ordnance to which I shall refer. The Ordnance Department 1145 was not dilatory, but there was a delay in the execution of its orders and the shipment. I could explain the reason, which would be satisfactory to every hon. Gentleman. There was shipping enough, but there are points of policy to be considered, and, I am bound to say, for the decision come to, though it might have had grievous effects, the Duke of Newcastle was not responsible. I could enter into this subject, but I will not do so. In this case, as in a thousand others, there is a defence to be made, which we cannot make, and which I will not attempt to make. I would sooner lie under any amount of obloquy, however injurious, trusting to time to justify us, as it eventually will. Every day you are getting reports from the Crimea throwing light on these proceedings. It is certainly unnecessary to have a Commission, as has been suggested, to ascertain how far the statements of the Committee are true. Officers coming home from the Crimea will throw light on these things, and the truth will come out. I formerly stated in this House that, as far as an examination into the conduct of the departments at home was concerned, you were welcome to make it, but what I objected to was an inquiry affecting officers in the Crimea. Still even our defence is not complete, unless you examine persons out there. I care not, however, for that. Time will right it. I do not deny that great errors have been committed. I do not stand up to assert that all was right, and that everything was done which ought to have been done; but what I wish to impress upon the House is this—that, as the matter stands, the Government at home have not, and cannot, in the nature of things have the opportunity of making a full defence. Nevertheless, if the Committee in the absence of that opportunity, expressed an opinion on our conduct, we think we have a right to ask the House whether or not it coincides in that opinion The noble Lord the Member for Totness said last night that there was no evidence to condemn, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General has this evening stated that you cannot acquit, because there happens to be no evidence to condemn, but that you must have counter evidence, and that, under the circum stances, he would vote with the hon. ant gallant General the Member for Huntingdon (General Peel).
With respect to the conduct which has 1146 been impugned in reference to the expedition to Sebastopol, let me see what the accusations were. First, it was said that we had no information. I have shown, if that we had information, you are not aware of that. But I assert we had information, and the Committee are in error in thinking we were uninformed simply because they had no evidence on the subject. Then it was said that we had no reserve, but I lave shown that we had a reserve. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) strongly condemned the invasion of the Crimea, because, he said, it was dictated by a leading article in The Times, and it was disgraceful to yield to such a suggestion. I should agree with the hon. Member if his statement were correct, but the pungent leading article to which the hon. Member referred was written some six weeks after our order had been given for the expedition to the Crimea—the latter being dated in June, and the other published in August. Now, whatever effect might be produced by the civium ardor prava jubentium, it is quite evident that what was published in August could have no influence on what was done in June. I should like to know from the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) whether it is a canon of his, that an offensive movement is never to be made in a defensive war? I think he said that we sent troops to defend Constantinople and the Principalities, and that we departed from the principle of a defensive war when we went to the Crimea. Another canon of the right hon. Gentleman is, that we were not justified in undertaking a military operation until we had the most accurate information of all matters connected with it, and until we had a moral certainty of success. Now, if that principle is good in respect to one army, it must be good, also, in respect to the hostile army, so that, according to the right hon. Gentleman, both armies ought to have a moral certainty of success. I recommend that doctrine to the hon. Member for Manchester, for, if he wishes to see his ideas of universal peace carried into effect, he could do nothing more effectual for his purpose than persuading all military men all over the globe never to fight until they had a moral certainty of success. But was the invasion of the Crimea a departure from a defensive system? We wanted to defend Turkey—that is, we wanted, by the defence of Turkey, to oppose the ambition of Russia. But if it 1147 were not right in a defensive war to enter into an offensive operation, then the Duke of Wellington, desiring to defend Spain, ought, according to the right hon. Baronet, never to have marched into France, Though you have a defensive war, you may carry it on by offensive operations. I think it may be laid down as certain, that for a maritime country, like England, engaging in war with a military country like Russia, the proper and natural mode of carrying the war on, if only English objects are concerned, is by a system of naval blockade; by which, though you may gain no great fame, you risk no danger, and have a moral certainty of success after a time. By shutting up the enemy's ports and ruining his trade you compel him to come to terms. But, in the ease now under consideration, you cannot have recourse to such a system. You are fighting together with Turkey, and Turkey could not undertake a defensive blockade of Russia. Turkey was exposed to invasion by Russia on two frontiers, and was liable to be forced to fight a pitched battle, which might have settled her fate for ever. It was necessary, then, in this instance, as in all instances where you are fighting with allies, to take your measures as rapidly as possible, to condense your war into as small a space as possible, and to strike an early and vital blow for the purpose of obtaining your object, before your alliances should become dissolved, or the country you desire to defend should be exhausted. Such considerations render the operation against Sebastopol a wise proceeding. Can you find any place in Russia where a successful blow would be so vital as there? And now we are asked to condemn the policy which led to the expedition to the Crimea. I say, as I said before, that all this condemnation applies to our allies as well as to ourselves. Did you always think that the expedition to Sebastopol was impolitic and unwise? I certainly think that the hon. Member for Manchester was quite mistaken in supposing that public opinion, at the time we ordered the movement to Sebastopol, was in favour of that expedition. Public opinion was then in favour of a march on Silistria and a campaign in the Principalities. We rejected those counsels; but, when the battle of Alma was fought, France, like ourselves afterwards, lost an illustrious marshal; and the Emperor of the French wrote a graceful letter condoling with Madame St. Arnaud. In that letter the 1148 Emperor praised Marshal St. Arnaud for having resisted "timid counsels." What, then, happened in England at a time when the expedition to the Crimea seemed likely to he only a march of triumph? Then it was thought to be impossible that these tricksters of Lord Aberdeen's Government could have had anything to do with an expedition which offered the prospect of so much triumph to our arms. The Emperor Napoleon caused it to be explained that such was not the meaning of his expression. And now, after doing this injustice to your public men, at a time when you thought the expedition would be a successful one, and endeavouring to deprive the Government of the prestige they would thereby gain, you shut your eyes to your former opinions, and try to blame us for doing that which, at the time I have just referred to, you fully approved.
I must say further, that if you adopt this Resolution and pass a vote of censure on the conduct of those who ordered the expedition, you are bound to reflect on the effect which it will have on the army. That army is engaged in an arduous undertaking, and they are spilling their hearts' blood in your service. Are they to be told that all their labours and dangers are in vain—that the undertaking in which they are engaged is wrong in principle, and could be productive of no good consequences! ["No, no!"] I say you must take your choice. You must either blame the conduct of those who originated the expedition, or approve it. If you blame the expedition recollect that your soldiers are engaged in it, and that when they hear of your censure they will not know the party feelings or intrigues which dictate it. The effect on them will not be encouraging when they know that Parliament in England is saying that all their labours are wrong and that they will bear no fruit to their country. I have ventured on this subject, because I do not wish to shrink from the responsibility of this expedition. It has been said by some, why have we had so many failures in connexion with the army when the management of our navy has been so successful? That is because the navy operations differ little in war from what they are in time of peace. The seaman sleeps in his hammock every night, has his commissariat with him, and, apart from the risks of war, finds no difference. In the army, on the contrary, the soldiers never sleep out of barracks in time of 1149 peace. A commissariat is then scarcely necessary, and when war comes has suddenly to be created. The combinations required for the land forces in such circumstances are enormous, while in the navy it is entirely different. In the navy the commander is exposed to no greater labours and fatigues in time of war than in peace, while the commander of the army is exposed to severe fatigue and greatly increased responsibility, the whole system of management being completely changed.
Now, Sir, there have been failures—failures not resulting from any deficiency in the service, for never did an army go forth in a finer spirit, and never were there higher expectations—expectations so high that it seemed impossible to fulfil them. But failures there were. Even in France, a military nation, there is a work published by a gentleman to show how peace has crippled their operations, and how their system is cumbered by forms. How much more is this likely to be the case with us than with a nation which is in a constant chronic state of war not many miles from their own shores? If we are told that all the evils which took place and all the sufferings endured by the army were the result of want of assiduity and zeal, I can point as an answer to the Report of the Committee—for the Report says one of the greatest evils to which the army was exposed was the want of a road, and that the want of the road was not known to the Duke of Newcastle till it was too late to take the necessary measures for remedying the evil. But still I admit that there were great failures, and I think those failures could have been to a great degree easily remedied if there had not been so much exaggeration in the reports that reached us that it was impossible to get at the truth. But every effort was made to restore strength and simplicity to the operations of the army in the field. It is said in the Report that the Government made no inquiry as to how the various departments were going on. I know not how the Committee arrived at this conclusion; for I am able to say that there were constant inquiries and discussions with reference to what was going on; and I trust that those who came after us have found that many of the difficulties which had existed have been cleared away. It is true there might have been men of greater capacity who would have better discharged the duties, 1150 but men of greater zeal and earnestness in the public service there could not possibly have been. The Motion before the House has for its object to ostracise all who were then in the Government—some of them seated by me, others on the benches beside and below me—all of them men of great capacity and experience; and I must say I should lament to see the choice of the Crown thus restricted, or men of their capacity deterred in future from serving the public. I have myself served the public in a humble capacity, and in so doing I only did what an English gentleman should ever be ready to do. If, while endeavouring to serve the public I failed, I failed, at any rate, with this consolation, that I did my utmost to succeed. If it should be the pleasure of this House to condemn us, I shall bow to that decision; but I feel that you must not measure our conduct by an abstract standard. You must take into consideration the difficulties of our position; you must take into your consideration the great labours we had to undergo, not only in sending forth an army, but in organising the system on which that army was to be supplied. These difficulties we had to encounter, and these difficulties, I trust, by the foresight of the Duke of Newcastle, and of Lord Panmure since, have been overcome. I trust to the justice of this House—I do not fear their verdict, I only trust to their justice—to look at the whole case, and to the evidences on which the Report of the Committee is founded; and I will not shrink from their decision. I will not attempt to give the go-by to their decision. I shall vote against the previous question, because I think that when a Minister's character is impugned he is entitled to ask a clear and distinct verdict from the House of Commons.
§ MR. ELLICE (Coventry)
said, it had not been his intention to intrude upon the indulgence of the House, but in justice to the Sebastopol Committee he felt called upon to make some reply to the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, who, when he quoted certain opinions from the original draught of the Report laid before the Committee by his noble Friend (Lord Seymour), must have forgotten that he objected to those words which related to the expedition to the Crimea. His noble Friend and himself wished to avoid with the greatest care all reference to the expedition to the Crimea, and it was on that ground that 1151 they opposed the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. With regard to the Motion before the House, so far as it referred to the expedition to the Crimea, he should certainly oppose it, as he was not prepared to condemn the policy of that expedition. It had been stated that censure was cast upon Lord Hardinge and Lord Raglan with respect to the formation of an ambulance corps. Now, the Duke of Newcastle stated that the reason why a more efficient ambulance corps was not provided was, that it was objected to by Lord Raglan and by Lord Hardinge on account of its weakening the effective force of the army; but the Committee cast no imputation upon either of those gallant officers in respect to this opinion, which was, probably, a perfectly correct one. An observation had been made by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Sidney Herbert), with regard to the opinion of the Committee on the subject of reinforcements. Now the best evidence the House could have of the insufficiency of the reinforcements was the letter of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), published in the appendix to the evidence, and the Duke of Newcastle himself stated that subsequent reinforcements to those sent out under General Cathcart were only thought of in the month of September. It was not, therefore, without some ground that the Committee expressed their regret on this score, and it was very hard upon those Gentlemen to whom, against their wishes and in opposition to their opinions, the House had intrusted the invidious duty of making this inquiry—it was very hard upon those Gentlemen if the House did not, in its turn, support them in their Report. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert), and the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) seemed very much more sensitive on the subject of this Report than the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell). Now the Committee had done their best to avoid casting censure upon individuals, especially upon those who had not the opportunity of appearing before them to defend themselves, and where the Committee had expressed a strong opinion upon the mal-administration of the army, it had been founded upon no doubtful evidence, but upon the evidence of Ministers themselves. The House would remember it was with some difficulty that they prevailed upon the Government to separate the functions of the Colonial Office from those of the War Department. Well, in the Committee's 1152 Report they would find that the Ordnance Office was in a state of utter confusion, with no Master-General appointed and with the Members of the Board (upon none of whom, however, would he cast any imputation) differing among themselves with respect to the most important part of military administration. This was a Board intrusted with the expenditure of from 7,000,000l. to 8,000,000l. a-year, and upon which the army was dependent for supplies of every description. Then, again, was the Medical Department properly conducted? Had the transport of the sick and wounded been sufficiently provided for? Why, written representations had been made to the authorities that unless hospitals were established in anticipation of actual hostilities, lamentable results would inevitably ensue, and the chief medical officer represented to the Government in May that the troops would suffer greatly if proper transports were not fitted out to convey the troops from the scene of action to the hospitals. None of these things were attended to, however, and then, when the facts were proved before the Committee, the right hon. Gentlemen lately connected with the Government said, they deserved a full acquittal upon all the points on which the Committee were unanimous. He (Mr. Ellice) certainly thought the inquiry had been to some extent imperfect, but the Duke of Newcastle, when asked why it was that so much confusion existed, himself replied that everything was in confusion, and that he was thwarted by the Commissariat, by the Ordnance Board, and by every one of the Departments. This, then, was not hearsay evidence, and with such facts before them it was impossible for the Committee to adopt any other Report than that on which they had agreed. Why was it that, under these circumstances, he could not agree with the proposition which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Chairman of the Committee had now made to the House, as far as it involved any condemnation of the policy of the Government? One reason why he did not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) was, because he thought they ought rather to look upon the inquiry as yielding them experience and furnishing them with hopes of amendment for the future than as a subject of a Motion of this description. A great number of reforms had already been carried out, and the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary at War had mentioned several 1153 instances in which those reforms had produced most beneficial results upon the state of our army in the Crimea. The Committee would be amply repaid and the public largely benefited if such were the consequences of the Report, and he thought the time of the House would be much better occupied in discussing the measures soon to be laid before them by the Government with regard to the military administration itself, and to the reorganisation of the Army Departments, than in finding fault with what was past and gone, as they were now doing.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Sir, in the course of this evening's debate so little has been urged in support of the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), and such complete and convincing arguments have been adduced in opposition to that Motion, that much of what I might have addressed to the House in that sense has been anticipated, and is now unnecessary. I allude especially to the speeches of my noble Friend (Lord John Russell) and of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert), who, I think, have stated on incontrovertible grounds the reasons why the House should refuse its assent to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I am, indeed, at a loss to understand the precise object of that Motion, or the precise issue raised upon which the House is now asked to pronounce its verdict. I should have supposed, from the terms of the Motion, that what the hon. and learned Gentleman wished was now to fix upon every individual Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government the responsibility of the errors which may have been committed in the conduct of the war, and that he wished to condemn every Member of that Government to perpetual exclusion from the service of the Crown, in consequence of their having, according to his view, betrayed the trust reposed in them, and failed to discharge their duties as Ministers. In his speech, however, the hon. and learned Member did not propose to the House this general and sweeping condemnation and exclusion from office, for he excepted from his Resolution those noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen who have seceded from office, and who are not Members of the present Government. He wished apparently to fix upon my noble Friend at the head of the Government, and upon those of his colleagues who are now associated with him, and who were also Members of 1154 Lord Aberdeen's Government, an individual responsibility for all the acts of Lord Aberdeen's Government, and to place them in the same position as those noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen who are now out of office. He stated that the right hon. Gentlemen behind him were already punished by loss of office; and the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), speaking in the same tone, said they were now expiating their offences on that bench on which he occupies a seat. Again, the Motion has been treated as if it were a Vote of want of confidence in the present Administration; and the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) and the hon. Member for Manchester, judging from the personal animosity and acrimony with which they attacked and assailed my noble Friend at the head of the Government, seem to wish to make the Motion an opportunity of directing the vengeance of the House, if I may use so strong an expression, against my noble Friend and his colleagues for any duty which may have been neglected in the management of the war while Lord Aberdeen held office, and not on account of any neglect of duty on the part of the Administration over which my noble Friend now presides. Again, there are other Members who have severely impugned the policy of the expedition to the Crimea, and who seem disposed to render the Motion an occasion for asking the House to condemn the policy of that expedition, which the Committee themselves have declared they had no intention of doing. Now, Sir, amid these conflicting views of Members who profess to support the Motion of the hon. and learned Member, I am at a loss to know with what we really have to deal. But this I will say, that, assuming the Motion to be what it professes to be according to its terms—namely, a Motion condemnatory of the Government of Lord Aberdeen, on account of a neglect of duty which the hon. and learned Gentleman assumes to have been proved against them in the course of the inquiry before the Committee—I, as an humble Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, accept to the fullest extent the responsibility of every act of neglect or omission of duty chargeable upon that Government. The doctrine of ministerial responsibility has been adverted to in the course of this debate, and I tell the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen that I accept the statement of that doctrine of responsibility so eloquently expressed 1155 in the passage quoted by the hon. and learned Member from the writings of my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay). Sir, I accept that doctrine in full, and this is not the first time that I have asserted it in my place in the House of Commons. And now, let me recall to the House the terms of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, when he called upon the House to institute an inquiry into the state of the army before Sebastopol. The terms of that Motion were not the terms in which he now proposes a vote of censure upon the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government; but what were those terms? The hon. and learned Gentleman moved—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the condition of our army before Sebastopol, and into the conduct of those departments of the Government whose duty it has been to minister to the wants of the army.The hon. and learned Gentleman then pointed his shaft, not against the Government as a whole, but against individual Members of the Government, and I have the authority of the noble Lord who is at the head of the party I see opposite for that statement. That noble Lord pointed out in a speech in another place, in which he accounted for his failure in forming a Government, what the hon. and learned Gentleman declared to be the object of the Motion which he had submitted to the House? And what was the course taken by the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government upon that occasion? It is no secret that the attack was then made upon individual Members of the Government, and, indeed, it was stated at the time that, if those Members were excluded from the Government, numerous votes would be given in favour of the Government as reconstructed, which would otherwise be given in favour of the Motion for inquiry proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman. Had we listened to those suggestions, and had we adopted the view taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, had we pretended to treat the Motion as being directed against one, two, or three departments of the Government, the result might have been very different from what it was. But I, in my place in this House, and other Members of the Government, declined to take that course, and we said we could neither acknowledge nor accept a divided responsibility. We assumed to ourselves the responsibility of all the acts and omissions of the Government of Lord Aberdeen. 1156 That is the view which we now profess, and, if it is just to censure the heads of those departments which it was specially the object of the Committee to inquire into, that censure must fall with equal justice upon the head of my noble Friend and every individual Member of the late Government. But what was the course that was taken in the early part of the year? The Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman was agreed to, and agreed to avowedly as a Vote of want of confidence in Lord Aberdeen's Government, and in their administration of the war. Having been carried, Lord Aberdeen and every Member of his Government tendered their resignation to Her Majesty, and their resignations were accepted. The Government submitted to the censure which had been passed upon them as a whole, and as a whole they resigned. It is now sought to put under a ban of perpetual exclusion from office every Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government upon account of the finding of the Committee; but what was the course then taken by the Earl of Derby? The Earl of Derby was commissioned by Her Majesty to form a Government, and what was his opinion of the possible result of the inquiries of the Committee? The party of which he was the head voted for the appointment of the Committee, and we have a right to assume that if he had succeeded in forming a Government he would have placed no obstruction in the way of the nomination of that Committee. Now, Sir, the very first thing which Lord Derby did was to apply to three or four distinguished Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government—my noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston) included, and ask them to join with him in forming a Ministry. My hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General has already asked the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington) a very pertinent question. He asked the right hon. Baronet whether, if my noble and right hon. Friends had consented to form part of a Government under Lord Derby, the right hon. Baronet, when he had before him the finding of the Committee, would with equal earnestness have called upon the House to censure every individual Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, supposing that at the time he did so they were seated side by side with him in the Cabinet of Lord Derby? Hon. Members may say that the offer of Lord Derby was a contingent offer, but I contend that the offer made to my noble 1157 and right hon. Friends was an absolute and unconditional one. No one can assert that if the circumstances had been different the right hon. Baronet and his Friends would have acted the same stern and rigid part which they have acted to-night, and that they would have been as ready to become the executioners of their colleagues as they are now to censure the Government composed of their political opponents. I will not ask the House if that be a true version of the state of the matter, but I will let Lord Derby speak for himself? What does he say as to the motives which induced him to make his proposal to my noble and right hon. Friends? Does he say that he only intended to avail himself of their services for a short time, and that when the Committee made their Report then he would turn round with the right hon. Gentlemen opposite and declare that they were utterly unfit to remain in office? Lord Derby gave elsewhere an account of the part which he took when commissioned by Her Majesty to form an Administration. He said—My Lords, I considered it then my duty deliberately to consider, before I assumed the responsibility which I understood it to be the wish of Her Majesty I should discharge, in what position I should be with regard to Parliamentary support. … It is true, my Lords, that I could have filled several of the offices of the Government in a manner that would have commanded the approbation alike of my own supporters and of the majority of my political opponents."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvi. 1337.]He then goes on to say—It is no secret that the moment the Administration of the noble Earl opposite was dissolved a cry was raised by a portion of the Press, exercising no insignificant influence over the public mind, that, whatever might be the future composition of the Ministry, one thing at least was clear—namely, that what was called a Derby Administration was out of the question, and that another thing was not less clear, that Viscount Palmerston was the man called upon by the voice of the country to take the management of affairs. My Lords, I speak not only of the language of the Press, but also of the language of Members of Parliament. … There was a universal impression in favour of the noble Viscount, who, somehow or other, appears to have enjoyed a peculiar exemption from the censure passed on the whole of his colleagues."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvi. 1339.]It was only in the course of these debates that it was attempted to fix upon my noble Friend some special responsibility in consequence of having neglected to perform some duty which, as the head of the Home Department, he ought to have attended to 1158 in connection with the militia. It may now be said, that Lord Derby did not anticipate that blame would be laid at the door of the noble Lord, or he would not have asked him to become a Member of his Cabinet. I have no doubt, however, that my noble Friend is able to give a complete answer to the attacks made upon him in reference to the militia, because the fact was, that the law neither authorised him, nor the Government which preceded him, to embody the militia, except in the case of actual or apprehended invasion. I can show, I think, also, that no sooner was the Bill passed than many regiments of militia were immediately embodied. I will now show that no charge which may be brought against my noble Friend as a Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, was present to the mind of Lord Derby, who says:—One of the greatest defects that appears to have existed was a defect that arose in the office presided over by the noble Viscount himself—namely, in the organisation and embodiment of the militia. But, be that as it may, in the public mind the noble Viscount was excepted from the censure imposed on his colleagues in the Administration; and the hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward the Motion by which the Government was overthrown, if I mistake not, declared his opinion that Viscount Palmerston was the only person who was fit to succeed to the Government of the country. But a higher authority still was one of the noble Viscount's colleagues, who considered the case of the late Government indefensible, and their conduct to be such as to compel him, prematurely, to secede from them. That noble Lord generously and disinterestedly sacrificed himself to a colleague, and declared that in his opinion the only person to conduct the military affairs of the country was his late colleague Viscount Palmerston. Now, I put it to your Lordships and the country whether, with that feeling prevailing in Parliament—with a general declaration in favour of a very distinguished Member of that House—a declaration made by a large portion of the Press, and by a considerable body of the Members of the House of Commons, and sustained by the high authority of the noble Lord the late President of the Council—I ask what prospect of immunity from attack, or what prospect of a sustained majority, a Government could expect which should be formed to the exclusion of that individual?"—[3 Hansard, cxxxvi. 1339–40.]The noble Earl goes on to say, that these were not the only reasons which induced him to solicit the assistance of my noble Friend in forming a Government. He refers to the high abilities and the diplomatic experience of my noble Friend; and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) stated that, so sensible was he of the advantage of securing the assistance 1159 of my noble Friend, that he was ready to relinquish in his favour the leadership of the House of Commons. The noble Earl further said that, looking at the talents, the character, and the ability of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), and the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. Sidney Herbert), who had discharged, with so much advantage to the country, the office of Secretary at War, he wished those right hon. Gentlemen to become Members of his Government; and that he considered that the co-operation of my noble Friend and of those right hon. Gentlemen, would be to his Government an element of strength which would ensure the confidence of the country, and the support of a majority in this House. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) has spoken in unusually complimentary terms of my noble Friend, and of the right hon. Gentlemen to whom I have referred. I may say that I am utterly indifferent as to the opinion which that hon. and learned Member may express with regard to me, but I allude now to the opinions he has expressed with reference to gentlemen whom he admits are men of mark and position in the country and in the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, proposes to exclude these men permanently from office. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) concurs in the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, while the head of the party with which he is associated, and who, I presume, intended that the right hon. Gentleman should occupy a place in his Government, stated that he could not form a Government with any prospect of obtaining the confidence of the country unless he secured the co-operation of the gentlemen to whom I have referred. The right hon. Baronet, however, now is prepared to place those right hon. Gentlemen under the ban of a perpetual exclusion from office. To the justice of this course—to the policy or the consistency of this course, I certainly cannot assent. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield spoke—I may almost say—in terms of fulsome adulation of my right hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Sidney Herbert). The hon. and learned Gentleman, when he proposed the appointment of the Committee, avowedly aimed his Motion at the Duke of Newcastle and two or three other Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government; but the hon. and learned Gentleman now says that 1160 no man performed his duty more faithfully and more diligently than the Duke of Newcastle; he says the same of the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. Sidney Herbert), and he says the same of the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir J. Graham), only observing that that right hon. Baronet did not seem to have very much to do with ministering to the wants of the army, and that the only fault which can be imputed to him is that he might have been in error in building large ships instead of small ones. But the hon. and learned Gentleman says that those right hon. Gentlemen have been punished. How have they been punished? They retired voluntarily from office. They retired in common with every Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government because the House of Commons withheld its confidence from that Government, having passed a vote which was avowed to be a Vote of want of confidence in the noble Earl's Government. Those right hon. Gentlemen retired with all their colleagues, but they afterwards consented to become Members of the Government of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), they did not feel that they were disqualified from rendering service to the Crown, and I do not think any Member of the House thought they were wrong in the course which they pursued. They afterwards retired from the Government because they thought that the Committee proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield ought not to be appointed; but the hon. and learned Gentleman talks of punishing them by depriving them of what are vulgarly termed the "sweets of office." Does he really think that these are the great inducements that lead men to serve the Crown? Is there no honourable ambition which induces men to seek such a position? I can assure hon. Gentlemen below the gangway who have never been in office, but who may not unnaturally expect some day to hold office, that the "sweets of office" never fail to be accompanied by grave anxieties and responsibilities, of which many persons know nothing, and from which, if they had experienced those responsibilities, they might well be anxious to shrink. Let the House, then, consider the circumstances under which the Government of my noble Friend was formed. When the heads of departments who were examined before the Committee had shown that their conduct was not such as to merit the severe censure which the hon. and learned Gentleman asks the House to inflict upon them, 1161 is he to turn round and say that a special responsibility rests upon all the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government who were not heard before the Committee? The other Members of the Government, whose conduct was not the subject of inquiry, had no opportunity of explaining how they spent their time, which they have been accused of devoting to idle recreation, instead of attending to their duties. Is the House now prepared to pass a censure upon those Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government, who, though sharing the general responsibility of the Government, were not specially charged with the details of administration in these departments which were the subject of inquiry? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman mean to say that Lord Lansdowne and Lord Clarendon are specially responsible, and open to censure? Does he mean to say that the President of the India Board or the Colonial Secretary at that time are to be censured because they did not go to the Admiralty day by day to ascertain whether transports should be taken up, or because they did not go to the War Office to consult as to the standard for recruits? For the acts of the Government we are all individually responsible, but I deny the special responsibility which the hon. and learned Member attempts to fix upon individual Members of it, and I maintain that he is pressing the doctrine of Ministerial responsibility beyond its proper limits. The question really is, whether there is sufficient ground for censuring every individual Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, and I admit that if there is any censure, it will apply to every Member of that Government, according to this Motion. I must say that I should have been quite prepared to meet the Motion with a direct negative, because I think it an unjust Motion. We have been told that we are taking shelter under "the previous question." I deny that we do so; and, if "the previous question" should be negatived, we shall be prepared to meet the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman with a direct negative. But I ask the House to consider the position of this question. The Members of the Committee themselves state that their inquiry is incomplete, and that they do not wish to ask the House to confirm their finding upon the various points on which they have expressed an opinion. The previous question is moved by a Member of the Committee. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington) is the only Member of the Committee who has expressed 1162 his concurrence in the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. When we are called upon to support the finding of the Committee, I am entitled to ask what the feelings and opinions of the Committee were, with the evidence fully in their minds; why their opinion evidently was that there was no occasion to ask the House of Commons to pass that vote of censure which the hon. and learned Gentleman now asks the House to sanction. I am not prepared to deny that errors, and grave errors, were committed. I admitted those errors and stated their causes when the Committee was moved for. I do not assert therefore that Lord Aberdeen's Government was faultless, or that any one of its Members is exempt from a share of blame; neither will I say that the Report of the Committee is to be thrown aside as useless. That document will serve as a guide for the future avoidance of errors similar to those which it points out. Almost all the Members of the Committee, except the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), desire no other use than this to be made of their Report, and do not ask the House to ratify their finding by such a Motion as the present. I think, then, that we may fairly and honourably support the "previous question," and that in doing so we are shrinking from no defence of the policy of the late Government or of its acts. As to this being a Vote of want of confidence in the present Government the Resolution can legitimately bear no such interpretation. If such a Vote is to be proposed, let the question be fairly and openly raised, and not be disguised by a Motion of this kind. A Motion involving confidence or no confidence in the Government was recently brought forward by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) when the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) frankly avowed that he voted with the view of ejecting the present Ministry, and in this the hon. and gallant Gentleman showed himself a manly and open opponent of the present Government, but he scorns to strike an indirect blow at it through the sides of Lord Aberdeen's Administration. For the reasons I have stated I need only add that we are prepared to support the Amendment to the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion, which has been proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) had implored the House and entreated the Government 1163 not to take the course which the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had vindicated on the part of the Administration, and he was willing to attribute great praise to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) for the feeling and truthfulness and great energy with which that appeal was made. The right hon. Member explaining and expressing fully the position in which he and his friends now stood, entreated the Government not to prevent the House coming to a bonâ fide decision upon the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield. He, therefore, now rose to appeal to the noble Lord at the head of the Government not to refuse that entreaty, and he did so on special grounds. It would be in the recollection of the House that when, on a recent occasion, just and natural observations were made upon the extraordinary silence of the Government throughout the discussion then pending, at the last moment, and after the debate had closed, the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown rose and said he would explain the reasons why the Members of the Government had not spoken. "The reason is obvious," said the noble Lord, pointing to the bench on which those right hon. Gentlemen sat who had retired from the Administration; "we are anxious to know the views and to study the wishes of those right hon. Gentlemen who are so deeply implicated in this question." The natural and only legitimate conclusion from this was that, having discovered by the speech of the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) what were the wishes of those right hon. Gentlemen, the Government would not, on the present occasion, have taken shelter under the flimsy pretext of the "previous question," but would have accepted the Motion offered to their consideration by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, and showed that, instead of putting forward a mere pretext, the noble Lord was really anxious to consult the wishes of those right hon. Gentlemen. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) taunted the Gentlemen who sat on the Opposition benches with the fact that, when the Ear of Derby was invited to form a Government, he thought it his duty to offer a place to the noble Lord opposite and to some of his colleagues, and the right hon. Gentleman further said that no new fact had since then been elicited which would justify Lord Derby and his adherents in now condemning conduct which was censured in the Committee's Report, but the right hon. Gentleman entirely ignored the 1164 mass of fresh evidence which that document disclosed. The right hon. Member or Coventry (Mr. Ellice) was prepared to vote with the noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour). Now, that noble Lord, in his speech the other evening, laboured to prove that the evidence on which the Resolutions and the Report of the Committee were based was amply sufficient to support the Resolutions of the noble Lord, which stood recorded in the Committee's proceedings, but were quite inadequate to sustain the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), asking the House to ratify the decision at which its Committee had arrived. If, however, there was a difference between the language adopted in the two cases, the language used in the Resolutions of the noble Lord was the stronger. In conclusion, whatever might be the decision of the majority of that House, let them, at all events, for the sake of their own character and consistency, accede to the appeal of the right hon. Member for South Wiltshire and his friends, and refuse to evade the Motion by adopting the "previous question."
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, at this late hour, and after the minute and ample discussion which this Motion has undergone, I only feel it necessary to interpose for a very short time between the House and the division to which it is so manifestly anxious to proceed. But I must be allowed to say that I think this is one of the most extraordinary Motions that have ever been made within the walls of Parliament, whether we consider the time to which it relates or the manner in which persons are brought within the scope of its operation. Sir, I am far from wishing to disclaim my share in that responsibility which the hon. and learned Gentleman who has proposed and brought forward this Motion, and those who have taken part with him, desire to fix upon every Member of the Aberdeen Government for every act which that Government performed. I am ready to acknowledge that if any one Member of that Government were guilty of gross neglect of the duties of his office, this House is entitled to call the other Members of that Government to account for not having interposed by their advice, remonstrances, and objections to change that course and remedy those abuses which the House may be disposed to censure. But the manner in which, on the present occasion, the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to fix that 1165 responsibility, and to accompany with it the censure of Parliament, is certainly somewhat singular and remarkable. When I say that all members of a Government are answerable collectively for the conduct of all, it is nevertheless palpable to common sense that there must be a certain distinction between the conduct of those who have different departments to administer, and the degree in which blame may attach to other Members of that same Cabinet, who, being occupied with the business of their own particular departments, cannot be supposed to exert an influence, and to exercise an interference, which would indeed be improper, in the conduct of other branches of the Administration. But, in the present case, the Committee, of which the hon. and learned Gentleman was Chairman, was appointed to inquire into the conduct of those departments which were charged with administering to the wants of the army. Now, what were these departments? They were the department of the Secretary of State for War, the department of the Secretary at War, co-operating with the Secretary of State for War and the department of the Admiralty. These were the three departments peculiarly engaged in the business of the war. No doubt, the head of the Government, whoever he may be, is entitled to exercise a degree of interference which his other Colleagues might not exercise over the departments not their own, but the departments to which I have alluded were those particular branches of the Administration into whose proceedings the Committee was directed to inquire. Now, what is the opinion, after the voluminous evidence taken by that Committee, which the Chairman has pronounced in this House upon the three Members of that Administration peculiarly charged with supplying the wants of the army? Why, he paid a handsome—but not more handsome than just—tribute to the manner in which they had performed those duties. He stated of the Duke of Newcastle that no man had more conscientiously performed his duties, that no man could be more regardful of the welfare of the service over which he presided, or more attentive to the interests of the country. I need scarcely say, Sir, that I fully concur in that opinion. The hon. and learned Gentleman passed the same eulogium upon my right hon. Friend the late Secretary at War (Mr. Sidney Herbert), and he gave the same praise to my right hon. Friend 1166 the late First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir J. Graham). He certainly reserves some blame to the latter for that which I think a great merit—namely, for having constructed ships of great size, power, and armament, enabling them to cope with any that the enemy might bring against them, and to the existence of which the safety of our commerce and the effective blockade of the Baltic last year were mainly owing. Having thus given praise to those whose duty it was especially to consider the wants of the army, my hon. and learned Friend directs his censure to other Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government to whom the duty was not assigned of administering to the wants of the army, but who must be called on to take their share in the responsibility of those encomiums which the hon. and learned Gentleman so frankly pronounced upon those three Members of the late Government to whom I have particularly alluded. Having accorded his praise most liberally to the three persons specially charged with the conduct of the war, the hon. and learned Gentleman wants the House to pass a Vote of censure on others against whom all that can be alleged is, that they were participators in, and had their proportionate share of, that good conduct which he is so willing to commend. But that is not the only remarkable circumstance in this case; for if censure is to be invoked in respect of the events of last autumn on those Members of Lord Aberdeen's Administration who are also Members of the present Government, I must say that there are some hon. Gentlemen opposite who are not likely to escape scot free from the reproaches of this House. It is all very well for the noble Lord, who has just spoken, to say that the case is immensely altered by the evidence taken before the Committee. But I deny that, for the general facts upon which the censure turns were notorious to the world at the time. That Committee obtained no new information as to facts, but only as to the manner in which those facts were proved, and the manner in which certain mistakes and mischances had happened. The facts relative to the supply of that army and its sufferings during the winter months were just as well known before the Committee was appointed, and it was, indeed, the knowledge of these facts which induced this House to agree to the Motion for the appointment of the Committee. What did Lord Derby, when he was called 1167 on to form a Government, do? He, knowing that, according to the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman and other Members in the course of this debate, the Members of Lord Aberdeen's Government had deserved the censure of the country, proposed to myself, to my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), and to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. Sidney Herbert), that we should become Members of his Administration—an offer that I thought at the time, and still think, equally honourable to the person who made it as it was to those to whom it was made. But now, if we are to put credit in the words of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), the transaction is to be viewed in a very different light. For it appears the offer was accompanied with a mental reservation, so that we were to be trepanned into office, I will not say under false pretences, but under the cover of a reservation not communicated to us; and, if the Committee had made a Report that was unfavourable to the Members of the Aberdeen Administration, then, forsooth, we are told that our services would have been no longer wanted, and we should have been called upon to resign our offices. Sir, I do not believe one word of what has been stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman who said, this, and I indignantly refuse to accept his version of this transaction. I have had the happiness of knowing Lord Derby for many years of our mutual lives, and I will not believe that he had any such reservation in the offer he made to me and to those right hon. Gentlemen. I have far too high an opinion of him to suppose for one instant that he could be capable of such conduct as the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen has attributed to him. Well, Sir, the House is called upon to pass a censure upon the existing Government on account of transactions belonging to a Government that does not now exist. I must, in the first place, observe that there have been signal contradictions between the different persons who have spoken in favour of the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck). Some have contended that his Motion has nothing to do with the policy of the war and the expedition to the Crimea. Others have dwelt greatly upon the policy of the war and the policy of the expedition to the Crimea. I should like to know whether those who are going to vote for the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion 1168 intend to make the policy of the war an element in their decision. I shall not go into the policy of the war, concerning which the whole nation has pretty well made up its mind. I will not go into the reasons which lave led the Government and the country to take up arms against the ambitious projects of Russia. I will not go into the considerations which may have misled the Government of Russia to think that a moment had arrived favourable to the long-cherished designs of that Power. I will not allude to the opinion on the part of Russia that circumstances had arisen between the Governments of England and France that might prevent the cordial union of the two countries—an opinion which the noble conduct of the great man at the head of the French Empire has shown to be fallacious, futile, and utterly destitute of foundation. I will not allude here to those other circumstances in this country that may have greatly misled the Emperor of Russia; but I must be allowed to say that, among many circumstances that may have led that Government to strike a blow for the accomplishment of its ambitious designs, the language and conduct of the Peace party in this country must have tended greatly to increase that delusion, and that a great responsibility rests upon them for the miseries and calamities of war. But war having become necessary and just, there arose a question as to how that war should be carried on. There are those who maintain that we ought not to have gone to the Crimea. Where, I ask, then, would you have had the war carried on? Would you have been content with a prolonged blockade of the Russian harbours, which would have led to a protracted struggle? Would you have had us send our soldiers to wander through the vast steppes of the interior of Russia? No doubt our army would have gained battle after battle under any circumstances in which victory was possible, but those victories would have been barren of any ultimate or decisive success. The Crimea, without doubt, was the place where an effective blow could be struck. The Crimea was the centre and the soul of the Russian power and domination in the Black Sea, and it was that power and domination in the Black Sea which constituted the danger to Turkey, and it was to put an end to the danger to Turkey that this country determined to draw the sword. It was, therefore, at the Crimea that it was our obvious policy to attempt to strike a great and decisive 1169 blow. No doubt the difficulties which we had to encounter turned out to be greater than we anticipated at the time that expedition was determined upon. The gallantry of the allied armies has, however, reflected immortal honour upon them. Their sufferings during that lamentable winter were great, but their heroism was greater than their sufferings, and I trust it is reserved for them to obtain a final victory which will be as honourable to them as it will be advantageous to the nations to which they belong. I therefore say if that be part of the question—if the policy of going to attack Sebastopol be one of the elements on which the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes the decision of the House to rest, I am prepared to take my fullest share of responsibility as having been a party to that determination; and, whatever mischances have happened, whatever difficulties have interposed to prevent the success of that expedition, I am as firmly convinced to-day as when I gave that advice that we were right in going to the Crimea, and that no other course possessed equal advantages for the attainment of the object we had in view. But I am told that, having determined on war, we failed in making adequate preparations for its conduct. I deny at once that there is any foundation for that charge. The Duke of Newcastle did everything that man could do to send an army rapidly to the scene of action, and I venture to say there never left the shores of this country within the same period an army so well equipped, so perfectly organised in every respect, or an army at one moment of such numerical force as that which my noble Friend in so brief a period sent to the Bosphorus, and which afterwards went to the Crimea. Nor did my noble Friend neglect to provide reserves, for reserves were provided as far as the state of the army on a peace establishment enabled the Government to provide them. Then we are told there was great neglect about the militia, and for that I am individually and personally responsible. I have already on other occasions explained that the particular arrangement of the Act which was brought in by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, following the precedent of former Militia Acts, did not give the power of embodying regiments of militia under the particular circumstances in which we were placed. The condition of embodiment was actual invasion or danger thereof. When we were at 1170 war with our neighbour—a war which, I trust, for a long time will not occur again—we were in imminent danger of invasion; but it was impossible to say we were in danger of invasion from Russia, when we had blockaded the Baltic and were in possession of the Black Sea. It was, therefore, nesessary to obtain a new law for the embodiment of the militia, but we anticipated that law, and took advantage of the offers of many regiments to be embodied, although there was no power in the Crown, without that voluntary offer to embody them. Between April and September we embodied seventeen regiments of militia by their voluntary offer. We were restricted so far, that it was not thought advantageous to embody more regiments than could be put in barracks, as it would necessitate their being billeted. From October to December we embodied thirty-three regiments more, so that, by the end of December, we had fifty regiments actually embodied and under arms, giving an effective force of 38,000 men. Some people have argued one way, and some the exactly opposite way. Some have complained that we did not embody the whole militia as a reserve. Others tell us—among them, I believe, the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans)—that the militia is not a force applicable to the circumstances of the case. But the value of the militia was, that it gave us recruits for our army, and, though in the beginning of the year we could not embody any great number of regiments, yet all the regiments were assembled for training and exercise, all were brought under arms, and the number of men that enlisted into the army from regiments of militia up to November was 5,500, and since that period 12,700, making actually upwards of 18,000 men given to the regular army from the militia since the war began. I must here take the opportunity of saying, how greatly we are indebted to the spirit of the commanding officers of militia regiments for that large and valuable supply to the regular army, because if it had not been for their zeal and self-denial—for so I must call it—in promoting enlistment, we should not have had that great amount of recruits to the army—and then it is well to be borne in mind that the militia recruits were found more fitted for immediate service in the Crimea than young men drawn from the general population without any previous training. I therefore do not feel I am 1171 open to any blame for the manner in which I have made the militia available for the public service; but if the hon. and learned Gentleman intended specially to direct censure against those Members of the Government of Lord Aberdeen who were uninterested in departments directly ministering to the wants of the army, I think, before he called upon the House to launch its censure at their heads, he might, at least, have given them an opportunity of being heard before his Committee. But so little did he think their conduct part of the subject of inquiry for which the Committee was appointed, that it never once occurred to his mind to call for me, or any of my right hon. Friends who held other offices in that Administration before the Committee. We were never summoned to it. We never had a question asked, and if our conduct was to be impugned, justice surely required that we should be allowed to state anything we could urge in our defence. I must, therefore, again say, that I think this a very strange and singular Motion. I can quite understand a Member who thinks a Government is misconducting the affairs of the country and doing mischief which ought to be stopped—I can quite understand his calling upon Parliament to interpose by a vote of censure, and sweep away from their seats a Government under which the country was on the road to ruin. But that is not the case at present. The hon. and learned Gentleman does not impeach anything we are doing now as an existing Government. He goes seven or eight months back, and his impeachment is founded on events in November and December last, though his Motion is made in July. It is founded on the circumstances which have occurred under a Government which has ceased to exist; and no part of his Motion—I do not say his speech—has any reference whatever to the conduct of the Government which is now charged with the direction of public affairs. But it may be said that, although he does not mention it, still the present Government are guilty of the same laches which he imputes to the Government of Lord Aberdeen, of which, however, in his speech he acquits distinctly and honourably those on whom imputations might have rested if he had not pronounced so honourable and complete an acquittal. Now, how stands the case? The army, unfortunately, in November and December was in a condition which created most painful feelings in the breast of any 1172 man who read or knew that which was passing in the Crimea. Those misfortunes and sufferings were owing to circumstances beyond the control of man, and were liable to happen when complicated departments were brought into motion with regard to which they had no adequate and proper experience. What is the state of the army now? Is it now in a condition in which the interposition of Parliament is necessary to remedy evils afflicting the mind of the nation? Why, it is exactly and directly the contrary. The army now is in as fine a condition as any army which ever existed on the face of the earth. It is, both in health and discipline, as efficient a military force as ever embarked in war, and, as an army, is a pattern to be imitated, instead of being an example to be deplored. There is not the slightest ground, therefore, upon which the conduct of the Government can be impeached, either as to the efficiency of the military or naval service of the country. Then, what is the object of the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman? What he wants is to induce the House to interpose, and remove the present Government of the day. Has he laid any ground whatever for that object? Not the slightest ground in the world. All that he has been able to allege is, that in the months of November, December, and January, the army was suffering; but his Motion restricts the Committee from going beyond the 1st of January in the present year. And yet the hon. and learned Gentleman now proposes to the House to adopt a Vote of censure upon the Government of the present day, not for any misconduct with which he now can charge them, but because, forsooth, he considers he had convicted them of certain errors committed in the autumn of last year, but all of which errors have now ceased to exist. No doubt the merit of the cessation of those errors is due to the brave and gallant officers who command the army in the Crimea, and who have ministered to the wants of that army, and improved their arrangements with an ability that reflects upon them the highest credit. Surely, if blame be cast upon parties who do wrong, those same parties are entitled to be praised for what they do right. The hon. and learned Gentleman has rested his censure of Lord Aberdeen's Government upon reasons which are totally and entirely without foundation. He has said that the Government has wholly neglected its duty, and has asserted 1173 that from the month of August to the middle of October there was no meeting of the Cabinet; and that the Ministers were, during that time, all absent from their posts. Now, Sir, the fact is not so. We were at our posts. The Duke of Newcastle never left his post for a single hour. The Secretary at War was also constantly at his post in London; and my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty was hardly ever absent from his duties; besides which the First Lord of the Treasury (Lord Aberdeen) was constantly in attendance, so that if a Cabinet Council had been wanted, would not that have been a number sufficient to make one? But then there was Lord Clarendon ever at hand, so that five of the most important Members of the Cabinet, with whom rested all the business connected with the war that could require consideration, were present on the spot, and might have, at any hour on any day, formed a Cabinet Council, if required. But were all the other Members of the Government entirely out of the way? No such thing. The hon. and learned Gentleman did me the honour to ask where I was. I can tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that I was always within three hours of London, and had daily communication with London, and at any moment when my advice or my presence might have been required, a very few hours would have been sufficient to bring me in consultation with my colleagues. I say, therefore, that it is an unworthy attempt to cast blame on those who had devoted themselves to the constant discharge of their duties, and who had never neglected those duties which their country required of them. It is, I repeat, an unworthy attempt to cast an undeserved censure on a Government which has ceased to exist, and by misrepresenting them and their movements to lead the people to believe that there did not for a long period exist, even in London, a sufficient number of Members of the Cabinet to take into consideration any subject that required deliberation and decision. And, moreover, be it remembered that the battle of Alma was fought towards the end of September, and that, in point of fact, the sufferings of the army did not commence till after the meeting of the Cabinet on the 9th of October, when the whole of the Members of the Government were present. Without delaying the House any longer from the decision to which I trust they are about to come, I must say 1174 that we assent to the previous question which has been moved by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (General Peel), because we agree with those who think that the inquiries by the Committee were not, and could not, be complete with regard to all the points which required investigation. It was impossible that the Committee should be able to arrive at a satisfactory elucidation of the subject, or become acquainted with all the sufferings of the army, and the causes of those sufferings, without entering into details which they were themselves precluded from inquiring into. Therefore, upon this ground, if upon no other, I think the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman ought not to be put. But if the House shall determine that it is right that that question should be put, I shall deem it my duty to oppose it, and to offer a direct negative to the proposition. On that ground, if on no other, I think this is not an appropriate time for such Motions. I must own, I think Motions of this kind are not in unison with the feelings and temper of the country. We are engaged in a great and important war. I do not wish to exaggerate the magnitude of the war; but, at the same time, I think it is unwise to depreciate its importance. Certainly we are engaged in a war which requires the united feeling and determination of the country to carry it on, and the feelings and determination of the country are united. The minds of the people are fixed upon the war—they care not for party squabbles in this House—the country is indifferent as to what party is in power, provided that party carries on the war with vigour, provided it directs the energies of the nation, in the course which the nation itself desires. I must say, in my humble opinion, I do not think the nation is well satisfied at seeing this House spending night after night in discussing for the third or fourth time a Motion of censure, for the avowed purpose of removing the Administration. I think the country is only desirous that the Government, whomever it may consist of, should apply the means placed at its disposal for the vigorous prosecution of the war in which we are engaged. It is a war from which there is no retreat but through victory. It is a war in which we shall never attain to victory except by the united efforts of all parties, both in this House and out of it. I should be quite ready to quit the position I occupy if other men more capable of uniting to themselves 1175 the confidence of the country and more able to wield its energies than those who now conduct its affairs could be found; but till that is shown—and I confess that conviction has not yet been forced upon my mind—we shall feel it our duty to perform the functions with which the commands of the Crown, the confidence of this House, and the voice of the country have invested us. We shall feel that to be our duty, in spite of all little interruptions which these Motions from time to time may interpose, to second what I believe to be the most deliberate, conscientious, and heartfelt determination that ever animated a great and powerful people, and to carry on with vigour, to forward with all possible energy, and to crown with eventful success a war in which by every motive of necessity and sense of justice we have been forced and compelled to engage.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I have less unwillingness to rise at this late hour, as I shall only trespass on the attention of the House for a few moments. I cannot, however, agree to give a vote upon a question which presents itself in so ambiguous and unsatisfactory a state as the present without attempting to explain the motives which induce me to take the course which I feel it is my duty to adopt. Sir, we have heard much in the course of this discussion of party Motions, of party feelings, and of party objects; but, if I were to choose a Motion which would be convenient to party objects—if I were to select a course for the Administration to follow which would tend to strengthen the Opposition—it would be the course about to be adopted by the Government to-night, and it would be the Motion they are about to support. Here we have, according to the description of the noble Lord, a Motion made in this House of censure upon the Government. How is that met by the Government? It is met by the Government by a form of the House which practically and literally means that the House declines to express either confidence or want of confidence in the Government. When a Motion of a want of confidence or of censure is brought forward against the Government, their defence is simply to ask the House only to decide, not to proceed with the controversy. Now, I think the Opposition might fairly be satisfied with such a result, and, when taunted with party objects and party motives, it appears to me, if we had only party objects in view we need not have prolonged this debate, but might 1176 have joined with the noble Lord at the head of the Government in supporting the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon (General Peel) who moves the "previous question," and have been satisfied, in the present temper of the country upon this question, that when a Vote of want of confidence or of censure, adopting the description of the noble Lord, is brought forward, he, confident in himself and his powers, should deem he is doing everything necessary to vindicate his policy when he entreats the House of Commons to express no opinion at all upon it. But it appears to me that we have something to consider beyond the convenience of a Ministry or of an Opposition. These are considerations which it appears to me have not occurred to the noble Lord. This Motion of censure, alluding to the description of the noble Lord, refers to many eminent statesmen who are no longer Members of the noble Lord's Administration. What has been the course which, greatly to their honour, those right hon. Gentlemen have taken? From a most natural and a most honourable impulse they have said, "It is intolerable that a Motion of this kind should be entertained by the House, and that the House should not give a clear verdict upon it; our feelings are to be considered, our right to justice is not—to use the language of the hon. and learned Attorney General—to be estopped, and we protest against the convenience of a Minister being the cause of branding us with the censure of the House, or at least of obliging us to remain subject to an imputation from which we cannot appeal." The feelings of those right hon. Gentlemen, have some right to consideration, and there are surely other feelings which are also entitled to consideration. Let us remember what has been the cause of this Motion. A few months ago a Committee was appointed, by an immense majority of this House, to inquire into the condition of our army before Sebastopol. What was the cause of the appointment of that Committee? Was it the feeling of this House? No! It was the feeling of the country. We know that the battle of Inkerman has been termed the soldiers' battle; the Sebastopol Committee was the people's Committee. After a protracted investigation, conducted by some of the most distinguished men in this House, a Report has been presented, and a Resolution is now proposed by the Chairman of that Committee, asking the House to coincide with 1177 the opinion of the Committee in its chief finding. I do not now want to argue that this chief finding is just or unjust, politic, or impolitic, but I think the country has a right to call upon this House to express an opinion one way or the other upon that issue. The tone which the noble Lord at the head of the Government has adopted is most singular, most remarkable, and, in my opinion, most unauthorised by what has occurred. The noble Lord has taken the course of decrying the Committee, of denying the value of its researches, and the truth of its conclusions. He says—It is perfectly untrue that most of the Members of the Government were always absent from London last autumn; but there was always an official Cabinet here; and if I was not here, I could always come at a moment's notice.What is the result to be drawn from the noble Lord's observations, bearing in mind the following expressions in the Report framed by the noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour)?Your Committee notice with regret that the Cabinet did not meet in August or September, when these omissions might have been sooner remedied. Lord John Russell also observes, that 'the House of Commons would expect, after six or seven months' deliberation, a final arrangement of the War Department.' Your Committee can find no trace of these deliberations, and any evils that may have resulted from delay in such arrangements are, therefore, properly laid to the charge of the Cabinet.If the noble Lord says these statements are not true, I ask, ought he to take refuge in the "previous question?" Ought not the noble Lord, for the sake of his own honour, as an act of duty towards this House and the country, to come forward and say, "The labours of your famous Sebastopol Committee are superficial; the Committee have conducted their investigations in a spirit not worthy of the occasion, they have misled, and they are misleading the people; but I will not submit to have the authority of the Government injured by their unfounded Report; I will vindicate my policy and the character of public men; I will prove, in the face of the House, that their assertions are without foundation, that their recommendations have no authority, and at this moment, when the country is engaged in a great struggle—when, therefore, confidence in the Government is an inestimable treasure, and you ought not, without overwhelming evidence, to have recourse to a vote of censure, I call upon you to declare that this Committee on the state of the army before 1178 Sebastopol has not done its duty, but has performed it in a crude and fraudulent spirit; it has misled the country and poisoned the public mind, and I call upon you to come forward and support the authority of the Queen's Government." The whole course of the noble Lord's observations renders it his duty to take such a proceeding. He says that this is a party Motion—a party Motion brought forward by whom? By a Gentleman whom, when I, six weeks ago, brought forward a Motion which the noble Lord said struck at the existence of his Government, voted in favour of the noble Lord. I think it is not respectful to the House to describe a Gentleman who was the Chairman of that Committee as a partisan, working for party purposes. I protest against the language of the noble Lord, and leave it to those who can vindicate themselves to make the comments on his remarks which they deserve. We have, in considering the course which we are to take, to be influenced by the demand of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) and his late colleagues, that the opinion of the House should be taken on the real question; still more ought we to have regard to the opinion out of doors, that the validity of the Report of the Committee should be tested by the opinion of this House. If I wished only for a party success, I should be content that the House should vote for the "previous question;" and I should say, "Here is a Government against whom a vote of censure is moved glad to shield themselves under a formal Motion, in order to evade the opinion of the House." As a mere partisan, that would be a sufficient triumph. But I did not, Sir, ever suppose that the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Huntingdon would ever seriously have to be put from the chair. I have frequently on several great questions found the "previous question" launched, but have seldom seen it arrive at the port to which it was directed, and I thought that the gravity and reality of the issue in the present case rendered it impossible that any one would seek shelter under such a formal Motion, but that all, whatever their convictions might be as to the real question, would desire that the opinion of the House should be taken on the real question. I thought that the noble Lord would be among the first to come forward and request the hon. and gallant General not to embarrass the House, or to place any obstacle in the 1179 way of an expression of its opinion, by moving the "previous question," which, after two nights' debate, would but leave the matter where it was before, and would not strengthen the Government even in the opinion of their most sanguine supporters, but would disappoint the country and waste the time of the House—that time which the noble Lord has just told us is so valuable. The noble Lord tells us this—he who has wasted a whole month of this Session with the Scotch Education Bill, which was sent up to another place, where the Members of his own Government proposed to withdraw it. If there had been a division on the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, which, if it had been brought forward without the embarrassment of the "previous question," would have enabled me or any one else to move an Amendment more precisely expressive of our sentiments—had such a course been taken, I am told that we should have been ostracising the majority of the public men who sit on the benches opposite. Sir, I have heard for the first time that if we passed a vote of censure we should have ostracised public men, and prevented them from ever afterwards taking a part in public life. Why, Sir, there are very few of the eminent statesmen who sit opposite who have not been subjected to votes of censure and want of confidence. The noble Lord at the head of the Government and the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) have been subjected to votes of censure and want of confidence which have been carried against them. I still find the noble Lord on that perpetual bench which he has so long adorned, and if the noble Lord the Member for London is not sitting by his side he has not been ostracised by a vote of this House, but by political influences which are certainly new in my experience. We have heard from the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who has just addressed us, a learned discussion, in answer to my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside) upon Ministerial responsibility. Every one who has spoken to-night has admitted the constitutional interpretation of that important doctrine, but the Secretary of State appeared to me to be remarkably inconsistent in his observations. He commenced by an unqualified adhesion to the dogma of complete and undivided responsibility among the body of Ministers, but he concluded his speech by a plaintive 1180 description of the hardships of a Minister who happened to be Secretary of State for the Home Department being expected to call at the Admiralty every day to know how they got on, or the President of the Board of Control having to wait at the Foreign Office to see whether a certain despatch has been written. Now, what does the right hon. Baronet mean, then, by Ministerial responsibility? because his last observations appear to me to be of a singularly suspicious character. He said it was the duty of Her Majesty's advisers to make no difference between the responsibility of the various Members of the Cabinet—they were all to stand or fall together. That, no doubt, is a fine doctrine to propound, but how do they put that doctrine into practice? Only a few days ago, according to their own account, the conduct of a very eminent Member of the Cabinet was challenged; did they stand or fall with him? On the contrary, did we not find that that constitutional responsibility was a fiction? The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) has referred to the conduct of Lord Derby when he recently attempted to form an Administration. I must entirely dissent from the judgment of the noble Lord if he assumes, which he did throughout the whole of his speech, that in appointing that Committee we expressed an opinion on the conduct of those who had managed our army or guided our Ministry. On the contrary, I most religiously guarded myself from saying anything further than that there ought to be an inquiry at that moment, as also did the noble Lord the Member for the City of London; and does the noble Lord at the head of the Government mean to say that, in the interval, while that inquiry was proceeding, Lord Derby was to assume that the investigation should be limited to a former Ministry? If that Committee had given a verdict which included a Government that might have been formed under the circumstances which the noble Lord has referred to, we should all have had to consider our position, and that Cabinet might perhaps have been destroyed by it as well as any other. The noble Lord says to-night that there has been a new version given of the conduct of Lord Derby—that he (Lord Palmerston—was to be trepanned into office—and he perfectly understood the character of Lord Derby when he defended him in that respect, and said that it was impossible such could be the case. 1181 But I have seen eminent men trepanned into office, I have seen Ministers invited to join an administration who were distinctly and solemnly told the policy that was to be pursued, I have seen those men—from whom I differ, but who are men whom we all honour—become the colleagues of the noble Lord; I have seen them trepanned into office, and a few days afterwards, in consequence of the noble Lord's violating his pledge and breaking the engagements he made with them, I have seen them leave office. [Viscount PALMERSTON: I violated no pledge.] I form my opinion from the statements of the noble Lord; of course I used those words in a Parliamentary sense, though in the heat of debate; but I mean to say that the noble Lord did not observe his arrangements with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) and the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) and South Wiltshire (Mr. Sidney Herbert) respecting the appointment of this very Sebastopol Committee. I will withdraw the expression if the noble Lord will correct me. That was the impression under which I laboured, and I believe it is still very prevalent on both sides of the House. If it is erroneous the noble Lord will do well to correct it. Well, the noble Lord to-night has put in a fresh claim to the confidence of the country. He says he is carrying on the war with vigour; that all his measures are measures of energy; that the country is determined to triumph; that he is the only man to carry out the country's determination, and he asks us whether we will interfere with the wise, mature, and well-considered measures which he has launched to accomplish this object. I am very glad to hear the noble Lord's account of what he is doing and what he intends to do, and I certainly shall not presume to quote any opinion of my own on the subject; nor shall I quote any opinion from such a document as the Report of the Sebastopol Committee, but I would just call the attention of the House to a description of the noble Lord's course with regard to the conduct of the war which has to-night been given by one of the noble Lord's oldest, most uncompromising, and most devoted supporters, who is at the same time the highest military authority in this House. The hon. and gallant General the Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) has told us to-night that he has still confidence in the 1182 spirit of the noble Lord, but he was sorry to say he did not see that the noble Lord had at all realised the expectations which he had formed of him, or which was entertained by the nation. He saw no reserve now any more than he did a year ago. Nor did he see any efficient recruiting system. "You promised us," said the hon. and gallant General, "a Turkish Contingent, and eight months have passed and you have got 800 men who are learning their exercise at Scutari." [Viscount PALMERSTON: 8,000.] Ah, that is the number you want, but the question is, how many have you got? I took down the hon. and gallant General's words, and I have them here. "You have got 800 cavalry at the Bosphorus, but not a man, in the field." [Mr. VERNON SMITH: That refers to the cavalry only.] True. You are right; it does. I am much obliged to my right hon. critics for pointing out my mistake, more especially as it strengthens my case; for I find that the hon. and gallant General goes on to say, "There is equal delay in organising the Turkish Contingent." Then, again, the hon. and gallant General asked, "Where is the Foreign Legion? Six months have passed, and none of them are in the field." I must be excused, therefore, for saying that I think the detailed account of the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster is probably to be preferred to the more promising, but rather general statement of the noble Lord. When I compare the two statements I am better able to test the noble Lord's estimate of the labours of the Sebastopol Committee, and the importance which he attaches to the conclusions at which they have arrived. The noble Lord has vindicated his conduct with regard to the militia, but he has not denied the broad features of the case against him. War was declared in March, the militia was embodied under the new Act in May, but the noble Lord never acted under that until the autumn, and when he is called to account in this House he told us his reason for not acting was the expense it would have occasioned. When we find a Minister at such a crisis actuated by considerations of that sort, we are better able to understand how it was that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London was so ignorant of the character of the struggle in which we are engaged, as to declare he saw nothing in it to prevent us from considering and passing a new Reform Bill. There is, Sir, only one more point on which I will presume to 1183 touch. Frequent allusions have been made to the influence which anything that passes in this House may have upon our relations with France. Now, if every time that the people of this country complain of the mismanagement of their affairs—if upon every occasion when they appeal to their representatives for redress on account of that mismanagement, a Minister is to rise and tell them that they can have no redress, and that they must not even speak upon the subject, because it may involve us in our relations with our allies, rest assured that any Minister or any public man who pursues that course is doing more to endanger the alliance between England and France than by any free criticisms which may be expressed in this House, which, if true, will in the long run be listened to with respect, and which, if not founded in truth, will easily be confuted. Let the suspicion once be prevalent that the grievances of the people as to the administration of their affairs in regard to this war are never in their own House to be mentioned, on account of the alleged fear of endangering our alliance, and you are shaking that alliance to its centre, and changing the cordial and sympathetic sentiments which now prevail between the two countries into feelings of distrust, of jealousy, and suspicion. Sir, the division is now about to be called, and I blush to recollect the issue which is at stake. After two nights' discussion in this House, after the laborious efforts for months of the Committee upon a most important subject, with some of our most eminent statesmen appealing to this House for justice and frankness in our conduct, and with the whole country looking with interest to our decision to-night, we are coming to a vote which can confer honour and credit upon no body of men, and no individual Member of this Assembly.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
Sir, I take shame to myself for once in my life. I have indulged in panegyric; but, like almost all other men who attempt a character to which they are not accustomed, I have failed in representing it, and have failed also most completely in making myself understood. Perhaps I may fail again in attempting to make an explanation, but, as I shall not attempt to eulogise, perhaps I may be successful. I did object to making the Duke of Newcastle a scapegoat. I gave that noble Duke credit for industry and good intentions, and I said that he had done his duty according to 1184 his ability. Did I go one whit beyond the truth in so saying? Then I am turned round upon because I am said to have eulogised the noble Duke and to have excluded him from the operation of the Resolution which I proposed. Sir, I did no such thing; but I wished to draw a distinction, and to point out that he had been zealous in the discharge of his duty, according to his ability, and that he had been singled out for a victim and made the scapegoat of Lord Aberdeen's Administration. It was not I who singled him out—I singled out no one; but because he was so singled out, because he was made a scapegoat, because he did carry upon his back the sins of the Ministry to which he belonged, and because I believed him to be illtreated by such conduct, I expressed myself as I did; and for that the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) says that I have brought forward my Motion to-night from malice. Now, Sir, if I had any malice against that noble Duke I should leave to him the task of taking care of his own character. The hon. and gallant Member (General Peel) has moved the "previous question," feeling it to be his duty to do so, but agreeing, as I believe, in the main with the Resolution which I have proposed. That hon. and gallant General thinks it impolitic for the House to come to a decision upon the subject, and he can ask the House to adopt that course without any slur upon his character; but the noble Lord at the head of the Government cannot do so. The noble Lord by accepting this subterfuge confesses his errors, but does not, as they say in legal phraseology, "avoid." The adopting such a course confesses that he fears the decision of the House upon the main question—that question being a charge which I bring against him and all his colleagues in the Government of Lord Aberdeen, of having by neglect caused the miseries and losses of the army before Sebastopol. I should have thought that the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) and more especially the noble Lord the Member for London, who has hitherto borne a reputation for courage, would have been ready, fairly and openly, to meet such a charge, and would not have availed themselves of the shabby pretence of the "previous question." The hon. and gallant General who moved the "previous question" has stated that he objects to retrospective punishment, but in point of fact all punishment must be 1185 retrospective. The hon. and gallant Gentleman confounds retrospective punishment with retrospective law, but, when a Minister allows a great army to dwindle away in consequence of his want of foresight, there needs no retrospective law to make it a crime in the eyes of the people of England, and that is the crime with which I now charge the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and that is the issue which he shirks. We are threatened by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) that the result of agreeing to this Resolution will be to do mischief to our alliance with France, but when I proposed the appointment of the Committee I was threatened with the same thing; but the hon. Member for Kidderminster with his usual dogmatism says, that mischief would have followed the appointment of the Committee if it had not been for his prophecy; and I must say that I think it a somewhat extravagant pretension on the part of the hon. Member to assume to himself a monopoly of wisdom.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I am in the recollection of the House, and I distinctly assert that the hon. Gentleman said, that the warning which he had uttered when the Committee was appointed had prevented the mischief which would otherwise have arisen; and I consider that that statement displayed an extravagance of vanity on the part of that hon. Gentleman. Allow me, in making an end of what I have to say, to make an appeal to the House. I have acted in this matter as I thought it my duty to act. An inquiry had been instituted by this House into a matter which deeply affected the happiness and welfare of my countrymen. A Committee brought these matters to a conclusion. I came to this House to ask them if they coincided in that conclusion; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. Sidney Herbert) says most candidly that I did no more than my duty. I now appeal to the House, and ask them to watch over the great interests of England. I ask them to watch over the army of England. In doing so, I have done my duty; it is for 1186 the House now to decide whether they will do theirs.
§ Previous Question put, "That that Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 182; Noes 289: Majority 107.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Forester rt. hon. Col.|
|Alexander, J.||Franklyn, G. W.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. G.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Arkwright, G.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Bagge, W.||Goderich, Visct.|
|Bailey, C.||Gooch, Sir E. S.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Gordon, hon. A.|
|Baird, J.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Ball, E.||Graham, Lord M. W.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Greenall, G.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Greene, J.|
|Bateson, T.||Grogan, E.|
|Bective, Earl of||Guinness, R. S.|
|Bell, J.||Gwyn, H.|
|Bellew, T. A.||Hadfield, G.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Hall, Gen.|
|Beresford, rt. hon. W.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Bignold, Sir S.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Boldero, Col.||Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.|
|Booker, T. W.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Brady, J.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Bramley-Moore, J.||Herbert, Sir T.|
|Bright, J.||Hildyard, R. C.|
|Brown, H.||Hill, Lord A. E.|
|Buck, L. W.||Jones, Adm.|
|Buck, G. S.||Jones, D.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Kelly, Sir Fitzroy|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Kendall, N.|
|Burrowes, R.||Kennedy, T.|
|Butt, G. M.||Knatchbull, W. F.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Knight, F. W.|
|Cairns, H. M'C.||Knox, Col.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Knox, hon. W. S.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Langton, W. G.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Layard, A. H.|
|Chambers, M.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Chandos, Marq. of||Leslie, C. P.|
|Child, S.||Lindsay, W. S.|
|Cobden, R.||Lockhart, W.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Macartney, G.|
|Coles, H. B.||MacGregor, J.|
|Conolly, T.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Malins, R.|
|Crook, J.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Davies, J. L.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Meagher, T.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E.||Miall, E.|
|Duffy, C. G.||Miles, W.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Michell, W.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Montgomery, H. L.|
|Dunne, Col.||Mowatt, F.|
|Elmley, Visct.||Mowbray, J. R.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Mundy, W.|
|Fellowes, E.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Fergusson, Sir J.||Murrough, J. P.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Naas, Lord|
|Fitzgerald, W. R. S.||Neeld, John|
|Follett, B. S.||Neeld, Joseph|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Stuart, W.|
|Newport, Visct.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Noel, hon. G. J.||Sullivan, M.|
|North, Col.||Swift, R.|
|Oakes, J. H. P.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Otway, A. J.||Tomline, G.|
|Pakenham, T. H.||Tudway, R. C.|
|Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Palk, L.||Tyrell, Sir J.|
|Palmer, Robert||Vance, J.|
|Parker, R.||Vansittart, G. H.|
|Peacock, G. M. W.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Percy, hon. J. W.||Vernon, L. V.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Robertson, P. F.||Vyse, Col.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Waddington, D.|
|Rolt, P.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Rushout, G.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Scholefield, W.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Scobell, Capt.||Welby, Sir G. E.|
|Scott, hon. F.||Whiteside, J.|
|Smijth, Sir W.||Whitmore, H.|
|Smith, J. B.||Williams, W.|
|Smith, W. M.||Wise, A.|
|Smith, A.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Spooner, R.||Wynn, Lieut.-Col.|
|Stanhope, J. B.||TELLERS.|
|Starkie, Le G. N.||Jolliffe, Sir W.|
|Stracey, H. J.||Taylor, Col.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Chambers, T.|
|Acton, J.||Chaplin, W. J.|
|Alcock, T.||Cheetham, J.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Chelsea, Visct.|
|Annesley, Earl of||Clay, Sir W.|
|Antrobus, E.||Clinton, Lord R.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Cobbett, J. M.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.|
|Ball, J.||Cocks, T. S.|
|Baring, H. B.||Coffin, W.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Cogan, W. H. F.|
|Baring, hon. F.||Coote, Sir C. H.|
|Barnes, T.||Cowan, C.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Bass, M. T.||Craufurd, E. H. J.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Crossley, F.|
|Beckett, W.||Dashwood, Sir G. H.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Deedes, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Denison, E.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Dering, Sir E.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||De Vere, S. E.|
|Biggs, W.||Divett, E.|
|Bland, L. H.||Drumlanrig, Visct.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Bowyer, G.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Duncan, G.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Dundas, G.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Dundas, F.|
|Brotherton, J.||Dungarvan, Visct.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Buckley, Gen.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Butt, I.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Byng, hon. G. H. C.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Campbell, Sir A. I.||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Castlerosse, Visct.||Emyln, Visct.|
|Caulfield, Col. J. M.||Esmonde, J.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Ewart, W.|
|Cavendish, hon. G.||Ewart, J. C.|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Fagan, W.|
|Fenwick, H.||Lewis, rt. hn. Sir G. C.|
|Fergus, J.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Lindsay, hon. C.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Littleton, hon. E. R.|
|Ferguson, J.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|FitzGerald, Sir J.||Lowe, R.|
|FitzGerald, J. D.||Luce, T.|
|FitzRoy, rt. hon. H.||Lushington, C. M.|
|Fitzwilliam. hn. C. W. W.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||M' Cann, J.|
|Forster, C.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Forster, J.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Marjoribanks, D. C.|
|Fox, W. J.||Martin, J.|
|Freestun, Col.||Massey, W. N.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Masterman, J.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Matheson, A.|
|Gardner, R.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Milligan, R.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Mills, T.|
|Goodman, Sir G.||Milner, Sir W. M. E.|
|Gower, hon. F. L.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Milton, Visct.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Gregson, S.||Moffatt, G.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Molesworth, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Greville, Col. F.||Monck, Visct.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Moncreiff, J.|
|Grey, R. W.||Monsell, W.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Moody, C. A.|
|Gurney, J. H.||Morgan, O.|
|Hale, R. B.||Morris, D.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Hankey, T.||Newark, Visct.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||North, F.|
|Hastie, A.||Northcote, Sir S. H.|
|Hastie, Arch.||O'Brien, P.|
|Headlam, T. E.||O'Brien, Sir T.|
|Heathcote, Sir G. J.||O'Connell, D.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||O' Flaherty, A.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Oliveira, B.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Osborne, R.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Heywood, J.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Heyworth, L.||Palmer, Roundell|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hogg, Sir J. W.||Paxton, Sir J.|
|Holford, R. S.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Holland, E.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Peel, F.|
|Horsman, rt. hon. E.||Peel, Gen.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Pellatt, A.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Perry, Sir T. E.|
|Hutt, W.||Phillips, J. H.|
|Ingham, R.||Phillimore, J. G.|
|Jackson, W.||Phillimore, R. J.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Pigott, F.|
|Johnstone, J.||Pilkington, J.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Ponsonby, hn. A. G. J.|
|Keating, R.||Price, Sir R.|
|Kerrison, Sir E. C.||Pritchard, J.|
|Kershaw, J.||Ramsden, Sir J. W.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Reed, J. H.|
|Kirk, W.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Knightley, R.||Ricardo, O.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Ricardo, S.|
|Langston, J. H.||Rice, E. R.|
|Langton, H. G.||Rich, H.|
|Lee, W.||Richardson, J. J.|
|Legh, G. C.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Thompson, G.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Thornely, T.|
|Russell, F. W.||Thornhill, W. P.|
|Sadleir, James||Tite, W.|
|Sadleir, John||Tollemache, J.|
|Sawle, C. B. G.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Traill, G.|
|Scully, F.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Scully, V.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Seymour, Lord||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Seymour, H. D.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Seymour, W. D.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Shafto, R. D.||Walter, J.|
|Shee, W.||Waterpark, Lord|
|Shelley, Sir J. V.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Wells, W.|
|Smith, J. A.||Whatman, J.|
|Smith, M. T.||Whitbread, S.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Smyth, J. G.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Somerville, rt. hn. S. W.||Willcox, B. M'G.|
|Sotheron, T. S. H.||Williams, M.|
|Stafford, Marq. of||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Stanley, hon. W. O.||Wilson, J.|
|Steel, J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Stephenson, R.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Stirling, W.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Strickland, Sir G.||Wyndham, W.|
|Strutt, rt. hon. E.||Wyvill, M.|
|Stewart, Sir M. R. S.||TELLERS.|
|Sutton, J. H. M.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Tancred, H. W.||Berkeley, G. C.|
§ The House adjourned at Three o'clock.