HL Deb 31 March 1854 vol 132 cc138-40

My Lords, I wish to put a question to the noble Earl at the head of Her Majesty's Government, to which I have previously adverted, and which I trust he will be kind enough to answer. I trust he will not consider that in putting that question I am acting from any political or party motive, but from a sense of duty connected very nearly with the subject about to be entered upon by your Lordships. My Lords, I think there can be no doubt that the time is past when there was any doubt whether we had entered upon a war. The noble Earl himself for a long time held out a hope that war might be averted, and yet, unhappily, that is not the case. I, therefore, think it is the duty of every person who desires to see peace restored, and the honour of the country vindicated, to suggest to the Government any means which they may think have not yet been taken to secure that great end which every Englishman must have sincerely at heart. I am willing to give the noble Earl and the Government full credit for the means they have employed with respect to the army and the fleet; but I think there is one measure which they have omitted, and which I trust they may even now have recourse to. It is one which I believe to be consistent with the character of this great Christian country, which would be received with satisfaction by thousands of Her Majesty's loyal subjects, and one which, I am sure, will be most gladly received by many of those noble and brave individuals who form our army and our fleet, and who have left the shores of this country. I mean that a day should be set apart on which the voices of the assembled nation might ascend in common prayer to Almighty God to grant his protection and his blessing on the exertions they are making for the benefit of mankind, and to give success to Her Majesty's armies by sea and land in the awful struggle in which they are now about to be engaged. I believe that such a course would be most acceptable to the country, and I trust the noble Earl will be able to give a satisfactory answer to my question, whether it is the intention of the Government to advise Her Majesty to institute such a step. I, therefore, beg to ask the noble Earl whether the Government are prepared to advise Her Majesty to command a day to be set apart for national humiliation and prayer to Almighty God for his protection and his blessing, and to give success to Her Majesty's armies by sea and land in the brave struggle on which they are entering; and also that He would give his Wisdom to Her Majesty's councils to guide them in the difficult enterprise in which they are engaged?


In answer to the question of the noble Earl, I beg to state that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to advise Her Majesty to direct that a day of humiliation and prayer shall be set apart for the purpose mentioned by the noble Earl.


I am anxious to express, on my own behalf, and I am sure on behalf of a large portion of Her Majesty's subjects, the satisfaction I feel at the declaration we have just heard from the noble Earl. It has always been usual upon every occasion in which this country has been involved in war, to have recourse to the means which are now proposed, and which I am glad to see the Government are about to advise Her Majesty to adopt. There never was an occasion when we could more justly and with a safer conscience invoke the blessing of God upon Her Majesty's arms than in a war which has not been provoked by any aggression or ambition on our part, but which has been undertaken solely for the purpose of protecting those interests of justice that ought not to be laid aside; and in which, I trust, we shall receive a blessing from Him whom we desire to honour.

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