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Lord Panmure introduces an Act for Limited Service in the ArmyMr. Layard calls the attention of the House of Commons to the condition of the nation-Speeches of General Peel and Lord Palmerston -Observations of Mr. J. G. Phillimore, Mr. Warner, Major Reid, and Mr. Murrough-Resignation of Sir J. Graham, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. S. Herbert-Their Speeches explaining their conduct-Speech of Mr. Bright-Debate on the nomination of Mr. Roebuck's Committee-Mr. Gaskell, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Scott, Mr. Laing, Sir J. Pakington, Mr. Walpole, Mr. Disraeli, and Mr. Muntz speak in its favour; and Lord Seymour, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Wortley, Mr. Gladstone, Lord Palmerston, and Sir G. Grey against it-Nomination of the Committee Members constituting it—Reconstruction of the Cabinet -Lord John Russell a member of it-Death of the Czar NicholasProfound sensation occasioned by its public announcement-Discussion on Mr. Roebuck's proposal for a Secret Committee-The principal speakers are Lord Seymour, Mr. W. Patten, Sir J. Pakington, Sir J. Graham, Mr. Layard, Lord Palmerston, Mr. Disraeli, and Mr. H. Drummond-In the House of Lords the Duke of Richmond draws attention to the Light Cavalry charge at Balaklava—Observations by the Earl of Ellenborough-Statement of Lord John Russell respecting the Four Points-Earl Grey moves his Resolutions relative to the War Department-Speeches of the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Hardinge, and the Earl of Ellenborough—Discussion in the House of Lords on the Army Service Amendment Act-Speeches of the Earls of Ellenborough, Malmesbury, and Grey, and of Lord Panmure-In the House of Commons Mr. Lindsay originates a discussion on the Army Administration-Admiral Berkeley, Mr. F. Peel, Lord Hotham, and several other Members address the House-Debate on Lord Goderich's Motion respecting promotion in the Army-He is supported by Mr. Otway, Mr. Warner, Captain Scobell, Mr. J. Ball, and Sir De Lacy Evans, and opposed by Mr. F. Peel, Lords Seymour, Elcho, and Lovaine, Sir J. Walsh, Mr. S. Herbert, and Lord Palmerston-The motion negatived-Debate on Mr. Malins' Motion relative to Sir C. Napier and the naval operations in the Baltic-Reply of Sir J. Graham -Admirals Walcott and Berkeley, Captain Scobell, Mr. M. Gibson, Mr. Whiteside, the Attorney-General, Lord Palmerston, and others address the House-Further discussion of the proceedings of the Black Sea Fleet, upon Mr. Scott's Motion-Statements of Mr. F. Peel and Lord Palmerston, in reply to Mr. Stafford's inquiries respecting the Hospitals for the Crimean Army.
mure made a detailed statement N the House of Peers, on the 16th of February, Lord Pan- respecting the War Department,
similar to that made by Lord Palmerston. He observed that the great mortality which had prevailed in some regiments might possibly be explained by the fact that in those regiments a number of young and unseasoned soldiers had been enlisted. To meet this defect in the system of recruiting, he laid a Bill on the table, the object of which was to enlist older men for a period of two or three years, and thus to secure the services of older and stronger men. Great complaints had been made against the Commissariat, and, though the Government would not condemn any man without a hearing, they were resolved on a rigid inquiry, and, for this purpose, were about to despatch to the seat of war Sir John M'Neill, whose services and extensive experience in the East were a guarantee for his fitness to undertake the task. At the same time, the hospitals at Scutari were to be thoroughly cleared and remodelled, and a new hospital was to be established at Smyrna for convalescents. A commission of sanitarians was to be sent out to inquire into the condition of the camp under that point of view. The transport service was to be remodelled; a direct communication was to be established between Scutari and England, to bring home the sick and wounded for treatment in this country; Major-General Simpson was to be sent out as chief of the Staff, it having appeared that neither his age nor health precluded him from filling the appointment; and Sir John Burgoyne was recalled to fill his old post of Inspector of Fortifications, his duties before Sebastopol having devolved on General Harry Jones. He had now placed the House in possession of what the
Government had done, and of what it intended to do, and he should only conclude by moving that the Bill be read a first time.
After a discussion, in which the Earls of Shaftesbury and Harrowby, and Lord Panmure took part, the Bill was read a first time.
On the 19th of February, in the House of Commons, Mr. Layard, upon the motion for a Committee of Supply on the Army Estimates, at great length called attention to the condition of the nation, alleging the probability of some arrangement between Mr. Roebuck and the Government which would preclude discussion, as a reason for the course he took. The country, which stood on the brink of ruin which had fallen into the abyss of disgrace, and become the laughingstock of Europe-would not be satisfied unless an opportunity was given for the expression of opinion. The late Government had been censured by the House, and had gone out in consequence; yet the existing Government was almost identically composed of the same individuals. How far did the Members retained deserve the confidence of the country? Starting from this position, Mr. Layard freely dealt out censures upon the acts of the late and the measures of the existing Government. The blockade had been carried out so as to cause immense mischief; the transport service was in hopeless confusion; the diplomacy had been mismanaged; nothing had been done to carry out the Foreign Enlistment Act; the French, by taking contracts offered to us, had obtained the command of the supplies in Asia Minor; and, after permitting the Turks to be insulted by British officers, we had taken 20,000 into our pay. Such were the "ante
cedents" of that Government. With regard to the future-the inquiry would be injurious to the public service, if honestly worked, and especially if it sat in judgment on the existing Cabinet; but it could only be rejected on the ground that there were new men and a new programme. To show that such was not the case, Mr. Layard condemned the recent appointment of Commissioners, and urged that no inquiry was needed, as the facts were so well known. The country was sick of commissions; it wanted "a man." The plan which should be adopted was that of the French National Convention who, on the failure of their army, sent out their own members, men who had no party considerations, who cared not for aristocratic influences, who "went out determined to sacrifice those who were guilty, regardless of persons, and who did so. The result was, that in a few months that army achieved deeds which were unparalleled in the history of the world." The system at the Horse Guards, the fear of responsibility, an undue regard for family consideration, which led to the neglect of merit, and the passing by of men like the officers of the East India Company, who had seen war,
these were the causes of the then intolerable state of things. Lord Palmerston, whom the whole House were ready to support when he took office, no longer gave satisfaction. The country wanted to see whether it could not be governed by "something new;" it did not want to see the same parties in power over and over again. He implored Lord Palmerston once more to reflect, for by continuing in his then course he would lose all confidence and all support.
General Peel said, that he was not in the least surprised at the feeling of despondency abroad, after Lord John Russell had spoken of the state of the army as he had done, and after the publication of other accounts. It was their duty first to inquire into the cause of evils, and then to condemn those who had brought the evils about; but the House of Commons reversed that principle, and condemned before they inquired. He had voted against the inquiry, not from confidence in the Government, but because the proposed tribunal of inquiry was unconstitutional and impracticable. The causes of the evils were so plain that no Committee was needed to inquire into them. The Government commenced a great war with inadequate means; and with those inadequate means they attempted more than any army could possibly execute. All had been called upon to do more than they could, from Lord Raglan down to the smallest drummer-boy. The men had died because they were overworked and underfed; there had been less mortality among the officers, because they were not called upon to perform manual labour, and were better fed. The men who were well clothed were healthy enough. These evils arose from sending out at first more troops than the reduced state of our peace establishment admitted of. It would have been better to have sent out ten or fifteen thousand men, and to have attempted what ten or fifteen thousand men could accomplish. When the siege began, the numbers of the French and English were nearly equal, and the siege operations were divided between them. After the battle of Inkerman, our position was different.
The French force increased, ours diminished, yet we continued to conduct the same amount of siegeworks as the French; and while our men passed three nights out of four in the trenches, the French passed only one night out of four. Then Lord Raglan called for reinforcements; and those sent out were so young and unseasoned that they rapidly died off, or became unfit for service. But when the Government looked elsewhere for men fit for immediate service, and proposed to employ foreigners, the House made it a party question. General Peel defended the existing system. To complain of regimental officers as unfit for staff employment when they have never been allowed to qualify themselves, was the same as if a man who only kept a gig should turn round upon his servant and complain because he could not drive a four-inhand. Representative government was an admirable thing, but it was not all that was required to carry on a great war. It might be a fine thing to have a morning state of the army laid duly on the breakfast-table: that, as was said of the Light Cavalry charge at Balaklava, might be very magnificent, but it
was not war.
Lord Palmerston protested against the language of Mr. Layard, who said the country had been disgraced, and had become a laughingstock to Europe, and who mingled with his observations "vulgar declamation against the aristocracy of this country." Deeply lament ing the sufferings of the army, he said it would be a great mistake to suppose that the suffering had been confined to our troops. Without speaking of the French, who had endured a good deal, he knew, on pretty good authority, that there
were 35,000 Russians in hospital, sick and wounded; and, however the sufferings of our troops had been increased by want of arrangement, they had arisen in great part from the nature of the servicethe inclemency of the weather, and visible causes in the power of no man to control. So far from feeling ashamed, he felt proud of events from the merit of which Mr. Layard sought to detract. Tell us of the aristocracy of England!-why, in that glorious charge at Balaklava, leading were the noblest and wealthiest in the land, following were the representatives of the people of this country-neither the peer who led, nor the trooper who followed, being distinguished the one from the other. Mr. Layard said it was trifling with the interests of the army to send out Commissioners, who would apply a remedy at once. What does he recommend? A Committee to send forth a blue-book, and Commissioners after the manner of the Committee of Public Safety in the French Revolution, empowered to execute summary justice. “Why, you might take the honourable Gentleman at his word, and if you were to add this instruction to the Committee, that the members thereof proceed instantly to the Crimea and remain there during the rest of the session, perhaps that would be satisfactory." (Laughter.) Mr. Layard said that Lord Palmerston, between Friday night and Monday, had fallen in the estimation of the country, because he did not frame a different Cabinet. If Mr. Layard would be good enough in succession to the Members of the proposed Committee to add those of the proposed Cabinet, the House could judge between them. But he was sure that, when
the people saw a Government constituted upon the failure of two other attempts to form a Government, they would feel that the men who had undertaken the task had done so because they felt the country should not be left without a Government. War would be carried on with adequate vigour. If the opportunity for concluding a safe and honourable peace should be real, the Government would avail themselves of it. But if "the adversary has not been brought to that temper of mind which will induce him to consent to those conditions upon which permanent peace can for the future be established, why then, Sir, we shall appeal with confidence to the country for support in those greater exertions which a continuance of the contest may impose upon us as a necessity; and, whatever may be said by the honourable Member for Aylesbury, or by others who may rise after me in debate, I feel confident that this country will give its support to a Government which honourably and honestly stands forward to do its duty in a moment of emergency; a Government which has not forced itself upon the country by any vote or motion in this House, or by any Parliametary manoeuvre; a Government which has arisen in consequence of the failure of others who might, if they had chosen, have undertaken the work, but who shrank from doing it at the time when the offer was made to them. I do not mention this as reflecting blame upon them, but simply as the fact which led to the formation of the present Government. Two endeavours having been made to form a Government, and those two endeavours having failed, I should have thought myself a degraded man if
I had not undertaken the task. Í feel proud of the support which my honourable and noble friends have afforded me. I throw myself with confidence upon the gene rosity of the country, and of Parliament; and I am convinced that, if we do our duty-and we shall do our duty as long as we have the support of the country to enable us to do it-if we are enabled by the support of the country to do that which we conceive to be our duty, in spite of temporary reverses, in spite of the momentary aspect of affairs-we shall succeed in carrying matters to a successful issue, be it for peace now, or be it for peace hereafter; but, whether by negotiations now, or whether by force of arms afterwards, we shall be able to place this country upon that proud footing of future security which its greatness and its power so well entitle it to occupy." (Loud cheers.)
The debate was continued for a short time, and Mr. J. G. Phillimore urged inquiry, and vindicated representative institutions from the charge that they were ill adapted for carrying on war. Mr. Warner thought that Lord Palmerston's explanations were unsatisfactory, and the measures he proposed not those he expected from him; but if he would undertake to inquire into the grievances of the army, Mr. Warner would rather it should be done by the Government than the House of Commons. Major Reid denounced the Horse Guards as "rotten," and Mr. Murrough bluntly characterised Lord Palmerston as "an old man whose hands are tied by red tape." The House then went into Committee.
Lord Palmerston's Government had existed barely a fortnight when another Ministerial crisis occurred,