§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I rise, Sir, in pursuance of the notice which I have given, to propose to this House to return its thanks and to express its acknowledgments for the great and eminent services performed by that portion of the Army and Navy which was engaged in the operations of the war; and for the zeal and merit of the Embodied Militia at home and abroad during the period in which we have been engaged in hostilities. Sir, it was natural that a nation, on the termination of a successful war and on the conclusion of an honourable and satisfactory peace, should be led by its first impulse to the temples of religious worship, in order to render thanks to that Almighty Power which directed and favoured our arms during the war, and which has blessed our councils in the negotiations for peace. The next duty which is incumbent on the country is to return its thanks and to express its acknowledgments to those brave and gallant men who have, under the blessing of Divine Providence, been the instruments by which our success in war has been accomplished, and the conditions of peace have been obtained. It is the peculiar privilege of a free people that, upon occasions on which the national gratitude has to be expressed, they are entitled, as by right, to participate with the Crown in the expression of the national feeling. In other countries, which are not so fortunate in their institutions as we are, those honourable expressions of gratitude are confined to the Sovereign alone; and the brave men who have perilled their lives or wasted their constitutions in the service of their country have not the additional satisfaction of knowing that, in conjunction with the approbation of the Sovereign, they receive the grateful and heartfelt thanks of their country. Sir, the value of that co-operation of the Crown 217 and the people is well known and cannot be over estimated. We all remember the remarkable expression of that gallant hero, Nelson, who going into action exclaimed, "Now for Westminster Abbey or the House of Lords," thereby anticipating the co-operation of the Crown and of Parliament for those acknowledgments of the services which he might be considered to deserve. If, then, the hopes of such reward are a consolation even to those men who think that their lives may not be spared to enable them to enjoy it themselves, how much more is it grateful to those who anticipate that they may themselves live and receive the acknowledgments and thanks of a grateful country. Sir, there never was a war in which the brave Army and Navy of England better deserved the thanks of their country than the war in which we have lately been engaged. There have, it is true, been wars much longer in duration and more diversified by great events; there have been wars in which greater battles have been fought, and in which operations have been conducted on a larger scale; but there have been few wars attended with results more important, and there have been none in which those various qualities which, perhaps, in a peculiar degree, belong to Englishmen have been more nobly displayed. There has never been a war in which our brave men have had better or more frequent opportunities of displaying that impetuous courage in attack and that irresistible intrepidity in defence, combined with that power of enduring privations and all those other qualities which adorn our soldiers and our sailors, than in the war which we have just terminated.
Sir, when the war began, in March, 1854, there sailed from the shores of this country a gallant band of about 10,000 men. At that time the anticipations of the country did not, I think, go beyond the idea of fortifying the Dardanelles and protecting Constantinople. Few men at that time imagined that that gallant band would be increased in amount to the force at which the Army in the East now stands. Few ever expected that that little band would by successive augmentations accomplish the great results which have crowned its labours. Gradually, however, was that small band swelled by fresh instalments from this country, until that noble Army was formed which has accomplished such deeds of bravery; it was like the cloud in eastern climes which, 218 at first no larger than a man's hand on the distant horizon, gradually overspreads the canopy of Heaven, and bursts with a power that nothing is able to resist. That band of 10,000 men has been multiplied by ten, for there are now under the command of the British general in the Crimea forces amounting to no less than 100,000 men; and had the war continued the results of their operations, would, I am persuaded, have contributed still further to justify that Vote of thanks which it is now my duty to propose. The events of the war are too well known to require any detailed recapitulation on the part of any one discharging the duty which now devolves upon me. It is well known that that gallant army, after a temporary sojourn upon the coast of European Turkey, when it was found that by the cessation of the siege of Silistria no immediate necessity for its continuing any longer in that position, was transferred, in conjunction with that of our Allies, to the coast of the Crimea. Every Member of this House recollects the glorious battle of the Alma. Every one remembers the daring intrepidity with which, led by that gallant soldier—that hero, as I will call him, whose loss we all lament—Lord Raglan, the British Army, in conjunction with that of our Allies, who, side by side with them, equally shared their dangers, notwithstanding the resistance of the enemy, carried heights which might have been deemed impregnable when held by the soldiers who then defended them. Not long after that battle—after the flank-march had taken place and the siege of Sebastopol was begun—came another battle equally severe—I mean the battle of Inkerman. It is, I must say, a remarkable circumstance that those two battles, following each other so closely as they did, should have brought so prominently into sight the best qualities of the British soldier, for while, on the one hand, the battle of the Alma proved that nothing could resist the rush of British troops, that no enemy could maintain a position, however strong, against the intrepid dash of a British Army; so, on the other hand, the battle of Inkerman showed that a British Army, placed to defend a position, is always able, by whatever troops it may be attacked, and however they may be superior in number, by the stern resolution and the steadiness of the British character to maintain that position against any troops which may be brought against it. That 219 defence at Inkerman reminds me of an incident at Waterloo, when an officer who asked the Duke of Wellington, whose position was threatened by an overpowering force of cavalry, what he intended to do, received the simple answer, "I don't mean to budge from here to-night."
So again at Inkerman no power that was brought against them was able to dispossess the British from the position which they held. Then again, Sir, there was that memorable battle of Balaklava—a battle in which all arms had an opportunity of distinguishing themselves. At that battle the gallant 93rd, when charged by a large body of cavalry and disdaining the ordinary tactics of forming into a square, and without any recourse to any of those operations to which infantry usually resort in order to repel the attack of cavalry, stood in extended line, and by their steady fire repelled the attacking force. In that battle the cavalry had also the opportunity of showing of what British cavalry are capable. The charge of the heavy cavalry, which cut through the Russian battlions, was one of the most glorious achievements of the war, and was attended with complete success. The charge of the light cavalry, unfortunately not successful—and the circumstances of the case were such that it could not have been expected to be successful—was one of the most heroic enterprises ever undertaken. It was an enterprise of which the countrymen of the brave men who undertook it may well be proud, and one which will live in the record of history as long as the memory of those days shall survive. There were also two other memorable occasions on which the British Army displayed its heroic courage, and of which the English people may well be proud—I mean the two assualts on the Redan on the 18th of June and the 8th of September. Those attacks were, it is true, not attended with success, and, indeed, it was hardly possible that they could succeed, but I think that no man can fail in admiring the daring courage which led those brave men to traverse an open space of 250 yards exposed to the most murderous fire of cannon, of musketry, and of everything which could be used to deter an enemy from proceeding in his attack; and in spite of all the difficulty and dangers to which they were exposed—dangers which would have made any other men quail—they went on, and the survivors, while their comrades were falling by hundreds around 220 them, nobly performed their duty and entered the enemy's fortifications; and I am sure that even though they were not able to maintain that position, they could not have obtained greater glory than they did.
Then, again, the events of the war have brought into play those qualities which I think that the people of this country peculiarly possess. Bravery in action is a quality which we do not pretend to monopolise; it is a quality which is shared by other nations, and, while we are proud of it ourselves, we honour and respect it in others. But the power of endurance, the power of submitting to privations and silent sufferings, is, perhaps, a quality still more to be admired, as being, perhaps, less general than the quality that boldly leads men to face danger, and that quality our Army has had ample opportunities of displaying. All must remember the accounts, unhappily too true, of the privations which, during that dreary Crimean winter—notwithstanding all the efforts which were made by the Government at home, and notwithstanding the fact that large quantities of those things which were essential to the well-being and comfort of the troops were almost within their reach, though, unfortunately unavailable, from a want of arrangement, perhaps necessarily incidental to the first beginning of operations upon so large a scale, at so great a distance, and after so long a period of peace—were endured by our brave troops. At that time they were called upon to perform a duty which has seldom or never befallen an army in the field. They had to carry on siege operations of a most difficult character. As a general rule, when a large army invests a fortress, however large the fortress may be, its garrison is limited in extent, and its weakness is known to the besieging force. It is generally a matter of scientific calculation at what period a breach may be made, and the superior attacking army place itself in personal conflict with the inferior army within the town; but the siege of Sebastopol was of a totally different character. There were two Armies equal in number, or if there were any difference at the commencement of the siege, perhaps the Army of the enemy was the larger of the two, and throughout the whole of the siege operations the garrison had an open communication with the rear, and reinforcements were perpetually pouring in from the interior. The position of the enemy precluded 221 battle in the field, and our Army had therefore to carry on the operations of the siege, not against, a limited fortress and garrison, but against the whole military power of the Russian Empire. The operations of a siege so conducted necessarily imposed on our brave and gallant troops an amount of fatigue, followed by sickness, which has seldom occurred, for so long a period, in the military history of the world. Our men bore their sufferings with the same steadiness with which at Alma they scaled and carried the heights of the enemy, and with which at Inker-man they bore the brunt of that bloody field, and defended their own position; and to the honour of the British soldier be it said, that in the long course of those operations they displayed, not only courage and endurance, but that generosity which belongs also, I am proud to say, to the character of our countrymen. It is well known that many a private soldier, whose health had been impaired by his services, who ought to have gone into hospital, and was advised to do so, refused to avail himself of the permission, or to comply with the order, because he said, "If I go into hospital the duty will fall heavier upon my comrades, who are as little able to bear it as myself. I will go on as long as I can, and I will share with them the difficulties and dangers, whatever they may be." The history of this war amply illustrates the well-known adage that,—Noble actions may as well be doneBy weaver's issue as by prince's son.The private soldiers were distinguished by every quality which gives dignity to human nature, while of the conduct of their officers it is impossible to say too much. Such, then, having been the bearing of our brave soldiers, without entering into any further details, I think that you will readily concur that there cannot be a fitter occasion upon which this House, as the organ of the national sentiment, should express its thanks and convey its acknowledgments to those brave men who have thus earned the gratitude of their country.
Sir, regarding the great and glorious deeds of those who survive, it is impossible not to remember with feelings of regret those of whose services the country has been deprived. We have lost many a brave and gallant officer, and many a brave and gallant man. Some have perished in the field of battle; others have fallen, not less in the service of 222 their country, by the wasting effects of fatigue and disease. But those who have suffered private losses must, at least, have the consolation of thinking, whether their gallant relatives fell in the field of battle or by wasting disease, that they are equally entitled to the gratitude and admiration of their countrymen, and that their names will equally live in the fond and proud recollection of England. We lost, in the first place, that great man—for so on account of his noble qualities and noble conduct may he well be called—Lord Raglan. He had reached a time of life when, without any disparagement to himself, he might have declined the active service proposed to him. He held high and important official situations here. He had won his spurs in former wars, by the side of his great Commander and friend, the Duke of Wellington. He was of an age when men are generally considered exempt from active duty, but, having devoted all his life to the public service, he would not shrink at the last from the call which his Sovereign and his country thought proper to make upon him. He fell a sacrifice to the performance of his duties. I am convinced that the only feeling of regret which crossed his mind at the last moment of his life was, that he had not had the good fortune to fall in the field of battle—the dangers of which he had often so bravely and freely encountered—and the consolation to breathe his last in the front of an enemy, rather than in the manner in which it pleased Providence to remove him. Sir, we cannot sufficiently lament those other gallant Generals who fell in the course of this war. We lost Cathcart, Goldie, Strangways, Torrens—aye! Tor-rens, for though he did not die in the Crimea, he sank under wounds received there. We also lost Adams, Yea, Shad-forth, Estcourt, Sir John Campbell, and other names which belong to the same catalogue of brave officers; but it must be a satisfaction to the families and friends of those men that, though by the will of Heaven they were taken, they died in a noble cause, maintaining the honour of their country and their own dignity. Sir, though our losses are deeply to be deplored, yet, upon the whole, taking into consideration the great difficulties which our Army had to encounter, the various battles they have fought, the different services on which they have been employed, it cannot be said that the number is greater than might inevitably have been expected. The whole 223 amount of casualties of all kinds in the course of the war—that is to say, the whole number withdrawn from the Army by death in the field, by death in hospital, or by discharges under various circumstances, amounts to 22,457, of which the number killed in action was comparatively small. I do not mean to underrate the value and magnitude of those losses. At the same time, when we compare the disasters of war with those calamities to which all nations are subject—with the sweeping scourge of pestilence, for example, which may often be averted or mitigated by the aids of science, although they are not sufficiently employed for that purpose—it must be remembered that one epidemic sweeps away far more men than those I have enumerated, and we may be thankful that the war has been concluded without a greater sacrifice of the lives of our countrymen. It has been said that in peace sons bury their fathers, and in war fathers bury their sons; but it cannot be impressed too much upon our minds that there are calamities which sweep away both fathers and sons, and leave mothers, widows, and orphans deploring their loss, and reduced to wretchedness and poverty—calamities which may be often averted and mitigated, as I have just said, by the application of scientific means within our power. I, therefore, say we have reason to be thankful that, under Divine Providence, our losses have not been greater. Now, Sir, what has been the loss of our enemy? I say, upon authority which I believe to be good, that on the heights surrounding Sebastopol 90,000 Russians lie buried beneath the soil; and that the Russian Army, from one cause or another, lost during the war no less than 500,000 men. I say it not with any object of exultation. It increases the regret that the war should have been forced upon us; but it may have been one instrument by which the peace was brought about; and we have reason to be thankful that in prosecuting a just and necessary war to so successful a result, we have done so at an amount of loss so much less than that of our opponent.
Sir, in this war the Navy had not the same opportunity which the Army had of obtaining brilliant distinction in battle. The enemy with whom we had to contend had occupied himself during many a long year, and spent a large portion of the revenues of his empire in creating an immense fleet as well as a large Army. The mere presence of the British fleet, 224 however, was alone sufficient to deter the enemy's fleet from acting. Neither in the Baltic nor the Black Sea have our gallant sailors had an opportunity of encountering, face to face, the fleets which the Russian Government had prepared. But in the Black Sea our sailors contributed immensely to the success of our military operations. Not content with assisting by every possible effort the operations of the Army, we all know a naval brigade was established on shore—blue jackets fighting in the trenches with red coats— and nothing could exceed the harmony of co-operation, except, perhaps, the intrepidity with which that co-operation was supported. I should not omit to mention that in the Black Sea the operations of our Army were greatly assisted by the daring exploits of our Navy in the Sea of Azoff. Of that sea we had no practical knowledge. Its dangers and difficulties were increased by the want of water; but in that sea our active and enterprising sailors performed exploits of the utmost value to the Army, and which fully entitle them to the thanks of this House. Sir, we might have extended the sphere of our operations in the Black Sea by taking a wider range. We might have laid in ashes Odessa, but it was thought most proper not to do so. It was felt that Odessa was no military or naval fortress, and that its destruction would have inflicted an enormous amount of misery upon a harmless and inoffensive population; so that that which was made a matter of reproach against our Navy for a want of enterprise was the result of a determination to which we must all look back with satisfaction. Sir, in the Baltic, in the first year of our operations my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Charles Napier), whom I name not as a Member of this House, but as a naval commander, accomplished a most difficult and important operation, in conjunction with our French Allies. He found his way though the intricate navigation that led to Bomarsund, and then, in conjunction with the land forces, in the shortest time levelled the fortress to the ground. That was an exploit which did great credit to the naval skill of my hon. and gallant Friend, and it likewise was attended with the most important results; because, if that expedition had not been undertaken, and if Bomarsund had not fallen, we might not have been entitled to stipulate in the treaty that there should no longer be any fortifications or naval establishments in the 225 Aland Isles. That stipulation is of great importance to Sweden, and to the balance of power in the Worth of Europe, and for that we are mainly indebted to the exploit of my hon. and gallant Friend Sir Charles Napier. Well, Sir, in the succeeding campaign an exploit not less brilliant, not less important, and not less difficult, was accomplished by Admiral Dundas in the destruction of the great arsenal of Swea-borg. That exploit deserves to receive a high place in the naval records of this country. It was an enterprise conducted with great skill and with complete success, and would have been attended with further consequences if it had not been that those engines of war which had been supplied would not stand the repeated vise of them which was necessary, and that the season was too far advanced to send an additional supply of mortars to the fleet, although those mortars were ready and would have been sent but for the advanced state of the season. Sir, our gallant sailors, then, are not less entitled than our gallant soldiers to the thanks and admiration of their countrymen.
With regard to them, and with regard to the Army, it must be a source of satisfaction to this country to think that, having started with an Army and Navy on a peace establishment, this country has been able so rapidly to develope her military and naval resources. I do not say this to the praise of this Government or that, for it is to the nation that the merit belongs—to the determined and inflexible courage of the people of this country, who resolved that no efforts should be wanting, that no supplies should be withheld, that no exertions should be spared, to carry on the war with the utmost vigour and success. But it is a proud fact, which will be recorded in the history of Europe, that England, having begun the war with a small Army, and comparatively a small Navy, at the end of two years of exertion, notwithstanding the waste of war, notwithstanding the difficulties of the time required for placing her establishments on a war footing, was able so rapidly to increase her naval and military force, that, having begun the war with a force of 120,000 men in all parts of the world, yet, at the end of the war, we had an Army in the Mediterranean under our Generals, including the foreign corps and the Turkish Contingent, of upwards of 110,000 men; and that, having begun the war with a fleet of comparatively 226 small amount, we ended the war, and were enabled to present at Spithead the spectacle of such a fleet as called forth from the Earl of Derby the eulogy that "No country ever possessed so mighty a naval armament." Sir, we had at the beginning of the war a total amount of 212 ships, and at the end of the war we have 590. Sir, when I mention this augmentation of our military and naval force, it is due to those who are not employed in political situations or in distinguished military service—it is due to that great body of men who are employed in the civil service of this country to do them the justice to say that they deserve the thanks of the country for the great exertions made by them to complete the great additions both to the Army and Navy of this country. Sir, that Army in the Crimea has required immense supplies of every article and material connected with military operations. It has required ammunition of every kind, military stores, clothing, fuel, and every sort of supply. There are some military men in this House who are better able than we civilians to estimate the exertions requisite for supplying an army with everything that is necessary. But any man who will give his mind to the subject will see that, without the greatest exertions, without the utmost energy on the part of all the members of the civil administration engaged in supplying the different things that an army requires, it would be impossible that our Army should be in the condition in which it now is. I will quote Lord Hardinge, who said that "Our Army now in the Crimea is in such a condition, as no army ever before could be said to surpass." Sir, the health of that Army is the admiration of all those who have seen it. That excellent health could only be produced by those detailed arrangements of sanitary and commissariat supply of all kinds which are so essential to the comfort and health of the soldiers and officers, and which are necessary to provision an Army at such a distance, and those exertions are highly meritorious on the part of the gentlemen employed in these services. In the same manner, Sir, with regard to the fleet. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, however great may be his energy and untiring application of the duties of his office, could never have produced such an augmentation of force if he had not been seconded by all the departments of the 227 naval service under him, by all the subordinate officers, by the labourers and artisans of the dockyards—aye, and if he had not been seconded, also, as he had stated, by the private builders of the country, it would have been impossible for him to raise the Navy to the pitch of force such as it now occupies.
Well, Sir, we cannot forget, on the present occasion, the great services rendered by the Militia of the country. Sir, we must remember that that force is composed of men who are enlisted for the home defence of the country, and that it is officered by gentlemen of the country who are generally occupied with other duties and other engagements. But I am bound to say that, when that force was embodied, as great a devotion to the public service was displayed by both officers and men as was shown by any branch of the military and naval service of the country. When Parliament gave the Government the power of accepting the offers of these regiments to go on foreign service, besides the Militia regiments which went to the Mediterranean, thirty-seven other regiments offered their services, which the Government had not at the time any occasion to accept. But there were several regiments that did go abroad. They garrisoned Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Islands. At Gibraltar there were the 3rd Lancashire, the Northampton, and the 2nd West York; at Malta, the East Kent; in the Ionian Islands, the Berkshire, the 1st Lancashire, the 3rd Middlesex, the Oxfordshire, the 1st Staffordshire, and the Wiltshire regiments. There were ten Militia regiments that went, and thirty-seven that offered their services and were ready to go; and I must do them the justice to say that those regiments which went have been reckoned as models of military efficiency. I trust I shall not be taking too great a liberty in mentioning the name of an hon. Member of this House, but the general officer at Gibraltar has stated that, in a long course of military service, he had never seen a regiment better officered than that commanded by Colonel Wilson Patten. Sir, the Militia regiments not merely volunteered their services, but in the course of the war they gave 33,102 men to the ranks of the line. That, Sir, may at first appear a very simple operation, and those who look at it superficially will not fully appreciate its merits. But when we think what must have been the public spirit of the Colonels of Militia regiments, who, 228 when they had, by great exertion and the devotion of much time, trained and disciplined a fine body of men, had the power of mind and the self-denial to encourage the best of those men to go from under their command and enter the regiments of the line, we must feel that their public spirit and their self-denial entitle them to the admiration and the gratitude of this House and of the country.
The Act which enabled the Government to employ foreign corps was for a time not successful in its operation; but, I am glad to say, that at the present moment we have a force of nearly 16,000 men, Germans, Swiss, and Italians, and troops better disciplined, better conducted, more capable of performing all the duties which military men are liable to perform, never wore the British uniform; and I am quite sure that if the war had gone on, the country would have had reason to be thankful to those brave men for the services they would have rendered. With regard, Sir, to the Militia, as well as with regard to the Navy, it is right not to forget that, whereas in former wars the Militia was raised by conscription, and ships of war were filled partly by conscription, there is this remarkable feature in the last war that neither in the Army, nor the Navy, nor in the Militia, is there any one man who has not entered as a volunteer. You have augmented your forces to the vast extent I have mentioned by the public spirit of your people, and yet every man who has entered your service has himself chosen the profession of arms. You have the certainty that all those who have voluntarily entered your naval and military service are men of courage, of enterprise, of daring character—men every one of whom is worth two who might' be compelled to enter that service by conscription. I say, then, that the men both of your Army and of your Navy have well earned the reward which the thanks of this House will confer upon them.
Although it is not, Sir, within the proper functions of the Legislature of one country, however wide may be the range of the functions of Parliament, to interfere as the dispenser of praise or censure —for if praise may be given censure may be given too—between the Sovereigns of other countries and their soldiers and sailors, yet I am quite sure that we cannot for a moment forget the great and important services performed, in co-operation with our forces, by the Army and Navy of our 229 great Ally the Emperor of the French, by the gallant troops of the King of Sardinia, and also by the forces of the Sultan of Turkey. With regard, Sir, to the Army and Navy of France, the mention of their name is sufficient to imply everything that is great, gallant, and heroic in the conduct of men. The French nation have been too well known in all periods of history for the daring gallantry, aye, and for the generosity of their conduct, to require praise or acknowledgment from any living man. History, Sir, is the record of their merits. But, at the same time, we owe them too much—we are too much indebted to them for acts of kindness out of the field of battle, as well as for brave co-operation in the field, for this House not to offer its thanks for the co-operation rendered by the gallant soldiers and sailors of France. Every man in this country values the alliance between the two nations as well as between the two Governments; and it must, therefore, be a matter of satisfaction to them to know that not merely was there a political co-operation between the French and English soldiers and sailors, but that the individual intercourse between the men of the two countries indicated that a feeling of brotherhood existed—that the French and English soldiers and sailors walked about like brothers in arms—and that all former feelings of national jealousy had vanished into empty air, and given place to a real friendship and esteem, founded upon mutual respect. The troops of the King of Sardinia did not arrive in time to take part in those great actions which I have enumerated; but at the battle of the Tchernaya, in which we were not able to take part, they gave proof of that valour and skill which have always characterised the soldiers of that noble kingdom—they displayed a military science which did them infinite honour—and we may be sure that, had the war continued, and had they been called into a more extensive range of action, they would have performed feats which would have rivalled and equalled any recorded in their previous history. Sir, the Turks also did their duty well. For a whole twelvemonth they kept watch and ward at the Danube, and they defended it against all the forces which their Russian enemy was able to bring to bear upon it. Omar Pasha showed great skill in his arrangements, and his troops displayed a courage worthy of the history of their nation. They took the only opportunity afforded them at a subsequent 230 period of the war in the defence of Kars, under the command of our gallant and heroic countryman General Williams, of showing in full force their great qualities. Without, then, dwelling upon events which are too fresh in the minds of all I have the honour to address, to require a more particular description, I am persuaded that I shall have the unanimous concurrence of the House in the Motion which I now, Sir, place in your hands.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I have the high honour to second the Motion of the noble Lord. Although the struggle which has just terminated has, as the noble Lord justly observes, not been of very long duration, yet such is the improvement which has taken place in the means of communication among nations, and so complete, in consequence, has been the information which has reached us from the scene of warfare, that periods of hostility much more prolonged and wars which some may think even more important in their object than the present, have not furnished the chroniclers of history with a greater variety of incidents and characters than the struggle which has just so happily terminated. So great has been the variety of deeds, so numerous hare been the developments of character, which have already become household words in England, that one may say that every village has its hero and every fireside its thrilling tale. The object of the war, Sir, was from the beginning understood by the people of this country, and they approved it, and the contest has been sustained by them with that firmness which can only be derived from conviction. The noble Lord, Sir, dwelt, with a detail into which it would be impertinent in me to enter, upon the peculiar circumstances of the various arms to which we are now ready to express our gratitude. Although these campaigns have not been of such duration as some which have taken place under great captains—those, for instance, of our own Wellington—still I believe there is hardly any variety of warfare which has not been proved during the course of the contest. We have had the pitched battle, and we have had the protracted siege, we have had heights triumphantly gained, we have had heights defended with success. Throughout these campaigns so numerous were the traits of individual bravery and heroism, such were the effects produced by the determination of our soldiers, that I do not know whether, were we to search the 231 most glorious annals of past wars, we should be able to find deeds superior to the achievements of our contemporaries. The noble Lord has also reminded us that the Navy has in these transactions scarcely had the opportunity of distinguishing itself which it deserved, and of which it was fully prepared to avail itself. It is, no doubt, true that the sailors of England have never had the opportunity of meeting in pitched fight the naval armaments of the enemy, but we must remember that by their enterprise the flag of England has waved triumphantly upon waters where it had never before penetrated. The noble Lord has likewise asked us to express our thanks to a third arm of the service—the Marines—equal in every quality to the other two, whose daring deeds will, I am sure, always receive, as they have deserved, the admiration of this House. That is an arm which on various occasions in the wars of this country has rendered great services, for which it deserves the utmost praise which this House can bestow. I was very glad, also, that the noble Lord dwelt with so much feeling and so much justice upon the services of the Embodied Militia. The manner in which the people of this country when the Militia was embodied rallied round their natural loaders is one of the most significant and gratifying proofs that the heart of England is true. The noble Lord has stated that ten regiments of Militia have served in our foreign garrisons during the late war; but the House should always recollect that it is not merely those ten distinguished regiments that have defended our Mediterranean garrisons which have been employed in active service during the war; but that those thirty-seven regiments which, in a manner so much to their credit, offered their services to the Sovereign, may be said in a certain sense to have partaken in the battles that have been fought. From their ranks those 30,000 good and well-tried soldiers were collected—from their ranks many of the youth of England entered into the service of the Queen; and we may recollect with pride—common, I am sure to both sides of the House—that the gentlemen of England have during the war garrisoned our arsenals in this country and defended our strong places abroad; and that many of those Gentlemen are Members of this House. The noble Lord has treated with justice the subject of our cordial relations with our Allies throughout the struggle. Admirable as was the fortune of Marlborough and Eugène, I 232 think, if we look back to the co-operation whick took place between England and her Allies, that we shall see that it has not been inferior in concord, sympathy, and generosity to that which prevailed in that illustrious age. But while I would join with the noble Lord in the fullest expression of thanks, even to our Allies—if formally we might offer them—let us remember that there are some who were not our Allies, who were not the soldiers of our Sovereign, to whom it would be not only generous but wise to do justice. The father of poetry, it is, I think, who tells us that the strength of a conqueror cannot be more surely estimated than by the character of him whom he has conquered. Sir, the men whom the forces of the Queen and her Allies had to meet in the great struggle which is now concluded were no common men. The legions that triumphed tinder Suwarroff and fought at the Borodino, although defeated at Se-bastopol, have proved themselves foemen worthy of the united chivalry of England and of France. In doing this justice to our late opponents we are, in fact, only placing the achievements of our fellow-countrymen and our Allies in their true aspect and proper position. Sir, I have great pleasure in seconding the Motion of the noble Lord; and, if it were not presumption, I would express my opinion that when the verdict—I will not say of posterity—but that when the calm and unimpassioned verdict of the time in which we live is given upon these events, it will be acknowledged that in the late struggle our country has shown all those qualities which maintain a nation's greatness, and which prevent the decline and fall of empires.
said, that the noble Lord, who had so eloquently moved that the thanks of the House be given to the Army and Navy, and who has been followed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, has observed that the Navy had not attracted that degree of enthusiasm which had been bestowed upon the Army, because it had not, in contest with the enemy, accomplished those brilliant achievements which had distinguished the Army. Events succeed each other so rapidly that the popularity of yesterday is unnoticed to-day, and may be forgotten to-morrow. It must be remembered, however, that to the Navy had been intrusted the delicate and important duty of practically commencing the alliance with France. When the two armies arrived in the East, 233 and met as brothers there, every soldier knew that the fleets of the two countries had been anchored together, yardarm and yardarm, for months in Besika Bay. Considering the suspicions which were rife at that time, and how anxiously and sedulously it was endeavoured to sow discord among the fleets, it might have been a difficult matter to counteract those many efforts. But the command of the fleet was fortunately intrusted at that time to one whose prudence and popular manners frustrated those attempts so soon as they were made; and it was to Admiral Deans Dun-das that we owed the practical commencement of the alliance. Therefore, and he said it not less from a sense of public duty than from private friendship, it was not just at this hour to pass over the name of that gallant Officer. But Admiral Dundas had a still higher claim to their notice. He (Mr. Stafford) knew, for he was with the Admiral at the time, how unceasing had been his anxiety and wise forethought for the welfare of his sailors—especially for those who were serving on shore—during the winter months when off the coast of the Crimea; Sir Edmund Lyons had stated before the Commission at Chelsea that the difficulties of the fleet were never known, not that they did not exist, but that they had been struggled with and conquered. It was to the wise arrangements of Admiral Dundas that the comparatively good health and comfort of the navy were to ho attributed. Every sailor in the fleet knew that; and yet, when Admiral Dundas was denounced for not doing that which time had shown it to be impossible for him to do, and when he was censured for things, from which one word of explanation would have exculpated him completely, he never uttered that word, and never employed any Member of that House to read official or semi-official, or private correspondence, to justify what he had done, although the temptation might have been great to a man who did not prefer to everything else his sense of duty to the service and the country. And now that Admiral Dundas had retired into private life, feeling that he had been much misrepresented, he had the approbation of his own conscience to carry with him, and he had the good wishes of every one who valued the character of a gallant Officer and of a warm and kind-hearted man. If ever there were a House of Commons which might feel that, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Army 234 and Navy, that vote was not a mere idle form of words, it was the present House of Commons. When the war began the supplies were voted with a willingness which, in the eyes of some, was alarming. The progress of events was watched with the utmost anxiety, and the House identifying itself with the feelings of the Army and Navy, deplored their distresses, sympathised with them in their sufferings, and even incurred the inconvenience of a change of Ministry rather than negative a Motion for inquiry into the state and condition of the Army in the Crimea. The cry of the soldiers' agony had reached England, the indignation of the people was aroused, and the House, true exponent of the feelings of the people, was determined at any and every cost to put an end, if possible, to the misery of the gallant defenders of the country. They thus gave an impulse to the Government, the effect of which was speedily felt in the hospitals and in the British camp. Since that time the House had listened with patience and even favour to every plan proceeding from any Member, however humble, which had for its object the amelioration of the soldier's condition. It had shown by every means which usage allowed its fixed determination to do justice to the Army. When the Army Estimates were brought forward, millions were voted with unprecedented facility, the only anxiety that was evinced being, not as to the amount, but as to the proper application of the money to the purposes for which it was intended. Those who had to bring before the House and the country the hideous details of the sufferings of the Army had no enviable task to perform. They had to run counter to many prejudices, and gave offence, he feared, to parties in high quarters. But all those considerations were nothing in their view to the execution of that which they believed to be a sacred duty; and what did they now find? The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had spoken of the excellent sanitary condition of the British troops in the Crimea. The troops were now well clothed and well fed, and their condition excited the admiration of every foreigner. If the sick had recourse to the hospitals, there they found excellent attendance and such completeness of details, that a French officer had told him that the whole establishments were such that it would be found impossible for the hospitals of any other army to compete with them. When the sick were 235 sent home, they were sent in transports which differed very little in point of comfort and convenience from what they found in the land hospitals, except that of enjoying the additional benefit of the sea breeze. And when at length they arrived in England they were taken to the hospitals at Brompton and Chatham, where everything was provided for them, and the establishments at which were such as every Englishman might be proud of. The best and latest resources of art were adopted for their benefit, and, finally, on their being paid off, they were discharged with a pension. They had a right, therefore, to view with feelings of gratification and pride the excellent position in which at the close of the war they left their Army. He sincerely congratulated the noble Lord on the achievements he had accomplished during the last year. It must be a high gratification to the noble Lord to feel that during his Administration those brave men had been treated as they deserved. A most just eulogium had been passed by the noble Lord and also by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) on the Army, which had done justice to the high character of those gallant men. He thought that at the present time the Government might do an act of grace which would be highly gratifying to the Army about to return to their country. But, before he made the suggestion he was about to do, he would ask permission to read an extract from a letter written to a member of her family by one who had been called by Lord Ellesmere, in another place, a ministering angel. Miss Nightingale thus wrote in the month of March from the hospital over which she presided:—I have never been able to join in the popular cry about the recklessness, sensuality, and helplessness of the soldier. I should say (and, perhaps, few have seen more of the manufacturing and agricultural classes of England than I have before I came out here), that I have never seen so teachable and helpful a class as the Army generally. Give them opportunity promptly and securely to send money home, and they will use it. Give them schools and lectures, and they will come to them. Give them books and games and amusements, and they will leave off drinking. Give them work, and they will do it. Give them suffering, and they will bear it. I would rather have to do with the Army than with any other class I have ever attempted to serve, and when I compare them with I am struck with the soldier's superiority as a moral, and even an intellectual being.He could not conceive a greater compliment 236 to any class of men than that which was conveyed by those simple words of that incomparable woman. But he had been about to make a suggestion. In some countries in Europe it was the custom to distinguish a happy event, not only by a great deal of rejoicing, but by some act of grace. There were in the prisons of this country many young persons who had been convicted for the first time for light offences. He thought that for the sake of those who had made the name of Briton more famous than any in the world, for the sake of their endurance of hardships, and for the sake of their bravery and good conduct in war, an act of grace might be extended to those young persons who had but once offended. He believed that such a deed of grace would have a good effect upon the juvenile offenders themselves, many of whom, he doubted not, would remember it all the days of their lives, while it would be highly gratifying to those who were returning to their native country to know not only that due honour had been done to themselves, but that their great merits had been the means of conferring a benefit on others. Then, indeed, would the Government and the country have a right to say, that it was not by a mere form of words, but by a good and generous act that they had shown their appreciation of the valour and deserts of those gallant men.
§ Motion agreed to.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente—
That the Thanks of this House be given to the Officers of the Navy, Army, and Royal Marines, who have taken part in the operations of the late War, for the meritorious and eminent services which they have rendered to their Queen and Country, during the course of the War.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente—
That this House doth highly approve and acknowledge the Services of the Petty and Noncommissioned Officers, and Men, employed in the Navy, Army, and Royal Marines, who have taken part in the Operations of the late War; and that the same be communicated to them by the Commanders of the several Ships and Corps, who are respectively desired to thank, those under their commands for their exemplary and gallant behaviour.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente—
That the Thanks of this House be given to the Officers of the several Corps of Militia which hare been embodied in Great Britain and Ireland during the course of the War, for the zealous and meritorious services which they have rendered to their Queen and Country at home and abroad.
Resolved, Nemine Contradicente—
That this House doth highly approve and
acknowledge the services, at home and abroad, of the Non-commissioned Officers and Men of the several Corps of Militia which have been embodied in Great Britain and Ireland during the course of the War; and that the same be communicated to them by the Colonels or Commanding Officers of the several Corps, who are desired to thank them for their meritorious conduct.
§ Ordered, That Mr. SPEAKER do signify the said Resolutions, by Letter, to the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral, and to Field Marshal Viscount Hardinge, Captain General and Commander in Chief of Her Majesty's Forces.
§ Ordered, That Mr. SPEAKER do signify the said Resolutions, respecting the Militia, by Letter, to Her Majesty's Lieutenant of each County, Riding, and Place in Great Britain, and to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland.