§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, 907 that he rose for the purpose of making a few observations on certain statements which had been made respecting the circumstances under which the troops embarked in the Golden Fleece were landed at Gallipoli, and to which he thought it right to draw the attention of his noble Friend (the Duke of Newcastle). It appeared that the Golden Fleece arrived at Gallipoli very early in the morning of a Thursday, and that in consequence of there having been no preparation made for the reception of the troops there, they could not be disembarked until the middle of the day on Saturday. It was stated, also, that no previous instructions whatever had been given to our Consul at the Dardanelles to make provision for them; that though two commissaries had been sent a few days previously to Gallipoli to make preparations, that these gentlemen, as might have been expected, were totally ignorant of the Turkish language, that they had no interpreters, no staff, and no person to assist them; but, under the circumstances, he (the Earl of Ellenborough) thought they did better than might have been expected. It appeared, likewise—at least it was so stated—that those troops were ultimately landed, not in man-of-war boats, but in shore boats. Now, it must be perfectly obvious to their Lordships, that, when a thousand men were embarked in a vessel, it was highly desirable that there should be on board that vessel boats sufficient for the purpose of landing at one time a very large proportion of that number; inasmuch as if any danger occurred, the loss of almost the whole of the persons on board might be the consequence of not having those independent means of disembarkation. But when the troops were disembarked, it appeared that they were subjected to other very great difficulties; for it was stated that the sick had not a mattress to lie down upon, and were literally without blankets; that they had no medical comforts, that none were forwarded from Malta, so that when a poor fellow was sinking the other day, the doctor had to go to the general's, and get a bottle of wine from him; that the hospital serjeant was sent out with a sovereign to buy coffee, sugar, and other things of the kind, for the sick, but he could not get them, as no change was to be had in the place. It was further stated that Dr. Alexander had managed to get beds for 200 patients in different houses of the town. Now, if 908 Dr. Alexander had had resort to such houses as alone could probably be found at Gallipoli, he (the Earl of Ellenborough) inferred from this statement that he was not supplied with hospital tents, under which to place the sick; that was to say, with tents efficient for the purpose—such as were used in India, for instance, with awnings, which kept out both sun and rain. If they were only such as were used in England, he should imagine the medical officer would prefer any cover to the cover which these would afford; but there could be no doubt that it was infinitely better for the sick and wounded that they should be placed under good tents than in any such houses as were likely to be found in Gallipoli. The great object in all hospitals was to secure ventilation; and ventilation being utterly impossible in very small houses, even if in their construction they were properly adapted to meet the climate—which, according to all the accounts he had ever seen, the houses in Turkey were not—there could be in such buildings no ventilation whatever. This doctor, therefore, seemed to have been compelled to resort to a number of houses in which to place his sick, because, as he (the Earl of Ellen-borough) inferred, he had not the means of covering them with proper tents. These, it must be admitted, were very serious circumstances, and what he desired to know from his noble Friend was, who was responsible for what had occurred?
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
Before I answer the precise question of my noble Friend, I might fairly ask the noble Earl to establish that, as a matter of fact, the circumstances have happened upon which he has based his question:—for, judging from what I know as to the general incorrectness of the statements to which the noble Earl referred, I am disposed to doubt greatly the correctness of the particular statement which the noble Earl has quoted, but as to which I am not at present informed; in fact, having read the article in the newspaper to which the noble Earl referred, I can from my own knowledge state that a large proportion of that article is entirely and utterly incorrect. My noble Friend can hardly require to be informed who is responsible for everything which takes place in connection with this expedition. The Government at home are primarily responsible, and, subordinate to them, those who are intrusted with the performance of the particular duties; the 909 Commissariat would be responsible for an inadequate supply of provisions, for example, as the medical staff would be for the inadequate supply of medical appliances, or for such neglect as that so incorrectly charged in the statement to which my noble Friend has referred. I cannot, of course, enter off-hand into matters of detail, such as those contained in the quotation referred to; but I have the most entire disbelief that a magnificent ship like the Golden Fleece was sent to sea under the direction of the Admiralty, or under the immediate inspection of the excellent officer who is Superintendent at Malta, without a proper supply of boats, and I doubt, therefore, whether the troops were sent on shore in the manner described in consequence of there being none belonging to the ship. I cannot, of course, without inquiry, state positively that this statement is incorrect. I will, however, not fail to make inquiry into the matter. As to the statements respecting the treatment of the sick, and the total want of medical comforts for them, the whole thing is so monstrous that I cannot for a moment believe it to be true. These troops, when they started from England, were amply supplied with every requisite in this respect; and that these requisites should have been left behind them at Malta is so totally improbable and incredible that, without the fullest and most authoritative confirmation of the statement, I cannot believe it. Every regiment sent out was furnished, under the direction of its own medical staff, with an ample supply of medicines and medical comforts, sufficient to last for a considerable time, independent of that general supply of medical stores which was sent out for future service. My noble Friend has referred to a statement as to the occupation of houses at Gallipoli for hospital purposes. There was sent out to Malta a supply of hospital tents, and I therefore cannot but feel confident that there was a sufficient supply of them on board the Golden Fleece, and that they were available for every purpose that was required. Moreover, provision was made, under my own especial direction, to meet any emergency that might arise on the arrival of the troops at Gallipoli, and independently of the arrangements made at Gallipoli for hospital accommodation; and as the Golden Fleece could not remain there after the debarcation of the troops, I directed that two sailing transports should proceed thither from Malta, for the purpose of being at the service of the troops 910 there, and which might be used as hospitals if there should be insufficient hospital accommodation on shore. My noble Friend smiles at this; but it was a provision against any emergency; and as to the port of Gallipoli, those who know it know that vessels of the size of these sailing transports can anchor there in waters as quiet as a millpond. These accusations against the departments of the military and naval service I am not able to answer except in a general way; but I must express my entire disbelief of the statements, in consequence of the incredibility of such occurrences having taken place after the provision which I know was made to meet every necessity. I will proceed to explain why I place very little credit in these statements from what I know of my own knowledge. It is stated in the article to which the noble Earl has referred, that no notice was given of the arrival of the troops at Gallipoli, and that no preparations had been made for their reception. I do not pretend to quote the exact words used, but I know the inference is drawn that Mr. Calvert, our excellent Consul at the Dardanelles, was ignorant of the arrival of the troops. Now, so far from that being the case, I have seen a Report from Mr. Calvert, drawn up by direction of the Government three or four weeks ago, showing in detail the whole provision that could be made for troops on the Asiatic and European sides from the Castles of the Dardanelles to Gallipoli. The readiness of the Turkish Government to give up such buildings as might be required for the accommodation of troops was also ascertained, and so far from no provision having been made by the Government at home for the reception of the troops, on the very first day on which it was determined to despatch an expedition, Mr. Assistant Commissary-General Smith was sent out to Turkey, and having fixed his head quarters at Constantinople, and made provision there for the reception of the English forces, he proceeded to the Dardanelles, seven or eight days, I think, before the arrival of the troops, and having made his preparations beforehand with the Turkish authorities, he there met Mr. Calvert, and along with that gentleman made all necessary arrangements for the reception of the troops. But this was not all. The Turkish Government, having, in the most zealous manner, entered into the arrangements considered necessary by our Ambassador and Mr. Commissary Smith, formed a commission of Turkish officers for the purpose 911 of communicating with the English and French commissaries; and at least seven or eight days before the arrival of the troops, Mr. Smith, the Commissary, met Mr. Calvert, the Vice-Consul, and the Turkish officers, four in number, and arranged with them the whole details for the reception of the troops. But more. On the 28th of March—the troops not arriving until the 6th of April—Mr. Commissary Smith, in concert with Mr. Calvert, a gentleman of well-known experience and discretion, arranged, and had actually signed, contracts with Turkish individuals, who had been recommended to them as sufficiently trustworthy, for a supply of every requisite for the army. So much for the want of preparation and concert between the authorities. We are told that two commissaries were sent out without communication with Mr. Calvert; but that was not the case. We are further told that these two commissaries were entirely ignorant of the Turkish language, and were unable to do anything. Now, in the first place, two interpreters were attached by the Turkish authorities to the Turkish Commission, and were with that Commission at the time alluded to. Mr. Calvert, as is well known to many noble Lords now present, is himself an excellent Turkish scholar. I believe, however, it is true—although every person in connection with the Commissariat Department has been enjoined as speedily as possible to make himself acquainted with some one language of the country—that the greater part of the staff are ignorant of the language; but there is one person connected with the Commissariat who speaks with most perfect fluency French, Italian, and Greek, and any one acquainted with that part of Turkey in which our troops were landed, and with the sea-coasts of Turkey generally, will be aware that a man who has his wits about him, and who has a knowledge of these languages, is not very likely to be imposed upon; and that, for all purposes of business, the knowledge of those languages is even more essential than a knowledge of the Turkish language. The article to which the noble Earl has referred contrasts the preparations made by the commissaries of the French army with the preparations made by the English commissaries. Now, with all respect for our allies—and the more perfect their arrangements are the more we shall all rejoice—I feel the utmost confidence that our arrangements will stand any test by the side of theirs; and, if any one were to consult the French authorities 912 on this subject, I very greatly doubt whether some of them would not be found to complain of the strong contrast between the preparations of the French officials and our own. I do not speak on this matter merely on the authority of Mr. Commissary Smith. I have seen each successive Report sent home by that gentleman since he has been in Constantinople, and I must say that more able Reports, or more judicious management of the duties devolving upon him, it would be impossible to conceive. But, supposing that these Reports were coloured, and represented exertions which have not been made, and results which have not been accomplished, I should be able to correct those statements by private letters from officers and others on the spot, and I can assure your Lordships that any statements derogating from the performance of his duties by Mr. Smith are baseless and unfair. I know that it is not said expressly in the article to which the noble Earl referred, that Mr. Smith neglected his duties, but, as he was sent out to perform certain duties, the statement that those duties have not been performed is a gross reflection upon him. We are further told that the French, being the first comers at Gallipoli, were of course first served. It would not have been very wonderful, considering that Toulon is rather nearer the Dardanelles than any part of Great Britain, if the French officials had been the first to arrive at Gallipoli; but such was not the case. It so happens that our commissaries, having been in Turkey for several weeks before any French commissary arrived at the Dardanelles, an English commissary from Constantinople met at Gallipoli the French commissary who had proceeded from France, and they concerted together the arrangements for the troops. I may observe that between these subordinate officers—as is the case with the superior officers—the utmost harmony and concord existed. There was no quarrelling nor dispute, but mutual and amicable arrangements were made for the accommodation of the armies. The article referred to contrasts the position assigned to the two armies, ascribing much importance to the fact that, while the French forces were located in the Turkish quarter of Gallipoli, our troops have been driven to the Greek quarter, winch was supposed to be much less advantageous, in consequence of the supposed enmity of the Greek population to us. Now, I have received a letter from Sir George Brown himself, who expresses his extreme satisfaction that it should have so happened that the 913 Greek quarter has been allotted to the English troops; and I have seen, also, a private letter stating that this circumstance is a great advantage to our men, and adding that if they had to choose their situation afresh they should choose this quarter. So far from there being any feeling against our army on the part of the Greek population, the Greek bishop residing at Gallipoli voluntarily offered his house to the English General, and I have statements from more than one quarter, conveying the assurance that the Greeks of Gallipoli received our officers and soldiers in the most hospitable and friendly manner. One letter says:—"They are poor, indeed, and have nothing to give us. That of course we do not expect; but the kindest reception has been accorded to us all." Having stated to your Lordships many points in these representations which I know to be incorrect, both from personal knowledge and from the receipt of letters upon which I can place the most entire reliance, I must say I think it is unfortunate that a gentleman habituated to the luxuries of a London life, who no doubt misses his club and his glass of wine, and who complains of the impossibility of obtaining butter—I hope most sincerely that the brave officers and soldiers who have gone to Turkey do not imagine that they go there to be fed upon the sweetest of butter and the best of fowls, the absence of those articles of food being urged as a complaint against the place of their reception—it is a pity, I say, that this gentleman, habituated to the luxuries of English life, and not over-well inclined to part with them, should have gone out to Turkey, and, without the opportunity of making more accurate inquiries and of satisfying himself as to all the facts, should write home accounts which, I must say, are not fair towards the persons concerned in the service about which he writes. If that gentleman, or any others, mean to attack the Government, I admit that we are fair game; it is just and right that we should be complained of if anything is wrong; but let him not attack subordinates, for, although the name of Mr. Smith was probably unknown to the gentleman who wrote this article, reflections are made upon his management and upon all that he has done. Now, I must say that this department of the Army ought not to be discouraged by any undue or unfair representations. Our soldiers and sailors go forth to battle in the hope of gaining the rewards of honour and glory. The Commissariat 914 establishment is one in which no such glory is to be gained; yet upon the success of the endeavours of that department depend, to a very great extent, not only the success, but the very existence, of our armies. When men, therefore, devote their time and attention and talents to this pursuit, which, as I said before, brings no honour or distinction to them, I must say it is hard that they should not have full credit for the exertions they make and the successes they attain. I deprecate the production of any papers on this subject at the present moment, because, if we once begin the system of producing such papers, we may embarrass the proceedings of the Army to a considerable extent; but I pledge my honour, that if I could lay upon the table all the reports we have received with reference to the preparations for the reception of our troops in Turkey, your Lordships would be satisfied not only that Mr. Commissary Smith, and the officers under him, have done everything in their power, but that they have been successful to an extent which, looking at the peculiar characteristics of the Turkish people, we had very little reason to expect. I have gone further into this subject than the question put to me by the noble Earl absolutely required, because I wish most earnestly to deprecate these representations, or rather misrepresentations, without the most accurate information. If these statements can be proved, by all means let them be substantiated. I do not wish that any neglect should be concealed or that any malpractices should be slurred over. It is not the intention or the desire of the Government that such should be the case; but I do say that, on the eve of the great operations in which we are engaging, it is only fair to those concerned that persons should not act at first sight and upon first impressions, but that they should be thoroughly satisfied that their impressions are correct before they give currency to statements of this description. Let me remark, in conclusion, that the very admirable lecture given us by the writer of the article to which the noble Earl has alluded, and by others, for sending so large an army to encamp at Gallipoli, might have been spared; for, as your Lordships are by this time aware, no such orders have been given by Her Majesty's Government.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, it afforded him very great satisfaction to receive from the noble Duke so decided a negative to that part of the statement to 915 which he particularly referred—a negative which it appeared was founded upon facts that were within the noble Duke's own knowledge. He, therefore, thought that the noble Duke was perfectly justified in doubting the other statements that had been made by the same authority. He (the Earl of Ellenborough) had purposely abstained from adverting to all that part of the letter which related to the contrast drawn between the conduct of the French Commissariat and our own. He had also abstained from adverting to the military observations of the writer, to which he attached no importance whatever. But when a gentleman was employed to write letters to the public press, and in those letters had stated, in distinct terms, certain facts, it was almost impossible to doubt the accuracy of such facts. He, therefore, felt that he was fully justified in directing attention to those facts so stated, supposing them to be correct; and, under such circumstances, to ask the noble Duke, who was really responsible for those arrangements. He repeated, that he heard with much satisfaction the reply of the noble Duke, and he must entertain the hope that all the other statements would prove to be as incorrect as those to which he had given so distinct a negative.
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
hoped that the statement of the noble Duke was quite correct; but he candidly confessed that he entertained some doubts as regards our affairs in the East. He would remind their Lordships that just before Parliament rose for the holidays, it was stated by the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in reply to a question that had been put to him, that none of the Russian ships had left Sebastopol, and that nothing had taken place in the Black Sea to justify the statement that a Russian force had been enabled to disembark troops, to destroy fortresses, and to carry on operations of an extensive character—that, in fact, such statement was untrue. But it now turned out—as far as he could understand the facts, from the representations made—that that statement was fully confirmed, and that those operations in the Black Sea had really taken place. He was quite sure that the noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon), at the time he gave a contradiction to the statement, was labouring under some misapprehension as to the informatation which he received, and it was possible that on the present occasion the noble Duke might have been equally misin- 916 formed. Although he (the Earl of Hardwicke) was ready to place confidence in the statements of the Government, he, nevertheless, felt that when the noble Earl at the time to which he referred had been so totally deceived and misinformed, the Government may have been also misinformed in respect to the subject introduced by the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough), and that the correspondent of the Times might prove to have the best of it.
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
said, he wished to say a few words in reply to what had just fallen from the noble Earl. On the occasion to which his noble Friend alluded, a noble Earl not now present (the Earl of Malmesbury) intimated to him that he intended to put a question respecting an announcement in the newspapers that the Russian fleet had come out in force in the Black Sea, and that large bodies of troops had been carried to the neighbourhoods of Varna, Odessa, and Sebastopol. The noble Earl asked whether that announcement was correct or not, and he (the Earl of Clarendon) gave him, almost verbatim, the account which had been received from Admiral Dundas himself; which was, that the report rested on the statement of the captain of a merchant ship, who had been examined by Sir E. Lyons, and that it was clear from the evidence of the man himself that he could not have been in a position to see the Russian fleet. He, therefore, expressed his belief that the report was not true, and he now repeated what he then said. The Russian fleet, to the best of their knowledge at that moment, had not come out of Sebastopol, and did not, at the time when it was reported to have done so, convey troops from one portion of the Black Sea to another. Now, what did occur, and what he had subsequently heard, was this:—Two vessels—a French and an English steamer—were sent to survey the Circassian coast. During their cruise, they saw five small steamers that had been employed in removing the Russian troops from different fortresses along the shore of the Black Sea, which fortresses had been destroyed. He must say, that the fact of the Russians having, of their own accord, and before any declaration of war had been made, evacuated and destroyed those fortresses, which they had for years been building at so much cost and trouble, was some proof that we, and not they, were masters of the Black Sea. The fortresses were observed to be burning, and 917 the steamers—which were not war steamers, but small vessels employed in the Post Office service between Odessa, Sebastopol, and Constantinople—as soon as they saw the English and French ships, made for the shore. A transport was, however, boarded, and was ordered to repair to the nearest Russian port, in pursuance of the instructions issued to the combined fleets in December last. Now, when Admiral Dundas and his officers were accused of not having made prisoners of these troops, it must be remembered that the occurrence took place on the 15th or 16th of March, and that war was not even declared in England until the 29th of March. It was, therefore, impossible for the combined fleets to act otherwise than they did, in obedience to their instructions.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
hoped the noble Earl was not under the impression that the Russians had destroyed all their forts. They had, he believed, destroyed only six forts out of twenty-two.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
said, he trusted there would be no objection on the part of the Government to lay on the table the last despatches which had been received on the subject and any other despatches which might follow. The Russian Government had published their official statement of the transaction, and it differed widely from the statement of the noble Earl. He had not the paper with him, because he had not anticipated any discussion on the subject; the ships were described as part of the royal Russian navy, and not as Post Office packets; and it was stated that they were sent for the important purposes of removing troops and ammunition from those fortresses which they no longer thought it right to occupy, and of carrying away in safety the garrisons of those places for the important object of strengthening the garrison at Sebastopol. A more important operation, as far as it went, could not at that moment have been undertaken by the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. This was distinctly stated in the Russian paper, and it was also asserted that it was done in open defiance of the combined fleets of the allied Powers. His noble Friend had stated that there was no declaration of war at that time. He took leave to contradict his noble Friend, because it appeared from the papers on the table that a declaration had been made, undoubtedly by orders from home, to the Governor of Sebastopol, that the combined fleets of 918 England and France would compel Russian vessels found in the Black Sea to enter the nearest port or attack them. That was a pro tanto declaration of war. It was a declaration of hostilities—a declaration between the two fleets, if not between the two countries. Although this occurrence did not reflect discredit upon our flag, yet, so far as the Government and the superior force which dictated the message were concerned, when they were not competent to execute the threat, it certainly was calculated to tarnish our reputation. That was his opinion, and it was for the country to judge whether it was correct or not. On a former occasion the noble Earl at the head of the Government said he did not wish to play "the game of brag." Now what was it but "the game of brag" to defy the Russian fleet to come out into the Black Sea, and then to retire and to appear either not able or not inclined to face the breeze or dare the battle? He threw no discredit on the naval officers commanding there. He knew not the circumstances or orders under which they acted. He had no doubt they were justified in what they had done. But they ought not to have made such a threat unless they were able to execute it. It was nothing but playing "the game of brag," and at "the game of brag" they were beaten. The noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon) said that the fact of the Russians having destroyed these forts was a pretty significant proof that we, and not they, were the masters of the Black Sea. He had not the least doubt that the combined fleet was master of the Black Sea, and that when the Admirals had clear instructions and knew that war had been declared, they would not be wanting, and the Russians would not dare to come out to meet them; but, according to the official announcement of the Russian Government, to which he must be excused if he gave credit to a certain extent, the effect produced by what took place on the occasion to which he alluded was entirely different from what it was supposed to be by the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Whatever might have been the condition of these fortresses, however wretched they might have been, yet, had they been destroyed by English and French vessels, the effect throughout the whole of that coast upon the tribes inhabiting it would have been of the most favourable character; but the fact of the forts having been voluntarily destroyed by the Russians, and the circumstance that the 919 troops who had formed the garrisons had been embarked on board the Russian fleet and safely conveyed to Sebastopol, were sufficient to show to the inhabitants of that coast that the Russians, and not the French and English, were the masters of the Black Sea and the adjoining coasts. No doubt it might prove of the utmost importance to this country and our allies that the whole of the fortifications upon that portion of the coast should be destroyed, and the very fact of our destroying them, and showing ourselves victorious upon that coast, would have convinced the inhabitants that we were masters, and not the Russians, and the consequence would have been that we should have gained numerous auxiliaries; for they all knew that the inhabitants of that district were animated with hostile feelings towards Russia, and, if they dared, would join with its enemies. But the Russians had executed exactly what they intended; they had had an opportunity of displaying their power in defiance of the assurance given by us that we were masters of the Black Sea. The step they had taken was that which of all others they most desired, and they had accordingly published it, and in that publication had distinctly stated that it was their Navy which was engaged in those operations and which had come out for that purpose after we had defied them to do so; therefore he said that that proceeding was, as far as it went, a triumph for the Russian Navy in that sea, and that we must be considered to have commenced our hostilities there under unfortunate circumstances. There had been reports and allusions made to other matters, such as the bombardment of Odessa; to them he made no allusion, as he did not believe they were accurate; but he must express his opinion that they have a right to expect that, as the Russian Government had published, in an official paper, an account of what had taken place, the British Government would lose no time in informing Parliament and the country what were the occurrences which had really happened, and which he was afraid would be found of no slight importance.
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
said, he had no objection whatever to lay upon the table the despatch to which the noble Marquess had alluded, and then his noble Friend would have an opportunity of judging whether the statements contained in that despatch or in the Russian journal were most entitled to credence.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.