« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
CHOLERA AT VARNA-FRATERNITY OF THE TROOPS.
lake's account of the meeting of the cabinet, | expedition with that object had been decided
all its members except a small minority were asleep. At any rate, Lord Raglan regarded the message as little short of an absolute order from the secretary of state, and on that ground would have prepared to obey it.
upon, the press rang with reproaches on the supineness of the government in not hurling the allied forces at the great naval stronghold of the czar."
He replied, indeed, that he intended to attack Sebastopol more in deference to the views of the British government, and to the known acquiescence of the Emperor Napoleon in those views, than to any information in the possession of the naval and military authorities, either as to the extent of the enemy's forces or their state of preparation. "The fact," he said, "must not be concealed, that neither the English nor the French admirals have been able to obtain any intelligence on which they can rely, with respect to the army which the Russians may destine for operations in the field, or to the number of men allotted for the defence of Sebastopol; and Marshal St. Arnaud and myself are equally deficient in information upon these all-important questions, and there would seem to be no chance of our acquiring it." The English commander would not take more than his share of so great a responsibility, and though he determined to proceed at once to move against Sebastopol, he afterwards received precise instructions to take that course. Hostile preparations had gone almost too far now to be recalled, even if a reaction had set in, but there were no signs of reaction, and only a few people contended that arbitration might still be possible.
"Parliament," says Mr. Kinglake, was sitting, and it might be imagined that there was something to say against the plan for invading a province of Russia at a moment when all the main causes of dispute were vanishing. But parliament had shown that it did not consider, any more than did the country, that'the main causes of the dispute were vanishing;' while the response awakened by Lord Lyndhurst's words showed conclusively enough how eager it was for the invasion of the Crimea. The destruction of Sebastopol, indeed, was the thought uppermost in men's minds, and between this time and the period when it was known that the
To the same end the Times insisted (and it represented the general voice of the country):
"We are now approaching the sixth month of actual hostilities, and as yet not a shot has been fired by the land forces of England. . . . The broad policy of the war consists in striking at the very heart of the Russian power in the East, and that heart is at Sebastopol. . . To destroy Sebastopol is nothing less than to demolish the entire fabric of Russian ambition in those very regions where it is most dangerous to Europe. This feat, and this only, would have really promoted the solid and durable objects of the war."
But there was another powerful incentive to further action. The troops at Varna were dying of cholera, which was most fatal in the French camp, where it increased with such rapidity that it was said fifteen died out of every twenty-five who were attacked with the pestilence, and fatigue parties were constantly engaged in burying the dead. Varna, with environs lovely to the eye, was just the town which, when crowded with soldiery, was liable to such a fearful mortality. Standing in Bulgaria on the shores of the Black Sea, 160 miles north-west of Constantinople, and containing ordinarily about 14,000 inhabitants, it was about as ill calculated as any other Turkish fortified town to receive a large accession to the number of those who dwelt in its vicinity, or took up quarters in the ill-drained, irregular, and neglected streets. Forty thousand men were encamped around the walls, and those streets were crowded with soldiery in all the disorder of a camp where there is little space to move. The British troops had their camp at Aladyn amidst a beautiful landscape a few miles distant; but there was hearty fellowship between the forces. The English and French soldiers, as well as the officers, were always ready to show that they regarded each other as good comrades, and to prove by deeds of kindness and mutual help that they desired a lasting friendship. They had one common
grievance, which increased after the raising of the siege of Silistria till it almost overcame discipline. Why were they not led against the enemy? The impatience of some of the French regiments, like the Zouaves, those agile soldiers from Africa, who had been used to be foremost in active assaults, was extreme. It may be imagined what were the feelings of the men when the cholera was so thinning their ranks that they began to ask themselves how many of the army would be left to meet the foe when it pleased their governments and their generals to take them into action. The French hospital at Varna soon became incapable of receiving the number of sick, and the sufferers had to be treated in field hospitals. A dark cloud of gloom and depression fell upon the men. The change from their former gaiety and light-heartedness made the effects of the calamity more conspicuous than it was in the British camp. The English troops suffered less at first; but the malady increased, and fifteen to sixteen deaths a day were the hospital returns. Aladyn, where the camp had been pitched, was known (to the inhabitants) as a hotbed of malaria, and Devus, the neighbouring beautiful valley, where a number of the tents had been placed, had long been named by the Turks "the Valley of Death." This title had been too sadly justified before our decimated troops were removed and spread over a larger space in a wider encampment. The vicinity of the late encampment became a cemetery, so numerous were the graves; and the men who recovered, like those 600 of the 3000 guards, the flower of the army, who took two days to march ten miles into Varna, though they had their packs carried for them, moved about like sickly shadows of their former selves. It may easily be imagined how the ordinary men suffered; and the mortality and sickness was increased by the strange reckless excess which has so often followed the first terror of pestilence. Discipline was necessarily less strict, and many of the men, French and English, often clubbed together to procure extras, consisting too frequently of coarse and unwholesome stimulants, or of improper articles of food. The epidemic reached the fleet, and so increased
that the English and French ships in Baltchik Bay and the harbour of Varna stood out to sea. As is frequently the case fire followed plague, and Varna was threatened with destruction by the lighting of a spirit-shop near the French commissariat stores. For ten hours the sailors were using every effort to avert the progress of the flames which ran from street to street, and were not extinguished till a fourth part of the town and a very large quantity of military rations and stores were consumed. Had the fire not been suppressed the whole place might have been burned, and the armies left to famine. The catastrophe was attributed to the Greeks, one of whom was seen to set light to the spirits with a torch as they flowed into the streets. He was cut down, and six or seven of his countrymen were bayoneted by the French soldiers.
Not only the men but many officers were suffering from the effects of cholera or dysentery. Marshal St. Arnaud was himself among the number, and his condition was serious. But the order to leave Varna and embark for the Crimea was heard with delight by the soldiers. Their comrades had been falling around them attacked by a foe against whom they seemed to be powerless. Now orders came to move forward to assault a tangible enemy. They had not all been inactive. Lord Cardigan with the light cavalry had been sent to ascertain the position of the Russian army; but though he had explored the country as far as Trajan's Wall on the border of the Dorbrudscha, he had only learned that the siege of Silistria was raised and the Russian army in retreat towards Bessarabia. Sir George Brown, General Canrobert, and several French and English officers had been on board the Fury to explore the Crimean coast and search for a proper landing-place for the army near Sebastopol; but they were discovered and fired upon from the ramparts. Then Marshal St. Arnaud sent a division under Canrobert for another expedition to the Dorbrudscha, expecting that they would meet with a Russian force; but nothing came of it except a slight cavalry skirmish and an alarming number of deaths by cholera, which the troops took with them on their march, and
BATTLE OF THE ALMA.
of which seven thousand of them perished. | along the sea-shore, force the heights, and
turn the enemy's left flank. The Agamemnon took up a position at the mouth of the Alma, and General Bosquet's men with a contingent of Turks descended from the heights of Bouljavak, followed and supported further inland by the divisions of Prince Napoleon and Generals Canrobert and Forey.
No large force of the Russians was encountered, and it was afterwards known that the Emperor of the French was exceedingly displeased at so fruitless an expedition having been undertaken. The voyage to the Crimea could not and need not be any longer delayed. On the 7th of September the allied forces, consisting of 24,000 English, 22,000 French, and 8000 Turks, sailed from Varna, and on the evening of the 14th were landed at the "Old Fort," some distance from the town of Eupatoria. It was a tremendous movement, in which 600 vessels were employed, protected by a fleet carrying 3000 cannon. Some blunders and a good deal of confusion would have been excusable, and there were more than could well be excused; but once landed, the troops recovered their spirits, military discipline and efficiency were restored, and the two armies were ready to act in concert. No enemy opposed them. The town of Eupatoria, formidable as it appeared from the sea, surrendered at the first summons. It would appear from the fact of the armies being suffered to land, and then meeting with no resistance, that the czar and his generals thought they could keep them in the Crimea like rats in a trap, and so allow them to come on, only to annihilate them as they approached. A Russian officer and four mounted Cossacks were seen, the officer taking notes of the debarkation of the troops; but the reconnoitering steamvessels reported that the Russian army was encamped on the heights to the south of the river Alma. Thither the two armies commenced their march on the 19th of September, 1854. During the night bivouac the allied commanders arranged the plan of the engagement. On the morning of the 20th a thick mist obscured the heights and nothing could be seen. It was thought that the Russians had retired; but a breeze stirred, the haze lifted like a curtain, and there were the Muscovite troops with formidable batteries and strong natural ramparts of rock and ravine. The allied inshore squadron of vessels, headed by the Agamemnon, were to keep close to the coast and cover an advance and attack by Bosquet's division, which was to advance
General Bosquet's division crossed the river near the mouth about 11:30, the Turkish battalion passing at the same time close to the bar and within musket-range of the beach. This movement was unopposed. With inconceivable rapidity the Zouaves swarmed up the cliff, and it was not till they formed on the height and deployed from behind a mound there that the Russian batteries opened upon them. Waiting the development of the French attack, Lord Raglan caused our infantry for a time to lie down and remain quite passive; but, wearying of this inactivity and anticipating a little in a military point of view the crisis of action, he gave orders for our whole line to advance. "Up rose those serried masses," wrote the Times' correspondent, "and, passing through a fearful shower of round caseshot and shell, they dashed into the Alma and floundered through the waters, which were literally torn into foam by the deadly hail. At the other side of the river were a number of vineyards occupied by Russian riflemen. Three of the staff were here shot down; but, led by Lord Raglan in person, they advanced, cheering on the men. And now came the turning-point of the battle, in which Lord Raglan, by his sagacity and military skill, probably secured the victory at a smaller sacrifice than would have been otherwise the case. He dashed over the bridge followed by his staff. Then commenced one of the most bloody and determined struggles in the annals of war. The 2d division, led by Sir De Lacy Evans, in the most dashing manner crossed the stream on the right. The 7th Fusiliers, led by Colonel Yea, were swept down by fifties. The 55th, 30th, and 95th, led by Brigadier Pennefather (who was in the thickest of the fight cheering on his men), again and again were checked, indeed, but never drew back in their onward progress, which was marked by
sympathy with any other state. I have sympathy with Turkey; I have sympathy with the serfs of Russia; I have sympathy with the people of Hungary, whose envoy the noble lord the member for Tiverton refused to see, and the overthrow of whose struggle for freedom by the armies of Russia he needlessly justified in this house; I have sympathy with the Italians, subjects of Austria, Naples, and the pope; I have sympathy with the three millions of slaves in the United States; but it is not on a question of sympathy that I dare involve this country, or any country, in a war which must cost an incalculable amount of treasure and of blood. It is not my duty to make this country the knight-errant of the human race, and to take upon herself the protection of the thousand millions of human beings who have been permitted by the Creator of all things to people this planet.
"I hope no one will assume that I would invite-that is the phrase which has been used-the aggressions of Russia. If I were a Russian, speaking in a Russian parliament, I should denounce any aggression upon Turkey, as I now blame the policy of our own government; and I greatly fear I should find myself in a minority, as I now find myself in a minority on this question. But it has never yet been explained how the interests of this country are involved in the present dispute. We are not going to fight for tariffs, or for markets for our exports. In 1791 Mr. Grey argued that, as our imports from Russia exceeded £1,000,000 sterling, it was not desirable that we should go to war with a country trading with us to that amount. In 1853 Russia exported to this country at least £14,000,000 sterling, and that fact affords no proof of the increasing barbarism of Russia, or of any disregard of her own interests as respects the development of her resources. What has passed in this house since the opening of the present session? We had a large surplus revenue, and our chancellor of the exchequer is an ambitious chancellor. I have no hope in any statesman who has no ambition; he can have no great object before him, and his career will be unmarked by any distinguished services to his country.
"When the chancellor of the exchequer en
tered office, doubtless he hoped, by great services to his country, to build up a reputation such as a man may labour for and live for. Every man in this house, even those most opposed to him, acknowledged the remarkable capacity which he displayed during the last session, and the country has set its seal to this
that his financial measures in the remission and readjustment of taxation were worthy of the approbation of the great body of the people. The right honourable gentleman has been blamed for his speech at Manchester, not for making the speech, but because it differed from the tone of the speech made by the noble lord, his colleague in office, at Greenock. I observed that difference. There can be no doubt that there has been, and that there is now, a great difference of opinion in the cabinet on this eastern question. It could not be otherwise; and government has gone on from one step to another; they have drifted-to use the happy expression of Lord Clarendon to describe what is so truly unhappy-they have drifted from a state of peace to a state of war; and to no member of the government could this state of things be more distressing than to the chancellor of the exchequer, for it dashed from him the hopes he entertained that session after session, as trade extended and the public revenue increased, he would find himself the beneficent dispenser of blessings to the poor, and indeed to all classes of the people of this kingdom. Where is the surplus now? No man dare even ask for it, or for any portion of it.
"With regard to trade I can speak with some authority as to the state of things in Lancashire. The Russian trade is not only at an end, but it is made an offence against the law to deal with any of our customers in Russia. The German trade is most injuriously affected by the uncertainty which prevails on the Continent of Europe. The Levant trade, a very important branch, is almost extinguished in the present state of affairs in Greece, Turkey in Europe, and Syria. All property in trade is diminishing in value, whilst its burdens are increasing. The funds have fallen in value to the amount of about £120,000,000 sterling, and railway property is quoted at about
GLADSTONE ON THE RUSSIAN WAR.
£80,000,000 less than was the case a year | plored the war, and that all his calculations
"But we are sending out 30,000 troops to Turkey, and in that number are not included the men serving on board the fleets. Here are 30,000 lives! There is a thrill of horror sometimes when a single life is lost, and we sigh at the loss of a friend-or of a casual acquaintance! But here we are in danger of losing and I give the opinions of military men, and not my own merely-10,000, or it may be 20,000 lives, that may be sacrificed in this struggle. I have never pretended to any sympathy for the military profession; but I have sympathy for my fellow-men and fellowcountrymen, wherever they may be. I have heard very melancholy accounts of the scenes which have been witnessed in the separation from families occasioned by this expedition to the East. But it will be said, and probably the noble lord the member for Tiverton will say, that it is a just war, a glorious war, and that I am full of morbid sentimentality, and have introduced topics not worthy to be mentioned in parliament. But these are matters affecting the happiness of the homes of England, and we who are the representatives and guardians of those homes, when the grand question of war is before us, should know at least that we have a case-that success is probable, and that an object is attainable which may be commensurate with the cost of war."
No wonder, we might almost say, if Lord Palmerston felt restless and took the first opportunity of letting so hard-hitting an antagonist have it back; but it was to be deplored that on the occasion already referred to "the Tipton Slasher," as his lordship was sometimes nicknamed by the lower satirists, after a once famous pugilist, did not hit fair. Probably Palmerston would have said that he took so entirely different a point of view that he would not attempt to controvert the statements of his opponent, who had misapprehended, if not misrepresented, the circumstances which alone would explain the situation.
It may be noted that Mr. Bright spoke differently with regard to Mr. Gladstone. He knew, as we have said, that he at least de
were upset, and his hopes of achieving a great financial measure were frustrated by it. But Mr. Gladstone could give no practical support to Mr. Bright's arguments against interposition, and it was too late for such moral support as he could show to be of any immediate avail. In fact there has been no more emphatic, and perhaps unanswerable reply to Mr. Bright's contention than that given by Mr. Gladstone, part of which has been already noted.
"The design of the Crimean war," he wrote in 1878, "was in its groundwork the vindication of European law against an unprovoked aggression. It sought, therefore, to maintain intact the condition of the menaced party against the aggressor, or, in other words, to defend against Russia the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. The condition of the Christian subjects of the Porte in general was a subject that had never before that epoch come under the official consideration of Europe. The internal government of a country, it may safely be laid down, cannot well become the subject of effective consideration by other states except in cases where it leads to consequences in which they have a true locus standi, a legitimate concern on their own particular account, or on account of the general peace. In the case of Greece an insurrection growing into a civil war, and disturbing the Levant, had created this locus standi; and the interference of the three powers, led by Great Britain, had redressed the mischief. No like door had been opened in the other Christian provinces of Turkey. The dispute upon the holy places in 1853 had very partially opened it when Russia demanded for herself exclusively an enlarged right of intervention on behalf of the Oriental Christians. It thus became necessary, in determining the policy of the future, to take notice of the condition of the subject races. The greatest authorities, and pre-eminently Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, believed in the capacity of the Porte by internal reforms to govern its subjects on the principle of civil equality. The resolution, therefore, was taken to pursue this end, but without that infringement of the Porte's sovereign rights which Russia had