§ MR. ROEBUCK
I rise, Sir, to appeal to a body of British gentlemen to protect the British army from wrong. It will no doubt be in the recollection of many hon. Members that last Tuesday evening a statement was made by the hon and gallant Member for Portarlington (Colonel Dunne) with respect to treatment which had been received by General Beatson, and that an anwer to that question was given by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War. I think it right to mention these matters at the outset so as to set myself right, and to make the House understand that the Motion which I have put upon the paper fairly represents the state of the case, and does not state it one whit more strongly than is warranted by what occurred upon that occasion. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Peel) said—That the hon. and gallant Member had correctly stated the nature of the employment which had been given by the Government to General Beatson. That officer was instructed to raise a body of irregular cavalry in Asia Minor, Syria, Bulgaria, and Albania, and to take the command of the men when raised. That force first came under the command of General Beatson in the month of June; but in the September following it was deemed expedient that it should form part 1239 of the Turkish Contingent under General Vivian, and that another body of irregular cavalry should be placed under General Beatson. The charges brought against General Beatson were connected with this transfer of his command to the officer who succeeded him. They were to this effect—that he had instigated some of the commanding officers of the regiments under him to decline to serve under any other officer than himself, and had sought to induce the natives of the force to prefer remaining under his command rather than that of any other person. These accusations were sent anonymously to General Vivian, who forwarded them to Her Majesty's Government, who felt it their duty to direct an inquiry into the matter, with a view, if possible, of verifying the statements made. General Smith, at Schumla, who was with General Beatson on the occasion, was instructed to set that inquiry afloat. That inquiry did take place, and the statements of the commanding officers were forwarded to the War Department. That inquiry, however, might still be considered pending, inasmuch as the correspondence connected with it had not as yet closed. The result, however, of this inquiry, as far as it had gone, did not justify the Government in taking any proceedings against General Beatson. The course taken by the War Department was the obvious and usual course, in instituting an inquiry with a view merely of ascertaining whether there were prima facie any grounds for taking proceedings against General Beatson. From what had taken place he apprehended there would be no further proceedings in the matter. As, however, the correspondence had not as yet closed, he could not assent to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.Thus, if I had not in my hand the letters from the War Office to General Beatson, I am justified in appealing to hon. Members who heard what was said last Tuesday evening to say if the statement made in my Resolution is not perfectly accurate. That statement is, that a British officer of thirty-five years' standing has been subjected to an anonymous charge, and upon that charge to a secret inquiry. Sir, I again appeal to a body of British gentlemen, and ask them whether under such a system, any man of honour is safe? Is the War Office to be made a "lion's mouth" to receive anonymous information of this sort? To whom do we intrust our honour and our safety? To the British army. We send them to every clime to face every danger, and they go forth with that gallantry of spirit which has ever distinguished them, fully persuaded that they will be protected, at least in their honour, by the British House of Commons. Now, Sir, what is the state of the case? I will introduce to the House the parties involved in this transaction. The first person is the gallant general whom the hon. Gentleman has thought fit to term "the accused." 1240 [Mr. F. PEEL: I never used that word.] The hon. Gentleman must give us leave, I trust, to believe our ears: I think they are very faithful witnesses. I wish the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) was in the House, because when I heard the statement I turned round to him and said, "This cannot be borne; it shall not be borne." I rushed across the House, because I was indignant at the statement made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. Peel), and put upon the hooks the Motion which is now before the House. I am now introducing the parties. The first as I have said is General Beatson. I have here a letter which I received as soon as my notice had been made public. It is from a noble Lord who has been Governor General of India, and whose name will, I am sure, conciliate the respect of the House—I mean Lord Ellenborough. That noble Lord writes thus:—108, Eaton-square, July 17.My dear Sir,—As you are to make a Motion to-night which relates to the treatment General Beatson has lately experienced, you may like to know something about him as an officer, and I will tell you what I know, He was first brought to my notice in 1842 by marching forty miles in a night during the hottest weather in India, just before the rains, and cutting up a body of insurgents as they were raising their camp. I saw his corps of irregulars, cavalry, infantry, and artillery—about 1,000 men—on the river Scinde, as I returned from Gwalior, in January 1844, and found it in beautiful working order, and very well handled. Not long after that there arose a mutinous spirit in some regiments of the Bengal army, and several were unwilling to go to Scinde. Soldiers of the Bombay army who had served in Scinde were passing through General Beatson's cantonments on their way home on furlough. General Beatson sent them among his men in order to make them thoroughly aware of all the particulars of service in Scinde, and, having ascertained that they were fully informed, he paraded the whole corps and, placing the colours thirty paces in front, he addressed the men, and told all who would offer their services to the Governor General for employment in Scinde to move up to the colours. The whole corps—cavalry, infantry, and artillery—rushed forward with a shout. This, at least, was not mutiny in General Beatson, but it tended very much to arrest mutiny in others, and the Government was greatly indebted to him. The corps was local, and could not have been ordered out of Bundlecund. I more than doubled its strength, the consequent promotion giving in the corps, and General Beatson led it in the autumn by the route of the Deccan to Buhawulpore, and thence to Scinde, where it did good service in the hill campaign, and gave entire satisfaction to Sir Charles Napier. Believe me, my dear Sir, yours faithfully,ELLENBOROUGH.J. A. Roebuck, Esq.1241 I will now road a very short account of General Beatson's services, for it is important that the House should understand what manner of man he was who, after serving his country for upwards of thirty years, was accused of mutiny and of instigating his corps to the same offence:—Lieutenant General Beatson entered the Indian army in 1820, is now a Lieutenant Colonel in that army and Lieutenant, General in the Turkish army; at the time referred to in General Vivian's charges General Beatson also held the British army local rank of Major General. Was six times mentioned in orders and despatches in India for actions in which he commanded. Served with Sir De Lacy Evans in Spain, and was wounded. Cross of San Fernando, gold medal for the Danube campaign, and Crimean medal with clasps for Balaklava, Inkerman, and Sebastopol. Was mentioned by General Sir James Scarlett, on whose staff he was serving at Balaklava and Inkerman. Favourably mentioned in orders or letters by the following Governors General and Commanders in Chief in India:—Lord Ellen-borough, Lord Dalhousie, Lord Hardinge, Lord Auckland, Lord Cough, Sir Charles Napier, and Sir William Gomm. In Spain, by Sir De Lacy Evans and Sir Duncan M'Dougall; in Turkey and the Crimea, by Lord Raglan and Sir James Scarlett.Such a man, sir, is General Beatson. And now it behoves us to inquire into the nature of the charge that has been brought against him. It appears that at the commencement of the war with Russia, the British army was found to be greatly in want of irregular cavalry. They had to contend with the Cossack troops, which were particularly efficient in that arm of the military service, and it consequently occurred to the Government at home that if we had a well-trained force of irregular cavalry we should be able to meet the Cossacks on equal terms. In this state of things General Beatson was instructed to raise such a body in Asia Minor, Syria, Bulgaria, Albania, and about Constantinople. He was appointed by the Duke of Newcastle—a fact which it is as well to bear in mind, inasmuch as there is a general impression that the persons appointed by that noble Duke did not generally meet with much favour at the hands of his successor—a great number of obstacles were thrown in the way of General Beatson; and it was not until the month of June, 1855, that he could be said to be in command of an organised body of troops. He established his camp in the vicinity of the Dardanelles, and on the 28th of July certain circumstances occurred which induced him to tender his resignation. In the month of August, Lord Panmure wrote 1242 him a letter, which was anything rather than a kind or a courteous one, intimating that he would not accept his resignation. However, he was placed shortly afterwards under the command of General Vivian. on the 8th of September he again tendered his resignation, which was accepted on the 29th of that month. And then commenced the transactions to which my Motion has reference. When the order accepting his resignation, and virtually superseding him in his command, had arrived it was thought to be a dangerous proceeding, seeing that he was so beloved by his troops, to displace him forthwith, and to appoint another immediately, as his successor. To show that this was no idle conception, and that I do not misrepresent the case, I entreat the attention of the House to the following letter, bearing the signature of Major General Smith, the officer who in fact was sent out to supersede him. The House will observe that the letter is addressed to General Beatson himself:—Dardanelles, Sept. 30, 1855.Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date, stating that you have made arrangements to proceed to headquarters, at Bujukdere, in conformity with General Vivian's instructions.In answer to the remaining portion of the letter, I beg to state that, in the event of Brigadier General Brett receiving written instructions to act under my orders as senior officer of the contingent force stationed here (to which force the irregular cavalry has been recently attached), I shall leave the command for the present, with regard to all duties of detail, in the Brigadier General's hands, and also withhold the publication of the order placing me in the immediate command of the irregular horse, so as to admit of further instructions being communicated from head-quarters, unless some unforeseen contingency should force me to act otherwise.Although for the present I withhold the publication of the order placing me in command of the irregular horse, I must beg that in case I think it expedient to assemble the officers for the purpose of stating to them, in the capacity of senior officer of the contingent force stationed here, any matter which I may think important, as tending to prevent desertion, or for other purposes, Brigadier Brett may be directed to facilitate my doing so.In conclusion, I beg to thank you for your compliance with my wishes to be furnished with official documents in order to carry out the instructions with which I have been furnished.I have, &c., "G. W. SMITH,Major General Turkish Contingent.Major General Beatson, &c., commanding Irregular Horse, Dardanelles.Having received that letter General Beatson withdrew, and now I beg the House to mark what then occurred. On the 26th 1243 of April he received from the War Office a letter purporting to have been written by "R. G. H. Vivian," and forwarded by Major General Smith to the Minister of War. It does not appear on the face of it to whom the letter was addressed. [Mr. F. PEEL: It was addressed to Brigadier Watt.] The context seems to say so. You will observe that it bears date the 5th of March, and is marked "confidential":—(Confidential.)Head Quarters, Kertch, March 5, 1856.Sir—In consequence of the recent inspection of the irregular cavalry, circumstances have been reported to me as having taken place at the Dardanelles, involving a very serious charge against Major General Beatson. I consider it quite necessary, both for that officer's character and the public interests, that the report which has reached me should be thoroughly investigated. It is as follows:—When General Smith arrived at the Dardanelles General Beatson assembled the commanding officers of regiments, and actually endeavoured to persuade them to make a mutiny in their regiments against General Smith and against the authority of General Vivian. Two of these commanding officers then left the room, saying they were soldiers, and could not listen to language which they thought most improper and mutinous.' These two were Lieutenant Colonels, O'Reilly and Shelley. 'General Beatson subsequently had a sort of round robin prepared by the chief interpreter, and sent round to the native officers and men, in the hope that they would sign it, refusing to serve under any other general but himself.' This attempt, however, appears to have signally failed. 'Both of these mutinous attempts are said to have emanated from Mr. Burton, who, it also appears, kept the order from Lord Panmure, placing the irregular horse under Lieutenant General Vivian, for three whole weeks locked up and unknown to any one but General Beatson; and the order was not promulgated till after General Smith arrived at the Dardanelles. This is authentic, and can be fully proved and substantiated.'I have, &c.,R. G. H. VIVIAN, Lieutenant General.(True Copy.)G. D. RAMSAY.War Office, April 26, 1856.That letter, as I have previously stated, reached General Beatson on the 26th of April, and, as it purported to be an official document, he thought that he was entitled to obtain an official copy of it. He accordingly applied to the War Office for such a copy, and he got it, but with a very remarkable addition. The second copy bears the signature of "James J. Graham, Colonel, Military Secretary," and, though professing to be a true copy, it contains two paragraphs not to be found in the first copy, which, be it remembered, is also attested as a "true copy." The second copy is the same as the first down to 1244 the words, "This is authentic, and can be fully proved and substantiated;" but then came the additional paragraphs, which are as follows:—The irregular horse having been, at my request, removed from my command for the present, I shall confine myself to requesting you to take steps immediately to examine into these grave accusations against General Beatson, leaving to yourself to adopt such measures for carrying out the investigation as you may judge most advisable. A copy of this letter will be forwarded to Lord Panmure, and you will transmit to his Lordship the result of the inquiry as soon as possible. I request you will, at the same time, furnish me with a copy of your report to the War Minister, the subject being one relating to the period during which the irregulars were under my command, and therefore one in which I am personally concerned.If the document containing these paragraphs be a faithful transcript of the original, how can it be contended that the first letter also is a "true copy?" Those who maintain that both documents are what they profess to be must attach to the phrase "a true copy," a very different signification from that which I apply to it. But it is impossible that both copies should be "true;" and, if the second document is so, I charge Mr. Ramsay with having falsified the first. Were the additional paragraphs foisted into the second, or were they with equal falseness excluded from the first? Sir, I cannot doubt that the first copy was not a true one, and I charge against Mr. Ramsay that he put his hand to a false copy, and that he knew it to be such. The inquiry was made by Major General Smith, and he reported the result to the War Office in the following terms:—Head Quarters, Schumla, April 5.My Lord—I have received a confidential letter from Lieutenant General Vivian, dated 5th of March, 1856, requesting me to examine into certain circumstances which occurred upon my first taking over the command of this force from General Beatson, at the Dardanelles. I am informed that a copy of this letter has been forwarded to your Lordship, and I am directed to transmit to you the result of the inquiry as soon as possible. The first point upon which inquiry is called for is as follows:—That upon my arrival at the Dardanelles General Beatson assembled the commanding officers of regiments, and actually endeavoured to persuade them to make a mutiny in their regiments. Two of these commanding officers, Lieutenant Colonel O'Reilly and Major Shelley, left the room, saying they were soldiers, and could not listen to language which they thought most improper and mutinous.Now, Sir, let it be remembered that this is the first charge against General Beatson, an officer of thirty-five years' standing— 1245 that he promoted a munity in the corps he was appointed to raise—that he risked his own honour and life, and the lives of the officers with whom he was connected. This, Sir, is a charge of no venial kind. I ask a company of English Gentlemen, could a graver charge be made against a man of honour, and was it proper that such a charge should have been made the subject of a secret inquiry instead of at once charging him with it? Why, supposing even a drummer-boy were charged with an offence, his commanding officer would at once inform him of it. But, in this case, the Government issued a Commission to inquire into General Beatson's conduct, without telling him with what he was charged. I say no English gentleman is safe if such a course is to be followed. Major General Smith proceeds,—but before I read further I must say, in the performance of my duty, that there are limits to obedience; and that if a Minister of War commanded me to do such a dishonourable act as the Minister of War commanded Major General Smith, I should say, "I am a soldier, and will obey, but I obey deeply groaning in spirit that an English Minister should employ an English general in such a service." Major General Smith proceeds:—With regard to this point, I have to state that the above-mentioned officers came to me at the Dardanelles, and said that, although they believed other officers of the force were about to resign upon my taking the command, they were quite willing to serve under me. I enclose letters on this subject from Lieutenant Colonel O'Reilly and Major Shelley…… The next subject of inquiry is as follows:—That General Beatson subsequently had a sort of round-robin prepared by the chief interpreter, and sent round to the native officers and men, in the hope that they would sign it, refusing to serve under any other general but himself. With regard to this point, Mr. Giraud, chief interpreter, states that no paper was prepared by him of the kind mentioned, but he has some recollection that a paper was sent round by an officer to the native officers and men at the time alluded to. He does not know who was the officer who conveyed the paper. Mr. Mallouf, interpreter, has shown me a paper, which he states was signed by the native officers of the force, and of which a copy is enclosed, marked 'C.' Mr. Mallouf states, he does not think that the above paper was the spontaneous act of the men, but he believes they were induced to sign it.Charges are made affecting not only the honour but the life of General Beatson; and then you permit men to say, "I believe," and "I think," and "I do not know." It is, I maintain, a disgrace to the English army that such things are permitted. 1246Having translated the above paper, he heard Captain Burton tell Colonel Morgan to get the men of his regiment to sign a copy of it, which he (Mr. Mallouf) had made by desire of Captain Burton. The paper was written by interpreter Abidullah Tabid, who is no longer in the force. This is all the information I have at present been able to obtain on the subject referred to in General Vivian's letter.I have, &c.,M. W. SMITH, Major General,Commanding Osmanli Irregular Cavalry.The Right Hon. Lord Panmure, &c.Then comes this postscript:—I have since seen the interpreter, Abidullah Tabid, who has just returned from leave. He states that he is aware a paper of the description mentioned was signed by some of the native officers, but states that the paper was not prepared by him, and that he does not know by whom it was originally written.'I will not trouble the House with any further remarks, but I consider that I have made out a case against the Government. The case is this: that a general officer, upon anonymous information, was subjected to have his conduct inquired into by a secret tribunal. General Vivian says he received information. He does not state from whom. General Beatson inquired, time out of mind, who sent that information? The War Office did not tell him, and the Under Secretary for War admitted he could not tell him because it was anonymous. Yet, upon anonymous information, the War Office issued a Commission to inquire. General Beatson is told inquiry is going on—inquiry into conduct which subjected him to death if it were proved against him. I appeal again to a body of English gentlemen to protect our gallant soldiers against conduct of this kind. Are they to feel, while braving all the dangers of the field, that their honour is not in safe keeping, that they are treading on cinders, and that some "Jack in office" may deprive them of honour and of life? No! I say this House should step in and defend them against such treatment. I charge the Government in this case with having broken through all the rules which ought to distinguish a Liberal Government. I say they have done much to disgrace the Government in the eyes of the country—I was going to say they have done much to endanger the safety of the country; but this I will say, they have done much to shake the faith of the army, and in so doing they have done their best to endanger the safety of the country. I therefore move, that the Under Secretary for War, having 1247 admitted that, upon anonymous information, a secret inquiry had been ordered into the conduct of a general officer, this House feels itself bound to express its reprobation of such a proceeding.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
In one respect I feel gratified, Sir, that the hon. and learned Gentleman has brought forward this subject, because it affords me an opportunity of doing an act of justice to a general officer, upon whose character and; conduct prejudicial and unfair reflections have been made, in consequence of what I said, or was reported to have said, the other evening, when I answered a speech of the hon. and learned Member for Portarlington (Colonel Dunne) on this same question. It is stated that, in answering that speech, I said General Vivian had acted upon an anonymous accusation. In the Resolution of the hon. and learned Gentleman it is stated that the information was anonymous, and the hon. and learned Gentleman read the report of what I stated in this House from the newspapers, by which it appears I said General Vivian received and acted upon anonymous information. The hon. and learned Gentleman read the whole report of what I said on that occasion; and I observe it stated in that report that one of the reasons why the command of the Osmanli Irregular Cavalry was transferred from General Beatson to General Vivian was, in order that General Beatson might hold some other command. Now, Sir, I am certain that I never said anything to that effect, and it is quite possible I may have been misreported also in what I am stated to have said as to General Vivian having received and acted on anonymous information. But if I did say General Vivian received anonymous information, I said that which I was not warranted in saying. I have no recollection, however, of having said that; but I did say undoubtedly that the information was anonymous, and my reason for using that expression was because, at the time I answered the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington, I did not know, either privately or as a Member of the War Department, the ! name of General Vivian's informant; nor do I believe any one in the War Department knew from what source General Vivian derived the information on which he acted. If I said that I was unacquainted with the name of General Vivian's informant, I said that which was perfectly true. If I said 1248 the information was anonymous, as far as regards General Vivian, I said that which I was not warranted in saying, and I have no hesitation in saying the information on which General Vivian acted was information obtained from sources on which he was justified in placing reliance. The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated that General Beatson was appointed to the command of the irregular cavalry by the Duke of Newcastle, at that time Minister of War, and he has also stated that the appointments of that noble Duke were not very acceptable to his successor, hinting that for that reason General Beatson was superseded in his command. Sir, I am certain he can have had no ground whatever for making that assertion. Assuredly nothing of that sort entered into the motives of the head of the War Department in the course he pursued in appointing another general officer to succeed General Beatson. I stated the other evening that the irregular cavalry began to assemble at the Dardanelles in the month of June, 1855, and very shortly afterwards differences and disputes arose between General Beatson and the local authorities. I am not desirous of now entering into the circumstances which led to those differences, but suffice it to say they were of a character which appeared to the War Department to render it indispensable that the independent command of the irregular cavalry, at that time in the hands of General Beatson, should be put an end to, and that the irregular cavalry should be made a part of the Turkish Contingent. I believe that when the despatch from the War Department was received by General Beatson, announcing that his independent command had ceased, and his irregular cavalry would henceforth form part of the Turkish Contingent, he immediately tendered his resignation to Lord Panmure, on the ground that he did not think it fair to himself that he should be called upon to serve in a subordinate position. That was the reason, I believe, which influenced General Beatson in tendering his resignation. That resignation was accepted by Lord Panmure; but, before the acceptance of that resignation was received at Constantinople, circumstances had occurred at the Dardanelles, in connection with the relation between the irregular cavalry and the inhabitants, which led General Vivian, who had vested in him the supreme command of the irregular cavalry, to believe that it was desirable that 1249 General Beatson should be superseded in his command. I need not enter into those circumstances further than to say that the local authorities at the Dardanelles considered that General Beatson did not give them the assistance they were entitled to expect from him, in order to prevent his soldiers from coming into the town with their arms, which they constantly used to the great danger of the inhabitants; and those authorities determined that, if the soldiers of the irregular cavalry continued to go about armed, they should be prevented by force from entering the town. The dispute appeared to the Ambassador at Constantinople, and likewise to General Vivian, to be of such a character as to render necessary the appointment of an officer who would assist the Turkish authorities in taking steps to prevent collisions between the soldiers and the inhabitants, and therefore it was General Vivian exercised the authority vested in him, and appointed Major General Smith to take the command of the irregular cavalry. Soon after that appointment was made, a despatch was received from the War Department accepting the resignation of General Beatson, and, subsequently, the contingent proceeded to Kertch, while the irregular cavalry, under Major General Smith, were sent to Schumla, The latter officer was shortly afterwards taken ill, and the command devolved upon an officer who had been sent from this country—Brigadier General Watt. Upon that change taking place, General Vivian, who was at Kertch, considered it was necessary that an inspection of the irregular cavalry at Schumla should be made, and accordingly Major General Shirley was despatched upon that duty. It was while that officer was engaged in the inspection that the circumstances which have been alluded to by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield were communicated to him, and by him reported to General Vivian. That Report was received by General Vivian on the 4th of March, the day preceding the date of his despatch to the War Department. There is not a shadow of foundation for saying that what General Vivian did was done upon anonymous information. It was information he was bound to treat as official, coming as it did from an officer whom he had deputed upon a special duty. Immediately upon receiving this Report, General Vivian addressed a despatch to the War Department, enclosing a copy of the letter he had sent to Major General Smith 1250 or Brigadier General Watt, directing him to make inquiries into the charges. He says:—In consequence of a very grave charge against Major General Beatson having been brought to my notice, I have deemed it advisable to transmit to the officer commanding the irregular cavalry the particulars of the information I have received, and I have requested him to institute an inquiry into the matter, and report to your Lordship the result. I have the honour to enclose a copy of my letter to Brigadier Watt.That is a despatch dated the day after he received the report of the officer whom he had sent to Schumla, and his letter to Brigadier Watt is dated the same day. In that letter he says:—In consequence of the recent inspection of the irregular cavalry, circumstances have been reported to me as having taken place at the Dardanelles, involving a very serious charge against Major General Beatson. I consider it quite necessary, both for that officer's character and the public interests, that the report which has reached me should be thoroughly investigated."…The irregular horse having been at my request removed from under my command for the present, I shall confine myself to requesting you to take steps immediately to examine into these grave accusations against General Beatson, leaving to yourself to adopt such measures for carrying out the investigation as you may judge most advisable.[Mr. ROEBUCK: There is another paragraph]. It went on to say, he had communicated with Lord Panmure, and the results of the inquiry were to be sent direct to the War Department. I think I have now entirely disposed of the charge against General Vivian of acting upon anonymous information. But it has also been said, there was secrecy in the course that was pursued by General Vivian. Hon. Gentlemen should place them selves in the position of that officer before pronouncing upon his conduct. He had received from an officer whose report he was bound to rely upon, a statement conveying very grave charges against another officer who had been under his command; and I must say I consider it to have been his duty not to have suppressed or put aside such a communication. I think he was bound, both for the interests of the public service and in justice to the officer who was inculpated, to bring these charges to the knowledge of the proper authorities at home. The course he pursued was to communicate to the War Department the letter which he had written to the general officer commanding at Schumla directing him to make inquiry, and, having made inquiry, to forward the result to the War Department. 1251 I cannot conceive any better course that could have been adopted, either in the interests of public justice or of the individual who was charged, than that which was adopted. There were the names of two officers given—Colonel O'Reilly and Major Shelley—who were said to have left the room in which a particular conversation was supposed to have taken place, and to have immediately gone and offered to serve under the officer who had relieved General Beatson. Now, when two officers were so named as being able to give evidence upon the subject, it was surely the duty of General Vivian to desire that they should be referred to for the corroboration or otherwise of the statements respecting them. It was not to be expected that the War Department would be able to decide upon charges of this description made at Schumla or Kertch, where the persons were to be found who alone could give evidence upon the subject. It appears to me that if General Vivian had sent these charges to this country direct, without affording any opportunity for the truth of them to be tested, he would have neglected an obvious duty. It may be said, indeed, that it was his business to let General Beatson know of those charges. It must be recollected, however, that, although Major General Beatson had served under the command of General Vivian, yet he had ceased to do so at that time, and was known to be in this country; and, therefore, I say it was not the duty of General Vivian, having no official relations with Major General Beatson at that time,—it was not his duty to communicate with him; but, if he desired to do so, the proper mode was through the medium of the War Department; and, by the course he took, he enabled that department, if it should think proper to communicate the charges to Major General Beatson. The hon. and learned Gentleman is mistaken in saying that the inquiry at Schumla was instituted by direction of the Minister of War, and that, had he been the officer directed to inquire into such a matter, he would have refused to obey the order. Major General Smith, in receiving the statements of Colonel O'Reilly and Major Shelley upon the subject of these charges, and in forwarding them to us, only acted in pursuance of orders he received from general Vivian. At the time he received these statements no communication had passed upon the subject between the War Department 1252 and Generals Vivian and Smith concerning it. As far, then, as regards General Vivian, I say he did not act upon anonymous information, but that having received information which he was hound to accept and communicate to the War Department, he did all that he was required to do; and as to giving notice to General Beatson of the charges which had been made, he pursued the proper course in notifying the charges to the War Department and leaving that Department to communicate them to that officer or not as it should he judged most desirable for the public service. Now, Sir, with regard to the conduct of the War Department. The first communication which we received upon this subject was dated March 5, and was a communication from General Vivian, enclosing a letter to Brigadier General Watt at Schumla. We received General Vivian's despatch in the beginning of April, and learned from it that we might shortly expect from General Smith information on the subject of these charges which might enable us to say whether they did or did not afford a ground for judicial proceedings on the part of the Crown. Expecting shortly to receive this communication from General Smith, we did not, immediately on the arrival of General Vivian's despatch, communicate it to General Beatson. We resolved, first, to wait until we learned from General Smith whether those charges could be so far substantiated as to furnish the ground for a full judicial investigation. That is the course which was pursued by the War Department. General Vivian, however, I should say, in the meanwhile arrived in this country on sick-leave, some time in April, and told General Beatson that he would furnish him with a copy of the communication he had made to General Smith on the subject of the charges against him. That communication, I believe, was accordingly made—about the 25th of April. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) says that the communication in question, which was certified to be a copy, was only an extract. Now, whether General Vivian's letter to General Beatson in this country purported to give more than an extract from this communication is a matter of which, as it did not pass through the War Department, I am unable to speak; but towards the beginning of May we received the result of the inquiry made by General Smith, at Schumla; and to show there was no desire to maintain any secrecy in this matter on the part of the 1253 War Department, I may state that, as soon as we received the result of that inquiry from General Smith, we communicated it to General Beatson. I will read to the House the letter which we wrote to General Beatson, giving him a copy of General Smith's despatch from Schumla with its enclosures. It was to this effect—War Department, May 17, 1856.Sir—I have the honour to transmit to you the accompanying copies of a despatch and its enclosures from Major General Smith, relative to circumstances reported to have occurred on the occasion of your being called upon to resign the command of the Osmanli Irregular Cavalry into the hands of that officer, which involve a very serious charge against you; and I have to state that I am prepared to receive any observation or explanation you may wish to tender upon the subject.Now, I wish hon. Members to observe that the moment we were in possession of information as to the charges which were made, and which we received from General Vivian, we communicated that information to General Beatson. On the following day, May 18, General Beatson acknowledges the receipt of the despatch in these terms—4, Lower Grosvenor Place, Pimlico, May 18, 1856.My Lord—The more full and public the investigation of the charges is, the better pleased I shall be, as I shall then be able to prove them, not only false, but got up with malicious intent by the same party whose intrigues led to my resignation in September last. I shall rejoice in an opportunity of showing the injustice that has been done me; but, as I have papers to refer to, and some of the officers prominently named are absent from town, I shall require several days to reply fully to your Lordship's letter,Accordingly, I find that on the 4th of June General Beatson wrote a letter to the War Department, entering very fully into the charges against him, and beginning in these words—4, Lower Grosvenor Place, Pimlico, June 4, 1856.My Lord—I now gladly avail myself of your Lordship's permission to answer the extraordinary charges which have been brought against me by Lieutenant General Vivian upon an authority which that officer has not deemed it necessary even to cite in specific terms.But I have stated that although he did not cite that authority, yet it was one which he could not disregard. ["Name!"] I have already named it to the House. He goes on to say—I understand, indeed, from your Lordship's communication of the 26th ult., that some further reference had been made to General Smith with regard to this matter; but it is extremely improbable 1254 that my reply will be at all affected by any explanations that may be yet forthcoming, nor would I have delayed even thus long to use my privilege of reply, but that a friend of his was out of town.This is the correspondence which has passed between General Beatson and the War Department on the subject of these charges, which are said to have been treated so secretly. I may state to the House that, when we received General Smith's despatch, reporting to us the answers made to him by Colonel O'Reilly and Major Shelley, as to what passed on the occasion of this tranfer of the command, it appeared to us that, inasmuch as several officers were said to be present at the interview, it would be desirable, before instituting a judicial investigation, to know from those officers whether they could corroborate the statement of Colonel O'Reilly. Colonel O'Reilly had been called upon by letter to state whether he was able to confirm those charges, and he wrote a letter accordingly to General Smith, which was forwarded to this country. In that letter Colonel O'Reilly went into full details, and as it appeared that other officers besides himself and Major Shelley were present on the occasion in question, those officers were accordingly desired to say how far they were able to corroborate the statement made by Colonel O'Reilly. That, therefore, is the communication to which General Beatson refers in his letter; and to show again that we had no desire to proceed with any secrecy in the matter, the moment we instructed General Smith to make the second inquiry, and to receive from the other officers their statements with respect to the communication received from Colonel O'Reilly, we informed General Beatson that we were going to do so. On the 26th of May we wrote to General Beatson in these terms:—War Department, May 26, 1856.Sir—With reference to your communication of the 18th instant, I am directed by Lord Panmure to acquaint you that the subject of the imputations on your conduct at the Dardanelles has been again referred to Major General Smith, for further explanations.Sir, I really do not know how it was possible for us to take any other course than that. These charges were not of such a nature that the War Department could come to any decision upon them at once. It was our duty, under the circumstances, to collect all the evidence which it was in our power to obtain; and if we had given publicity to these inquiries, and had sent 1255 them before the Board of General Officers at Chelsea without evidence to support them, which was what General Beatson solicited us to do, I think it will he allowed that we should have been pursuing a most injudicious course. In all such cases the usual practice is to collect evidence before charges of this sort are made the subject of decisive proceeding by the Government. That is the course we pursued. We endeavoured to obtain the materials upon which a judgment might be formed, and we did so by communicating with officers in the East, and by desiring them to examine other officers who were mixed up in these proceedings, at the same time informing General Beatson of the steps we were taking. No doubt this was a very disagreeable and unpleasant task. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has stated that General Beatson is an officer of long service and great merit, and I have no doubt that that is the case. It is very painful that charges should be made against an officer of that description, and every one must desire when such charges are made, that they should be proved to be unfounded. But it appears to me to be the bounden duty of the Government, however much they might desire to suppress these charges, to take steps in regard to them if they think there is a primâ facie ease, in order to ascertain whether it is desirable to proceed further or not. I am not conscious throughout this matter, that the War Department have acted any but a perfectly honourable and straightforward part, and I hope the House will not participate in the opinions expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and will not consent to the Motion which he has submitted to the House.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he thought the hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his I seat was somewhat inconsistent in one of the statements he made. The hon. Member now stated distinctly that the War Department had a primâ facie case against General Beatson. If that were so, there was but one course for them to pursue. In justice either to General Beatson or to their Sovereign, they ought to put that officer on his trial.
§ MR. FREDERICK PEEL
I did not say there was a primâ facie case, but only that the War Department wore justified in making further inquiries, in order to ascertain whether there was a primâ facie case.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he believed the rule of the House to be that, when an hon. Member denied having made use of a certain expression, his denial was received. If, however, he were bound to believe that the hon. Gentleman did not use those words, he (Mr. I. Butt) should certainly believe that some one else spoke them out of his mouth. But the hon. Gentleman was inconsistent in another respect. He said these accusations rested on no anonymous authority, but upon the authority of General Shirley, the officer who inspected the irregular troops; but if General Shirley put his hand to these charges there was a primâ facie case, and General Beat-son ought to have been tried by a court-martial. Did the hon. Gentleman assert that this statement was the statement of General Shirley? The hon. Gentleman had brought a serious charge against General Shirley and had placed General Vivian in even a worse position. No more serious charges could be conceived than those brought against that distinguished officer—they vitally affected his honour, and, in time of war, even his life; and he had a right to a court-martial, before which to establish his innocence. General Beatson applied to the War Department for a copy of the accusations made against him, and the private secretary to Lord Panmure certified a copy from which important passages were omitted. The signature "G. D. Ramsay" to the copy, after the words "A true copy," was that of the Private Secretary to Lord Panmure; and the other copy subsequently forwarded contained two paragraphs which were struck out of the first copy, it was said, at the instigation of General Vivian. Now that implied a grave reflection upon General Vivian, and the point ought to be cleared up. Was it or was it not the fact, that that gallant general, professing to give the accused officer the information which he sought, had been guilty of furnishing him with an imperfect copy of a despatch? On the 26th of May, General Beatson wrote to the War Department, demanding to be informed by whom the report was made which was given as a quotation in General Vivian's letter to Lord Panmure, dated from Kertch, 5th of March. In his reply, on the 26th of May, Lord Panmure said that he was not aware of the source from which the Lieutenant General derived the 1257 information contained in his despatch. [Mr. F. PEEL: Hear, hear!"] Was it not obvious, from this, that the information sent to Lord Panmure was anonymous? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. P. Peel) must be mistaken in saying that General Shirley was the author of the language ascribed to him. It bore internal evidence of being the production of an anonymous spy or secret informer. General Shirley might possibly have reported the anonymous letter to General Vivian; but let the hon. Gentleman give his authority for asserting that General Shirley, in his communication to his commander, penned such sentences as those attributed to him. If the name of the writer of the letter was known, why was it withheld from the man who was slandered? General Vivian was in England in April, and in the interval between that date and the 26th of May, on which day Lord Panmure did not know who was the accuser, why did not the War Minister put himself in communication with that gallant officer, and ascertain who the accuser really was? That most important point, however, appeared never to have been thought of; and the House was now gravely told, that the charges against General Beatson did not rest on an anonymous letter. The War Department, when it received General Vivian's report of such serious charges against a distinguished officer, ought at once to have demanded "Who made them?" yet, strange to say, it appears never to have entered the head of any one in the department to put so obvious a question. General Beatson, after serving his country faithfully and honourably, had suffered a cruel wrong. He had demanded a public investigation of the accusations brought against him; his demand had been refused, and yet no declaration had come from a single Government authority to the effect, that these anonymous charges had been disproved. They were told, that proceedings like this were not unusual in that gallant service which they had been always taught to regard as the pattern of everything frank, generous, and honourable. Those who were connected with the army were the persons most competent to meet that assertion. If, however, treatment such as that to which General Beatson had been exposed was common to the distinguished profession of which that meritorious officer was a member, all that could be said of it was, that it was diametrically opposed to that spirit of manly 1258 honesty and fair play which had at all times characterised English gentlemen.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, he rose to appeal to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who generally supplied the omissions and atoned for the faults of his subordinates, whether it was not due to the character of an officer who had served his country with uniform fidelity and distinction, that it should be officially declared that the charges anonymously brought against him were utterly false and unfounded? He thought it was also due to the House that they should ho informed on what foundation the charges made by General Shirley rested. All the House knew was, that General Shirley was sent out to the East, and that certain rumours affecting General Beatson reached his ears; but some inquiry ought to be instituted as to the grounds on which the charges were made. So far as it at present appeared, the report sent to General Vivian was founded on mere gossip, and he (Colonel French) was of opinion, that a most unmilitary and unconstitutional course had been pursued in this case. He, therefore, appealed to the only quarter from which he believed there was any chance of obtaining justice—to the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He had no doubt that the noble Lord had serious difficulties to contend with in connection with the War Department, which was under the control of a person who could scarcely be regarded as either a civilian or a military man, but who had under his direction all the experienced general officers in the service; and he (Colonel French) believed that even the noble Lord, with his great abilities, would find it no easy task to work the existing system satisfactorily.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I think one thing must be perfectly clear from what has passed during this discussion, namely, that the particular Resolulution proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield cannot be adopted, because the explanations which have been given clearly show that it does not apply to the case to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred. The facts of the case, as they have been stated, appear to me to be of a nature to exempt from blame all the parties. It appears that when General Shirley made an inspection of the corps at Schumla, statements were made to him, or came to his knowledge, very much affecting the character of General Beatson. Well, Sir, it surely was the 1259 duty of General Shirley to make known these statements to the officer under whose authority he was acting. A general officer who had received statements of that sort would have been highly blameable if he had concealed them, or if he had allowed them to be made without affording the officer whom they affected an opportunity of refuting them. With regard to General Beatson himself, I must say that Her Majesty's Government are well aware of the distinguished career which that gallant general had run before he proceeded upon the service out of which the circumstances now under discussion arose; and it was with great regret that Her Majesty's Government found, from events which had occurred, that it would be impossible to continue General Beatson in his command. The command in question did not correspond with the expectations of General Beatson, and though it was with regret we saw it, nevertheless the gallant general was perfectly welcome to retire from it if he chose. Well, General Shirley having been informed of the charges against General Beatson, how did he act? Why, he performed his duty by making them known to General Vivian, who had just arrived out in the East, and who was then at Kertch. Now, Sir, what was General Vivian to do? Was he to put those charges aside, or was he simply to content himself with reporting them to the War Department in England? As General Vivian was in communication with the officer in command at Schumla, I think he performed his duty best in immediately ordering that further inquiry should be made, and that the result of such inquiry should be transmitted to the War Department. It is said, however, that the charge ought to have been made known immediately to General Beatson; but I think that my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for War has given a good reason why that could not be done. General Vivian was in no official relation with General Beatson, who was in England. The War Department having received these communications, informed General Beatson that they had ordered further inquiries to be made, to ascertain more particularly what grounds there might be for the charges alleged against him. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. I. Butt) who I see is now on this side of the House—I hope he has changed his position—says, "If you had a primâ facie case against General Beatson you should immediately have tried him by 1260 court-martial." Sir, I dispute that doctrine. You may have a primâ facie case against an officer, and yet you would be very wrong to bring him before a court-martial. You should first ascertain whether that primâ facie case is sufficiently well founded to warrant so grave a step as that of bringing an officer of distinction to a court-martial—a step which would be, primâ facie, an imputation upon his honour. Nothing is more common in the service than, when there is a primâ facie case against an officer, for a court of inquiry to be ordered to investigate the case, and to ascertain whether there be ground for a court-martial. Now, Sir, as it was impossible to summon a court of inquiry in the ordinary way to investigate this case, the witnesses being at Schumla, and the person accused in England, the only course the War Department could pursue was to refer again to Schumla for more information, upon receiving which they would decide whether any further steps should be taken, and, if so, what those steps should be. I can very readily make full allowance for the nice sense of honour which has caused General Beatson to writhe under what he conceives to be an unjust imputation; and I can also make full allowance for his friends, who, unwilling to wait for the result of the investigation, call upon this House to interpose, and to pronounce an opinion pending the result of the inquiry in progress. I do not think, Sir, however, that either the appeals of General Beatson's friends or the natural feelings of General Beatson himself ought to induce this House to adopt such a course; and I entreat them to wait until the War Department shall have satisfied itself—which I believe it will have the means of doing very shortly—whether there be any sufficient grounds on which to found proceedings against General Beatson, or whether the investigation has cleared that officer from the imputations made against him. It has been said by more than one hon. Member that no steps ought to have been taken upon anonymous imputations; but supposing the accusation had been entirely anonymous, I hold that those to whom that accusation had been communicated were bound, by regard for the honour and character of General Beatson, to take steps to ascertain whether it could be sustained. In this case the charges were not made anonymously—that is, without knowing from whom they proceeded, but they were so far adopted by General Shirley, a 1261 man of rank, character, and standing in the service, that he felt it his duty to communicate them to General Vivian, under whom he served. General Vivian, receiving these charges from General Shirley, deemed it his duty to transmit them to the War Department. The communications, therefore, when they reached the War Department, did not bear an anonymous character. They came through two general officers employed in the service to which the matters related—namely, the Turkish Contingent. This, then, is not like the case of an anonymous letter received by a public department reflecting upon the character of a public servant. In this instance a communication was received by responsible officers, and was transmitted by them in the due performance of their duty. But, supposing a public department received an anonymous communication containing imputations against the character of a public servant, will the hon. and learned Gentlemen who have spoken on this subject say that such a communication ought to be thrown aside? I contend that if the heads of departments receive any imputations or charges against persons in the public service, they are bound to take such steps as will enable the persons accused to vindicate themselves from the accusations; and, before taking steps for that purpose, it may be their duty to ascertain whether there is any primâ facie case at all against the parties accused. I can only say that, this matter having been put in course of investigation by the War Department in the only way in which I apprehend it is competent for them to proceed, and the fact having been made known to General Beatson, I think no charge lies either against my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for War or the War Department. With regard to the concluding remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Roscommon (Colonel French), who intimated that the conduct of the War Department must be a source of habitual anxiety and mortification to the Government, I can only say that we feel exceedingly obliged to Lord Panmure for the very able and zealous manner in which he has performed his duties. We have only to contrast the condition of the army in the Crimea, when he took charge of the department, with its condition when it returned from the seat of war, to be assured how efficiently he has discharged the duties of his laborious situation.
said, he did not 1262 know much of this particular case, but he must protest against imputations being thrown upon the honour and character of officers in Her Majesty's service upon the mere authority of anonymous communications. A case had occurred not many years ago, which excited considerable interest, with regard to which he ventured to think that the late Duke of Wellington had made a mistake, by listening to anonymous charges against an officer in Her Majesty's service. In his (Colonel Lindsay's) opinion, if a charge were preferred anonymously against an officer, the person accused should be informed of the fact; the accuser should be called upon to come forward; if he did so, the charge should be investigated, and if not, no farther notice should be taken of the matter. He had himself, on more than one occasion, received anonymous letters, on more insignificant matters, it was true, and he had always informed the persons whom they concerned of the receipts of them, and then threw them into the fire, and that course he should certainly always pursue. It was true that an anonymous letter might make him open his eyes and prick up his ears, but no officer in any civil or military department should be subjected to anonymous charges. To treat officers in such a manner was to encourage the cowardly proceedings of those who made such charges.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I think, Sir, that the hon. and gallant officer who has last addressed us, has misunderstood, and therefore unintentionally misrepresented the purport of what fell from my noble Friend. He has gone at length into a discussion as to what notice should in general be taken of anonymous letters, but what he has stated does not apply to the special case now before the House. I admit that there is great difficulty in laying down any universal rule as to the proper mode of dealing with anonymous letters, signed for example by "A Well-wisher "or" An Enemy to Corruption" so often received by the heads of public departments. I believe that the general practice in public departments, when such letters are received, is not to take any great notice of them, but to throw them into the waste-paper basket; but there may be particular cases in which it becomes a duty to make some inquiry as to the contents of an anonymous letter. An anonymous letter, for instance, may contain information so special as to indicate 1263 some knowledge of facts on the part of the writer, and then it becomes the duty of the person at the head of the department which has received the letter to take some steps to ascertain whether the information which it contains is founded upon fact or not. It is therefore impossible, I maintain, to lay down any invariable rule to be followed with regard to anonymous letters. What my noble Friend stated was, that he could not say that no attention was ever to be paid to letters of that description, because anonymous letters might contain specific charges against persons in the public service, and, from the peculiar circumstances of the case, it might be necessary to endeavour to obtain further information as to the grounds upon which those charges were made. In the present case, however, the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Lindsay) as to the proper mode of dealing with anonymous letters are not in the least applicable. The information received by the War Department in this case was not, properly speaking, anonymous information. The information was forwarded through two public officers in responsible situations, and when we first received it we had no knowledge that it was derived from an anonymous source. One general officer received the information, and thought it of so much importance that he communicated it to his superior officer, who, in his turn, deemed it of sufficient importance to transmit it to the War Department. Coming, therefore, in that form, it was not strictly speaking, anonymous information, so far as the War Department was concerned. It was forwarded through the regular official channels, and I think that it must be obvious to every one, that if that department had refused to take any notice of information thus received it might fairly have been charged with a grave neglect of its public duty. I think, therefore, that the general remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Wigan do not apply to this case, and that the House will agree with me that the information received by the War Department cannot, so far as that department is concerned, be looked upon as anonymous.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I think, Sir, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) by the observations they have just made have placed themselves in a worse position than ever. The noble Lord has publicly stated in his place that there is hanging over the head 1264 of General Beatson an imputation that he excited his officers to mutiny and got up a round-robin for the soldiers to sign. If General Shirley had been called upon to report, that report would, I believe, have made clear from what source the information had been derived, but no report has ever been given to General Beatson, although he has asked for it time out of mind, the answer always being that the inquiry was still going on. Now, Sir, the charge first made was that,—When General Smith arrived at the Dardanelles, General Beatson assembled the commanding officers of regiments, and actually endeavoured to persuade them to make a mutiny in their regiments against General Smith and against the authority of General Vivian. Two of these commanding officers then left the room, saying they were soldiers and could not listen to language which they thought most improper and mutinous. Those two officers were Lieutenant Colonels O'Reilly and Shelley.Now, I have abstained from reading to the House what has been stated with regard to the transaction by Lieutenant Colonels O'Reilly and Shelley, but I will now read those statements. Colonel O'Reilly states:—When I entered General Beatson's room he called all the officers present round his bed. He said that he had called us together to let us know that the Ambassador had caused General Vivian to send General Smith to replace him, which he conceived he had no right to do, as he was under the orders of no one but Lord Panmure. Captain Burton then read the letter ordering General Beatson to give over the command to you. Captain Burton and Captain Berkeley both spoke for a long time about intriguing on the part of the embassy to deprive General Beatson of his position, which had produced the illegal order from General Vivian which had just been read. I asked whether we had not some time previously been placed under General Vivian's orders. General Beatson said that he had been ordered to correspond through the officer commanding the Contingent. Captain Burton said that that order had been virtually cancelled by Lord Panmure himself, who corresponded directly with General Beatson. He then produced an envelope addressed 'To the officer commanding Her Majesty's forces, Dardanelles,' and argued upon that that General Beatson was recognised as a Commander in Chief. I then insisted upon seeing all the letters from Lord Panmure relating to the connection of the Irregular Horse and Contingent. While Captain Burton was looking for them the officers present, with the exception of Major Copely, of the Osmanli Horse Artillery, and myself, entered into conversation at the other end of the room. Captain Burton having produced a letter, I called Major Shelley to hear it read. The letter placed us directly under the command of General Vivian, and made the Irregular Horse part of the Contingent. Captain Berkeley said that Lord Panmure had broken faith with us and the Bashi-Bazouks; that we had joined, and they had enlisted into the 1265 force as Beatson's Horse, and no one had a right to give the command to any one else. Captain Burton said 'that it was our duty to inform General Smith that it was impossible for him to take the command at present; that we should wait upon him in a body, and tell him that we could not answer for the fidelity of our regiment; and that if he persisted in taking the command we should resign.' I argued against the un-soldierly reasons which he was then giving for our required resignation, but, perceiving that General Beatson (who was suffering from a recent fall from his horse) did not appear to notice what was going on, nor say anything to terminate the discussion, Major Shelley and myself left the room.Then again Lieutenant Colonel Shelley says:—To the best of my remembrance, shortly after your arrival at the Dardanelles I found myself, with the other commanding officers, at the quarters of General Beatson, when some conversation ensued, in the course of which a letter was produced, through which it appeared that the force was attached to the Turkish Contingent; immediately upon hearing which, both Lieutenant Colonel O'Reilly and myself proceeded to report and place ourselves under your command. Beyond this, I really cannot make any distinct statement.Nor is there a word in either of those statements to justify the charge? Is it just or right that upon statements of that description a general officer is to have hanging over his head the imputation of exciting his officers to mutiny, and asking his soldiers to sign a round-robin? That serious charge was made against General Beatson in March last, it is now July, and yet the noble Lord, the First Minister of the Crown, says that the charge is still hanging over the head of General Beatson; that that officer is in the position of an accused man, and yet he is not allowed to take the trial which he has asked for time after time. As to the charge not being an anonymous one, it certainly, in my opinion, is an anonymous one. If not an anonymous charge, who is the person who made it, and whence did it come? The honour of the army, I maintain, is not safe under such a system; and I trust that the House, having a due regard to that honour, will vote for the Resolutions which I have brought forward.
Motion made, and Question put,—
That, the Under Secretary for War having admitted that, upon anonymous information, a secret inquiry had been ordered into the conduct of a General Officer, this House feels itself bound to express its reprobation of such a proceeding.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 23: Noes 71; Majority 48.
|List of the NOES.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Ingram, H.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Kershaw, J.|
|Ball, J.||Kirk, W.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Bass, M. T.||Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.|
|Black, A.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Mangles, R. D.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Massay, W. N.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Monck, Visc.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Moncrieff, rt. hon. J.|
|Butler, C. S.||Morris, D.|
|Challis, Mr. Ald.||Nisbet, R. P.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Osborne, R.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Palmerston, Visc.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Patten, Col. W.|
|De Vere, S. E.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Duncan, Visc.||Peel, F.|
|Duncombe, T.||Pellatt, A.|
|Esmonde, J.||Phillimore, J. G.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Pilkington, J.|
|Feilden, Maj.||Price, W. P.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Pritchard, J.|
|Ferguson, J.||Ramsden, Sir J. W.|
|FitzRoy, rt. hon. H.||Ricardo, S.|
|Forster, J.||Ridley, G.|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Rolt, P.|
|Fox, W. J.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Smith, M. T.|
|Greene, T.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Gregson, S.||Stafford, Marq. of|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Thornely, T.|
|Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Hankey, T.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Hastie, Arch.||Wilson, J.|
|Headlam, T. E.||TELLERS.|
|Heywood, J.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Horsman, rt. hon. E.||Mulgrave, Earl of|