Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment [29th April] proposed to Question [28th April]—
That, while this House feels it to be its duty to express its admiration of the gallantry of the Turkish Soldiery, and of the devotion of the British Officers, at the siege of Kars, it feels it to be equally a duty to express its conviction that the capitulation of that fortress, and the surrender of the army which defended it, thereby endangering the safety of the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey, were in a great measure owing to the want of foresight and energy on the part of Her Majesty's Administration.
And which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "Kars" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words—
It is of opinion that it is not expedient to offer any judgment on the causes and consequences of the capitulation of that fortress until the House has had an opportunity of considering the terms of the Treaty of Peace, and the Protocols of the Conferences recently held at Paris, now laid upon the table," instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.1804
§ SIR BULWER LYTTON
Sir, after the discussion which has taken place on the Orders of the Day, I feel it becomes me to assure the House, and more especially those hon. Gentlemen to whom my Motion for the adjournment of the debate from Tuesday last has occasioned inconvenience, how wholly unconscious I was at the time that the Motion would have been opposed by the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston). I had no personal wish to gratify in moving the adjournment; it was not my intention then, nor is it now, to address the House at any great length; I was urged to make that Motion by several hon. Gentlemen whose wish to prolong the discussion was entitled to respect. I looked to the opposite benches; I saw that many of the Members most accustomed to adorn our debates had not yet spoken, though they had been pointedly appealed to. I looked to the Treasury bench; only one Cabinet Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had addressed us, and that at an hour when the House was so empty that few indeed had been able to profit by his elaborate defence of the Government, or the interesting memoir of the Turkish loan by which that accomplished historical critic relieved the dreary chronicle of the decline and fall of Kars. At half-past twelve o'clock I had, therefore, considered that the adjournment had become a matter of course, and I never was more Surprised and vexed than when I found that a second time in my life—and this time, at least, innocently—I had occasioned to the noble Viscount a degree of angry excitement, which, whether genuine or simulated, overcame for the moment his ordinary urbanity and polish.
Sir, the best amends I can make for my unintentional offences is to condense as much as possible what I have to say, and deal as little as I can with familiar extracts from this book. Indeed, I would chiefly confine myself to what I hope will be fair replies to the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Sir, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard), who commenced by saying that he could make a much better defence for the Government than they had made for themselves, appeared to rest much of that defence upon an exaggerated estimate of the charge which was brought against them. He said—He thought they had committed serious mistakes, but that it was unfair to assert that the fall of Kars was solely attributable to the want 1805 of foresight and energy on the part of the British Government alone. That proposition entirely passed over the French Government, which, after all, might have had some share of responsibility for that event.Sir, this Resolution does not exclusively ascribe the fall of Kars to the English Government. If it did, fair is fair; and the Resolution would not have my vote. But the question is, whether, among other causes, the want of energy and foresight on their part did not, in great measure, contribute to that disaster? The hon. Gentleman speaks of France. I may touch upon that point later. But here, in the meanwhile, is a Correspondence between an English Government and an English Ambassador as to the due support to be given to an English Commissioner from the date of September, 1854, to the date, we will say, of June, 1855; and in all this France is not a consulting party. This Commissioner had been sent to Asia not only to report on the state of disorganisation in which our Government already knew that the Turkish army had long been, but to use all means at his disposal to ameliorate its condition; and this very book is published to show that the English Government and the English Ambassador between them failed to place at his disposal any adequate means whatsoever. That fact, whether or not the fault entirely rests with the Turkish Administration, the Government takes the greatest pains to establish from January 11, 1855, when Lord Clarendon writes to Lord Stratford, "that little has been sent to Kars, with the exception of some ball cartridges," to the date of the fall of Kars, November 21 (four days before the capitulation), when Lord Clarendon writes the letter which provokes so severe a comment from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside)—That that neglected garrison will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that their sufferings troubled the sleep and repose of the Turkish Ministers, who, in default of all ordinary measures of relief, never ceased to pray for their safety and success.And now, Sir, the question is, whether there were not other Ministers besides the Turkish whose repose that neglected garrison might have troubled, and whom the default of all ordinary measures of relief might have inspired, not only with the piety of prayer, but the humility of repentance. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury referred to the despatches of Lord Clarendon with great praise, and my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney 1806 General, as well as the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore) seemed to think those despatches a sufficient proof of the energy and foresight of the Government. Nay, the Attorney General said, what more could they do? Sir, in much of the praise bestowed on these despatches I heartily concur. I think many of them excellent. I will go further and say that if despatches alone could have saved Kars, Lord Clarendon would have saved it. But if one thing should be more clear than another to the excellent understanding of those hon. Gentlemen, it is that despatches alone and letter-writing, of whatever kind, were wholly insufficient for the purpose, and that the inventive genius of the English Government should have devised some other mode for the relief of Kars and the security of Asia. It is perfectly true that Lord Clarendon faithfully reports to Lord Stratford, General Williams's complaints. He wants cavalry, he wants artillerymen, he wants reinforcements, ammunition, provisions, above all he wants money, and Lord Stratford, with all his faults, very fully explains that for all these purposes the state of the Sultan's revenue is wholly inadequate, and very lucidly shows that corruption and peculation, having been the habit for generations of an Eastern Government, cannot be reformed in a day, no matter how sincerely the Porte may desire it—cannot be reformed in time for you to rely on that reformation for the safety and defence of Kars. Lay what blame you will on the inherent vices of the Turkish administration, still one fact comes clear from this correspondence, and that fact the Chancellor of the Exchequer has failed to grapple with. It is said, as to reinforcements in the spring, you could not withdraw men from the Crimea. Granted. But, if men you had not, money you had; and a moderate sum of English money placed at General Williams's absolute disposal would, in spite of all the abuses of Oriental lethargy and corruption, have thrown into Kars ammunition and provisions sufficient to defy and outlast the Russian blockade. For how did Kars fall at last? Not for want of men; it had at the time of the capitulation a much larger proportional force than the besieging army. Every one knows that Kars was conquered by famine. We are told that the Russian General would have raised the siege when Omar Pasha entered Georgia, if he had not learnt from an Armenian spy that there were not more than a fortnight's provisions in the garrison. 1807 But while England was cheerfully taxing herself to the utmost to save his dominions to the Sultan, not a shilling of her money goes to the aid of the English General who is holding the fortress on which those dominions and—not indeed in the opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Serjeant Shee) but of Omar Pasha—the safety of the Turkish capital itself may depend. For, says Colonel Simmons in a dispatch to General Simpson, July 12, "The Government inform Omar Pasha if Kars should fall there is no force to prevent the Russians marching directly upon Constantinople," and Omar Pasha credits that information. Surely, the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have been a little more in the confidence of the Secretary of State for War, and he would then have told us with that unvarnished severity of candour with which he does sometimes tell us very disagreeable truths: "I am about to raise several millions for the I vigorous prosecution of the war; by and by there may be a Turkish loan to consider, but I can tell you, for your comfort in the meanwhile, that not one sixpence of your money will go to General Williams in defence of the great key of Asia Minor; which, indeed," says the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with an easy confidence I should not have expected from so grave an intellect, "if lost, the easiest military operation would be all that was needed to recapture. "Permit me to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not as a military but as a financial authority, whether it would not have been much cheaper to save Kars than to recapture it? But, if there be some valid reasons, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has wholly failed to show, why you could not place English money directly at the disposal of your English Commissioner and General, what is the strange reason set up by the right hon. Gentleman against application to Parliament for a grant expressly for the relief of Kars? Why, that the amount would have been contemptible. Apply to Parliament for £100,000 or £200,000! A Chancellor of the Exchequer could not so degrade his financial dignity. There was something respectable in the lavish subsidies we granted to foreign nations in the French war, but to come to Parliament for £100,000 or £200,000 was below the dignity of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir, the answer is obvious. It is not the sum given, it is the use to which it is to be applied that it becomes a 1808 Statesman to consider. And if Dr. Sand- with is right in saying that, had General Williams had absolute control (or for means of control "we must say plainly "funds") in the special question of the Commissariat, Kars would have been saved—if that be true the simple question for the House would have been, what sum would suffice for that purpose? "But," said the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "we must have had the same securities for that grant as for the larger loan, and been subject to the same delays. "No; if you had been freed from the joint guarantee of France, and in earnest for the relief of Kars, the country would have forgiven you if you had made the grant as an advance in anticipation of any loan afterwards required, and all tedious securities for the moment might have been dispensed with or deferred. Where there's a will there's a way. But if you would neither give the money direct to General Williams nor apply for a special grant for the provisioning and relief of Kars, why, when you learnt, in 1854, that the, Turkish revenues were so inadequate, could you not have come to the House with that or some similar proposition in the spring, and not deferred it to creep through the Legislature in August, when its application could be no longer of the slightest assistance to that garrison? Sir, the Attorney General said, in his terse and argumentative speech, that a reproach on that score could not well come from those who had opposed the Turkish loan in July. That may be a good House of Commons' argument, but it is not an argument to common sense. Sir, I was not in the House at the time of that debate. I had paired off for the rest of the Session. If I had been present I should have voted for the loan; but on referring to the debate, I find that the objections made were not against the principle here at stake—the relief of Kars—but to the joint guarantee with France; and I appeal at once to the candour of the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston), and I ask him whether, if, in the spring, the Government had come to this House and said frankly, upon the information they possessed, but of which this House was wholly ignorant, that, without such pecuniary aid to Turkey, Kars might be lost, and with that loss the honour of the British name be tarnished and Constantinople left defenceless—I ask him, I say, whether the conduct of Gentlemen on this side the House in the prosecution of the war—nay, 1809 even the conduct of the warmest advocates for peace—has been such as to lead him to suppose that any mere financial objections, though they might have been temperately stated, would ever have been urged by us to a hostile division? By one of these modes—either by sending money directly to the Commission, or by a grant made expressly for the relief of Kars, or even by a Turkish loan with the direct understanding that a portion of it should go, under the direction of the British Government to the relief of Kars—by one or other of these means Kars might have been easily supplied with arms and provisions. But on the 3rd of August, when Lord Panmure is urging the adoption of the Turkish loan on the House of Lords, and Lord Ellenborough is pointedly calling your attention to the distressed state of Kars and the neglect of the war in Asia, well may my learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) remind you of Lord Panmure's reply, "that Turkey in that quarter is well able to maintain herself." And Lord Panmure says this, in the teeth of these despatches, published to show how utterly helpless in that quarter Turkey alone then was—in the teeth of Lord Clarendon's letter to Lord Cowley on the very same day, the 3rd of August, in which Lord Clarendon says, "It is clear, without assistance the whole Turkish force in Asia must be destroyed or captured"—and when it was Lord Panmure, who, in the previous month, the 16th of July, had rejected the proposals of Turkey to defend herself, and without having preconcerted any means of his own by which Asia might be saved. And the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aylesbury, who rarely speaks without some—doubtless just but—complimentary allusion to his own peculiar frankness and honesty, which, indeed, I never before questioned, which I will not question now, eulogised that assertion because it is untrue, and thinks a British Minister justified in deceiving Parliament and the country in order to impose upon the Russian general a hollow brag, which, in the month of August, when that general was blockading Kars, could not have deceived him for a moment. Nay, the hon. Gentleman thinks that Lord Panmure did not go far enough. "If I," said he, "had been in Lord Panmure's situation, and was asked in August what was the state of the army in Asia, 1 should have certainly said it was immensely strong, and supplied with provisions, arms, 1810 everything, for ten months." Sir, the hon. Gentleman has compared himself, with Homeric simplicity, to a dog upon a racecourse, shouted at by both parties and sometimes whistled to within the ropes. There is a familiar saying applicable to those faithful animals, "Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better." On this side the course we would always whistle to Holdfast; we must leave it to the other side of the course to find more enticing allurements for Brag.
Well, Sir, let me now touch upon a point which, though it did not affect the fall of Kars, still shows that spirit and predisposition on the part of Lord Panmure to which I think the fall of Kars may be in a great measure ascribed. No sooner does our Commissioner arrive in Anatolia, than he tells you that from 10,000 to 12,000 men had perished in the hospitals in the previous winter, and asks for a few English surgeons. The Duke of Newcastle, on whose humanity, at least, there never rested a stain, promptly replies to that appeal on the 6th of November, and directs inquiry whether the Turish Government will consent to place the hospitals at Kars and Erzeroum under the superintendence of three or four English or French army surgeons. But when, that complaint not being redressed, Lord Clarendon, with humanity equal to the Duke of Newcastle's, encloses, through Lord Wodehouse to Mr. Peel, April 16, 1855, a despatch from General Williams and a medical report from Dr. Sandwith to Lord Panmure, and begs to suggest to his Lordship whether it would not be expedient to send out some surgeons to the Turkish army; what is Lord Panmure's reply, through Colonel Mundy, April 21—an ominous date, almost simultaneous with Lord Panmure's frigid despatch of April 12, in which he had met the request for reinforcements by a languid recommendation to the Porte, "to pay attention to these requirements whenever the more pressing need of the Ottoman troops elsewhere shall have ceased?" That was his reply about troops. What his reply about surgeons? That, "in supplying the army under Omar Pasha, and the Turkish Contingent with a medical staff, he does not see much prospect of being enabled to send medical aid to the province of Anatolia." True, he graciously adds, "that he will endeavour to do so to a limited extent, as soon as he has provided for the other two services." Yes, as soon as 1811 Russian Generals save him the trouble, and Russian surgeons are dressing the wounds of the men to whom Russian magnanimity is kinder than English care! Talk of foresight! When you sent General Williams to ameliorate the condition of the Turkish army, the necessity of European medical aid was the first requisite to foresee. Talk of energy! when that medical aid was imperatively required, and again urgently pressed, why, an advertisement in The Times, offering good remuneration to young surgeons, would have brought you applications by the hundred. At that very time, as a Member of Parliament, I was beset with requests from young medical students to obtain them employment in the Crimea. You say that the Turkish Government is alone to blame for not attending to the requests of your Commissioner; and here, when your Commissioner sends a request direct to you, backed by the Foreign Minister to the Secretary for War, for what is entirely under his own control, the laziest Pasha in all Asia could not have treated that request with more supreme indifference. And while you are laying the whole blame on the Government of the Porte, do not forget that that Turkish Administration, with all its Oriental languor and institutional defects, had achieved vast things without the mighty aid you sent to its defence in Asia. When it stood alone, before you came to denounce its deficiencies without supplying them by adequate resources of your own—when no jealousies of the foreign Christian obstructed its action and divided its responsibilities, it coped gallantly with the might of Russia. What is your aid, and what its result? "Oh," says the Attorney General, "we took 20,000 Turkish soldiers into English pay." Yes, and when those soldiers are wanted for the defence of Kars they cannot budge a step. In the spring, General Williams writes that if he is to have no aid from the Allies he shall require in all 20,000 Turkish soldiers for reinforcement. You have taken these 20,000 Turkish soldiers to yourself—that is the reason why they cannot be sent to Kars. This is your aid, and this is its result. And now there is an assertion made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which compels me to enforce on you the practical mischief that was effected by the doubtful position and equivocal authority assigned to General Williams—nominally a Commissioner, in reality a General; nominally under the 1812 orders of the Turkish Commander, but the Turkish commander instructed by your Ambassador to defer to the advice of General Williams. Well may Omar Pasha place in that luminous memorandum, page 272, of this book, among the foremost causes of the misfortunes that had befallen the army in Asia, that its General was not invested with full powers. "But," says the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and the Attorney General has said it before him—"the Government cannot be blamed because they did not furnish General Williams with an authority that could only emanate from the Porte." Certainly not; but you are to blame if you left his position doubtful in the eyes of English officials. I don't excuse Lord Stratford for neglect in correspondence; I don't accept the defence set up for him; but enough has been said on that score by others, and it is not the general practice of this House nor the true principle of the constitution to saddle all this blame on the absent diplomatist—not here to defend himself—when we have before us the Government who, constantly grumbling at his ill success, still maintain him in his post. Nor will I even blame them for doing so. All I say is, that those who heap all the blame on the agent do not understand the English constitution if they acquit the employer.
But I must again remind you, since it has not been answered, that, when Lord Stratford, stung by the complaints of General Williams, writes to you on February 19th, 1855:—It is desirable that I should be made acquainted with the extent of General Williams's powers on the spot, with the degree to which he is independent of the Commander in Chief, how far it is thought expedient by Her Majesty's Government that I shall insist upon obedience to his demands without reference to any doubts entertained of their expediency either by the Porte or by me.to these questions, which gave you so good an occasion to strengthen General Williams by defining and enforcing the authority of one who had proved so worthy of his charge, no answer whatever appears in this book. The Attorney General says, that after your rebuke there was no lack of punctuality in correspondence on the part of Lord Stratford; that is not the case; so little is he affected by the rebuke that, so late as May 1st, 1855, General Williams writes to Lord Stratford—Several weeks ago I addressed your Lordship on the necessity of my having authority direct 1813 from Constantinople to take an active part and have a decisive voice in the purchase of provisions for this army; but, although Lord Panmure has expressed his decided sentiments on this vital point, I have not received a line in allusion to it from your Excellency.These applications are on the subject of provisions;—they receive no answer, and it is for want of provisions that Kars falls in November. You may say that the energy of General Williams surmounted the neglect of the Ambassador, and that by his individual exertions he gets provisions enough into Kars to last for four months; but you are informed by his despatches that unless relief be sent before then the perspective of Kars must end in the vanishing point of starvation. And this brings us to the camp at the Crimea, and shows that it was your omission more stringently to enforce the authority of General Williams, which appears to have been yet more injurious to his weight in the camp of the Crimea than in the Ottoman Porte—that it proved fatal to the rescue of Kars at the very moment when the fate of that garrison was the most imminent; for when, on July 15, Omar Pasha addresses the allied Generals and Admirals for the adoption of his plan of relieving Kars by an army of diversion, his note is written in consequence of information contained in a despatch from General Williams to Lord Raglan, dated Kars, June 23; but the allied Generals refuse to give any opinion, on the ground that they "have no information from their respective Ambassadors at the Porte to lead them to suppose that the affairs of Asia are in the precarious state in which Omar Pasha, from the information he had received from his Government, believed them to be." Yet Omar Pasha founds his representations on the despatch of your own Commissioner to your own General in Chief; and so little weight have you given, in your head quarters in the Crimea, to the hero who is defending Asia, that even an opinion is delayed upon the alleged absence of that information which your Ambassador had not given—which your Commissioner had given—and the only man who attended to it is the General of the Porte, which you accuse of indifference to the fate of Asia and disrespect to the representations of your Commissioner! And it is you who sneer at the apathy and sloth of the Government of the Porte! Why, when at last, in the month of June, it is clear that there must be some plan to succour and reinforce the garrison of Kars, does that plan first proceed from your 1814 energy and foresight? Do you send to this lazy Divan from your European councils of war a profound premeditated scheme, with all its preparations complete? No; it is from the Porte and its generals that the first scheme emanates, and it finds you prepared with nothing but objections. Just as you let the war drift to the Crimea, so you had let it dribble into Armenia. Unwarned by the past calamities, exactly on the same principle which allowed you to land in the Crimea without tents, without knapsacks, without winter provisions, without an army of reserve, you throw General Williams into Kars—you leave him to the mercy of the corrupt system, the vices of which you know beforehand—you provide no requisite by which the faults of that system are to be counteracted; and when an army is proposed to be sent to his aid, you are not even furnished with a strategy or the conception of one. For if you would refer to your first plan, by Trebizond, which you hastily proposed, it is clear that that plan was never premeditated, since you were not aware of any of the objections which would be made against it. Why was General Williams at Kars? To defend it from the Russians. Early in the spring of 1855, preparations for a Russian army had commenced at Gumri. Did it ask the vision of a prophet to know that that army would besiege Kars,—that, if besieged, an army of relief or diversion would be required? Did you once think beforehand what you would do in such a contingency?—had you one scheme for the raising, for the transport, for the movement of such an army? Or did you mean to leave it entirely to the Porte to effect all these operations?—If so, you had no right to obstruct the operations which the Porte advised. There seems to me no excuse for the want of some premeditated scheme of your own. You had Omar Pasha in your own camp. He was surely as sincere as you for the defence of Asia. You might have communicated with him from the first in the spring of 1855; discussed beforehand and settled all the objections which paralysed you at the last; arranged some plan for a relieving army—whether under him, if he could be relieved from Sebastopol, or some other general it he could not—some plan to be adopted if Sebastopol was taken, another if it was not; and when you allege as an excuse for procrastination in July and August the necessity of consulting France and obtaining her consent that is no excuse if in the month of 1815 April or May you could have consulted with France on some contingent scheme for a relieving army to be modified according to varying circumstances, but equally to be acted upon whenever the time arrived, and so prevented all that scramble and bewilderment of cross purposes which close; this melancholy record with one medley of hopeless confusion and inevitable disaster. But no, when the Russians are before Kars you seem as much astounded as if they had dropped from the moon. Reinforcements, relieving armies are then really necessary; where are they to come from, where are they to go? Shall they proceed to Trebizond? shall they go by Redout-Kaleh? shall General Vivian take his contingent? how shall Omar Pasha make up the force drawn from the Crimea? I do not pretend to say what plan you ought to have adopted—that is not my province. I have my ideas, like others, but it is not for me, in an assembly which boasts of British officers so distinguished—of one so pre-eminent, whom I now see before me (General Sir De L. Evans)—to point out or criticise a strategy. All I say is, that some strategy or another should have been devised in time, and its necessity not burst upon you by surprise, first communicated to you by a perplexed Ambassador, to whom you had never given a hint before as to what plan you would prefer, and finding you without an original conception of your own. A great military authority has said that "A good general may be beaten, but can never be surprised." Surely the same thing should be said of a Minister for War. He should have a choice of plans ready for any probable emergency, but the one or the other, adopted by previous concert with his generals and Allies for prompt action the moment prompt action is suddenly called for.
Then we come to the natural consequence of this preliminary, effete and impotent correspondence—that indescribable mixture of hurry and torpor, of contradictory orders to and fro, which, in the month of July, prepares us for the catastrophe of November. Dr. Sandwith tells us that the meaning of Bashi-Bazouks in English is "spoiled heads." In the month of July we had plenty of Bashi-Bazouks in our councils of war. And if ever that respectable force should want for their war department a spoiled head in perfection, I think we could furnish them with some very eligible candidates. But now, in that month of July, out of this cloud of despatches, 1816 emerges the awful form of our Minister for War. All is breathless with expectation. Can Kars be saved? It is the fifth act of the tragedy, and our Deus ex machinâ descends. Only there is this difference between him and the Deus ex machinâ of the ancient stage; when the god, there, descended from his cloud, it was to solve the difficulties and complete the action; when our Deus ex machinâ descends, it is to increase the perplexities and obstruct the plot. The moment to stir has arrived—the only question is, how to stir and whom to stir?—and Lord Panmure takes that brilliant occasion to deliver his oracular essay upon the virtue of caution. "Do not risk," he exclaims, "the honour of the British name and your own reputation by undertaking military operations for which proper bases have not been laid, communications opened, transports provided, and supplies arranged." Why, good heavens, Sir, certainly not. But if all these things were wanting to save Kars, secure the frontier of Asia, and the road to the Turkish capital, in July, 1855, after all the warnings these repeated despatches contained—why, on earth, have we had a Minister for War? If you are so careful of the honour of the British name, why commit that name to the defence of Kars, in September, 1854, and, in July, 1855, not be prepared with any means to preserve it? For, don't let the Chancellor of the Exchequer flatter himself that English honour was in no way concerned in the fall of Kars. The eyes of England and of Europe had already turned to the grand image of that English soldier who was there, with his three or four dauntless countrymen, embodying and supporting the renown of his whole nation. General Williams and Kars could no longer be divided. That Englishman was Kars, and Kars was that Englishman—and both together, if saved by your energy and foresight, would have closed this war with a glory, not only to English valour, but your English councils, which would have covered all your blots at Sebastopol. "Organisation," says Lord Panmure, "is as necessary to any army as endurance and valour." Nothing was ever better said. General Williams had the endurance and the valour for the defence of Kars—what has Lord Panmure to say as to the organisation for its relief? In Dr. Sandwith's graphic account of the Russian army before Kars—the soldiers in warm huts, with fireplaces, the officers with glazed windows, the admirable 1817 well-being of the enemy we have been taught to look down upon as comparative barbarians—who could help contrasting those sleek, carefully-provided-for, thriving soldiers with the famished spectres whom our Government, with all the wealth of England at their disposal, and dropping so lavishly elsewhere from their spendthrift fingers, had left for fifteen months to struggle and to starve—to whose wounds our Secretary for War could give slight hope of medical aid—for whose succour he could devise no plan of relief, until he says, "It is too late even for regret"—until the Russian general (honour to his name!) is shedding tears of generous sympathy for his ill-used and deserted foe—until the population of Kars are crowding round to kiss the departing stirrup of the man who had implored you not to forget him, and "the remnant of his army"—until General Williams says, "I am a prisoner," and ought to have added, "and Lord Panmure is the British Minister for War."
But it is said that the affair is over—the evil irremediable. The affair is not over. Discredit and its consequences remain. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the fate of Kars did not influence the Articles of peace. Possibly. But will you deny that if ever again—which Heaven forbid!—we are at war with Russia for the defence of Turkey, that war will come from the Asiatic frontier, in which the fall of Kars has permitted Russia to retain the menace of her forts and garrisons? But are we to hold the doctrine that because the offence is past the offender is to go free? That is not the line of argument our Government adopts towards the Porte. Their correspondence closes with vehement demands that the Porte should dismiss Selim Pasha from his office—and Selim Pasha is dismissed. Why? The Porte might say, "Kars has already fallen; the affair is over; the evil irremediable!" What is the fault of Selim Pasha? Procrastination. But if procrastination is to be punished by loss of office, have we no Pashas of our own whose dismissal the Porte in turn might vehemently demand? The Attorney General asks, "Make your charges distinct," turns to the despatches, and says triumphantly, "What more could we do?" One Gentleman says all the fault lies with Turkey, another with our Ambassador; a third hints at the Generals and Government of France. Faults in all these quarters no doubt there may be. 1818 But still, when General Williams applies to you for what it is in your power to give, nothing is done. He asks, or implies that he asks, three things—first, money; second, medical aid; third, that you will enforce and extend his authority as much as you can. You don't send the money. You don't send the medical aid. You decline to extend his authority with your own Ambassador when the Ambassador invites you to do it, and you so little enforce that authority in the Crimea that your Generals refuse to receive his statements as accredited authority. A fourth thing he asks is assistance from the Allies in case Kars should be invested. Here, I grant, France may have thrown some obstacle and delay in the way; but you have failed to show that you consulted France long beforehand—that you asked simply, "Suppose a force, whether European or Turkish, should be required for the relief of Kars, what shall we do? don't let us be left entirely to the chapter of accidents at the close." Therefore, when it is asked what more could we have done, I rather ask, what less could you do? Don't turn to the despatches for an answer. I grant that you could not write better. I don't see how you could well act worse.
Just as I think this Resolution is, there may be a majority against it. But I think I read the English hearts of some of those by whom the majority may be composed. Many, no doubt, will vote with you from the conviction that there is no case against you; but many will also vote with you from the loyal affection of party; many from the reasons so touchingly urged by the Attorney General, that, having closed the war with a peace which has excited so popular an enthusiasm, you have been enabled to invite both Houses of Parliament to a naval exhibition, in which your administrative energy and foresight have left so grateful a recollection on the minds of your applauding guests; many from a personal admiration for the noble Viscount—in which admiration I, too, humbly claim to have a share; many to keep in the Government, and keep out the Opposition. But I do not think a majority will be tantamount to a verdict of acquittal. Ask, in a whisper, any friend who goes out with you into that lobby—"Don't you think, as a Government, we showed great foresight, great energy, in the defence and relief of Kars?" I think the chances are, your friend may reply in the same cautions whisper, "If that be your energy and foresight, for Heaven's 1819 sake, try in future to imitate Lord Chatham's improvidence and sloth." I would fain separate individuals from the Government. I can do justice to the gallant nature of the noble Viscount. I can give credit to Lord Clarendon's evidently deep but helpless sympathy for his glorious correspondent. His approving letters must have been gleams of sunshine to that great soldier in his hour of trial and desolation. But, thanks to other agencies in the war councils of the Government, if those letters come to cheer and to encourage, they come also to sadden and to doom—they come to the defender of Kars as the false apparitions came to Macbeth—come to glad——his eyes and grieve his heart—Come like shadows, so depart!Other causes conspired to the fall of Kars. Give to the Government the full credit for them. But tell me in turn, do you not honestly think among the main causes is the want of zeal and comprehension, of energy and foresight, on the part of your Minister for War? Sir, in all Cabinets there must be a division of labour; but since in none there can be a division of responsibility, whatever my respect for individuals, I think the charge against you as a Government has not been rebutted. In almost every letter from General Williams he warns you of evils and dangers; in almost every letter from Lord Stratford he proves to you that against these evils and dangers no reliance is to be placed upon the Ottoman resources alone. On those resources do you continue to rely. Not a step do you take, not a conception do you originate, not a strategy prepare, until you are overwhelmed by the logical consequences of your own improvidence and neglect; and the stain of the fall of Kars will cling to your memory as a Government as long as history can turn to this book for the record of a fortitude which, in spite of your negligence and languor, still leaves us proud of the English name.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, that in presenting himself to address the House immediately after the hon. Baronet, he did so without the slightest hope of being able to imitate his eloquence, or to reach those flights of fancy which he displayed in that House and elsewhere. He was induced to rise in consequence of the hon. Baronet having complained—though not with justice—that no Gentleman on the Ministerial bench, except one, had yet addressed the House on this important subject. The 1820 hon. Baronet had observed that, when on a previous evening he moved the adjournment of the debate, he had anticipated no opposition to his Motion, and he rather remonstrated against a want of courtesy on the part of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. That was entirely a misapprehension; and, indeed, any want of courtesy would be quite unwarrantable towards the hon. Baronet, who in his speeches exhibited so much eloquence with so little animosity or bitterness. But the fact was, that there appeared at the time a listlessness and languor about the debate, an unwillingness on the part of the House to prolong it, and a disposition on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to evade a decision on the question. He was not one of those who pretended to say that this question should not be discussed in Parliament. On the contrary, it was his opinion that anything that was termed a disaster or misconduct in warfare should be dispassionately discussed; but the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the debate (Mr. Whiteside) had in it none of the generous eulogy which the hon. Baronet had bestowed upon Lord Clarendon, for it consisted of assaults and vituperations on individuals from beginning to end. He did not deny the laboriousness of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech; but it widely differed in tone from the one the House had just heard, and, in his opinion, was most inferior. The hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen fell into the error, which the succeeding speakers on that side of the question had not avoided, of dilating upon the topic of Asiatic policy. That, however, was not the question before the House. The question was not, whether it would have been more wise to pursue the war in Asia or in the Crimea; but whether, it having been determined to pursue the war in the Crimea, and having determined to defend Kars, the Government had done all they could do, under the circumstances, to save that fortress. Dwelling, however, mainly on Asiatic policy, the hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of the possible effects of the recent campaign in the event of a future invasion of Asia by Russia. This was not the first time that they had heard of this question of the danger to our Indian Empire from aggression on the part of Russia, and how that Russia might, through the agency of Persia, become possessed of Herat, and thus step by step advance towards the invasion of India. Having considered this matter with considerable 1821 interest, and in conjunction with those well able to form a judgment on it, he must say that he did not believe that any apprehension of the sort need be entertained; though he admitted that it was desirable that all transactions in that part of the world should be watched with vigilance. He did not believe that Russia, whose difficulty had always been in her commissariat—which had been her embarrassment even in the war just concluded—without vastly improved means in respect to that service and transport, would be able to lead her troops through that immense and almost impassable territory which lay between her frontier and our Indian Empire. The hon. Member's argument, however, had been advanced with great rhetorical art, because it followed from it, as a natural deduction, that the defence of Kars ought to have been the main object of the campaign. He had no desire to speak lightly of the fall of Kars. He greatly regretted it, and regarded it as a great calamity; but what the Government had to show was, that it was not through any fault or neglect of theirs that Kars had fallen. It might be said that it was low ground to take, to say that we had done everything in our power to save Kars, and had failed to do what we had attempted. It was, however, by comparison that the merits of all human actions were to be judged, and since we could not perform everything, if there were two things which we could not perform at once, it was our duty to stick to that which was the more important. It was impracticable to take Sebastopol and to save Kars, and all our means had been devoted to the more important object of the capture of Sebastopol. The defence of the Government rested on a comparison of the importance of the two objects, and to show that, as they could not effect both, they had wisely riveted their attention to that which was the more valuable. The hon. Baronet was mistaken in thinking that any one on that side of the House had advanced the argument that, because the affair was over, therefore it ought to be consigned to oblivion. The hon. Baronet had said that the fall of Kars was a great calamity, and would raise the military prestige of Russia in the East. He (Mr. V. Smith) would not deny that it was a calamity—a great calamity—but he did deny that it could be considered a great military triumph on the part of Russia. The town fell by famine and not by assault, and its famished defenders left 6,000 Russians 1822 dead on the field on the 29th of September. The messengers who carried the news of the surrender of Kars throughout the East would tell also of its glorious defence; they would spread abroad the military skill of General Williams, and that he was an English officer, and that it was by his efforts and the efforts of the other English officers, that the town had held out so long and had defended itself so gloriously. He regretted that the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen should have spoken in so contemptuous a tone of the "doctor" who had been attached to General Williams. Every one who had read Dr. Sandwith's book must know that he was a man of great ability, knowledge, and modesty; and the services which he had rendered at Kars in organising and superintending the hospitals were of great value, and showed the wisdom of having sent him with the Commissioner. He could not help thinking that the hon. and learned Gentleman, on reflection, must feel ashamed of the manner in which he had spoken of this gentleman. He agreed with the hon. Baronet, that nothing could be more unconstitutional and dishonourable than for the Government to attempt to shift all blame from themselves by throwing it on Lord Stratford. But the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the debate poured volley after volley of abuse upon Lord Stratford as long as it served his purpose, and it was only after he had exhausted himself upon the agent that he reversed his engine and began playing upon the principal, Lord Clarendon. The case against Lord Stratford turned on his non-reply to General Williams's letters. There was no excuse for that; but the question as regarded the Government was, whether the Government would have been justified in recalling Lord Stratford, simply because he had not answered General Williams's letters. Not only was Lord Stratford a diplomatist of great ability and experience, but he was the very best for that post. Everybody declared that he was "the right man in the right place," and no other man could have been found at the time who had his influence with the Turkish Government, or who could have discharged the duties of that mission with such success. In the interest of the country and of the common, cause, it would have required a much graver offence to justify his recall at that moment—it would not have been easy to supply his post, and if the Government had recalled him, there would have arisen an 1823 outcry that there had been a change of policy.
The Government were taxed with want of foresight and of energy. With regard to the first, it was scarcely worth while to go through all the objections which had been raked together from the Blue-book, tracing what had been done day by day, and contrasting it with what would have been done had somebody else been in Lord Clarendon's place. The House had probably had enough of the Blue-book. So far as foresight was concerned, he had too strong a remembrance of the many long and anxious consultations which had been held with respect to the state of affairs at Kara, to allow that the Government had displayed any want of foresight. The hon. and learned Gentleman himself acknowledged that, from time to time, things were done which showed that the Government were aware of what was going forward at Kars. It was hard to tell what the hon. and learned Member meant by want of energy, or what he would have done which was not done. The House must remember the position in which the Government were placed; the real question was, not whether Kars should have been relieved, but where they were to get the means of relieving it by raising a sufficient force. The hon. Baronet asked, why the French were not consulted on the subject. But from his knowledge of French society, he ought to be aware that the chief objection to the prosecution of the war among the French, arose from a belief that it was a war of ours, undertaken for the purpose of protecting our Indian dominions. Everybody knew that that was constantly asserted; and with what face, therefore, could we have proposed to our Allies to withdraw a portion of their troops from before Sebastopol, in order to send them to the relief of Kars? No doubt our Allies would have replied with that courtesy and civility which were usual with them, but they would not have been disposed to prosecute the war in Asia in our interests. At what time, too, could the diversion have been made? Up to the time of the fall of Sebastopol, all our energies and all our means were concentrated on that siege, and any Minister would have deserved impeachment who had counselled the abstraction of a single man from before Sebastopol to be sent to Kars, which was not then known to be in such straits. After the fall of Sebastopol the roads were so difficult of 1824 passage, that the operation was almost impossible. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) said, that he could not see why the plan of a diversion proposed by the Turks was rejected. The reason was obvious. If troops were disembarked at Trebizond they were at least in a position to defend Erzeronm, a place of much greater importance to Kars; whereas, a diversion in the direction of Kutais and Tiflis could, if it failed in its principal object, effect no secondary one, and became, as was afterwards the case with the advance of Omar Pasha, entirely useless. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen had dwelt at great length on the mode in which the papers contained in the Blue-book had been prepared, and declared that he could not arrive at their real meaning, and he suggested that the part left out was infinitely more absurd than that which was published was in his eyes. But the reason was obvious. Such a presentation of them was entirely in accordance with the practice of all departments, and was a course which, in all cases expedient, was in this more than usually necessary. Indeed, he was not quite sure that Her Majesty's Government had acted wisely in publishing all they had. In his opinion, it was a right principle that nothing ought ever to be said in disparagement of an ally, past, present, or future; and in what had been published, it was evident that the tone taken by some of the British officers, in their despair of relief, had been written anything but respectfully of the Turkish Government, and it was much to be desired that all such matters should have been eliminated from the despatches. The subject of the debate had been brought forward by a barrister; but it was not a, question in which law was much concerned, and he would venture to repeat a saying of a right hon. Baronet on a former occasion: "He hoped they were now done with Nisi Prius." This was a military question; and if any military man came forward, and, looking at our resources and at what we had to accomplish, said that, the Government had not used means, or had failed to carry into effect schemes which they ought to have adopted and carried out, he (Mr. V. Smith) would admit that there would be a fault in their defence, and that there would be some force in the attack upon the Ministry. But no such thing had occurred. On the contrary, the whole case was remarkably 1825 well summed up in the following passage from a despatch of General Mansfield. That gallant officer, whose ability had been proved by everything that he had done in connection with this campaign, said—If I may be allowed to offer an opinion on the real cause of the disastrous issue of the Turco-Asiatic campaign, I should say that it must be found in the nature of the alliance, which absorbed all the really available means of action, whether French, British, or Turkish, in the invasion of the Russian soil, to the exclusion of attention to the hostile operation on Turkish territory. The contest pursued in the former required every practicable means to insure success—perhaps, it may be said, even military safety.If such was the case, could the Government have diminished those forces by a single man to relieve Kars? General Mansfield, in reference to the results of the resistance of Kars, said—The garrison of Kars performed a great duty in arresting the march of the Russian columns till the resources of the Allies could be turned to Asia, either in consequence of a development they had not already reached, or of liberation from the Crimea.Let it be said to the honour of those men that performed so great a service; but it should not be forgotten that there were obstacles at Erzeroum and in the Bosphorus, which would have enabled the Turks to resist the march of Mouravieff. General Mansfield went on to say—Some months since I ventured to predict, in private conversation, that we should have to be satisfied with such an issue of the operations of the last year; and that, assuming the Allies to be prepared to take advantage of what has been thus achieved by the devoted garrison, we should have no reason to be disappointed when viewing the two theatres of war as one comprehensive whole. I have no reason to depart from the opinion then expressed.That he believed would be the view which the people of England would take of the campaign. Looking at the operations in the Crimea and in Asia as a whole, they would feel that there was no reason for dissatisfaction at the position in which we now stood. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) charged the Chancellor of the Exchequer with having denied that the fall of Kars exercised any influence on the Congress. His right hon. Friend had only said that nothing of it appeared on the protocols, nor did there, although the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, who appeared to have an accurate knowledge of all that took place in the Conferences, assured them that the Russian Plenipotentiaries had put it forward 1826 from the first. Of course every achievement in war would be put forward by the party who had gained it; but the Russian Government got nothing for giving up Kars. It was evident from the beginning it must be restored, and it could not be otherwise when the main object of the war was to maintain the integrity of the Turkish territory. His reply, therefore, to those who said that but for the fall of Kars we should have obtained a more satisfactory peace was, that but for the capture of Sebastopol we should have had no peace at all. With regard to France, our French Allies never sent even a Commissioner to Kars, and it would have been of no avail to have consulted them on a question which they did not seem to consider one of the objects of the war. He would not deny that this discussion was valuable, but he did not think it ought to have been brought forward in the shape of an attempt to displace the Government under which this calamity had taken place. He did not consider it a fair or generous course to pitch on a single act of a great enterprise, which ought to he treated as a whole. He was justified in that opinion by the conduct of Lord Malmesbury in withdrawing his Motion on this subject in another place. He believed the House would be of the opinion that it would have been more honourable to treat this great question in another way, and in that opinion they would be backed up by the people of England. He believed the people were sincerely sorry for the fall of Kars. He participated in that sorrow; no public event had ever affected him more. He was not surprised at the lamentation it had occasioned. But there was another event on which the people of England might cordially congratulate themselves, and on which they might compliment his noble Friend—that was the fall of Sebastopol. If they lamented the fall of Kars, how much more would they have lamented the event, if his noble Friend had listened to craven counsellors, and, giving way to the sinking of the spirits of the people, had consented to a peace before that event was accomplished, which was the great object of the war. In justice not only to the Ministry, but to the honour of Parliament, these things ought to be considered together. Irritated as the people of England often were on the occurrence of events which they had not foreseen, and ready as they were at such moments to visit their wrath on whoever, whether Minister or 1827 General, came first to their hands, they were very unwilling to return to bygones, or to raise up the ghost of past transactions, even to terrify Her Majesty's Ministers. Therefore they would recoil from such Motions as this—they would not favour the stale vindictiveness of party spirit, and would not support the bringing forward for party purposes matter which ought to be subjected only to a discriminating criticism. After all, to what did it come? If it were true that in the management of delicate alliances, in the difficulty of overcoming unforeseen obstacles, and in the confusion which up to a certain time prevailed in the Crimea, Her Majesty's Government had committed some slight error as to the fall of Kars—a calamity which they unceasingly deplored—he fearlessly appealed to the representatives of a generous people to cast into oblivion this single disaster, if they could visit with a general approbation a war well conducted and a peace well concluded.
§ MR. VANSITTART
said, he had intended to support the Government by giving a direct negative to the Motion; but the tone and temper of the speeches delivered by the Ministers and their adherents had compelled him to alter his determination. The President of the Board of Control, and all who had spoken from the Treasury bench, had taken much higher ground than he had anticipated; and, not content with addressing themselves to the case of Kars, had claimed credit for having conducted all the operations of the war with uniform wisdom and foresight; in fact, they had treated the question as one involving approval of their general policy, and, as he could by no means afford to give a vote suspectible of any such construction, he had no alternative but to support the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen. He was not disposed to call in question the propriety of their conduct in concentrating the whole energies of the army on the siege of Sebastopol, and refusing to employ any portion of it on any other enterprise; but they had acted with the greatest indiscretion in imperilling the prestige of the English name and arms in the East by sending out a British General and Commissioner whom they neglected to support with men, money, or material. It would have been far better to have left the whole management of the war in Asia Minor to the Turkish Government than to have committed such a mistake as that.
§ CAPTAIN LAFFAN
said, he had been surprised at the course taken by hon. Members on the other side of the House, and wished to draw the attention of the House to the merely military view of the subject. When the siege of Sebastopol was commenced, the English undertook an equal share of the operations with the French. But their strength was not equal to the task, and they were obliged to give up part to the French, who were three times their numbers. The French had complained that the English Government did not make sufficient efforts, and very great indignation would have been excited by any proposition to withdraw a part of the English force for an object which they considered purely English—namely, the defence of the route to India. No English force, therefore, could have been withdrawn from the Crimea for the defence of Kars. The next point was as to the advice given to the Turkish Government with regard to the disposal of the forces. In the Conferences at Constantinople it was stated by Fuad Effendi that Turkey had but two armies, one in Bulgaria and another in the Crimea, and that they had not the means of raising a third; but he proposed a plan for raising a force of 44,000 men to operate in Georgia, on the Russian line of communication. The force looked well on paper, but it existed only on paper. It was stated that there were 12,000 men at Batoum; but from the inconceivable villany of Mustapha Pasha, that force had dwindled down to 3,000. It was proposed to send 10,000 of the Contingent; but these men were then nothing but a useless mob, undrilled, without arms or clothes, and with officers who did not understand the language, and were obliged to give their orders through an interpreter. It was impossible for such a force to advance to Tiflis, which was 240 miles from the coast. When the plan was sent to England, Lord Clarendon refused to sanction it, and suggested that a force should be landed at Trebizond, to advance on Erzeroum and Kars. It was stated that the road from Trebizond to Erzeroum was impracticable for an army; but such was not the case, for General Williams, in one of his first despatches, mentions that a train of siege guns had been conveyed along it. The plan proposed by the English Government was practicable and reasonable, but that adopted by the Turks produced no result. Omar Pasha was anxious to take some of his troops from the Crimea, 1829 but the English and French Generals objected—they were about to make their second attack on Sebastopol, and it was absolutely necessary to retain the Turkish troops to defend Balaklava. After Sebastopol had fallen, Omar Pasha was enabled to turn his attention to Asia; but in his (Captain Laffan's) opinion, he made a great mistake in landing at Souchum-Kaleh, and directing his march upon Kutais, instead of advancing by Trebizond and Erzeroum, by which route he might have been in time—late though it was—to relieve Kars. Tiflis was 240 miles inland, and it was impossible for him to advance so far with his force through an enemy's country. It was only the same distance from Trebizond to Kars, and his road was through a friendly country. In effect, the Turkish General, with 40,000 men, only one-half of whom were available to operate in front, had proceeded but thirty miles into the interior, when he could not go forward without reinforcements. The effect of the choice of Souchum-Kaleh was therefore to throw his army out of all useful occupation; and, indeed, when General Williams wrote that he had received promises of succour from Selim Pasha, he added that he had also entertained hopes of aid from Omar Pasha until he learnt that that commander had directed his movement from Souchum-Kalch. The Government had been condemned, first, because they discountenanced the expedition prepared by the Turks into Georgia, and next, because they proposed a plan of operating by Trebizond and Erzeroum; but it was obvious that the former project must have been attended with disaster, while the latter gave every promise of success. Lord Panmure was censured for his despatch to General Vivian, dated the 14th of July, 1855, in which he cautioned that commander against imperilling the safety of his contingent by embarking in any rash or ill-judged enterprise in Asia; yet, by a remarkable coincidence, the papers before the House showed that on the very same day General Vivian wrote to our Ambassador in an identical sense, and stating that 10,000 of his troops, comprising the most efficient part of his force, were still unarmed, officered by men yet unacquainted with their language, destitute of transport, and, in fact, a mere mob, instead of a disciplined army ready to take the field. On the two points, then, in regard to which they had been severely blamed, Her Majesty's Government really 1830 deserved commendation, not censure. They could not have withdrawn any troops from the Crimea, and they had shown a wise and singular foresight in suggesting that reinforcements should be sent by Trebizond. Their decisions throughout were wise and judicious, in a military point of view at least; although, it must be confessed, the same could not be said of their political administration. He thought the Government were blameable for not having placed pecuniary means at General Williams's disposal, and also for not having furnished him with medical assistance. He (Captain Laffan) believed, that had General Williams been properly supplied with money, Kars might have been saved. He was, however, unable to concur in the terms of the Motion proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, declaring that the fall of Kars was mainly attributable to want of foresight and energy on the part of Her Majesty's Government; for, as the first object was to keep up the army before Sebastopol, and it was doubtful whether any foresight and energy on the part of the Government could have prevented the fall of Kars, he did not think that, in the conduct of the military operations, the Government had exhibited any lack of wisdom or foresight, and he would therefore give his vote against the Motion.
said, that he did not think that the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken had been more successful in defence of the Government than the hon. Members who had preceded him. The defenders of the Government contended that Kars was not a place of great military importance; but, in his opinion, the capture of Kars had been the lever by which a peace, neither acceptable nor grateful to the country had been brought about. He believed that this country had suffered a great diminution of repute by permitting that fortress to be taken. He thought that his hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Laffan) had taken an extraordinary course in defending the military views of the noble Lord at the head of the War Department, who was singular in the idea that the route by Trebizond and Erzeroum was that by which relief ought to have been afforded to Kars. All military men acquainted with the country held opinions adverse to that view. It had always been held by military authorities that the safest and most practicable mode of relieving a beleagured place was by marching on the communications 1831 of the besiegers, and Omar Pasha acted wisely and properly in endeavouring to interrupt the communications of General Mouravieff. He (Colonel Dunne) had been informed by officers acquainted with the country that the roads between Trebizond and Erzeroum were not practicable by artillery, without taking the guns off the carriages, and that such was their condition, that three or four months would have been occupied in marching 30,000 men from Trebizond to Kars by Erzeroum. It was utterly impossible to afford relief to Kars by way of Erzeroum in time to prevent its capture, but the attempt to do so by Batoum or Redout-Kaleh was practicable, and, although made at a very late period of the year, was nearly successful. He thought great blame attached to the Government for allowing that expedition to be so long delayed that it could not be carried to a successful issue. The Contingent of General Vivian had been made an excuse for not sending troops with Omar Pasha, and it was said they were not in a fit state either to replace Omar's troops before Sebastopol or for fighting in the field; but that force should not have been in the disorganised condition which had been represented. It did not consist of newly raised recruits, but was composed in a great measure of troops drawn from the army which had fought under Omar Pasha on the Danube, who were placed under the command of British officers, and the Government could hardly assert that this was the cause of their inefficiency. The British Government were, in his opinion, to blame for their determination not to allow the Contingent to go to that point to which Omar Pasha wished it to be sent; and at any rate, if the Contingent had been sent to Balaklava, Omar Pasha could have taken his troops to Asia Minor, and Kars would have been saved. He thought the British Government were responsible for the fall of Kars, because they had refused to permit the despatch of troops for its relief at the proper time. It had been said that there was a deficiency of supplies and resources at Redout-Kaleh and Kutais; but one of the despatches contained an account of large stores of grain at Kutais and of the means of laud transport which existed there, and the river Rion was available for the conveyance of supplies for a distance of fifty miles. A letter had been quoted by an hon. and gallant Member to show that Omar Pasha was of 1832 opinion that General Vivian's Contingent was unfit to be sent to the Crimea; but the hon. Gentleman overlooked a subsequent letter from Colonel Simmons, explaining the statement of Omar Pasha, who expressed this opinion before he was aware of the danger in which Kars was placed. It was a mere flimsy pretence to say that the Contingent was kept back because it was not in a fit state to go to Balaklava, for it was shortly after sent to a more dangerous point. The fact was, either the Government were ignorant of what was going on, or they did not choose to interfere in the defence of Kars; and he had no doubt whatever that responsibility for the fall of Kars rested entirely upon the Government of this country. He would take the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, and was prepared to contend that if the Government were tried by court-martial on this question their condemnation would be much more certain than it was likely to be in that House, though not more certain than it would be found to be by the country at large; for there could be no doubt that the opinion of the whole country was in unison with the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen on this subject; and hon. Members might feel assured that, when they returned to their constituencies, their votes on the present occasion would be remembered. He had heard it said over and over again, that all that had been done in respect to Kars was purposely done in order to bring the war to a close by giving Russia a pretence for accepting the terms of peace offered to her. This was one reason which induced him to think that the War Department of the Government was guilty of the fall of Kars. He would not enter into the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. He certainly did think that in the earlier part of the proceedings that noble Lord was decidedly wrong in regard to his replies to General Williams; but when Lord Stratford found that Kars was beleaguered, then his letters assumed a very different tone. In extenuation of the conduct of the Ambassador, it ought to be remembered that General Williams was not placed wider him but under Lord Raglan. He was also sent to attend Omar Pasha in the same manner that Colonel Rose was sent to the French army as Military Commissioner, but without command. The circumstances in which Colonel Williams found the Turkish army induced 1833 him (and very properly) to assume command, and no doubt delay did occur before his rank in the Turkish army was confirmed, and that command he had assumed recognised. But whether that noble Lord was right or whether he was wrong in the earlier part of the affair, he (Colonel Dunne) contended that the Government were responsible for his conduct; and in respect to the subsequent portion of the business Lord Stratford was wholly guiltless. The War Department alone was guilty of the fall of Ears. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) had reproached the House for not having attended to the advice which he had on several occasions given as to the importance of assisting Turkey in Asia Minor; but while the hon. Gentleman threw the responsibility of rejecting his advice on the House he at the same time appeared to hold Her Majesty's Government wholly irresponsible. It was true that he (Colonel Dunne) did not vote with the hon. Gentleman last year. Indeed he seldom afforded any one an opportunity of voting with him, for the hon. Gentleman generally withdrew his Motions; but even when the hon. Gentleman did press them he (Colonel Dunne) confessed that his confidence in the hon. Gentleman was so little that he was not prepared to give him his support.
§ MR. COWAN
said, it had been his lot more than once to find himself in a different lobby to the Government, but on this occasion he felt bound to give them his humble and cordial support in resisting this attack levelled at them from the Opposition side of the House. He thought the present Motion was at once impolitic and ungenerous, and that it would have been far more rational and more becoming at a time when the nation was united in thanking the Almighty for the restoration of peace, if this unworthy and useless discussion had been avoided. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who last addressed them said that the War Department was responsible for the fall of Kars; but was the hon. and gallant Gentleman prepared to single out any individual more than another upon whom punishment ought to be visited? The noble Lord the Minister for War in especial had been indefatigable in his endeavours to carry out the war with vigour. No doubt disasters and mistakes had taken place, which would be avoided were the war to come over again; but how could they now fix the responsibility for the past upon any one department or set 1834 of persons? But, in his humble opinion, what was meant by this Motion was not so much to censure individuals as to get possession of the Treasury benches—but he trusted that to-night the hopes of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen would be signally routed and disappointed. They all admitted and deplored the calamities of Sebastopol and Kars, but instead of dealing in crimination and recrimination it would be far more rational, far more becoming, far more useful, to turn their attention to the best means to be taken to avoid such disasters in future. Let the House then look, not to the Whiteside, but to the bright side of events—and, having rejected this useless Resolution, proceed to the discharge of their legitimate functions in considering what would be the most useful legislation for the country. He protested against the time of the House being occupied, and important business being delayed, by discussions of this nature, which could lead to no public benefit; and he recommended hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they wished to displace the Government, at once to move a vote of censure, and to take the sense of the House upon it.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he should confine himself to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. K. Seymer). He should vote for that Amendment, as he believed the capitulation of Kars bore very materially on the great question which would have to be discussed next week. He could have wished that the example of a noble Earl in another place had been followed by the learned Member for Enniskillen, because he apprehended there would be no difficulty in showing that the abandonment of the fortress of Kars had exercised a great effect upon the peace negotiations. The expression of opinion might appear presumptuous and, at all events, premature, but in his (Mr. Liddell's) view no conditions of peace would be satisfactory which did not contain a security against future war, and which did not deal with the Asiatic frontier, and it could not be doubted that if Kars had not surrendered Russia would have assumed a very different attitude in the Conferences. A large portion of our acquisitions in the war had been given back in exchange for Kars. But it was the Asiatic frontier which ought to give cause for alarm. It was well known that it was in peace, and not in war, in the Cabinet, and not in the field, that Russia successfully prosecuted her 1835 designs. Causes might arise on that frontier sufficient at any moment again to involve us in a war; and it was remarkable that scarcely had the Russian envoys left the Conference chamber before there appeared in a morning newspaper an extremely ominous article from their Berlin correspondent, stating that Russia was organising an army to resist a mountainous tribe on the Asiatic frontier. Now, every one knew what Russian diplomacy was, and nothing would be easier than for a diplomatic agent to foment a rebellion among tribes upon the frontier which would again lead to war. There could be no security for a permanent peace until such a rectification had taken place of the Russo-Asiatic and Persian frontier as would afford a check to the encroachment of Russia. Let any one trace the Russian boundary line, from the Caspian to the Euxine; let him mark well the military positions held by them at different points, on the great lines of road into Asiatic Turkey and Northern Persia, and then say what security there is at any time that those communications may not be interrupted, and those fertile Provinces exposed to the inroads of the Muscovite. A great opportunity for restraining Russia in this quarter had been lost, and might not soon recur. He had no hesitation, then, in voting for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire. With regard to the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, he could have wished to have seen it differently worded, and less forcible in its terms; but, while he could not agree in all the censure which that Resolution, as introduced by the hon. Member, had cast upon the Government at home, yet if asked whether the fall of Kars was or was not attributable to want of foresight and energy on the part of the Government, he should be compelled in his conscience to answer that it was.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Sir, I know not whether the hon. and learned Member for Greenock (Mr. Dunlop) is in his place, but I can assure him and the House that it is never my practice, even were it in my power, to make a speech for display; and it is only a sense of duty and the conviction that I ought not to give a silent vote on this important question, which induce me to rise on the present occasion. In the present state of the House, and no other Gentleman seeming disposed to rise, I do not wish the debate to close without offering myself to your attention. But, 1836 Sir, I shall take the hint which was offered by the hon. and learned Member for Greenock, and shall endeavour to compress into the narrowest space the observations which it will be my duty to submit to the House. And, Sir, I am bound to state, that, like the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I have had some doubts with respect to the vote which I ought to give upon this question; but, both in public and in private life, in a case of doubt, I think the rule a safe one to do as one would be done by; and having been a responsible servant of the Crown during the conduct of the present war, I am bound to remember the difficulties with which Her Majesty's Government have had to contend, and, actuated by that reflection, I feel I have no alternative but to give them the benefit of the doubt.
My own experience has taught me that it is a very difficult operation to conduct a great war, whether by sea or land, with forces under commanders acting with a divided authority. Now, this evil no doubt is well understood in theory, but what is the experience of the greatest commanders in this respect? I think it is an observation of the great Napoleon, that even one had general is better than two good ones at the head of the same army. He makes also another reflection—that an army composed of different nations will not be long before it commits some great mistake. What, again, was the experience of the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular war? He felt the difficulty of a divided command to so great an extent that almost immediately after his landing in the Peninsula he thought it not only requisite to put at the head of the Portuguese army an officer second only to himself, but he thought it also indispensably necessary that he should be the generalissimo of that army, holding, as it were, both the first and the second commands in it. I see my noble Friend the Member for the City of London in his place: he, if I mistake not, was present with me at the memorable spectacle when the Duke of Wellington received from the Cortez at Cadiz the supreme command of the Spanish army. At Talavera he did not command the Spaniards, and at Salamanca he had only an imperfect command, and felt deeply the inconvenience of a divided authority. There is a remarkable letter of the Duke of Wellington, written when Alexander, Emperor of Russia, proposed to send a corps d'armée to the Peninsula 1837 to be placed partially under the command of the Duke of Wellington. It sets forth the opinion of that great man upon the difficulties attendant upon a divided command, and is so germane to the matter in hand that I cannot refrain from troubling the House with it. The letter is addressed to Lord Bathurst, the then Minister of War, and is in these words:—I must not say how much I am flattered by the disposition of the Emperor of Russia to place his troops under my command. If the Emperor should carry this intention into execution, I beg leave to recommend not only that the Emperor should place them under my command, but that he should accept of my services (with the permission of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent) as a general officer in his service of rank senior to the general officer who should be sent in command of His Imperial Majesty's troops, and that, although the discipline and interior economy of His Imperial Majesty's troops should be carried on under the direction of the general officer who would come to the Peninsula with them, all reports, &c., regarding them and their operations, should pass through my hands. I mention this now, because, having for some years commanded an allied army composed of very discordant materials, and having had the good fortune to preserve the utmost harmony among them, I am anxious that, in case His Majesty the Emperor should be disposed to carry his intention into execution, his views should not be frustrated by want of attention to the occurrence of one of those accidents which experience has shown are too likely to occur in the employment of allied troops in the same scene of action.I have now, Sir, shown the House what was the opinion expressed by two of the greatest commanders of modern times with regard to the difficulties attending the conduct of combined armies. It is true that the history of our country furnishes us with brilliant examples of achievements under divided commands. Ramilies and Blenheim at once occur to our recollection; but still the difficulties of a command over a combined army are great in the extreme. It is not every age that produces a genius like that of Marlborough. It is impossible for me to address myself to this part of the case without reference to the memory of my departed Friend, Lord Raglan. Sir, I had the happiness from early youth to be his friend. Full of valour, as of courtesy, and boundless in both, he was a bright example of an English general. He had, upon the ground to which I have referred, great difficulties to contend against, but by his winning manners and sound judgment he won the esteem and confidence of two Marshals of France in combined operation. His valour was proved when he led—a circumstance new in our annals— 1838 British troops side by side with French to the storming of a strong position, defended by brave soldiers worthy of the adversaries against whom they had to contend. He had, I say, great difficulties to overcome, but, thanks to his firmness and forbearance, the alliance remained unbroken. Although his conduct during some part of his command has been made the subject of adverse comment, yet, I say that, take him for all in all, we shall not for some time look upon his like again. Turning, however, to General Williams, who is more immediately connected with the subject of this debate, it is with pleasure that I express the opinion that out of the events of this war he brings a character greatly exalted by the proof of qualities of the highest order, and that while he has gained a reputation so great at the present moment, we may entertain the highest hopes of his future fame. With respect to the conduct of the Government, if Kars could have been saved by pen and ink it would not have fallen; but, while I say thus much, I must also bear my testimony to the manner in which Lord Clarendon supported the authority of General Williams. I will state to the House a circumstance which has not yet been mentioned, and which I think will show that the merits of General Williams, great as I believe them to be, were not unobserved by the Earl of Aberdeen, the head of the Government by which General Williams was sent on his mission to Kars. It was, I think, in the year 1843, when the noble Earl was at the head of the Foreign Office, that it became the duty of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs to select an officer for the important post of Commissioner to arrange the frontier between Turkey and Persia. My noble Friend endeavoured to ascertain from the corps of artillery if there were an officer of merit, science and distinction, to whom the duty might be entrusted; and after full inquiry the choice of the Government fell upon Colonel Williams. The conduct of Colonel Williams in the execution of the duty confided to him gave entire satisfaction both to the English and the Turkish Governments. My noble Friend, recollecting the services of Colonel Williams, when it became necessary to send a Commissioner to the Turkish army in Asia Minor, reccommended to Lord Clarendon to secure the services of Colonel Williams if possible; and Lord Clarendon, knowing the opinion of Lord Aberdeen to be a just 1839 one, with the concurrence of the Cabinet appointed the gallant officer. This was the course the Government took in the appointment of Colonel Williams. In addressing myself still further to the question of the conduct of the Government, I am sorry that I should have to speak in the absence of a Gentleman to whom I should wish to reply, while he was present; but, in truth, I had not intended to speak at this early hour, but I did not think it right to refuse the call which was made upon me by the House. I refer to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) who has made some severe observations in reference to Lord Aberdeen's Government. Now, Sir, I must say that it is extremely easy to kick a dead Lion, and, as the hon. Gentleman has been engaged, and honourably engaged, in researches connected with the ruins of departed greatness, I can quite imagine that he may now find it more profitable to defame a Minister out of office, and to offer incense at the shrine of the Minister in power. I say, Sir, that the comments of the hon. Gentleman on the Government of Lord Aberdeen are most unjust. The hon. Gentleman says that the Administration of Lord Aberdeen entirely overlooked the importance of the Asiatic frontier of Turkey, and the danger to Turkey of the advances of Russia in that direction. I must state in the outset that I think Lord Clarendon hardly dealt with when he is held responsible, individually and alone, for the military instructions that are contained in some of these despatches. Such directions were issued generally with the immediate concurrence of the Secretary of State for War, and after communication with the head of the Government. Now, Sir, I will not trouble the House with more extracts than I can help, but I must remind the House that the despatches to which I shall refer were written by the Earl of Clarendon as the organ of the Government, and I think that the statement of the hon. Gentleman that the Government of Lord Aberdeen was indifferent to the state of the Turkish army in Asia will fall to the ground. I will not refute that position by many extracts, but will confine myself to three. I would beg the House to remember the dates. The Duke of Newcastle left the Administration with Lord Aberdeen towards the end of January, 1855. In the preceding October Lord Clarendon wrote to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe—and it is consistent with my 1840 own knowledge that the despatch was written in concert with the Duke of Newcastle—in the following terms:—Her Majesty's Government have a direct interest in the effective state of this army (that is, the army of Kara and on the Asiatic frontier), as it is likely that military operations upon a large scale will be carried on in Asia next year; and they must therefore again insist upon the necessary measures being taken without delay.On the part, therefore, of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet, I must say that there was the earliest indication of foresight with reference to the probable course of military events in the early part of 1855. The date of the despatch is important; it is the 21st of October, 1854. It is immediately consequent upon the hope entertained confidently by Lord Raglan and Marshal Canrobert that the bombardment of Sebastopol, which was to take place on the 17th of October, would be successful, and it clearly shows that the policy of Lord Aberdeen's Government was that, if happily that bombardment should be successful, part of the allied forces would be directed on Asia. Here is the matter most in dispute between the hon. Gentleman and myself. Undoubtedly Her Majesty's Government—I believe the present as well as Lord Aberdeen's—did attach primary importance to the Crimean operations, and regarded as secondary, although most important, the military movements and events on the Asiatic frontier. The hon. Gentleman takes an opposite view. He thinks, I believe, that the operations in the Crimea were secondary to the movements on the Asiatic side; and therein differs on a point of strategy from the conclusions at which the Government arrived after giving the matter their most careful consideration, and consulting with those best qualified to advise them. That, however, is a question of judgment and opinion no way affecting the decision of the House upon the Motion now before it. But now I would ask attention, as a proof that the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Aberdeen's Government never departed from the view which they took with reference to the importance of the Asiatic frontier, to a despatch which, I think, was partially read by the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen. It is from Colonel Mundy to Lord Wodehouse, and is dated the 6th of November:—The Duke of Newcastle is of opinion that it will be found almost an impossibility for the English and French forces to co-operate with an army in the state in which the Turkish army in Asia is 1841 represented to be unless a complete change of system be effected. His Grace further directs me more especially to request that your Lordship will call Lord Clarendon's attention to the statements of Colonel Williams with regard to the arrears of pay due to the Turkish soldiers, and the evil results arising there from, not only causing distress and privation in the army, but encouraging desertion from its ranks; the want of clothing amongst the troops of all arms, and the absence of medicine for the sick, and want of properly qualified surgeons. His Grace is of opinion that an earnest and urgent representation should be made to the Porte, calling their attention to the several points adverted to by Colonel Williams, and expressing the expectation of Her Majesty's Government that some steps should be taken on their part to remedy this state of things; and should Lord Clarendon concur in the Duke of Newcastle's opinion, I am further to request that you will move his Lordship to send instructions accordingly to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople. Adverting to the statements of Colonel Williams in his despatch of the 24th of September, with regard to the inefficiency of the medical officers, his Grace would suggest that, in any instructions which may be addressed by Lord Clarendon to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe on this subject, he should be directed to inquire whether the Turkish Government would consent to place their hospitals at Kars and Erzeroum under the management of three or four English and French army surgeons, who might have power to dismiss any subordinates found incompetent, and might also have the whole control of providing a sufficient supply of medicines and instruments.The last extract to which I shall refer in connection with this matter occurs in a despatch dated the 11th of January, 1855, while Lord Aherdeen was still in office, which I know to have been written after communication with, and under the sanction of, the Duke of Newcastle. Referring to a despatch which had been received from Lord Stratford, it says—But this is all that has been done for the relief of the army, notwithstanding the repeated and urgent remonstrances of Her Majesty's Government, which are of a date long anterior to the departure of General Williams from this country. The Porte was well aware of the anxiety felt by Her Majesty's Government on this subject, and of the importance they attached to the army at Kars being in a fit state to take the field next spring: yet, knowing the necessity that General Williams should have rank in the Turkish army, in order to secure to him the respect and obedience required, not alone for the Sultan's interests, but for his position as the Queen's Commissioner, his diploma of Ferik has not yet been sent to him, nor does he appear to have been informed that the rank was conferred upon him.Here is an indication of the policy of the Government, and the measures of precaution they thought it expedient to take, officially communicated as early as January to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe—this documentary evidence proves beyond dispute, 1842 that neither the Duke of Newcastle nor Lord Aberdeen's Government, ever lost sight of the importance to be attached to the proper maintenance of the army at Kars, or of the necessity of active preparations for taking the field in Asia Minor in the course of the spring.
Coming more immediately to the subject now before us, I think, Sir, I shall rightly divide the subjects of blame imputed to the Government into two—first, it is said, that there being reason not to be altogether satisfied with the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, they failed to recall him; and, secondly, that they omitted to send aid to Kars in the summer of 1855. These appear to me the leading topics of attack, and, with the permission of the House, I will direct my attention to them consecutively.
And, first, with regard to the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. I agree with the Attorney General that it is impossible altogether to vindicate the earlier stage of these proceedings, particularly towards the end of 1854 and the commencement of 1855, the neglect to answer the letters of General Williams and to give him the full authority which was necessary to sustain him—whatever may be the cause, I think there can be no doubt that there was a misunderstanding between General Williams and Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, which was not conducive to the good of the public service. I am quite ready to make this statement; hut having made this admission, I think there are circumstances with reference to the past life and conduct of Lord Stratford which would have made it a fatal error on the part of Her Majesty's Government to recall him from Constantinople, owing to the course he had unfortunately adopted with regard to General Williams. It is said that he neglected to answer as many as sixty-one letters; but it appears that on one morning seventeen despatches arrived together, requiring probably only one answer. I will not, however, deal with the question in that manner. I have admitted that I think there were parts of the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe fairly reprehensible; but, on the other hand, I agree with the hon. and gallant Officer who spoke on the opposite side that there, perhaps, were defects in the original arrangements by which General Williams was sent as military Commissioner, placed more immediately under the orders and directions of Lord Raglan, and 1843 not so immediately under the control of the British Ambassador; probably, too, his powers and functions were not strictly defined with sufficient precision; and, under these circumstances, although it is certainly to be regretted, it was not very unnatural that, in the first instance, some misunderstanding should have arisen between Lord Stratford and General Williams. But I think the Government and the House are bound not to forget the eminent services rendered to his country by Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. Recollect how he stood as a sentinel, almost alone, opposing a constant front to the spirit of Russian aggression in that quarter, and to what was no less dangerous than Russian aggression—the corrupting influence of Russia in a capital where her seductions have not always been thrown away. Let me also remind the House of the influence acquired by Lord Stratford over the Turkish Government. He himself tells us of the corruption which prevails in every department of that Government, and let us not forget how his honesty and integrity have triumphed over the baleful influence, and to what noble purposes he has directed the ascendancy gained by honour and uprightness. The papers which have just been presented to Parliament show how successfully he has exerted himself in favour of the Christian subjects of the Sultan. I attribute mainly to the influence of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, constantly and nobly exerted, that hatti-sheriff which gives such important privileges to the Christian population in Turkey. It assures us that henceforth no subject of the Turk will be molested on account of his religious opinions, or punished on account of the abandonment of any faith which he shall renounce. What are these but terms of absolute religious toleration? and that hatti-sheriff, so important, is referred to by name in the treaty which has been laid on our table; it is the condition on which Turkey is admitted within the pale of civilised Europe; it will give to the European Powers, if it be not observed, either collectively or individually, a right of remonstrance and of active interference. If these things be considered, the full value of the boon will be better understood. More than that—I believe there was error in the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe in the earlier part of the transactions with General Williams; but will the House recollect, in justice to Lord Stratford, what 1844 were the efforts he made after the commencement of 1855? I believe he was earnest and unremitting in his exertions to obtain for General Williams every possible assistance from the Divan. Well, Sir, under all these circumstances, considering his ability, the length of his service, his conduct, his character, I am disposed to say that the Horatian maxim with regard to poetry is equally applicable to political services—Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis Offendar maculis, quas aut incuria fudit, Aut humana parum cavit natura.This accusation of not recalling Lord Stratford, I grant, more particularly applies to Lord Aberdeen's Government, because the offence was committed in the beginning of the year 1855, or at the close of the year 1854. But, if it be an error that Lord Stratford was not recalled, had I remained a Member of the present Administration I should have partaken of the councils of my colleagues, and I should have resisted to the utmost the recall of Lord Stratford. Therefore, on the first grounds to which I have referred, I feel it my duty to give my vote of approbation to Her Majesty's Government.
I come now to the second point—the omission of the Government to send aid to Kars in the summer of 1855. Now, upon this point it is impossible to overlook the earnest desire of the Turkish Government to send assistance to the army beleaguered at Kars, and more particularly I must advert to the reeommendation and conduct of Omar Pasha with reference to this subject. I think those hon. Gentlemen who have read the Minute of Omer Pasha must be of opinion that his abilities in council hardly fall short of his distinguished merits in the field. But, Sir, as opposed to this desire on the part of the Turkish Government, I have already stated that both the English and French Governments, though they attached infinite importance to the defence of Kars, as I think rightly, regarded that operation as altogether secondary to the capture of Sebastopol. That was the primary object, and it would have been folly and weakness to disregard the primary object in the hope of promoting or even carrying a second. Will the House bear in mind the precise time when Omar Pasha made his recommendation? It was after the 18th of June—a day ever memorable in the annals of this country, and not tarnished, as I contend, by the adverse 1845 occurrences of the 18th of June, 1855—still that day in that year is remarkable for the failure of a great military effort on the part both of the French and English armies, and it cannot be matter of surprise that after such an event the generals and admirals responsible for the safety of the united army should have hesitated in weakening the forces immediately present at that great military operation, the siege of Sebastopol. I do not think it has been read, but it appears to me very important that the letter of General Simpson with reference to the refusal of the wishes stated to them by Omar Pasha, to withdraw a portion of the forces then present under their combined command, should be brought to the recollection of the House. This letter is dated the 16th of July, about a month after the assault upon the Redan, and a considerable time before the brilliant success which carried the Malakoff and ended in the taking of Sebastopol. I will not trouble the House by reading the whole, but allow me to read a portion of this letter, which shows distinctly the views of the allied commanders upon this subject:—At a conference which was assembled at the French head-quarters on Saturday the 14th, at the request of Omar Pasha, and at which he, General Pelissier, General La Marmora, Vice-Admiral Sir K. Lyons, Vice-Admiral Bruat, Rear-Admiral Stuart, and myself were present, his Highness set forth his reasons and views on the subject in question; he also produced a very large sheet of paper, which contained, as he affirmed, the instructions of his Government; but, on being asked for a translation of which, he said that it would take a fortnight to make one. The arguments used by Omar Pasha were those set forth in the correspondence, and failed to produce any effect on the minds of the other members of the Conference, who all, without exception, entertain the strongest objection to the withdrawal of any troops from the Crimea at this moment.We have, therefore, the united opinion of all the admirals and all the generals that not only from Sebastopol and Balaclava, but from Kadikoi, Kertch, and Eupatoria, under the circumstances which then existed, it was not expedient to withdraw a single man. Omar Pasha, being dissatisfied with the decision, went to Constantinople to obtain a reversal of it, and General Simpson writes to Lord Stratford—I earnestly, therefore, beg your Excellency to use your powerful influence with the Porte to cause our opinion to prevail over that of his Highness; for great public interests are at stake, and serious consequences might result from his success.1846 Surely, Sir, in the face of that appeal we may well understand how very unwilling the Governments at Paris and at London must have been to reverse a decision, taken on the spot by the most competent authorities, by orders directly opposed to what on the spot was thought necessary, not only for the honour and success, but absolutely for the safety of the forces there employed. It must not be concealed from the House, and it has not been concealed—as I think rightly—by the responsible Ministers of the Crown, that there was a great indisposition on the part of the French Government to favour any operations elsewhere until success at Sebastopol had been obtained. It may be a matter of question whether that disinclination was not carried to excess; still, in operations of such delicacy and difficulty, it will be a bold measure if the House of Commons, for the sake of an hypothetical result, pass condemnation on the Government, upon the exercise of its discretion in very nice, trying, and difficult circumstances. Again, let us see what the great master of the art of war in our time—the Duke of Wellington—says on a point of this nature. General Cooke held a command at Cadiz; the Duke was commanding on the banks of the Douro, and, in one of his instructions he said,—"It is inexpedient to give peremptory orders from a distance. I would not do it. I would not gladly, if they were given to me, submit to them." I do not stand here to say that mistakes have not boon committed—I do not believe that gentlemen on the Treasury bench, considering the large extent covered by these transactions, will be prepared to say that no errors have been committed—it is impossible that in such immense transactions some oversights should not occur. I say frankly, I think there was too much of telegraphic communications and telegraphic orders. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen in disapproving that particular telegraphic despatch, which gave peremptory orders to abandon Kars and Erzeroum and fall back upon Trebizond; and if recommendations were to be conveyed by telegraph at all, I should not have sanctioned any other recommendation to General Simpson than to "remember Kars." That was not the instruction, but, perhaps, the end would have been much happier had it been so. Still, I am bound to say that, whatever those instructions may have been, it was quite open to 1847 the Government to yield to the strong representations made by the commanders of the allied forces, and not allow any detachments to be sent from the Crimea. I cannot but express the sympathy which I—in common, I believe, with every Member of the House—feel for the sufferings of General Williams, and my admiration of his conduct. It is heartrending to read some of these despatches. He says that he thought his army was left doomed to destruction, that he was absolutely forgotten, that his position was isolated and neglected; and yet, while he felt the neglect, his manly and noble spirit, nothing daunted, persevered in spite of every disappointment. Hope even was dead within him, yet did not that spirit so entirely fail that he was unwilling to meet the enemy to whom he was opposed with only three of his countrymen by his side, and lead a Turkish army, under circumstances of unexampled distress and difficulty, to almost unexampled victory. There may be many things to regret in the war now happily closed, but do not let us, under any circumstances, cease to be proud of the noble conduct of a handful of our countrymen on two occasions of almost equal danger and difficulty. I look in vain to the annals of modern warfare for a parallel to the defence of Silistria or Kars—both in the main, owing to the courage, the skill, the constancy, and the example of British officers—leading to that triumphant success which, when we come to confer with him who was our enemy, and is now, I hope, our friend—long may he continue to be so!—I mean the Russian—he will tell us that the defence of Silistria and Kars rendered the English name, with which these exploits were associated, illustrious and ever memorable in the annals of this war. I said it was heartrending to think what General Williams must have endured. Here is a trifling instance. When the honour of the second class of the Bath is conferred upon him, we hear that he receives it with a faint smile, for in truth the hope of that noble heart is well nigh broken. I may be wrong in expressing my opinion, but I do not think, as yet, the gratitude of this country to that distinguished man has been sufficiently marked. The second class of the Bath is a proud distinction; but I cannot think his services are rightly measured by that distinction. The thanks of Parliament, considering the ultimate failure of the defence of Kars, cannot, according to precedent, be given, but if my noble Friend 1848 will advise Her Majesty, the fountain of all grace and favour to the military profession, to confer some solid mark, in which we may partake, in reward of the services of General Williams, I do not believe there is a man in this House who will not hail it with satisfaction.
Now, Sir, I shall be asked, am I then prepared to say that no errors were committed? I have already admitted that some errors were committed; and I have concurred in the suggestion that medical and pecuniary aid ought to have been given; it will now be my duty to point out others. I have read a despatch of the Duke of Newcastle, in which it is suggested that medical aid might be afforded to the army at Kars and that pecuniary assistance might be given: this brings me to the question of pecuniary assistance. And here I confess I think that some blame is due to the Government. It will be, perhaps, contended, that I and some of my colleagues of Lord Aberdeen's Government who left office, after having accepted it under the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) were opposed to the Turkish loan. It is true; but this is not the occasion to argue that question over again. But before I left Lord Aberdeen's Government, and ever since, I have been opposed to the system of subsidies and loans. I remember that injunction, which is as sound as it is poetical, and quite as applicable to nations as to individuals:—No lender be,For loan oft loses both itself and friend.I was opposed, also, to the joint and several liability involved in this particular loan; and I had the greatest objection to the mortgage of Egypt. I still retain those objections. I do think—I hope I may be wrong—that grave discussions may yet arise out of that transaction between the French and English Governments. But I never was opposed, and I do not think that any rational man would be opposed to giving pecuniary assistance. Differing as I do from the Member for Aylesbury on some points, yet I agree with him in one, and I do think that a credit might have been given to General Williams, either upon our Ambassador at Constantinople or upon the Treasury in England for a moderate amount, say, for the sum of £100,000 or £200,000, and that for that sum the army at Kars might have been supplied with all the provisions necessary. I am also of opinion with the hon. and 1849 learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside), that if a few hundred cavalry had been sent to Kars, they would, as General Williams says, in describing his brilliant victory, have enabled him to destroy the Russian army. Again, I think, that although General Williams had guns in sufficient quantity, yet that when he asked for a few hundred artillerymen and cavalry they might have been sent to him from Constantinople. I cannot but believe that in the early part of the summer of 1855, without detaching any troops from the Crimea, there might have been sent from Constantinople to Erzeroum some assistance—some force which would have produced great results in the Asiatic campaign, and which, combined with the advance of a small sum of money, would have exercised great influence in the fortunes of the war. Here is another point upon which I have a strong opinion. If it were inexpedient to weaken the force on the plateau in front of Sebastopol, still there were no insuperable objections to meeting the wishes of Omar Pasha and allowing him to withdraw from that position the Turkish veterans he was accustomed to command, and supplying their place by the Turkish Contingent. It may be said, that the latter troops were not sufficiently disciplined; but the House will pardon me if I again refer to the highest authority—the Duke of Wellington. He had experience in these matters. When in Portugal he had to use similar troops constantly, when they were very imperfectly disciplined, and he has put upon record in his own pithy manner a dictum which the House will allow me to read. It refers to the effect of long training and discipline upon such troops compared with their being well paid, well fed, and well cared for, and it shows that these attentions go much further in rendering troops effective in the field than any amount of training. The Duke is writing of Spanish troops when put under British officers. He says—The Spanish troops do not want discipline, if by discipline is meant instruction, so much as they do a system of order, which can only be founded on regular pay and food and good care and clothing.Now, the Turkish Contingent had had these advantages for some time, and my own judgment would be that, at that time, when the question of withdrawing the Turkish troops from Balaklava was agitated, their place might have been advantageously and sufficiently supplied by 1850 the Turkish Contingent so officered. The Duke goes on to say—These British officers could not give them, and, notwithstanding that the Portuguese are now the fighting cocks of the army, I believe we owe their merits more to the care we hare taken of their pockets and bellies than to the instruction we have given them.Showing that the opinion of the Duke of Wellington was, that the want of instruction and long training with reference to the efficiency of foreign armies is radically, to a considerable extent, supplied by British pay, feeding, and care. The Turkish Contingent having had these advantages might, I think, have been sent up to Balaklava, so as to have liberated the troops of Omar Pasha, without any danger to the service. And, Sir, there is no use in not very frankly stating my full opinion to the House, since they are so indulgent as to listen to me. I have another objection to take to the management of these transactions, which I think is not altogether unfounded, but it is of a somewhat delicate character. I am bound to say, that with every desire to maintain the French alliance in its full integrity, and to run no risk of a misunderstanding with that country—especially as I am bound to admit that the Emperor of that great nation has acted with constant fidelity and with a degree of good faith and firmness that entitles him to the gratitude of this country; yet I cannot but think that too much was conceded to the prejudices which, I must say, were not well founded on the part of our French Allies. After Sebastopol had fallen, and after Kars had fallen, there was the Turkish Government displaying an earnest, natural, and anxious desire to withdraw a portion of their army from the Crimea, and to occupy Trebizond without delay, in order to prevent the danger of the further advance of the Russian army. Now, observe what took place. As late as the 14th of December, Lord Stratford writes to the Earl of Clarendon to say:—I learn from M. de Thouvenal that permission has at length arrived from Paris for Marshal Pelissier to assent to the departure of the Egyptian infantry at Eupatoria for Trebizond. I am informed, however, that the Turkish commander had declared his determination to embark the troops without waiting for any further communication.This bears incidentally upon a part of the case of the Government. They have been blamed for adhering to the view taken by General Williams himself, and preferring 1851 the proposed advance from Batoum to the operation recommended by Omar Pasha, with Souchum-Kaleh for its base. The local knowledge of the hon. Member for Aylesbury has made this perfectly intelligible, and he has shown that in the early part of the summer the road from Trebizond or Batoum was more direct in a military point of view, and more suitable except for artillery. But after Sebastopol had fallen, the question was, whether a portion of the Turkish army ought not to evacuate the Crimea and go to Trebizond. Hear what Sir William Codrington, our Commander in Chief says, with reference to this subject. Writing on the 10th of December, he says:—I wrote to Marshal Pelissier in the general tone of your letter, expressing; to him the great object it seemed to be to get the Turkish troops to Trebizond, and that, if done at all, it should be done at once, and offering my assistance, if I could, by communications with our navy, to further this object. His answer was, that he could not consent to their leaving Eupatoria without the express sanction of the Emperor of the French.That is to say, that the opinion formed by the General Commanding in Chief, backed by the earnest desire of the Turkish Government, was dependent on the will of the Emperor at Paris, communicated by telegraph. This is delicate ground; but I speak with every desire to show the utmost deference to the Emperor of the French. Lord Stratford writes, saying, "The Turks are sadly mortified by the embargo which appears to have been laid on the Egyptian troops at Eupatoria." In my opinion, that feeling of soreness and disappointment was both natural and well-founded.
But, I may be asked, "Why, if you find these faults, do you not vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen?" That is a fair question, and I will proceed to answer it. I will first take the Amendment of my hen. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. K. Seymer). If the previous Question had been moved at an early stage of the discussion, I do not know whether, with the view I take, I should not have voted for it. But since the discussion has been opened, I cannot regard the Amendment of my hon. Friend exactly in the light of a Motion for the previous Question; although it is a reasonable Amendment, asking, not that no verdict shall be ultimately pronounced, but that there shall be delay in pronouncing it; and he asks for delay upon the assumption that we are 1852 ignorant of the protocols and of the terms of the treaty of peace, and that we ought to be made acquainted with them, and to consider them before we pronounce a verdict. With respect to the original Motion, I cannot regard the question which it raises as an abstract question; even if I did so regard it, I could not bring myself—it may be from prejudice, it may be from kindly feeling towards old friends—to say, as an abstract proposition, that I think Lord Aberdeen and Lord Clarendon deficient in foresight, or Lord Palmerston deficient in energy. But this is not an abstract question; it must be regarded with reference both to circumstances and to time. Now, with regard to circumstances, I think there was great truth and justice in the opinion pronounced by an impartial and intelligent spectator (General Mansfield), He says that the causes of the fall of Kars are quite obvious. He says that it was necessary, until Sebastopol had been taken, to keep concentrated in front of Sebastopol every English, every French, every Sardinian, every Turkish soldier that could be obtained; that the campaigns in the Crimea and on the Asiatic frontier, including Kars, must be regarded as a whole; that the centre and key of the entire operation was Sebastopol, to which Kars, however important, was but secondary; and that the result of the campaign was not at all surprising: we succeeded at the point where our united energies were concentrated, and we failed at the extremity to which we could not direct any assistance. General Mansfield adds, that he had predicted the result; but that the gallant feat of arms by which Kars was enabled to hold out prevented the advance of the Russian army one yard further than Kars, and that if Sebastopol had not fallen we should, this spring, in consequence of the defence of Kars, have opened the campaign in Asia with the brightest prospects.
Then, in considering this Motion, time is not to be disregarded. I do not wish to anticipate the discussion upon the articles of peace, but I cannot forget that peace is ratified, that it was proclaimed yesterday, that it is on the table, and that we are cognisant of its terms; and, looking at those terms, I must say that, in my humble judgment, all the objects, the principal objects of the war, have been fully achieved, and that the peace is honourable to the country. Without wasting the time of the House by entering at 1853 any length into this subject, I must give them a short summary of the terms we have obtained. The Principalities—the occupation of which by Russia was the proximate cause of the war—are rescued from the grasp of Russia; to them is added the half of Bessarabia; the fort of Ismail, long occupied by Russia, and which had been wrested by that Power from Turkey, is restored to the Principalities; the navigation of the Danube is henceforth free, guaranteed by Europe; the commerce of the Euxine is opened to the world; the Russian fleet in the Euxine is annihilated; no military arsenals on the coast of the Euxine, no military fortresses on its eastern shore which have been destroyed are to be rebuilt; the standing menace to Sweden—Bomarsund and the Aland Isles—is not again to be fortified; the standing menace to Turkey—Sebastopol—is in ruins; Kars, the very subject we are now discussing, is restored to the Turks without an equivalent; the aggressive aggrandising spirit of Russia is arrested; the independence and integrity of Turkey are secured under the guarantee and panoply of Europe. These are the leading conditions of peace, and there—pointing to the Ministerial benches—are the Ministers who have conducted the war to a prosperous conclusion, and have secured that peace. I have no blind partiality for Her Majesty's Government—I have censured wherever I thought censure was due; but, I must say, I think it would be ungenerous and unjust to the Administration which has conducted the war to an honourable conclusion, upon such a day as this, under circumstances such as I have feebly described, to declare that it is altogether unworthy of the confidence of the country and has failed in foresight and energy. For these reasons I shall neither vote for the Amendment nor for the Motion. I shall meet with a direct negative the vote of censure.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle has this night tempered justice with mercy. He has spoken against Ministers, and he intends to vote for them. I have little fault to find with the right hon. Gentleman's statements—he seems to have put, with considerable force and Parliamentary experience, the main points that tell against the Ministers; but, remembering that they were once his colleagues and are still his friends, he says that he will resist the irresistible inference, that on this occasion they are to blame. They are, in the opinion 1854 of the right hon. Gentleman, sinners in the concrete, but abstractedly considered, they are innocent. Sir, we have just terminated a great war, and just concluded an important peace; and during that space of time an event has occurred which, in the view of many persons, has exercised a powerful influence on public affairs, and which, even if it had not exerted that influence, has been attended with circumstances which enlist the deepest sympathy of the people of this country. There has been an heroic exhibition of all those virtues and qualities which Englishmen appreciate and honour; there is a prevalent belief that men distinguished by all those qualities and virtues have been deserted by the Government; and now, after a wise forbearance, due to the state of the country and to the embarrassing duties of the Administration, a forbearance which reflects credit on this House, because the attention of Parliament is called to those circumstances, and because we presume in the House of Commons to discuss this question, which for a long period has touched the hearts and occupied the hearths of the whole country, an imputation of faction is brought against us. In this House, which if it wishes to have any claim on public regard and respect would find that claim most surely in quick sympathy with the sentiment out of doors—in this House, because we have presumed to touch a question of national interest, we are told that we are taking a part that faction only could inspire, and selfish and sordid sentiments only could have prompted. Before the main business of this night commences, the Member for some Scotch burgh—Greenock, I believe—rises, and says that this debate is only continued for the sake of a few speeches, and that it is entirely a factious movement. Is that the opinion of the people of England? Whatever may be the decision at which we may ultimately arrive, is there a man in this country who does not feel that the siege and fall of Kars ought, and deserve to be, the subject of Parliamentary discussion? It is not only one Scotch Member who presumes to give this opinion on the conduct of the House of Commons. The House still echoes with the plaintive oration of the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Craufurd); and what is the cause of his addressing such language as he did to Gentlemen on this (the Opposition) side of the House? What is his grievance? His reason against the continuance of this debate 1855 is, that he will thereby be prevented from introducing a Bill. And what is the history of that Bill? Some fortnight ago another golden opportunity was lost by that hon. and learned Gentleman. He says he seized that opportunity—that he came down eager to expound his legislative opinions; but unfortunately there was no House. Really I do not think that there is any great grievance for the hon. Member to complain of. He had had his chance; he has appealed to an impartial tribunal—to his own countrymen—and the Member who has a Bill to introduce, and who has not influence to make a House, has no great right to complain of the resumption of an adjourned debate. But there is a third Member for Scotland, who represents the capital of that country (Mr. Cowan), who also steps forward to complain of us. The hon. Gentleman is, no doubt, entitled to notice, because he is the successor, and I believe, the successful rival, of one of the greatest ornaments of British literature, and formerly one of the greatest ornaments of this House—Mr. Macaulay. He declares all this discussion to be vain and worthless, and says it is only an assault on the Treasury bench. Does he mean to say that there is in the city of Edinburgh, which, by some strange anomaly, he represents, such a total want of sympathy with all that has happened at Kars—with those wild and romantic incidents which will be remembered when the war itself is forgotten, and when this treaty of peace is a time-worn and dusty document—does he mean to say that there is in that city such an absence of sympathy with the gallant Williams and his brave associates—with all those heroic achievements which form the subject of discussion this night? Does he represent faithfully the feeling of his constituents when he says that any discussion on this subject is vain, futile, and selfish? Sir, I have a higher opinion of the educated, intelligent, and accomplished inhabitants of the modern Athens. I do not believe that the hon. Member on this point faithfully represents his constituents: I am sure that our discussion of this subject will be read in that city with the deepest interest, and will be judged with the severest criticism. But, unfortunately, it is not only of such small deer as these vituperative Members of the sister kingdom that we have to complain to-night. A Cabinet Minister, whose speech, I am bound to say (as he spoke of contrast), most favourably 1856 contrasted with the speech of another Member of the Cabinet in this debate, because he did justice to the subject before us, and because he at least admitted its importance, described this Motion as simply an attempt to upset the Ministry. I think he should not have touched on that point. I think it becomes the House of Commons to have some more clear idea of the position of an Opposition in this country, and of the duties it has to fulfil, than appears to be prevalent among some hon. Gentlemen, and even right hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial bench. It appears to me that the first duty of an Opposition is to vindicate its principles, whenever they deem it necessary and convenient, and to assert them without the slightest reference to what may be the consequences of a division. I think, in the second place, that it is the paramount and peremptory duty of an Opposition to offer its criticisms on public affairs, when they think that the conduct of the Ministry demands observation, without the slightest reference to the consequences of a division. If the duty of an Opposition is only to be tested by the success which upsets a Ministry, it is very easy to see that the sphere of opposition must become very limited; and no doubt that is a theory very agreeable to a Ministry, from whatever party selected. To say that opposition is only to be justified by a division sufficiently successful to upset a Ministry, is to lower political conduct to a selfish and sordid standard. It is telling the people of this country that their Parliament is not to be an assembly where the relative merits of different principles of government are to be discussed and debated; where the pulse of the nation is to be felt; and where even the passions of the people are to be represented; but that it is to be a clever, well-organised, mechanical assembly, where nothing is to be considered but selfish consequences and the mere personal ambition of the individuals who are fortunate enough to obtain a seat in it, and where the possession of power and the disposition of patronage are to be, in fact, the sole objects held in view. It is not so that I have understood the character of Parliament; it is not so that I have conceived the duties of Opposition. There is a ready answer for a Minister to a captious and factious Opposition. He will appeal, and, generally speaking, not without success, to the independent feeling of this House, and if he is not supported 1857 here he will appeal without fear to the country. But so long as we represent—whether our opinions be erroneous or not—a great force of public opinion on any question which may be brought forward, it is our duty to express it and to invite discussion upon it; so long as we vindicate, though we be a minority—and it is the necessary consequence of our Parliamentary system that an Opposition should be a minority—the principles of Government and the policy which we think right, we are fulfilling our duty, and not all the swagger of a Minister, not all the flippant taunts of his followers, will deter us from taking that course which we believe to be founded on right and justice. Nor will any majority, however accidentally gained, deprive discussion of its consequences nor prevent the force of truth—if truth be on the side of our opinions—ultimately prevailing.
It is thought, and justly thought, to be a very great inconvenience to have to address you, Sir, at the end of a long and protracted debate. Every document which has been referred to as an oracle on the first night of debate has lost its inspiration in the course of the speeches which have been delivered. Every paper, which was scarcely understood when first introduced to the notice of the House, has become worn and familiar when three or four nights of discussion have intervened; all the arguments which are obvious after having been put forward in every variety of form have become obsolete. There is not an opinion which can be enforced, if it is just, which has not been examined, and all that is left to one who addresses you under these circumstances is the dreary duty of repetition. There is, however, a countervailing advantage, which, were I as dexterous as the right hon. Member for Carlisle, I would make greater use of than unfortunately my abilities will allow me. There is this to be said, that when we come to the conclusion of a debate the circumstances of the discussion have taken the relative positions of importance which they must ultimately occupy, but which when it commences they unfortunately never can occupy; details which are of great import when the debate is opened find their proper position in men's minds as it proceeds, and at the end we have this advantage, that we see the real question at issue divested of all those extraneous circumstances which masses of documents and the ingenuity 1858 of speakers have cast around it; and we have therefore the opportunity of addressing the House, as briefly as I shall endeavour to do on the present occasion.
What is the real point which we have to decide upon? The right hon. Gentleman who has addressed the House with so much art (Sir James Graham) has said that the subject under discussion may be divided under two heads—the conduct of the Ambassador, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and the subsequent conduct of the Government in the summer of 1855. These, he says, are the two points which we have to consider in calculating what may have been the causes which led to the fall of Kars. With great respect to the right hon. Baronet, I cannot agree with him in that division of his. I do not consider that the conduct of the Ambassador is a moiety—certainly not a principal moiety—of the subject. Let us look a little at this question of the conduct of the Ambassador—because the observations of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen on this part of the subject have been very much misunderstood. I draw from them inferences quite the reverse of those which were drawn by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle. When the fall of Kars was first known in this country—I speak of circumstances notorious, I am sure, to Members on both sides of the House—there was undoubtedly an instantaneous feeling of sorrow and indignation in the public mind. I hardly ever remember an occasion when our troops had not been engaged and when our own immediate interests—interests, at least, which the mass of the population would look upon as immediate—were not affected, on which the feeling excited was so deep, so prompt, and so instantaneous. What happened? Mysterious whispers were heard from those who knew it was impossible to deny the nature and consequences of the catastrophe, and who, feeling how disgraceful and injurious the event must be to the Government, were anxious to palliate it as much as possible. It was darkly said, that if we only knew the truth we should find that the Government were perfectly blameless, that there was another influence at work which had produced all the mischief. For a considerable time, in a most powerful and consistent manner, by the most able machinery, the public mind was kept quiet by the intimation that there would at last be a revelation—that it would at last be known—what was the 1859 criminal influence which had caused the sad disaster, but that we must wait for a time before the scapegoat could be indicated. At last the fact was published, and the scapegoat was indicated by the same machinery. Every means—I will not say which a Government can influence, because we know that all Governments are totally uninfluential—a Government never influences anybody nor anything—but every means which power, ingenuity, and some feeling of despair could command was set to work to prove that it was the Ambassador at Constantinople who was the real cause of the disaster. Some days before this Blue-book was published we were told that sixty-two despatches, addressed to the Ambassador by Colonel Williams, had remained unanswered, and the people of England were asked whether an Ambassador who left sixty-two despatches unanswered on so important a subject had not betrayed his country? In this way public indignation was excited against Lord Stratford, and there was one of those strong but premature verdicts pronounced against him which are often as unjust as they are precipitate. I am not here to vindicate the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe with respect to General Williams. My hon. and learned Friend does not bring Lord Stratford's conduct before the House to be branded by its verdict. Look at the Resolution. What reference is there in it to that part of the subject? My hon. and learned Friend was neither able nor willing to defend the conduct of Lord Stratford to General Williams, but in this volume, which contains all the "confidential" correspondence between Lord Stratford and the Government, there is a passage which my hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire said he could not believe though he had read it, in which the Secretary of State complains that he has appealed often and often in vain, and continues to appeal in vain, to the Ambassador. But as all the correspondence is placed before the House—much of which it was not necessary to place before us, according to the view now supported by the Government—and an Amendment was placed on the paper by an hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. J. G. Phillimore) who sits behind the noble Lord, which, if it had any object at all—there certainly are people who have no object in life, and for aught I know the Member for Leominster may be one of them—was meant to divert the storm from the heads of the Ministry, and to direct it on the 1860 head of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside) was forced to go into the question of the conduct of Lord Stratford towards General Williams. The Government having placed the whole of that correspondence upon the table and challenged discussion, it was impossible to avoid giving an opinion upon the conduct of that minister, and I defy any person of a generous disposition, or who has a due regard to the public service of this country, to avoid expressing such opinion with the utmost frankness. The conduct of Lord Stratford, as shown by the documents which Her Majesty's Government have placed upon the table, was indefensible. But the argument of my hon. and learned Friend—an argument in which I perfectly concur—a constitutional argument, and, like all constitutional arguments, a just and generous one—is this. If Lord Stratford has sinned so grievously, and you did not recall him, therefore you, and you alone, are responsible for his conduct. It was the unnecessary placing on the table of the whole of this correspondence with regard to Lord Stratford and Mr. Commissioner Williams which forced us to form the opinion which my hon. and learned Friend has frankly and fully expressed. My hon. and learned Friend refuses to include Lord Stratford in the Motion which he asks the House to adopt, because the Government, by not recalling the Ambassador, has made itself responsible for his conduct. I am not surprised that a Cabinet Minister has, in a manner becoming one who occupies such a position, sanctioned and adopted that constitutional theory. Why, Sir, if there are any principles which ought to regulate us in our observations on public men, they are the two principles never to permit an attack to be made upon a particular Minister when we believe that the whole Cabinet is responsible for his conduct—a species of attack which I have ever resisted, and which I hope I shall never sanction—and never to allow that any person employed in the service of Her Majesty abroad—however outrageous, however iniquitous, however ruinous, in our opinion, his conduct may be—whether he be Governor, Ambassador, or General—is guilty so long as he is not recalled by Her Majesty's Government. I suppose the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) will concur with me that these are the principles which ought to guide our conduct. But, Sir, I cannot agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. 1861 Graham) that the conduct of Lord Stratford is by any means an important portion of the subject under discussion. It is not touched in the Resolution. [Sir J. GRAHAM: The non-recall of Lord Stratford.] But the non-recall of Lord Stratford is not referred to in this Resolution. I think the question is of a much simpler kind. Somewhat more than a year ago that happened to the Government of Lord Aberdeen which the President of the Board of Control (Mr. V. Smith) says we want to do to the present Government; it was "upset." There is not the slightest wish to "upset" the present Government here. We are not the men for that. If we wanted to "upset" a Government, we should seek an artist on some of the benches behind the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston). We are plain men, quite content to assert our opinions and vindicate our principles. We are so silly sooth, that we actually express in our Resolutions that which we say in our speeches. But, Sir, rather more than a year ago the hand of a very fine artist "upset" (as the President of the Board of Control says) the Government of Lord Aberdeen. We had no idea that that Government was going to be "upset." We thought it was "a strong Government"—the strongest which this country ever possessed; and I suppose had there not been in the Cabinet one who was equal to the occasion it never would have been "upset." Let me remind the House what was the ground on which the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell) left that Cabinet and sealed its doom. It was frankly expressed. The noble Lord found fault with the conduct of the war; and mainly, specifically, particularly, and precisely with the conduct of the war in Asia. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Layard) had made a speech upon that subject, which reminds me that the hon. Member said the other night that he had been continually bringing the war in Asia before the House, and asked us why we had not supported him—in fact, spoke of us in language almost as contumelious as that of the Scotch Members to-night. I will take this opportunity of saying, on the part of myself and my Friends, that we are quite unconscious of the laches of which the hon. Gentleman has accused us. I perfectly recollect that the hon. Member for Aylesbury was in the habit of giving notices of Motions upon almost every night of the Session; but at this moment I have 1862 no recollection—my memory may possibly betray me—but I have no recollection that he ever brought forward one of those Motions. Constant visions I have of excited Houses called together to hear the revelations of the hon. Gentleman, and almost equally constant ones of occasions on which—of course prompted by the most patriotic motives—he felt it his duty not to embarrass Her Majesty's Government. That the hon. Member did once make a speech on the war in Asia there is, I believe, historic evidence, because that speech threw into a musing mood the noble Lord the Member for London, and made him contemplate the position of his Cabinet, and his responsibility to his country; and it was that speech, like the first move in the "House that Jack built," which ultimately upset the Government of Lord Aberdeen. Now, Sir, why was the Government of Lord Aberdeen destroyed? It was because he did not efficiently conduct, because he entirely neglected, the war in Asia. Well, that—to use an expression lately adopted from the German—is the "standing point" of this question. We have been told several times in the course of this discussion that we must look to dates. I will look to dates. At the end of January, 1855, the Government of Lord Aberdeen is destroyed by one of Lord Aberdeen's colleagues, who, of course, acted under some sense of responsibility, because he neglected the war in Asia. If you look to dates, you will find that about the same time General Williams was made a Turkish officer of the highest rank, was invested with the ferik, and, judging by his expressions, was evidently contented with his position, and felt that at last he could accomplish all that he desired, and could achieve those great result, which from the first he saw with so clear a ken were to be attained. Therefore, we started the year with great advantages. We had a Government formed expressly to carry on with efficiency this neglected war in Asia, and at that very time all these squabbles, jealousies, and misunderstandings with Lord Stratford—the evil effects of which I do not depreciate, but most earnestly deplore, and think that they ought to be visited on Lord Stratford, and to which I think he cannot look back without regret and remorse—were terminated. We started, then, with this new Government under a happy though most fortuitous combination of circumstances—we had a Prime Minister—a modern Chatham—determined to carry 1863 on with vigour the war in Asia, and all these local misunderstandings with which the Government of Lord Aberdeen had to struggle, and which would have been some excuse for them, had been terminated. General Williams was in a powerful position, recognised by the Turkish authorities, invested with great powers, content, sanguine, determined to do his duty, and looking only to the Gentlemen opposite to support him, and to give him an opportunity of attaining those great objects, which, had he been supported, his bold spirit, his mind, so fertile in expedients and resources, would undoubtedly have enabled him to accomplish. If that be a true representation of the position of affairs—and that it is so is proved by your own documents on the table—I have a right to ask what did you (the Government) do? Talk to me no more of Lord Stratford! I admit all that. I admit that his conduct was, as stated by my hon. and learned Friend, indefensible. I think he may read these debates with profit. With regard to him I will agree to anything except the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore), of which it appears he himself is now ashamed, and which was unjust, unconstitutional, and unsupported by evidence—yet I am told that it was at one time sanctioned by a very great authority. It would have been a disgrace to the House of Commons. But now I ask you—you who were formed as a Government to conduct the war with effect and to prevent the continuance of this shameful negligence of the Asian army—you who had the advantage of acting with a man who had been put in an intelligible, powerful, and satisfactory position—I ask what did yon do for carrying on the war in Asia with effect—what did you do for him? This is a question which appears to me to be a very proper one for the consideration of the House of Commons, and I believe that the people of Edinburgh are of the same opinion. I believe that it is much more important that that question should be discussed, that some satisfactory conclusion of this involved controversy should be arrived at, that some determinate opinion should be expressed on this matter, than that the Bill of the hon. Member for Ayr, which the House would not meet to consider, should be introduced. Well, what did you do for General Williams? Did you assist him with men? That is the most extraordinary feature in this case. We have 1864 been told that this debate has been prolonged for factious purposes, and that it is quite unnecessary that there should be any speeches upon a subject which is so insignificant and so petty. Nay, but this is a great question, and one in which the honour of the country is deeply involved. Did you assist General Williams; and, if so, when? You did not do it. What plea did you urge for your omission? We have been told that you had it not in your power to do so. I protest that, had I not myself heard this excuse from the lips of Ministers of the Crown, and from those of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle—I say nothing of the other Members who, like mocking birds, repeated the words of those high authorities—I should have found it difficult to believe that any man of position would have had the courage to stand up in his place and use such language. We have been assured that we were so engaged in the Crimea, that all the energies of the nation were so concentrated on Sebastopol, and that the stake was so great, the conflict so arduous, that we could not venture on undertaking any other enterprise. That the stake was great I freely confess; that the energies exerted were no greater than the occasion demanded, events have testified; that mighty efforts were required to be made even by the leading nations who were embarked in the struggle is beyond all controversy; but what armies were assembled on that remote peninsula? France was there, Imperial France; England was there, free and patriotic England; you had by your side the Turkish army, a gallant band whose valour had been proved on many a well-contested field; you had brought from the north of Italy a body of men, dauntless and intrepid, for whom I trust that the glorious destiny is yet reserved of exercising a high and salutary influence on the fortunes of their country; and, not content with these assembled hosts, yon had entered into conventions, enabling Austria to call to the banks of the Danube all the chivalry of Hungary and of Bohemia to protect your interests in Wallachia and Moldavia. You were five nations allied in a common cause—England, France, Turkey, Sardinia, Austria. That you were playing a high game and that a great stake was at hazard before Sebastopol I do not for one moment dispute. But was there not another power who had also a great stake in that mighty 1865 fortress? Had not Russia everything at stake in Sebastopol? And did she not prove how deeply and how tenaciously she felt its importance and value? Now that peace has been concluded, we can afford to speak of Russia with the respect and admiration due to the prowess, the valour, and the foresight of which she gave such abundant evidence throughout the recent contest. Russia, I repeat, had everything at slake in Sebastopol. Her pledge was as grave—her interest in the fate of the struggle as momentous as it is possible for language to describe. Yet Russia could at the same moment defend Sebastopol and invade Asia Minor. And now we are to be told that the combination of two such enterprises exceeded our Powers! What a tribute to our country! What a compliment to our great and faithful ally! What an encouragement for these rising Sardinians! What an animating reflection for Turkey in her future conflicts with the Czar, to tell her that the banded nations of Europe made common cause against Sebastopol, and that Russia, unaided and alone, not only baffled them for a year, but sent an army of diversion to Kars, while you could not afford 900 men to General Williams! I will not believe that we are so fallen that the House of Commons will tolerate such a defence. I tell you that you ought to have sent forces to Asia Minor—however grave the responsibility that devolved on you—however great the stake for which you were contending—however arduous the difficulties that encompassed you. Yes, even though you had not had these true and gallant Allies by your side—even though you had stood against Russia single-handed and alone at Sebastopol, it still would have been your duty to have sent assistance to General Williams in Asia Minor. What did General Williams ask? We have upon the table of this House a despatch from that heroic officer, written about the time when the Ministry of the modern Chatham was formed on the principle of carrying on with vigour the war in Asia Minor. I believe I am correct in stating that that despatch bears the date of the very day on which the noble Lord took his seat as First Minister of the Crown. In that most interesting document General Williams gave you an estimate of the forces necessary not only to secure his communication with Erzeroum, and the coast, but also to destroy the Russian army in those regions, It was no such extravagant calculation— 1866 he asked for 20,000 men. Yet this assistance could not be granted. While you were besieging Sebastopol, with the aid of half the nations of Europe, we are to be told that with all the resources of England as completely at his command as if he had been an autocrat, with an enthusiastic nation ready to pour their treasure into his exchequer, the noble Lord at the head of the Government could not afford to send 20,000 men to the relief of the beleaguered garrison in Armenia! It exceeds belief. Say, if you choose, that as a matter of high policy you did not think it necessary to interfere; say, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said last night, who, with all the force of a most logical reasoner, laid it down that the fall of Kars was not an event of any military or political importance—say that or anything like it, and, however the facts of the case may be, you will at least have a plausible case for argument; but, in the name of common sense, and if you would not insult the intellect of the House, do not ask us to believe that you were prevented from vindicating a great principle of policy in Asia Minor, because, forsooth, your energies were concentrated on Sebastopol.
Sir, on the treaty of peace which the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) thinks so satisfactory I shall express no opinion, except to say in general terms that peace is a great blessing where war has been carried on so inefficiently; and that for my part, after all I have seen, I should be disposed to welcome any peace which is not disgraceful. I did not introduce the subject; it was brought forward by the right hon. Baronet himself, who, singular to say, with regard to the only two Articles of the treaty which he quoted, was inaccurate in both. In the first place, as to religious toleration in Turkey, which was said to be secured by the treaty, I should be surprised to see any of the contracting parties presume to interfere with Turkey in favour of the Christians in virtue of the Articles of that treaty; nor do I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the forts on the Eastern coasts of the Black Sea are to be destroyed, as he supposes them to be, under the stipulations of that document. The treaty, as I read it, does not at all touch those important places—it will be found that the fall of Kars prevented that result being accomplished. This, by way of episodical answer to the right hon. Gentleman's own episode on the subject of the treaty. Reverting 1867 to the question more immediately under consideration, I will take leave to assure the right hon. Baronet that, whatever the treaty may be—whatever humiliations its conditions may impose on Russia—whatever may be her sacrifices of territory, fortresses, or fleets, Russia is entirely compensated for all her losses by this avowal of the English Minister in the presence of the English Parliament, that united Europe, when pitted against her, was not so strong as to be able to offer resistance to her simultaneously in any two regions.
But, if you did not send men for the relief of Kars, did you send money? This is a question that has been asked on both sides of the House during the course of this debate. How ably has that point been urged by the right hon. Baronet, who, if he be right in his view—and no one can question it, and who, if he be correct in his inferences—and who can doubt it—will not stand justified before the country in giving his support to the Government. Indeed, I must take leave to inform the right hon. Gentleman that the grounds on which he seems disposed to vindicate his vote are not such as are likely to find favour with the country. When he speaks, he is listened to by others besides those who are assembled in this chamber. The people of England watch with interest what falls from his lips; and when they are told that, in the opinion of one of the most experienced of our statesmen a Minister is to be exempted from the penalty of his misconduct—the censure of this House—merely because he happens to be an ancient comrade of the right hon. Baronet, they will be amazed at the doctrine, and confess that they have heard from him a sentiment well calculated to shake their confidence in public men. But I again ask, did Ministers send money to General Williams? Who will rise in this House and assert that they did? If the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore) had in moving his Amendment prefaced it by a preamble, declaring that Ministers had supplied the money to the Turkish Government, that would have been an ad captandum argument in their favour, and it would not have been so soon withdrawn—the fate which so often befals rash and ill-considered Amendments; and, although in debate, facts and dates must have destroyed it, it would still have attracted the attention of the House. But no, not a man presumed to intimate a suspicion 1868 that the Government had sent a single piastre. The soldiers of five nations were wanted—every man of them—at Sebastopol. Was the money required there also? Were all the balances of the Exchequer likewise and of the Bank needed at Sebastopol? The noble Lord at the head of the War Department should have known, if any one did, what are the sinews of war; yet it will not be asserted that he sent any supply of them. On subjects of finance the Chancellor of the Exchequer is, of course, a high authority, but he will pardon me if I view with suspicion, and dissent from his opinion on a question of high policy. He must permit me to say that I do not concur with him in thinking that the fall of Kars was neither a military nor a political disaster. That is not a subject upon which I can give the right hon. Gentleman my confidence—though on questions of finance, whatever our political opinions, we naturally listen to anything that falls from the right hon. Gentleman with the respect due to his high position. He knows the value of money, and does not pretend for a moment to deny that any sum, however small, would have been of advantage to General Williams. "But," says the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "supposing we had proposed a vote of money, what chance should we have had of carrying it with the opposition to which we should have been subject?" That is the strangest doctrine that I ever heard a Minister of State advance in the House of Commons. The functions of an Opposition under our form of Parliamentary Government are clearly defined and intelligible. Every Minister knows that the measures he introduces, if they have weak points in them, will naturally encounter animadversion. The country expects so much from the Opposition; but there are limits to this resistance, and I defy any Opposition to persist for any length of time in a course antagonistic to the national feeling or to common sense. The legitimate remedy of a Minister lies in an ultimate appeal, if need be, to the tribunal of public opinion. But I lay it down with confidence as a maxim which the right hon. Gentleman cannot controvert, that it is the duty of the Government of this country to propose all such measures as they believe to be essential to the public welfare, without the least reference to, or consideration of what, may be the conduct of Opposition. The assertion of a different principle is a libel on 1869 our institutions, and I say, Perish our Parliamentary constitution if its spirit be such that in a period of war—in a critical emergency—a Minister dare not avail himself of the national resources because he fears the criticism of Opposition. Yet we have been told in this debate that we are not to allude to the extraordinary doctrines advanced by the Minister in defence of his conduct; and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, accusing us of faction because we proceed with this debate, says it is not of the slightest consequence that we should trace national calamities to their source, and that the assertion of dangerous principles is, forsooth, to pass unchallenged in the House of Commons. But if the position taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was constitutionally so untenable, how does it work practically? The noble Lord at the head of the Government introduced the Turkish Loan Bill to this House. Its preamble, if I can recall the terms aright, declares that the loan is to be raised for the defence of the territory of the Sultan. Were you too late in bringing forward that measure? If so, what is the vindication of your tardiness? But were you in time? You charged us with being an obstacle to your affording the necessary supplies to the Ottoman Porte. We were no such obstacle; whatever were our intentions, your Bill was passed with promptitude. I ask you, then, what did you do with the loan? Did you furnish the Sultan with money; and, above all, did you remit the funds in time? But what did you do? Your measure was opposed in this House on grounds which, on reflection, I still believe to have been sound and constitutional. Its policy, I think, cannot be too severely impugned. In any case, it could only be justified by the extreme urgency of the occasion. There are moments, I admit, when even the constitution must be wrested to save an empire; and if the noble Lord had, by his sudden, crude, and unprecedented project, rescued the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan, he would have found that vindication which energy, and especially successful energy, has a right to obtain. But not a piastre of your loan went to the relief of Kars. The justification of the Government is, that it was too late—that is the excuse given by one of their own Members. Of its truth, however, I am not quite so sure. The first instalment of the loan was paid in the month of August; and the wonderful victory of General Williams at Kars was 1870 gained at the end of September. But I will not insist that the money might not have been sent too late. I will not be so severe as to deprive the Government of the immense vantage-ground afforded them by such a plea, although I may doubt its perfect accuracy. Yet, in either case, I ask what became of the money? Have hon. Gentlemen looked at the return for which I moved on the day that Parliament met? At that date those millions, raised by appeals which, if sincere—as I do not for an instant doubt—could only be justified by the Minister's want of information and care, were absolutely lying idle in the Bank of England, not one-third of the sum having been transmitted to Turkey. I do not for a moment pretend that the Turkish loan was necessary to have saved Kars. We all know the amount necessary to have done that. A sum such as you raise as a testimonial to a successful railway speculator, the sum that every hour of our lives we are called upon to contribute for some meritorious but obscure instance of excellent conduct, would have saved Kars. Why, Sir, the Cabinet might of themselves have subscribed the money. The Government of Lord Aberdeen was destroyed because the war in Asia must be conducted with vigour; to achieve that object the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) stepped into power. I ask him, how has he conducted that war with vigour? Did he send men or money to General Williams? I have, I think, disposed of the unworthy and ignominious plea that you were too much occupied with the siege of Sebastopol to be able to defend Kars. If you had been attacked in your Indian Empire, at the Cape of Good Hope, or in any of your other possessions, we should, of course, have exerted ourselves to repel the attack. But was this less a British interest—did it less concern British honour? Of all the arguments used in this debate the one most discouraging and depressing to the heart of the nation is that which says you were unable, with all the aid of banded Europe, to resist the foe save at one point, and that he must be suffered to run riot elsewhere because your energies were absorbed in opposing him at Sebastopol. I am told that the Resolution before us applies strong language to the Ministry. An Administration of great responsibility having been displaced in time of war because it failed to wage the conflict with adequate vigour, a new Ministry is constructed for the special object of correcting the omissions 1871 of their predecessors. Yet, when a heavy disaster occurs on the very theatre of the struggle which they were chiefly bound to prevent, because under such circumstances, I ask whether they sent men or money, and find that they did neither, I am to be told that I am supporting a Resolution couched in strong language, since it accuses such statesmen of want of foresight and energy. I have a right to ask whether they have displayed foresight and energy. Where is the display of those qualities proved? I am not addressing the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, because, although he is about to support old comrades, he has, in a most crushing and effective speech demonstrated that they have exhibited neither energy nor foresight. I am addressing the Government—the modern Chatham, the War Minister par excellence—and I ask him in all humility, where in this period of the new Administration is foresight to be detected and energy discovered? On the 5th of March, General Williams sent to the Government of England an account of the force necessary to secure not only his safety, but his triumph. His demand for aid was moderate, and might easily have been met; but how was it treated? The facts are in the recollection of the House, and I have no wish to pervert them. Why, Sir, the communication was bandied from public office to public office, and tossed from one Under Secretary to another. The two Under Secretaries corresponded with each other from either side of Downing Street like two wooden puppets pulled by strings—the principle of existence was not necessary to such beings—to accomplish such results vital power was not necessary—the animula vagula blandula—that evanescent essence—animated not those mechanical and frigid forms. It is most extraordinary—it is in itself a ground of censure of Her Majesty's Government that they should, with fatal accuracy, have published this correspondence—that they should have revealed to Sardinia, to which this country ought to be a model, that this is the mode in which our public business is conducted—that they should have damped the rising energy of Turkey by showing that the great nation which is to be its saviour, conducts its affairs in such a manner. Well, the Under Secretaries communicated from either side of Downing Street, at intervals of about a fortnight, the Principal Secretaries animating them with instructions quite worthy of the occasion. 1872 The demand of General Williams was tossed back to Constantinople to our Ambassador; at Constantinople it was tossed back by our Ambassador to the Divan, he having no other instructions than to ask the Turks to do that which British counsel, British gold, and British valour ought to have accomplished. I ask then this question—a very simple one—was that energy? Is there a man in this House who will say that was energy? Will even the First Minister of the Crown rise in his place and say that was energy? Well, on the 3rd of August the War Minister of this country, then engaged in one of the greatest struggles in which we have ever embarked, was in his place in Parliament called—I will not say to account, but to deep and serious reflection, by one who will be admitted, even by those who differ with him on general political questions, to be a ripe and practised statesman, and one eminently qualified to speak upon such a subject—the Earl of Ellenborough. In the month of August Lord Ellenborough, in his place in Parliament, called the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the state of affairs in Asia, and asked for information with reference to our policy. The War Minister of England then assured Parliament that in the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers the power of the Porte was sufficient to maintain its authority and dominions in Asia. Was that foresight? If the first instance was not energy, I ask the noble Lord the Prime Minister was the second instance foresight? Mind you, the period we are discussing is the first year of a new Ministry, formed upon the principle of conducting the war in Asia, and from the period of their formation to the fall of Kars there was an interval of nine months. We find that at last the Porte, wearied with the energy and foresight of the British Government, in its desperation rallied its resources; it made a final effort, and it offered a plan of action for the approbation of the British Ministers. That project of the Porte, after due deliberation, and after many councils, was described by Her Majesty's Government as an insane plan; but I find that a month afterwards the same project was adopted by Her Majesty's Government, and intended to be put into execution. Well, is that energy and foresight combined? We have had an instance of energy and one of foresight—we now find these finer qualities of genius brought into 1873 play together; we have prescience and vigour united, and the fall of Kars is the result.
We have been told that we are not justified in bringing forward this question. Why, what subject, for weeks, I may say for months past, has more occupied public attention? Upon what subject has there been more industrious misrepresentation and greater perplexity? If the only result of this debate had been to show the true light in which this question is viewed by this House and by the country it would be an important discussion, as it is one necessary to the honour and usefulness of the House of Commons. We have, however, been told by the right hon. Baronet who last addressed the House, and the other night by the noble Lord opposite, when he tried to suppress the debate, that in another place we have shrunk from the discussion of this question. But I may state—I will not say after inquiry, for no inquiry was necessary—I can assure the noble Lord and his colleagues that they are very greatly mistaken. There has been no disposition in the other House of Parliament to shrink from the discussion; the course taken in that House by a noble Friend of mine was one which he could not avoid. My noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury), I believe, fully and entirely approves of the sentiments expressed in the Resolution of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside); but that noble Lord thought proper to include in his Motion a declaration of opinion that it was expedient to consider the effect of this question upon the conditions of peace. My noble Friend's notice was given for Friday; but the Foreign Minister then rose and stated that the treaty of peace would be brought before the House on Monday; and, after what I cannot but think the injudicious introduction into his Motion of the declaration I have mentioned, it was of course totally impossible, after the announcement of the Foreign Minister, for my noble Friend to pursue the course he had originally intended to follow. I do not think, however, that the Prime Minister will find that my noble Friend will shrink from calling for the opinion of the other House of Parliament upon this subject.
I have now touched upon what I conceive to be the principal points for the consideration of the House. I have avoided details, because I think, on the third night of the debate, and with the familiarity 1874 with the subject which we must have acquired, it is unnecessary to do so. It only remains for me to refer to the nature of my hon. and learned Friend's Motion, to which I shall give my support, and which I trust the House will not reject without due consideration. Sir, this Motion, upon a subject which, as I think I have shown, ought not to be lightly undertaken, is framed in language which, in my opinion, is perfectly justified, not merely by the arguments which have been submitted to the House, but by the admissions which have been made by Her Majesty's Ministers themselves, and by the unswerable arguments of the right hon. Member for Carlisle. This Motion has been brought forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Enniskillen, at the desire, and with the concurrence, of all those who have the pleasure of acting with him in public life. It has been said that my hon. and learned Friend precipitately forced this subject upon the consideration of the House. It is not the habit of my hon. Friend to force any subject upon the consideration of the House. He is, in my opinion, peculiarly fitted to bring forward this question, from the attention he has devoted to the subject, and from his intimate acquaintance and constant intercourse with that gallant officer who was so rudely rejected—or rather ejected—from the office which he held by the present Minister for War. The hon. and learned Gentleman brought forward his Motion in a manner which entirely justified the expectations of his friends, and I cordially thank him for that great intellectual effort, by which he has fully sustained the reputation of this House—dear, I should hope, to men on both sides. Two Amendments have been proposed to the Motion of my hon. Friend—one by an hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. J. G. Phillimore), and the other by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Ker Seymer). I shall support the Resolution of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside), the introduction of which to this House, so far as my humble influence is concerned, I have already sanctioned, and I shall await with interest the answer to the observations I have made before I relinquish it. I wish it, however, to be understood that I had no desire—so far as the forms of the House are concerned—to stand in the way of the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire being placed before the House. I approve of the Motion of the hon. and 1875 learned Member for Enniskillen. I have vindicated it, and I am prepared to give my vote in its favour. I know very well the objections that are brought against Motions which it is probable may not be carried in this House. In my opinion those objections are founded entirely on a fallacy, and I think that the House of Commons, or rather the Opposition, commit a great mistake if they limit the occasions upon which they ask for the opinion of this House to those cases only in which, as the President of the Board of Control says, they may upset a Cabinet. Far from that, I think, upon every occasion of importance, when there are subjects which arrest public attention, and especially subjects upon which the public mind is perplexed, it is the duty of the Opposition to assert the policy which they approve, and to vindicate the principles which keep them together; and to comment upon and denounce the conduct of the Minister, if they think that that conduct is injurious to the interests and the honour of the country. If the Opposition relinquish that duty,—if the country have reason to believe that they shrink from performing that office, if they take refuge in a scandalous silence because they think they may not put the Ministry in a minority, I can tell them that they will, in the long run, fall in public estimation; and that this House, too, will, equally in the long run, fall in public estimation; and that no greater blow to the privileges and reputation of Parliament and to the influence of the House of Commons can be levelled than that it should become a question whether or no the Opposition is influenced only by selfish and sordid sentiments of official success and Parliamentary triumph. The noble Lord opposite may not be of my opinion. I fear the noble Lord is not of my opinion. Nothing but sentiments contrary to mine—nothing but a rule of conduct in public life, utterly opposed to that which I have attempted to describe, would have induced the noble Lord, with indecent exultation the other night, when he knew, or ought to have known, that the question had only been partially discussed, and had not even been decently discussed from his own benches—nothing but feelings contrary to mine could have induced the noble Lord to express himself in such a manner as he did the other night when a temporary majority was obtained by him. I deeply fear that the noble Lord is influenced by very different feelings to mine on this subject. 1876 ["Oh, oh!"] Well, I will prove to you that it is so. These happy interruptions, when one is sometimes nearly wearied with a lengthened discussion, are what one is not ungrateful for. I remember a crisis in this country scarcely of less importance than the one from which we are now emerging. I remember when this country was on the eve of a war with a country with which, of all others, I should most deprecate hostilities, not only from considerations of material interests, but from moral considerations—I mean the United States of America. I remember when this country was on the eve of a war with that great Power. Sir Robert Peel was then Prime Minister of England; he appointed a negotiator for that emergency, one admirably qualified for the difficult but noble task which he had to accomplish. With a wisdom which can never be too much admired and appreciated, Lord Ashburton prevented a war, and he laid the foundation of what I trust will be an enduring peace, even though the noble Lord opposite is Prime Minister of England. Well, Sir, when Lord Ashburton returned with an admirable treaty he was received with the gratitude of the country, and with the appreciation of all men who duly valued the importance of his labours. But there arose in this country, immediately on his arrival, an organised attack upon what was called "the Ashburton capitulation"—an attack conducted with ample knowledge, prosecuted with unceasing vigour, and constantly impressing upon the public opinion of England that our interests had been betrayed and our honour had been disgraced. Well, Sir, in due time, when the same feeling with regard to the Ashburton capitulation had been created as has now been created in regard to the capitulation of Kars, and when Lord Ashburton was selected to be the scapegoat then, as Lord Stratford de Redcliffe is selected in the present instance, due notice was given to the Parliament of England that this important question, involving, as a perplexed and frightened public believed, the deepest interests of the nation, and one which concerned matters of charge against the Prime Minister of England scarcely short of treason, would be brought under the consideration of Parliament by one most competent to that duty. It was brought forward by one who sat on this side of the House, and opposite this box; and he had that which neither my hon. and learned Friend nor myself can pretend to—accurate 1877 official experience, derived from long years of possession of office, powers of great eloquence, and unrivalled knowledge of the subject. The noble Lord recollects the time when he introduced the question of the Ashburton capitulation to the attention of the House of Commons. The noble Lord and his Friends now sneer at long speeches when the conduct of Ministers is impugned. But the noble Lord, on that occasion, made a very long speech, though I do not believe it was quite so long as the speech of my hon. and learned Friend—it certainly was not so entertaining—that, however, was not the fault of the noble Lord, but of his subject. Never were such charges brought against a Minister as were made on that occasion, When the assembled Parliament hung on the accents of the noble Lord, a most experienced Minister, with a knowledge unrivalled in diplomatic subjects, and who is now Prime Minister of England. They were charges little short of treason; they were urged by the noble Lord, master of speech as he is, in a speech of hours. But the noble Lord is not a rash leader of a party, like my humble self. He can make a long speech, and can make charges which no man has a right to make who is not prepared to take the opinion of Parliament upon them. The noble Lord did all this. The charges were brought forward with all the pomp and solemnity of an impeachment; the debate was adjourned; but the noble Lord, on that occasion, concluded his elaborate and lengthened harangue, not by a Resolution, and in strong language, but by a Motion for papers. Now, I wish to contrast, for the instruction of the House, the fate of my hon. and learned Friend and the fate of the noble Lord. I wish those who think it rash to speak in strong language—I wish those who think it precipitate and dangerous to express in a Resolution that which they say in speech—I wish them to contrast the lot of my rash and impetuous Friend with the wary and circumspect conduct of the noble Lord. I am certain that the House will feel that the noble Lord who accuses statesmen of treason, and ends by moving for papers, must conduct his business so as to come out of it in a manner much less humiliating than that which the noble Lord told us, with so much polished courtesy, would be our doom this evening. Sir, we may be defeated; but until the numbers are really known it is not necessary for me even to believe in 1878 that. But this I know, that the opinion expressed in the speeches of those who support my hon. and learned Friend will be expressed in the division, and he will have the support of a large and powerful party, while the noble Lord may possibly have a majority formed of those who have made speeches against him. That will be to reverse the position of my hon. and learned Friend. But what was the position of the wary master of tactics on the occasion of which I have spoken? Why, on the second night of the debate the noble Lord, strong with his Blue-books, and with his documents admirably arranged, labelled, and tied up, this great statesman, who would not enter upon any imprudent course, had the satisfaction of seeing the House counted out. Therefore, I think the noble Lord, who took such an exulting tone the other night, and who seemed to suppose that ours is to be the minority and his the majority, ought to remember that, whatever our fate may be, it will be at least superior to that of the noble Lord when, in a similar position.
Sir, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle has said, to-night, he could have wished that a proposal had been made to vote the thanks of this House to General Williams, but that there existed no precedent for such a course. I too, Sir, wish that this House had proposed a vote of thanks to General Williams. I wish this House had proposed a vote of thanks to General Williams and expressed its indignation at the manner in which he has been supported. That was an idea which had occurred to others besides the right hon. Baronet. But we, too, were stopped by routine. There was no precedent. I think it would have been wise if we had made a precedent. There would have been something noble in an exile and a prisoner receiving the homage of an applauding Senate and an admiring country. I think it is well, sometimes, that we should show our sense of the conduct of men who, though not successful, are at least triumphant. Sir, there are heroes in adversity; there are prisoners—not to say it profanely—who lead captivity captive. We have not been able to express those feelings; but, at least, we have done this—we have not taken refuge in a shameful silence; we have allowed the people of this country an opportunity of having their opinions and feelings represented in this, their own House; and 1879 whatever may be the fate of this division, we have had the satisfaction of expressing our sympathy with heroic merit and with national honour.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
As I have frequently been alluded to in the course of this debate, I trust that even at this late hour, and on the third night, the House will indulge me for a brief space with its attention. Sir, I admire, in common with others, the ability and eloquence of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced this Motion; but I own that it did not appear to me, admitting that a vote of censure may at any time be proposed, that he chose with singular infelicity the occasion of the present Motion. If the war had gone on, it would have been competent for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that Turkey in Asia was endangered by the loss of Kars; but the answer to any such allegation now is that the war is concluded, and that Kars, in a few weeks, will be again bearing the flag of Turkey. Or it might be said, in another view, that the loss of Kars had been injurious to the negotiations, and that the terms of peace bore testimony to the loss which we had suffered when Kars surrendered; but the hon. and learned Gentleman, instead of following the example which has been given, as I have heard, in the other House of Parliament, did not wait for the production of the treaty, but on the very day that the treaty was laid before, us, he produced this Motion to the House. Well, then, Sir, I must say, upon the Motion itself, that I think the House of Commons will be disposed to view the war as a whole, that they will regard its various parts and imports, and will consider whether, having undertaken to defend Turkey for the present, and to obtain for her some security for the future, those objects have not been fully obtained. With regard to the aggression of Russia upon Turkey, it was evident that that aggression might be made either in her European provinces, or by means of a fleet from the Crimea, or, lastly, upon the Asiatic frontier. With respect to the European provinces of Turkey, the heroic defence of Silistria, the gallant feats of arms on the Danube, and, latterly, the convention with Austria and the evacuation by Russia of the Principalities secured Turkey upon that side. The next question is, what were the means of offence which Russia possessed in the Crimea? Lord Aberdeen's Government, after deliberation, considering in what manner the means of warfare 1880 on the part of Russia might be crippled and the war be brought speedily to a conclusion, decided that the mode of obtaining these objects was to send an expedition to the Crimea. The right hon. Gentleman certainly at the time expressed his fears of any such expedition. Undoubtedly the determination was one of a bold nature to arrive at, and the expedition was hazardous in its character. For a, time that expedition did not succeed. The bombardment of the 17th of October failed, the winter was passed in privation and in misery, the bombardment of April likewise failed, and the assault made upon the 18th of June was unsuccessful. Well, then, I ask the House,—such being the state of your expedition to the Crimea, undertaken with the best troops of England and of France—was it not the duty of the Government to endeavour by all means to procure the success of that expedition? to encounter any risk, to forego any objects, rather than allow that expedition to fail? The hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced this Motion blamed the Government of Her Majesty, and blamed the Emperor of the French for desiring, before an army was despatched from Balaklava and Eupatoria to Asia, that the opinion of the generals of the allied forces should be taken. Sir, I think that the allied Governments acted wisely in that respect. I think that they acted with foresight and with energy. What would have been the case had the assault in any respect failed, owing to the want of troops at Balaklava and the means of protection against an attack by the Russians, such as was made by them on the Tchernaya shortly before the end of the siege? The dread of such a failure, or such an attack, then, was the obvious reason—the prevaling motive—why an expedition was not sent earlier in order to succour Kars. I will not at this time of night enter into that military question, which has been so ably argued by an hon. and gallant Gentleman, whether it was better to relieve Kars by going to Kutais in the direction of Tiflis, or to make an attempt by way of Trebizond; but I may observe that the President of the Board of Control has said that the Government took military opinions before they arrived at that conclusion. Therefore, I think that they are acquitted of all charges made upon the head, which might otherwise seem very plausible, that the Turkish authorities having decided in favour of one operation, they peremptorily rejected it and 1881 proposed another. We come then to the question whether, consistently with attacking Sebastopol and attempting to destroy—as they did destroy—the whole fleet of Russia, which had been so long a menace to Turkey, the Government could obtain men and money for the purpose of sending to Asia. I own that I heard the accusation upon the subject from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and those who act with him, with a good deal of astonishment; because I remember that after every means of pressure had been employed, we were only able to send just a sufficient number of troops to the Crimea to hold the lines at Sebastopol. At that time it occurred to the Government of Lord Aberdeen to raise a force of foreigners—of Germans, Swiss, and Italians; and if some 20,000 or 30,000 men could have been thus collected at Constantinople who were not absolutely wanted in the Crimea, there would then have been the means of sending a force to assist the Turkish army either at Erzeroum or at Kars. But what was the discouragement winch was thrown upon that plan? What were the terms of contumely which induced high-spirited Germans for some months to refuse to enlist in any such corps, and thereby prevented the aid which might otherwise have been given to Turkey? And by whom was that discouragement made and those terms of contumely used? By Lord Derby and Lord Ellenborough in the other House of Parliament, and by the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends in this. Then it was desirable, no doubt, to send money to Turkey to enable her to continue the war. A loan was obtained by her own credit in the first year of the war. In the second year, the whole of that money being exhausted, Turkey, finding it extremely difficult to support, to feed, and to pay her army, asked the assistance of the Allies, and requested them to support her credit. I think it possible that the better course would have been to make a plain grant and subsidy to Turkey. However, I was quite content to take those means which were asked for, and which would secure some pecuniary assistance to Turkey. But when that was proposed in this House, and when my noble Friend at the head of the Government, going far beyond the usual language of Ministers, implored this House to grant the guarantee, because, as he said, "Turkey might fall to pieces if she had not that aid"—to such an urgent appeal, to such a demand on the 1882 part of the First Minister of the Crown, to enable Turkey to have that pecuniary assistance which, whether it were in Europe or in Asia, might help her to obtain military resources, this House, by almost a majority, refused to accede. But who were foremost in the endeavour to refuse that assistance? Why, the right hon. Gentleman and those who act with him. And I remember especially watching the language of the right hon. Gentleman now the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), with the view of seeing whether his objection was to the particular form of guarantee, and whether he would say, "If you will give up this engagement, be the sum which you require large or small, we are ready to grant it in the form of a subsidy." But, no; there was no such word employed. The objection was to the loan; although it was certainly hinted at the same time that, if some future proposition should be made which had been well considered—but of the nature of which no shadow of an idea was given—then, perhaps, hon. Gentlemen opposite might take it into their consideration. And now those Gentlemen who opposed the means of obtaining money for Turkey come forward and say, with emphasis, "How wanting you are in foresight and in energy! What the Turkish Government wanted was men and money, and you did not accord them either the men or the money." The right hon. Gentleman opposite has alluded to me, and if it be true, as he says, that his memory has become weaker, I can only say that his imagination has become stronger; because, in alluding to my resignation of office in Lord Aberdeen's Administration, he asserts that that resignation was owing to my objection to the mode in which the war was being carried on in Asia. Now, in the explanation which I made in this House I stated the grounds upon which I resigned the office which I had the honour to occupy. I stated that the reason that I could no longer hold office was, that I did not feel myself justified in opposing the Motion for Inquiry which was brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. That Motion my noble Friend now at the head of the Government and the other colleagues of Lord Aberdeen felt themselves bound to oppose; but as I differed from them in that opinion I resigned, and I resigned upon that ground alone. The right hon. Gentleman, however, because it suits his purpose to-night, 1883 asserts that the reason for which I resigned was because I was dissatisfied with the mode in which the war in Asia was being conducted, and I wish to make one or two observations upon that subject. In the first place, let me say, that the conduct of General Williams and his companions has merited the thanks of the people of this country, although, indeed, I think that they have been spoken of somewhat contemptuously by the hon. and learned Gen-man. ["No, no!"] Why, Sir, the phrase that the only assistance sent to the Turkish army in Asia consisted of four officers and, a doctor, was, to say the least, not very respectful towards those gallant men. I must say, that in this case it has been proved that a single man—a single man of great energy, and well acquainted with the duties which he had to perform—a man who could inspire others with his own courage, who could adopt measures for obtaining supplies when provisions were failing, who could direct a successful and glorious resistance to such an assault as was made upon Kars, is as good a reinforcement as 10,000 troops. I think that General Williams and his companions have, by their conduct, gained immortal fame, and have shown themselves an honour to the country which produced them, and also to the men who selected them for the service upon which they were engaged—I mean Lord Clarendon and Lord Aberdeen. I must say, too, while I am paying a just tribute to General Williams, I cannot but think that if there was one among those men who, finding that the loss of the Turks by sickness alone had been between 10,000 and 12,000 men, organised their hospitals, instructed the young and inexperienced, who relieved suffering and often averted death—such a man is not less to be lauded than those who successfully organised resistance to the assault. I could not, Sir, conclude what I had to say without some tribute to these gallant men. But further, Sir, I must congratulate my noble Friend upon the fact that the war, having been conducted with success, that the objects for which it was commenced having been obtained, a satisfactory and honourable peace has been concluded. I cannot but believe that it will always redound to our honour that when Turkey was in danger from the ambitious projects of her neighbour—projects almost openly avowed—we, without any hope of gain, and with no hope of reward, but the feeling of satisfaction that we were maintaining 1884 the independence of a friendly Power, and preserving the balance of power in Europe, should have flown to her assistance. I think, also, Sir, that our success, and the position in which we now find ourselves, is a great triumph of the principles of our institutions. It was said by a noble Lord in another place, that in the war now happily at an end, the principle of representative government was on its trial. I can hardly agree to that statement, because I think that the principle of representative government had already been subjected to shocks as severe, and had always been triumphant. This war, however, is another triumph to that principle. We end the war successfully, with our finances unimpaired; with our trade uninjured; with the spirit of our people as high as it was at the commencement; and this, Sir, is to me another proof that a representative form of government is as great a tower of strength in war as it is a cause of prosperity in peace. I trust that, whatever may be at times the injustice of public opinion—and I think I am one of those who at times have suffered from that injustice—that in this country, and in every country where we can have any influence, there will always be a free currant of public opinion; and I think that representative institutions have gained fresh strength, and excited increased admiration from the contest in which we have lately been engaged.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) has taunted me with the course which I deemed it my duty to pursue on Tuesday last, and has endeavoured to represent that the object which I had in view was to stifle discussion upon the important subject now under our consideration. That representation I utterly deny. Undoubtedly, at the hour at which the Motion for adjourning the debate was made, I thought that time remained for continuing the discussion to an end, and that, considering the importance of the subject, it would be more fitting to go on with it than to adjourn it to this evening. I thought then, and I think still, that the division upon that occasion was not simply a division upon the question of adjournment, but that it represented, in a great degree, the opinion which the majority of the House entertained as to the question which we are now discussing. And I think, therefore, that we are now performing what has often been called the Parliamentary process 1885 of dividing first and debating afterwards. The speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who brought forward this Motion was certainly a wonderful speech. It was a speech of great ability, as all speeches made by the hon. and learned Gentleman necessarily must be; it was a speech, however, which must have impressed every one who saw it. I say "saw" it in preference to saying "heard" it, as displaying on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman as much bodily activity as mental acumen. The friends of the hon. and learned Gentleman must have admired the bodily vigour which enabled him to speak for more than four hours and a half. But if that speech did credit to the power of body and mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman, it most assuredly did no credit to the judgment in which it was conceived. The hon. and learned Gentleman began with a long dissertation upon the interests of England as connected with Persia, and Affghanistan, and India, and he founded the argument by which he proceeded to condemn the conduct of the Government upon the assertion, that by not attempting operations in Asia we were neglecting the great interests of England in India. I cannot help believing that nothing could be imagined better calculated to increase and promulgate a suspicion which the enemies of England entertain, and at the same time to sow the seeds of dissension between us and our Allies, than the necessary inference from that argument. Why, Sir, the Russians who were opposed to us endeavoured to instil in the mind of our Allies that we were dragging them into war for objects of our own; that our object in going to war was not so much the defence of Turkey as it was the protection of India. I entirely deny any such insinuation. We engaged in the war not with any view to the defence of India. If India be attacked, we are capable of defending her alone. We do not require allies to help us to defend any part of the British dominions; we are quite equal to that task ourselves. I repeat, Sir, that no thought of anything like defending any of our colonies actuated the Government in embarking in the late war. We and our Allies, when we commenced the war, disclaimed any selfish interest—we had European objects, as important to our Allies as to ourselves—we entered upon that war to defend a friendly State not able to defend itself, and, by giving security for the future to Turkey, to 1886 maintain the balance of power in Europe. The speech, therefore, of the hon. and learned Gentleman is calculated to give countenance to an opinion utterly inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the war. The speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman was productive immediately of a very singular result; because, as I have already stated, the very next day his noble Friend in the other House of Parliament, who had a Motion for precisely the same purpose, whether frightened at the effect of his speech or whether impelled by some other motive, it is not for me to say, withdrew and abandoned the Resolution of which he had given notice. A great portion of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman was devoted to an attempt to induce this House to believe that the chief object of the war in which we were engaged was to defend India against a Russian attack—a total misrepresentation of the policy that guided us in entering upon the war. Another, and a main part of his speech, was devoted to vituperation of Lord Stratford; indeed, I may say that his speech was a remarkable instance of his power of vituperation right and left. It reminded one, in some degree, of the great explosion which took place in the French lines of a powder magazine. Up went rockets, shells, cartridges, and balls, in every direction, wounding and killing friends all around, but none of them fortunate enough to reach an enemy. The hon. and learned Gentleman devoted a good hour and a half to unmitigated condemnation of Lord Stratford; but towards the conclusion of his speech, remembering perhaps certain words that had reached his ears, probably on the morning of the same day, and recollecting the admonitions which had been tendered to him, he endeavoured to repair the injury which the preceding part of his speech had inflicted, and he finished his long harangue by heaping praises upon Lord Stratford, whom before he had represented as totally unworthy of retaining the situation which he held. In fact, the charge against Her Majesty's Government, during the greater part of his oration, was founded upon this—that we had continued Lord Stratford in the position of Ambassador at Constantinople. His argument was that, in consequence of Lord Stratford not having answered the letters of General Williams, he ought to have been recalled from his post, and that the Government who failed to recall him deserved the censure of Parliament; 1887 but he was immediately answered by his noble Friend the Member for Colchester (Lord John Manners), who got up the moment his speech was done and told the House that the omission of Lord Stratford to answer the letters of General Williams did not accelerate by one moment the fall of Kars. And truly did the noble Lord say so, because that omission occurred in 1854, whereas Kars did not fall till November, 1855. But I am perfectly ready to take my share of any responsibility that may devolve upon those who did not think it right to recall Lord Stratford. No doubt, we lamented that, from the pressure of business, or any other cause whatever, Lord Stratford omitted to answer those letters, and to give to General Williams that comfort and encouragement which would naturally have been derived from letters received from the Ambassador at Constantinople; but Lord Stratford did at Constantinople that which General Williams urged him to do; and no man who reads the papers with an impartial mind can fail to arrive at the conclusion, that Lord Stratford did everything which it was in the power of an Ambassador to do for the purpose of obtaining for General Williams the supplies and reinforcements which he wanted. But when the hon. and learned Gentleman treats Lord Stratford so lightly, I am bound to say that I think he was, of all men, the fittest for the position which he occupied. Lord Stratford was, beyond all men, acquainted with the circumstances and condition of Turkey; he had established an influence over the Turkish Government which was of the utmost importance in the position in which affairs then stood; and the Government which would have recalled Lord Stratford at that moment, simply because he had omitted to answer the letters of General Williams, though it might have shown that it possessed "energy," would assuredly not have evinced much "foresight." It is due to Lord Stratford to mention, in connection with that recent great act which may perhaps be called the Magna Charta of the Christian population in Turkey, that when in 1846, upon the termination of Sir Robert Peel's Administration, I became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Stratford was on leave of absence in this country, I deemed it my duty to urge the request that he would consent to continue to hold his office and would return to Constantinople. Lord Stratford did not belong to our party; he 1888 was a friend of Lord Derby's; it was Lord Derby, indeed, who gave him the title which he wears with so much honour to himself; but Lord Stratford, then Sir Stratford Canning, said, he would return to Constantinople upon one condition. What was that condition? It was, that he should be supported by the Government at home, and urged to continue his exertions—those exertions which he had never intermitted during the long years he had been in Turkey—to obtain that equality between the Christians and Mahomedans, which has at last crowned the efforts of his life. It was that honourable ambition which induced Sir Stratford Canning to continue so long in a post which, under other circumstances, perhaps, he would have been reluctant to occupy. Lord Stratford has the glory of having been instrumental in accomplishing that great object; and I think it is strange that at the moment when he wears upon his brow a double coronet—one granted by his Sovereign, the other the result of his honourable labours—he should be selected by a friend of Lord Derby as the object of ridicule and vituperation. That mistake of the hon. and learned Gentleman was soon discovered, and those who have followed him have allowed Lord Stratford's conduct to pass without any additional injustice, and have turned their battery more directly against Her Majesty's Government. The great charge made against us is, that we did not send General Williams reinforcements of men and supplies of money. In the first place, be it observed, it is a total misrepresentation of the right hon. Gentleman to say that what we undertook to do was to carry on war in Asia. We never hinted that we intended, during last year, to carry on war in Asia. The Government of Lord Aberdeen decided—and decided wisely—that in a war with Russia for the defence of Turkey, the point to strike at was Sebastopol; that it was there you found the great centre of the Russian power as pressing against Turkey; and that unless you struck a blow at the heart of that Power, any attempt to battle with it at its extremities would be futile, and not productive of the desired result. It was upon that account that the Government of Lord Aberdeen declined to send an army into Bessarabia and the Moldavian and Wallachian provinces; it was on that account that they did not dream of landing an army on the coast of Asia; it was on that account that England and 1889 France determined to concentrate their efforts in the Crimea. It was there that the war was to be decided; It was there that a decisive blow was to be struck. If there is any principle of warfare more evident than another, it is this—that, when you have a great object to accomplish, you should concentrate all your efforts on it, and not allow yourself to be drawn away by collateral and extraneous purposes. Our great object was to capture Sebastopol and get possession of the Russian fleet. But the right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, what a disgrace it is to the great Powers of Europe, England and France, that they should not be able to have an army in the Crimea and another in Asia; whereas Russia was in a position to meet you in the Crimea, and at the same time make a diversion in Asia." The difference between us was this:—Russia was defending herself at home, with all her resources at hand, with her army, be it 800,000 men or 1,000,000, prepared for service in whatever place to which it might be sent; while England and France were sending troops by sea a great distance, and obliged to support them by a long line of communication. It is not true, therefore, to say that it is any disgrace to England and France that they were not able to employ in the Levant a force equal to that which Russia was able to oppose to them in that quarter. No doubt the fall of Kars was an event greatly to be lamented. It was to be lamented, not for the mere value of the position, because Kars is not a great fortification—not a town surrounded by walls and natural defences; but it is an important geographical position which unquestionably it is desirable that Russia should not occupy. But what we lamented in the fall of Kars was, that the gallant Williams and his brave associates, who inspired such courage into the 10,000 Turks who defended the town, should become prisoners to an enemy they had defeated, and that they and their brave soldiers should be forced to surrender by the pressure of famine to men who could not conquer them by arms. It was not the value of the mere position itself, because we knew well that, if we succeeded in the contest with Russia, whatever extent of Turkish territory Russia for the moment occupied, every inch of that territory must be evacuated by Russia before she would obtain peace at our hands. We had gone to war for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of Turkey, and we would never sheathe the sword while an inch remained 1890 unceded in the hands of Russia. Therefore, all the argument founded upon the dangers to Turkey which would arise from the possession of Kars by Russia rests upon a vain and groundless assumption—an assumption which implies that we should be content to make peace upon conditions utterly inconsistent with the principle upon which the war was undertaken. Now, Sir, no doubt when General Williams first went in the capacity of Commissioner, he was not vested with those powers which were necessary to enable him to perform efficiently the duties which devolved upon him. But is any man who knows anything of Turkey not aware of the insurmountable difficulty in getting for a European military command over a Turkish army, and more especially in Asia, because military command in Asia gives command over the Pashas and governors of provinces? We obtained for General Williams military rank, which, combined with his personal character, was sufficient to give him influence over those who had nominally superior command. What was it caused the fall of Kars? It was the want of provisions, and the want of a relieving force. The main cause of the want of provisions was the misconduct of the Pasha at Erzeroum. It was not want of money, but the misapplication of money given for the purpose. The Pasha of Erzeroum was ordered, and had money sent him from Constantinople sufficient to enable him to furnish Kars with an adequate supply of provisions. He purchased the provisions, but he failed to pay carriers to convey them to Kars. They were stored at a place half way between Erzeroum and Kars; and what was the result? Why, the result was, that when the Russians invested Kars with a superior cavalry force, they pushed on to this place, intermediate between Kars and Erzeroum, and seized and destroyed those provisions, which, if properly sent to Kars, as ordered, would probably have sufficed for the garrison and compelled the Russians to retire from the siege. Additional troops for the garrison were not required, because the garrison showed itself to the last sufficient to repel every attack which the Russians made upon it. That which was required was a relieving force to open communication with Kars. The hon. and learned Gentleman, with that dexterity which belongs to his profession, finding that the case which he had to deal with was one not very easy to handle, chose to represent as the most disgraceful act of the Government that which, 1891 in my opinion, is the one most deserving of approbation. The hon. and learned Gentleman dwelt on that despatch of Lord Clarendon of the 13th of July, in which Lord Clarendon, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, expresses disapprobation of the plan proposed by the Turkish Government to relieve Kars by landing a force at Redout-Kaleh. The hon. and learned Gentleman and myself may discuss that matter, because, as we are neither of us military men, my opinion is as good as his. But I maintain against all comers that the arguments in that despatch are perfectly conclusive, and that the plan proposed by the Turkish Government was radically defective, for reasons which I will shortly state. The plan which they proposed was to land a force at Redout-Kaleh, and thence operate on the rear of the Russians, for the purpose of drawing them away from the siege of Kars. The objections to that plan were these:—The sea passage was a long one, a greater quantity of transports were necessary, the army which was to land was Mahomedan, the population was Christian, the people were hostile—that is to say, they belonged to the enemy, and would be placed in this dilemma—that, as this was only a diversion, not with the intention of future conquest or permanently taking them from under the rule of Russia, if they gave any assistance to the invaders or favoured in any way their operations, when the Turkish army retreated they would be exposed to all the resentments of the Russian Government. Therefore, of necessity, until great success had attended the Mahomedan army, that army would find the population either adverse or withholding every possible assistance. Besides, the country was intersected by a great number of rivers, was difficult of passage to an army, had few animals of transport, and the troops to be sent there were, as an hon. Member has described, a collection of odds and ends of all kinds of corps which had never acted together, and were, therefore, unfit to meet the regularly combined and disciplined army of Russia. The consequence might and probably would have been, that when the Turkish troops had advanced a certain distance from the sea, and were weakened by being obliged to leave men behind, to keep open their line of communication, the Russians would have left Kars for a moment, inflicted a complete defeat, and then resumed the investment of Kars free from any apprehension of being 1892 disturbed in future operations. The plan proposed by Her Majesty's Government was, that forces should be landed at Trebizond, which was a good port, while Redout-Kaleh was no port at all, that they should march to Erzeroum, which would not be a march of three months, as some body has said, but a distance, which Mr. Brandt, our Consul at Erzeroum, states might be traversed by 10,000 men in ten days, and a distance not impracticable for artillery, because every gun at Erzeroum and at Kars had been brought by that route. But no great quantity of artillery was required—General Williams had guns enough, but wanted men. It was a line of march easily traversed. The country between Trebizond and Kars was a friendly country—was a Mahomedan country—the people of which had no motive but to assist the army—was a country full of animals for transport and for baggage, and a country, too, where it was easy to collect any number of irregular horse—light cavalry being the very arm in which General Williams was deficient. If a force advancing in that direction should not succeed, as probably it would have succeeded, in relieving Kars, at all events it would have made Erzeroum secure, and might have afforded to the garrison of Kars the opportunity of retiring in safety. Then we are told you recommended the disgraceful course of abandoning Kars and retiring to Erzeroum. Sir, we recommended no such thing. We recommended measures to secure the defence of Kars; but we said, if by any unforeseen circumstances, they should not secure the defence of Kars, at all events they will secure the retreat of the garrison of Kars. Ay! but then the brilliant imaginations of Gentlemen opposite say, that Kars being taken, Constantinople would have been at the mercy of the Russians. Those hon. Gentlemen must imagine that the Russian army was an army of Leanders, and could swim the Bosphorus as Leander swam the Hellespont. They forget the existence of the Bosphorus and the presence of the Turkish, the French, and the English fleets. If, then, by any strange accident, a Russian force had arrived at the opposite shore, they would have been no more able to get to Constantinople than to perform the most impracticable operation. But the measure which we proposed was, in my opinion, best calculated to turn to account the forces which Omar Pasha was able to apply to the relief of Kars, and it had this advantage, 1893 that if it failed in relieving Kars it provided for the security of Erzeroum. Well, then it is said, you proposed this method at one time, and then adopted the contrary measure afterwards. Sir, we adopted no measure afterwards. It was not an operation in which the British or French armies were to take a part; it was a proposal made by the Turkish Government. We stated the reasons why we thought it was not the best plan. But when we were told in reply that, those reasons having been considered by the council of war and the Government at Constantinople, the Turkish Government adhered to their opinion, it was not for us to maintain the contrary. We had nothing more to say. We no longer persisted in pressing our views on the Turkish Government. A part of the plan was to send the Contingent; but when hon. Gentlemen complained that we did not send the Contingent as part of the relieving force, any one who reads the papers will see that the Contingent was not then in a condition to be sent. That was the opinion of General Vivian, the commander of the Contingent, of Omar Pasha, of General Simpson, of every man, in fact, who knew the real state of that force. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle has drawn a comparison between the Turkish Contingent and the Portuguese, troops that were quoted as the "fighting cocks" of the Peninsular army; and I have no doubt that the Turkish Contingent would have deserved the same appellation; but my right hon. Friend must compare times in these cases as well as men, and he must recollect the time when the Portuguese force obtained the designation which they so well deserved. They had been longer in organisation under British officers than the Turkish Contingent, which had only just been formed. Why, Sir, I know it has often been said that the Portuguese troops at Vimiero and Ciudad Rodrigo fled at the sight of a shell; while, at the storming of St. Sebastian, at a later period of the war, the bodies found most forward in the assault were some of those Portuguese soldiers who had formerly shown so great a fear of danger. This change was not effected by mere pay and clothing, but by the better leading of British officers, and the confidence in their own steadiness and discipline which they had acquired. So it would have been in the Turkish Contingent; and I have not the least hesitation in saying that, if the war had gone on another year, we should 1894 have seen in the ensuing campaign the Turkish Contingent behaving with the same gallantry and courage with which the brave Turks under Williams defended Kars, and adding fresh laurels to those which their countrymen won at Silistria and on the banks of the Danube. But at that moment it would have been madness to send this half-formed, half-clad, and half-organised Contingent into the field; and this applied not only to their being sent as part of Omar Pasha's relieving army, but to their being posted at Balaklava in exchange for the 12,000 Turks who were some of the best troops in Omar Pasha's army. It was, therefore, out of the question at that moment to send the Contingent either to Redout-Kaleh or to Trebizond. We, therefore, on that single point maintained—and I think properly—that the Turkish Contingent ought not to form any part of that force. It was also a question whether Omar Pasha should be allowed to take from Balaklava the 12,000 Turks who held that important defensive position. It has been said that Omar Pasha might have been allowed to take away that force from Eupatoria, and it has also been said that we were wrong in not insisting that those troops should be so taken. But who commanded at Eupatoria? It was the French General D' Allonville. What right had we to insist that General D' Allonville should give up a part of the force that he considered necessary? We were bound by the opinion of General D'Allonville. If that position had been occupied by an English General, should we have agreed to allow a French general to declare what that English general should do, and what portion of his force he should relinquish? The main question was, whether Omar Pasha should take that great force from Balaklava as the foundation of his expedition, whether to Trebizond or to Redout-Kalch. Against that proposition General Pelissier and General Simpson both protested. They said they could not spare a single man from before Sebastopol; and I must say that I think that, on the whole, they were right. Sebastopol was the great object of the campaign. Sebastopol had stood against us for twelve months, and it was a great object to conquer the resistance there. We were quite sure that if Sebastopol were taken, we might get back Kars if it had fallen; but if we failed to take Sebastopol, the calamity would be great, and the object of the campaign would be entirely lost. I think that no man of reasonable views 1895 will maintain that the Governments of England and France were not right in upholding the decision of their generals, that no portion of the troops should be taken from Sebastopol until Sebastopol had fallen before the attack of the Allies. The question, then, resolves itself into—nothing. The censure that is cast upon us is, in fact, a censure for having done our best to get possession of Sebastopol. It is a censure for having pursued a course which would end the great objects of the war, and for not having taken a course which would have defeated the great objects of the campaign. I am quite content to take our stand on that issue. Notwithstanding the deep sympathy which every man must have felt in the calamitous surrender of General Williams—the conqueror yielding to the conquered—I put it to every reasonable man in the country whether the Government would not have been to blame if, in attempting to throw a force upon the extreme point of Kars, we had risked the accomplishment of the great object which the forces of the two countries had for so many months struggled to attain. I think, then, there has been neither want of energy nor want of foresight on the part of the Government. I think there has been no want of energy in the speeches on the other side. There has been plenty of energy, but want of foresight, I think, one may say they have shown. The principle has been laid down by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) that the duty of the Opposition is to oppose, and also to criticise—which no one will deny. He says, too, that if the leader of an Opposition wants to keep his party together, he must bring them into action from time to time, even although he may know that he is about to expose them to great and disastrous defeat. That is true also; and if they come into' action with a conviction and knowledge on his part that he is about to lead them to a defeat, that may show no want of foresight, but I may say it shows some little want of judgment. Sir, I have been the first to do justice to the course which the right hon. Gentleman and his party have pursued during the war. With those little exceptions to which my noble Friend behind me has adverted, where flesh and blood could not withstand the temptation—such, for example, as the opposition to giving the Turks money, without which the war could not go on, and the attempt to prevent us from raising additional troops 1896 in the first operations of the war—with those exceptions I am willing to admit that the course which they have taken has been most honourable to themselves and perfectly in accordance with the general feeling of the country. They have felt that the nation was engaged in a war which the whole nation thought just and right, and for which the people have made great sacrifices, and they have abstained from embarrassing or impeding the course of the Government. That is a course which was perfectly in unison with public opinion, and which is honourable to them; but it is one which, looking back to former periods of our history, an Opposition has not always pursued. Now the war is over abroad, and it seems it is about to begin at home. The Opposition revives, and now resorts to its natural functions, one of which is trying to turn the Government out. There is no imputation on an Opposition for wishing to do that—it is the natural desire and function of an Opposition; and even when they have no power of dispossessing the Government they may take up subjects upon which they believe they have the people with them, in order to keep their party together and to keep themselves alive. But in the present case I think they have chosen their moment injudiciously. For what is the moment they have chosen?—and although they have proposed what the right hon. Gentleman calls a mere expression of abstract opinion, yet when a censure is proposed on a Government to the extent of saying that they have neither energy nor foresight, I do not know what other quality is to be left them; for certainly a Government possessing neither energy nor foresight is not one which the House of Commons would long like to see in their places. Sir, what is the moment they have chosen for this censure? We have just brought to a close a war that has been carried on with admirable energy—a war that has been carried on at a great distance from our shores, with an army which was originally sent out, although in small numbers, yet with greater expedition, greater rapidity, and better equipped than any army that ever left this country. It is only just to the Duke of Newcastle to bear testimony to this. This army, indeed, being beyond the control of the home Government, was exposed to great privation, and experienced great misery; but since that time, by the persevering energy of my noble Friend at the head of the 1897 War Department—who has been attacked during this debate, first upon this despatch and then upon another despatch, but who has earned a, title to the gratitude of his country for the successful energy with which he followed up the campaign—the army now in the Crimea has been brought into a state of admirable efficiency, supply, health, and order, which commands the admiration of all who have seen it. While, then, on the one hand, we have shown the utmost energy with regard to the efficiency of the army and navy, we have not, on the other hand, been deficient in foresight as regards the conditions of peace. Those who take the trouble to look at those conditions will find that we have foreseen all those matters with respect to which provisions could be included in a treaty, and that, as far as political foresight can go, we have provided against any future dangers to the Turkish Empire, whose protection from danger was the object of the war. Yet at the very moment when, as I contend, the Government have proved their energy in the prosecution of the war, and their foresight in the stipulations of peace, when the country is satisfied with the results of the war and with the peace that has been concluded, the hon. and learned Gentleman steps in with a vote of censure—a vote, I undertake to say, not more at variance with the general feeling of the country than, as the division of to-night will show, it is at variance with the opinion of the House of Commons. I think, therefore, that the hon. Gentlemen opposite, whatever may have been their energy in debate, have shown little foresight as to the result of this Motion, and I am satisfied that if they pursue the duty of opposition with no more judgment than they have displayed with regard to the Motion now under consideration, the people of this country will be of opinion that the longer they sit where they do the better it will be for the country. Upon these grounds I go with confidence to the division that is about to take place.
§ MR. WHITESIDE,
in reply, said: The noble Lord who has just sat down has maintained a strange proposition, that in discussing the question of the war a Member of Parliament has no right to refer to India or Persia, or to deal with the subject as connected with Imperial interests, but that he ought to confine himself to the contents of the Blue-book. From that proposition of the noble Lord I utterly dissent; and I insist that all the most 1898 eminent Members of the party to which the noble Lord belonged have repeatedly and emphatically admitted the intimate connection which necessarily exists between the maintenance of our reputation in the East and the promotion of some of the highest interests of the empire; and the noble Lord has not proved their arguments to be unfounded. But no speech uttered on the other side of the House has excited in me so much astonishment as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. By some speeches we are instructed, by others we are inspired, and by others again we are confounded. Now, without meaning any personal disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman, the last was the impression produced on me by his speech, for one more extraordinary I never heard. The right hon. Gentleman contended that Kars was a place of little or no value, and that its loss could have exercised but an imperceptible influence on the war. I can very confidently assure the right hon. Gentleman that that is an opinion in which he will find it extremely difficult to induce the rational people of this country to concur. The noble Lord, adopting an equally inadmissible doctrine, contended that England had never seriously embarked in a war in Asia, and that, in fact, it was no part of our plans to intermeddle in that war. [Viscount PALMERSTON said, that what he had said was, that that was no part of our plans until last year.] I do not see how that statement can help the noble Lord. Look at the letters in this book. By the words of his own colleague I will confute him. How many despatches are there here calling upon General Williams for full and perfect information with respect to the army in Asia Minor? Why?—because in the ensuing spring Asia Minor was to be the theatre of an important war. Every word of the noble Lord is contradicted by the facts. Why was General Williams sent to Asia in 1854 to make inquiries, unless for the reasons stated by the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Clarendon—that Asia Minor would in the ensuing spring become the theatre of important operations? But, to screen the nothingness of his own Administration, to defend their policy, to endeavour to satisfy the public that it was right to do nothing, the noble Lord is compelled to adopt the extraordinary figment of his Chancellor of the Exchequer, and say, "We had nothing to do with the war in Asia; it was not our business 1899 to undertake it. We sent out a Commissioner to inquire into the misfortunes of our Allies, but not to assist them." The noble Lord the Member for London took the same course; but a statesman of his high position cannot do so with impunity after the language which he held on a former occasion. Did the noble Lord say we had nothing to do with the war in Asia in February, when he was ushering the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton into power? What did the noble Lord then say? Why, in reference to the warning of the hon. Member for Aylesbury, that the British Government ought to send troops to Asia Minor to defeat the Russian invasion which would take place in the spring, the noble Lord said that—The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the necessity of providing some force to meet the invasion of Russia in that quarter; that that was a most important subject, and had occupied his mind very much, but that he could not find he received from Lord Aberdeen that support he had hoped for when that matter had been brought under the consideration of the Government.Do these noble Lords think they can trifle longer with the people of this country? The noble Lord the Prime Minister has boasted of the triumph he is about to obtain on this Motion—it is possible that he will obtain a majority; but I will remind the noble Lord that votes are not arguments, and majorities cannot alter the force of truth. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said that the Aberdeen Administration, of which he was then a Member, would not listen to the voice of reason, and refused to provide forces to meet the Russian invasion, and that therefore he overthrew it; and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton now makes a speech in flat contradiction of what was then spoken in his praise by the noble Lord the Member for London. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said that I alluded disrespectfully to the four gallant Englishmen who were sent to Kars. My consolation is, that I was better understood by the relatives of those gallant men than by the noble Lord; for, since I addressed the House, I unexpectedly received from some of them an acknowledgment thanking me for the manner in which I have referred to their services. I have not the same graces of eloquence as the noble Lord, but I speak the sincere conviction of my heart when I say that Teesdale, Thompson, Lake, and Williams did far more honour to their country than any of Her Majesty's Government. They trampled on Lord Clarendon's 1900 despatch of July ordering them to abandon Kars, they fought against famine and the Russians, they saved our arms from a stain, and us from an ignominious peace. The noble Lord has also made a reference to my remarks on the conduct of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and has insinuated that I must have been under some influence which prevented my frankly expressing my views on that subject. What right has the noble Lord to tell us of what has been said elsewhere by this or that noble Lord; and if such a thing did occur, what right has he to found upon it a criticism of a Member of this House? But it is all pure romance! I wish to set myself right with the House upon this point. The charge against me is, that some one suggested to me to speak that which I did not believe to be true of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. To that charge I give a flat denial. When I read the Blue-book I said to my friends that I was satisfied no honest man could stand up in Parliament and justify Lord Stratford's conduct, that I would not appear before this House unless I was at full liberty to speak the dictates of my heart, to condemn in the strongest manner the conduct of Lord Stratford, and to pronounce my opinion that Lord Stratford as a public servant had been insolent to his inferiors and disobedient to his superiors. What is the defence of the noble Lord? He regrets nothing, explains nothing, retracts nothing; but he upholds conduct which, if sanctioned by this House, will convert our Generals and Ambassadors into despotic tyrants, disobedient to the Government at home, and insulting to those under their control abroad. I am charged with inconsistency because I spoke what I believed to be true. I said Lord Stratford's conduct to General Williams was inexcusable; and I have now, since I introduced the Resolution, learnt one fact, which is decisive against Lord Stratford de Redcliffe; I now know that General Williams, even without a supply of money, could have obtained the provisions which he required, if he had been invested in time with the authority for which he applied in vain. True, I also said that Lord Stratford wrote many able despatches. When he got alarmed and allowed his judgment to overmaster his temper he did write able despatches and point out what ought to be done; but then it is a very remarkable fact, that the recommendations of these very dispatches 1901 were utterly disregarded by the Government at home, because, they said, they were then busy with Sebastopol. I now beg to withdraw what I said the other night about £100,000. I have now ascertained that the sum of £27,000 would have saved Kars. Looking to the pay of the Turkish soldiers, and the price of provisions, I have heard that credit given to General Williams for £30,000 would have saved Kars; and you (the Ministers) stand up and say that you could not give that aid, because you were engaged in taking Sebastopol, though you had already been told by the hon. Member for Aylesbury that the loss of Sebastopol to the Russians was not so great as the loss of Kars to England. Then we are told that we have no right to speak on this delicate subject; but did not Fox rise and impeach Ministry after Ministry when he thought they had misconducted the affairs of war? And why should not we call the present Ministry to account when we believed them to be guilty? Then it was said that we resisted the passing of the Foreign Enlistment Act. Well, the policy of that measure is questionable; but when there was an army of natives in Asia Minor, a useful army ready to fight for their country, and when a little sum of money would have kept that army together, you refused to give it, while, at the same time, by your policy on the foreign enlistment question you bring the relations of your country into confusion all over the world. It has been intimated that we shall not appear strong in the division; but I do not know who is going to desert us—perhaps the administrative reformers, those mock patriots on all occasions, ready to create agitation for some abstract question, but who, when a practical abuse is placed before their eyes, will preserve the abuse to uphold the men. But we strike both at the men and the abuse. I am, indeed, surprised that we are not to have the vote of the hon. Member for Aylesbury. I should have thought that if there was any Member who was bound by his antecedent declarations to vote for such a Motion, it was the hon. Gentleman. At his speech I was utterly astonished. Will the public believe it? The hon. Member justified Lord Stratford by delicately saying—but it was, in fact, severe censure—that it was unfortunate that the noble Lord did not answer General Williams's letters. Nay, more, the hon. Gentleman stood up, and though I have not heard any other man defend the conduct 1902 of Lord Panmure, yet the hon. Member said, that if he had been asked the question put to Lord Panmure respecting Kars he would have been more precise and definite in the misstatement of the truth. If that is the hon. Member's morality, it is not the morality of the gentlemen of England. When such questions are put, a Minister may preserve silence if he pleases, yet he has no right to say that which he knows not to be the truth. But,The age of virtuous politics is past,And we are deep in that of cold pretence;Patriots are grown too shrewd to be sincere,And we too wise to trust them.The great question is now before the House. Whatever may be the result, we at least have done our duty, and it is satisfactory to know, in examining this miserable business, that it is not in the power of a Ministry to efface the glories of the past, and that the mighty names of Nelson and Wellington will keep fresh the memory of our naval victories and preserve the lustre of our military triumphs.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I did not like to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman in the early part of his speech, in which he misconceived what I stated with respect to the war in Asia. What I stated, or meant to state, was, that during the attack on Sebastopol, and until Sebastopol was taken, we had nothing to do with the war then going on in Asia; but I did not mean to say that after Sebastopol was taken we should not have made a campaign in Georgia, because it is well known that that formed part of our intentions.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 451; Noes 52: Majority 399.
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 176; Noes 303: Majority 127.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Beresford, rt. hon. W.|
|Alexander, J.||Bernard, Visct.|
|Annesley, Earl of||Bignold, Sir S.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.||Blake, M. J.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Blakemore, T. W. B.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||Blandford, Marquess of|
|Bailey, C.||Boldero, Col.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Bowyer, G.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Bramley-Moore, J.|
|Ball, E.||Buck, Col.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Bateson, T.||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Bellow, T. A.||Burrowes, R.|
|Bennet, P.||Butt, G. M.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Cabbell, B. B.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Cairns, H M'C.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Lisburne, Earl of|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Lushington, C. M.|
|Chandos, Marquess of||Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.|
|Christy, S.||Macartney, G.|
|Clinton, Lord C. P.||MacEvoy, E.|
|Clive, hon. R. W.||MacGregor, James|
|Cocks, T. S.||M' Mahon, P.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Coles, H. B.||Malins, R.|
|Compton, H. C.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Conolly, T.||March, Earl of|
|Corbally, M. E.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Michell, W.|
|Cubitt, Mr. Ald.||Montgomery, H. L.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Moore, G. H.|
|Davies, J. L.||Mowbray, J. R.|
|Davison, R.||Murrough, J. P.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Naas, Lord|
|Dod, J. W.||Napier, rt. hon. J.|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Newport, Visct.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Dundas, G.||North, Col.|
|Dunne, Col.||Northcote, Sir S. H.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Oakes, J. H. P.|
|Elmley, Vict.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Packe, C. W.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Packington, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Farrer, J.||Palk, L.|
|Fitzgerald, W. R. S.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Floyer, J.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Follett, B. S.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||Rushout, G.|
|Forster, Sir G.||Rust, J.|
|Franklyn, G. W.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Galway, Visct.||Sibthorp, Maj.|
|George, J.||Smijth, Sir W.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Smith, A.|
|Graham, Lord M. W.||Somerset, Col.|
|Grogan, E.||Spooner, R.|
|Guernsey, Lord||Stafford, A.|
|Guinness, R. S.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Gwyn, H.||Stanley, Lord|
|Halford, Sir H.||Starkie, L. G. N.|
|Hall, Gen.||Stracey, Sir H. J.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Stuart, Capt.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Hamilton, rt. hn. R. C. N.||Swift, R.|
|Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Handcock, hon. Capt.||Tottenham, C.|
|Hardy, G.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Vance, J.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Vansittart, G. H.|
|Herbert, Sir T.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Vernon, L. V.|
|Hume, W. F.||Vyse, Col.|
|Irton, S.||Walcott, Adm.|
|Jolliffe, H. H.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Jones, Adm.||Warren, S.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Whiteside, J.|
|Kendall, N.||Whitmore, H.|
|Kennedy, T.||Wigram, L. T.|
|King, J. K.||Williams, T. P.|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Knight, F. W.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Knox, Col.||Wyndham, H.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Wynne, rt. hon. J.|
|Langton, W. G.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||TELLERS.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.||Jolliffe, Sir W.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Taylor, Col.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Drumlanrig, Visct.|
|Acton, J.||Drummond, H.|
|Adair, H. E.||Duff, G. S.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Alcock, T.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Duncan, G.|
|Antrobus, E.||Dundas, F,|
|Atherton, W.||Dungarvan, Visct.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Dunlop, A. M.|
|Ball, J.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Baring, H. B.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F.T.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Barnes, T.||Ellice, E.|
|Bass, M. T.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Esmonde, J.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Estcourt, T. H. S.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Euston, Earl of|
|Beckett, W.||Ewart, W.|
|Bell, J.||Ewart, J. C.|
|Berkeley, Sir M.||Fagan, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Fenwick, H.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Fergus, J.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Ferguson, Col.|
|Biggs, W.||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Black, A.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Bland, L. H.||FitzGerald, Sir J.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||FitzGerald, J. D.|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||FitzRoy, rt. hon. H.|
|Brady, J.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Forster, C.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Forster, J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Fortescue, C. S.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Fox, W. J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Freestun, Col.|
|Brown, H.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Brown, W.||Gifford, Earl of|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Buckley, Gen.||Gordon, hon. A.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Burke, T. J.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Byng, hon. G. H. C.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Greenall, G.|
|Castlerosse, Visct.||Greene, J.|
|Caulfield, Col. J. M.||Greene, T.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Gregson, S.|
|Cavendish, hon. G.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Challis, Mr. Ald.||Greville, Col. F.|
|Chambers, M.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Chambers, T.||Grey, R. W.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Gurney, J. H.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Hadfield, G.|
|Collier, R. P.||Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.|
|Colville, C. R.||Hankey, T.|
|Cowan, C.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hardinge, hon. C. S.|
|Crossley, F.||Hastie, Alexander|
|Currie, R.||Hastie, Archibald|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Headlam, T. E.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Heard, J. I.|
|Deasy, R.||Heathcote, hon. G. H.|
|Denison, E.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Denison, J. E.||Heneage, G. F.|
|Dent, J. D.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Dering, Sir E.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|De Vere, S. E.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Heywood, J.|
|Divett, E.||Higgins, Col. O.|
|Hindley, C.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Hogg, Sir J. W.||Peel, F.|
|Holland, E.||Pellatt, A.|
|Horsman, rt. hon. E.||Perry, Sir T. E.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Philipps, J. H.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Phillimore, J. G.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Phillimore, R. J.|
|Hutchins, E. J.||Pigott, F.|
|Hutt, W.||Pilkington, J.|
|Ingham, H.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Ingram, R.||Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.|
|Jackson, W.||Power, N.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Price, W. P.|
|Johnstone, J.||Pritchard, J.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Ramsden, Sir J. W.|
|Keating, H. S.||Raynham. Visct.|
|Kershaw, J.||Ricardo, O.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Ricardo, S.|
|Kingscote, R. N. F.||Rice, E. R.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Rich, H.|
|Kirk, W.||Richardson, J. J.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Ridley, G.|
|Laffan, R. M.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Langston, J. H.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Langton, H. G.||Rolt, P.|
|Layard, A. H.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Lee, W.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Legh, G. C.||Russell, F. W.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Sawle, C. B. G.|
|Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.||Scholefield, W.|
|Lindsay, W. S.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Luce, T.||Scully, F.|
|Mackie, J.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Seymour, W. D.|
|MacTaggart, Sir J.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Magan, W. H.||Shee, W.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Marshall, W.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Martin, J.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Martin, P. W.||Smith, J. B.|
|Massey, W. N.||Smith, M. T.|
|Milligan, R.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Mills, T.||Smyth, Col.|
|Milner, Sir W. M. E.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Stafford, Marquess of|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Moffatt, G.||Steel, J.|
|Monck, Visct.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Moncrieff, rt. hon. J.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.||Sullivan, M.|
|Morris, D.||Sutton, J. H. M.|
|Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Mowatt, F.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Mulgrave, Earl of||Thompson, G.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Thornely, T.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Thornhill, W. P.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Tite, W.|
|North, F.||Tomline, G.|
|O'Brien, P.||Traill, G.|
|O'Brien, J.||Uxbridge, Earl of|
|O'Connell, Capt. J.||Vane, Lord H.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Oliveira, B.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Osborne, R.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Otway, A. J.||Waddington, D.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Walter, J.|
|Palmer, Roundell||Warner, E.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Waterpark, Lord|
|Patten, Col. W.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Paxton, Sir J.||Watson, W. H.|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Wells, W.|
|Whatman, J.||Wise, J. A.|
|Whitbread, S.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Wickham, H. W.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Wilkinson, W. A.||Wyndham, W.|
|Willcox, B. M 'G.||Wyvill, M.|
|Wilson, J.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Winnington, Sir T. E.||Berkeley, G. C. L.|
§ The House adjourned at half after one o'clock.