§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, their Lordships would probably recollect that on the 3rd of February a Convention 1398 was agreed to between Her Majesty and the Sultan for the employment of a number of Turkish troops in the British service, and he thought he was not considered premature in asking the noble Lord opposite, on the 5th of June, what progress had been made in the formation of this body of troops. If they were to believe what they read in the newspapers—and certainly what he had read there was confirmed by what he had read in a letter from one of the officers engaged in that force—no progress whatever had been made, a fortnight ago, in placing any number of Turkish troops under the command of the officers who had been sent out. Those officers were extremely dissatisfied at the position in which they stood, and were remaining at Constantinople without anything to do, although they were receiving no very great consolation from the pay of a rank superior to that which they had previously held. There could be no fault, so far as he could see, on the part of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Panmure), who had performed his duty in sending out officers; but the fault, if fault there was, was either with the diplomatic authorities, who have not urged the Turkish Government, as they ought to have done, to place troops at the disposal of the officers who had been sent out, or it might have rested with our enlightened ally the Sultan, who might not have seen the present and future advantage which might result to Turkey from the establishment of such a corps. He bad always taken the greatest interest in this subject, believing it to be one of the utmost possible importance, not only to the present but to the future advantage of Turkey; and it would be satisfactory to him if the noble Lord would give their Lordships an assurance that matters were in train for the formation of this force, and that, although no great progress had been reported, some hope existed that, at no distant period, the officers who had been sent out would find men to command.
§ LORD PANMURE
said, he could assure the noble Earl that he very much regretted the delay which had taken place in the formation of the Turkish contingent, a corps which he agreed with the noble Earl would confer immense benefits upon Turkey. It is true, as stated by the noble Earl, that the convention was entered into on the 3rd of February—the ratifications were exchanged on the 12th of March—and by the 11th of April Her Majesty's 1399 Government had fulfilled their part of the engagement, for on that day General Vivian, the officer selected to command the contingent, arrived at Constantinople with, though not a complete, at all events a sufficient staff of officers to undertake the command of a considerable body of men. He found, on his arrival, that no men were forthcoming for him to command; but the reason of that was not to be discovered either in the disposition of the Turkish Government to find troops or in the neglect of the diplomatic authorities to make proper representations to the Sultan on the subject. It arose very much from the fact that many of the Turkish troops concentrated at Constantinople, and from whom it was anticipated that the contingent would be drawn, had been suddenly called by Omar Pacha to the seat of war, and that there was not a sufficient number left to place under the direction of the British officers. The Turkish Government at once offered to detach from the army under Omar Pacha a body of troops to form the contingent at Constantinople; but Her Majesty's Government very properly replied that it would not be advisable to weaken the force immediately at the seat of war by withdrawing from Omar Pacha any of his seasoned troops. It was then proposed, and the proposal was now in course of being carried out, that troops to form the contingent should be withdrawn from the army on the Danube. Omar Pacha himself suggested that arrangement, and promised to give it his support; and as soon as they could command transports either to bring the troops from Varna to Constantinople, or, if it were thought more advisable, to remove General Vivian and his staff to Varna, there to form a portion—for it would be only a portion—of the contingent, there would be no longer any delay in proceeding with the formation of at least half the number of men which the Sultan had agreed to supply. With regard to the other moiety, it had not been determined what proportion of them should consist of seasoned troops, and what proportion—he hoped a small one—of men raised for the first time; but he could assure their Lordships that Her Majesty's Government were as anxious as they possibly could be to complete the force, which they believed would prove a great future advantage to the Sultan, and likewise of immense present benefit to the allies themselves, not only at the seat of war, but at various other points where it 1400 might be necessary to place disciplined troops, either to form a barrier against the enemy or to garrison important fortresses.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, that if it were determined to send half of the officers to Varna, there to form and discipline a moiety of the contingent, he would venture humbly to suggest that the other half should be sent to Erzeroum, there to form and discipline the remainder of the force. It was of the utmost importance that both officers and men should be placed where they were most wanted. He believed, from communications he had had with many officers, that they would, in raising a force to be formed under British discipline, much rather begin with raw recruits than to take Turkish troops, who would have to unlearn a great deal before they could learn anything from their new commanders.
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
said, he could not allow the conversation to drop without expressing the hope that the Sultan might derive great benefit from the instruction of his troops by English officers, and he was therefore ready to support any plan for assisting the Sultan in improving the discipline of his forces and in affording them instruction in the art of war; but if the Turkish contingent were to be considered as a mere increase of the mercenary force in the pay of England, and if it were intended that England should go on raising mercenary forces from time to time for the purposes either of attack or defence, he could only say that anything more degrading to the character of the country, or tending more to the ultimate ruin of its power and influence, could not possibly be conceived. If England, with the vast and rapidly increasing population which it now possessed, was unable to fight its own battles with its own men, he could not look forward to the future with anything but a feeling of apprehension and dismay; and he would strongly urge upon Her Majesty's Government the necessity of calling out the resources of the country at the present time, in order that we might not assume, in the eyes of foreign nations, the position of a second-rate Power as compared with our great ally, France. He should like to see an increase of the army vigorously set about by means of large bounties; or, if that were insufficient to secure the requisite force, by means of a resort to those devices which were perfectly constitutional. In the last war, with a much smaller population 1401 than it now had, England stood in the position of a first-rate military Power, and he saw no reason why she should allow herself to be degraded from that position now. He was one of those who believed that we were only just at the commencement of a great and protracted war, and any measures that might encourage the idea that we were compelled to employ mercenary forces and to subsidise the troops of other countries, would materially affect the position of England in the eyes of her allies and of the world.
§ LORD PANMURE
said, he did not intend to prolong the discussion, but he must protest against the observations of the noble Earl with reference to the employment of foreign troops in the present war. He had been engaged in negotiating for the services of such troops, and he could tell their Lordships that he considered it no degradation whatever to England to accept the assistance of gallant men, either of Switzerland or Germany, in a just and honourable cause. He would further add, that in consequence of reflections such as those which their Lordships had just heard, he had found the greatest difficulty in inducing foreigners to enter into our service. He had fortunately succeeded in removing some of those difficulties, and he did trust that no further obstacles would be thrown in his way by such observations as those of the noble Earl, which were calculated to serve no useful purpose, but, on the contrary, had a very injurious effect abroad, by representing the services of foreigners as mercenary, and such as England could not employ with honour.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
did not think the noble Baron quite understood the bearing of the observations of the noble Earl beside him. There was nothing in the speech of the noble Earl which any foreign country could consider as offensive. What the noble Earl meant to say was, that the amount of military force now raised from the population of England was not such as might be expected from so great a country, and that it was a degradation to us, considering how our population had increased since the last war, that we should be obliged to the use of foreign bayonets. The noble Earl made no reflection whatever upon foreign troops, nor did he say more than every Englishman had a right to say when he thought his country ought to do more than she had done. They all knew that there were no braver men on the face of the earth than the 1402 Swiss, or none more faithful to those whom they served, and it would be impossible for any person to stand up and declare—he was sure the noble Earl, who had met those foreigners to whom he was supposed to allude offensively as enemies, and who knew their valour, would be the very last to do so—that it would be a degradation to stand shoulder by shoulder with such troops. The same might be said of the Germans and of the troops of other countries with whom we had already fought as allies; and, therefore, he thought the noble Earl had some reason to complain of the noble Baron opposite, because while his observations referred to the exertions made by England herself, as compared with her efforts during the last war, the noble Baron had misrepresented them as meaning something offensive to foreign countries.
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
said, he was not aware that he had said anything that could be considered offensive by any foreign country. All he had said was, that he thought it disgraceful that this country should be forced to subsidise armies or hire mercenaries. He was not aware that Her Majesty's Government had done either. All they had done at present was to league themselves with allies in the field. He should like to know after the observations of the noble Baron, whether or not they had subsidised any troops.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he though it would have been much better if the noble Earl had left the matter as it had been explained by his noble Friend the late Foreign Secretary (the Earl of Malmesbury), whose statement must have given satisfaction to their Lordships, showing, as it did, that he differed entirely from what must be regarded as the impression produced by the observations of the noble Earl who first spoke. He was surprised to find that the noble Earl (the Earl of Hardwicke) objected to what not one single individual had ever objected to before, namely, that in a war in which Turkish interests were primarily and most deeply involved, we should give to the Sultan the undoubted advantage of our greater skill and larger pecuniary means in forming and training a force for the defence of his dominions. The effect of his remarks, however, had been explained away in a most satisfactory manner by the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who had spoken of the services of foreign troops in terms which could not fail to produce a good impression abroad as well as at home.