« EdellinenJatka »
2. When they return from the trenches they are in wet clothes, boots, and stockings, and have no change ; so that their clothes dry on them. 3. Horses and mules are dying for want of provender—hay and chopped straw especially. 4. In consequence of the want of horses and mules, the soldiers have been kept on half and sometimes quarter rations for days together. 5. No huts have been provided for the soldiers, and wood is very SCarce. 6. The sick have not been moved in time, and are miserably cared for in camp. Taking these as the principal wants and evils, it is necessary in the next place to point out the causes and the remedies. 1. When the allied armies took up their position in front of Sebastopol, they were nearly equal in number; but the British had in the Crimea the whole of their force in the East immediately disposable, and the French had only a part of theirs. The consequence has been that, while the English have been overworked, and their numbers scarcely increased by reinforcements, the French army has doubled its strength, and can afford to guard the trenches with one-third or one-fourth of its force. As the British army cannot be greatly increased, and the number of young soldiers must become proportionately greater than it has been, the most obvious remedy appears to be to concentrate the British force, and ask the French to occupy part of the line now in the hands of their allies. 2. There must have been great mismanagement to cause the want of clothes for officers and soldiers. From September 28 to November 12, all kinds of supplies might have been landed at Balaclava, and had only to be carried seven or eight miles to reach the most distant division. The only remedy is to have coats, shirts, boots, and warm clothing supplied, and this remedy, it is presumed, has been adopted. 3. The death of horses and mules from overwork and want of food may be partly owing to the loss of twenty days’ forage by the hurricane of the 14th of November. But there must have been negligence. In this case inquiry is necessary ; and an immediate remedy ought to be supplied, if it has not been already, by the Commissariat. 4. The soldiers cannot fight unless they are well fed. Upon this, as upon every other subject, there seems to be a want of communication between the English and French camps. The generals appear only to meet when some operation is contemplated, or on the day of battle. Had General Canrobert been informed that our troops were not fed, it cannot be doubted that 3oo or 4oo horses and mules would have been lent for the purpose of carrying up provisions. If in January the same evil recurs, our allies must be asked to aid us with their means of transport. In February, it is to be hoped, the railway will be established. 5. It is believed that, about October 8, Lord Raglan wrote to say that, if the army had to remain on the heights during the winter, huts would be required, and the narrow position then occupied did not furnish wood to make them. The huts do not appear to have yet arrived in the Crimea. It is presumed, however, that they have for some time left this country. 6. The want in this respect seems to have been supplied for the moment by our allies. Huts for the sick have of course been forwarded. Finally, there appears a want of concert among the different departments. When the navy forward supplies, there is no military authority to receive them ; when the military wish to unload a ship, they find that a naval authority has ordered it away. Lord Raglan and Sir Edmund Lyons should be asked to concert between them the mode of remedying this defect. Neither can see with his own eyes to the performance of all the subordinate duties, but they can choose the best men to do it, and arm them with sufficient authority. For on the due performance of these subordinate duties hangs the welfare of the army. Lord Raglan should also be informed exactly of the amount of reinforcements ordered to the Crimea, and at what time he may expect them. Having furnished him with all the force in men and material which the Government can send him, the Government is entitled to expect from him in return his opinion as to what can be done by the allied armies, and in what manner he hopes to restore the strength and efficiency of the armies for the next campaign. Probably the troops first sent over will require four months' rest before they will be able to move against an enemy. J. RUSSELL. December 30, 1854.
Lord John, however, was still dissatisfied with the action which the Cabinet was willing to take ; and on January 1, 1855, he drafted a letter to Lord Aberdeen expressing his dissatisfaction at the position of the Ministry and at the conduct of the war, and asking him to submit his resignation to the Queen. But the letter was not sent ; instead of despatching it Lord John, on the 3rd of January, wrote to Lord Aberdeen— Nothing can be less satisfactory than the result of the recent Cabinets. Unless you will direct measures yourself, I see no hope for the efficient prosecution of the war. . . . The French Government have, through Palmerston, expressed their readiness to concert with us a plan for the next campaign. Surely the circumstances are grave enough to induce us not to pass by this offer. It seems to me that the Duke of Newcastle, or Sidney Herbert, or Lord Hardinge, ought to go to Paris to consult with the Emperor and Marshal Vaillant. Lord Aberdeen received the proposal coldly. Writing on the 4th of January, he said— I was a little surprised by your letter yesterday, for I had thought that the recent Cabinets were rather satisfactory. . . . I was not aware that Palmerston had made any proposal, on the part of the French Emperor, to concert with us a plan for the next campaign. . . . We ought clearly to profit by the offers of French assistance whenever it can be of use ; and, if sufficient instructions cannot be given to Lord Cowley to answer the purpose before his return to Paris, I have not the least objection that either the Duke of Newcastle, Sidney Herbert, or Lord Hardinge should go, provided their presence there can really be thought advantageous at this moment. It so happened that, almost at the moment at which he received Lord Aberdeen's reply, Lord John had another letter which induced him to go himself to Paris. Lady Harriet Elliot, Lady John's youngest sister, who was seriously ill, was ordered to the South of France for the winter. She left England with Lord Minto late in the autumn, paid a visit to her sister, who was married to Mr. Abercromby, the British Minister at the Hague ; and from thence was moved to Paris. She suffered so much, however, during her journey, that Lord Minto told Lord John that she must rest, under any circumstances, for some days before proceeding further, and that her future journey must depend on her strength. Lady John was naturally distressed at the serious news ; and Lord John determined to take her over to Paris to pay, as it proved, a farewell visit to Lady Harriet. Melancholy as was the cause of the journey, Lord John did not neglect the public duties, in which he was so keenly interested, during his stay in France. He saw the Emperor, and had many conferences both with him and his Ministers on the conduct of the war. He returned to London on the 16th of January, joined the Cabinet which was sitting, and took part in its deliberations on that day and on some subsequent day. On the 23rd of January Parliament met ; Mr. Roebuck at once gave notice of a motion on the conduct of the war; and Lord John, feeling, after what had occurred, that he could not undertake the
defence of the Ministry, wrote the following letter to Lord Aberdeen :— Chesham Place : January 23, 1855.
My dear Lord Aberdeen, --Mr. Roebuck has given notice of a motion to inquire into the conduct of the war.
I do not see how this motion is to be resisted. But, as it involves a censure upon the War Department, with which some of my colleagues are connected, my only course is to tender my resignation.
I therefore have to request you will lay my humble resignation of the office which I have the honour to hold before the Queen, with the expressions of my gratitude for her Majesty's kindness for many years. —I remain, my dear Lord Aberdeen, yours very truly,
J. RUSSELL. Lord Aberdeen replied—
Argyll House : January 24, 1855.
My dear Lord John, I laid your resignation before the Queen to-day, who received it with expressions of much concern. I found, however, that her Majesty was already in possession of your intentions by a letter from yourself.
I thank you for the kind expressions contained in your note which accompanied your letter of resignation. I can only say that, whether in office or out of office, I trust that nothing can alter the warm regard with which I am ever truly yours,
ABERDEEN. In a narrative such as this, in which facts have been uniformly allowed to speak for themselves, it is not necessary to add much to these letters. It is, however, no secret that Lord John's colleagues thought his resignation ill-timed and ill-judged ; and it would no doubt have been better if Lord John had announced his intention to retire in the
Cabinet. His wife, writing to her own father, said exactly the same thing —
I think it would have been much better if he had told the assembled Cabinet his intention. I begged him, as far as I durst, to tell at least some of his colleagues before he wrote to Lord Aberdeen.
But she added the reason which prevented his doing so:—
He felt it might induce him to forgo his purpose against his conscience. You, who know him well, understand this, and will also understand what it has cost him to separate from those with whom he has acted so long.
Lord Wriothesley Russell, writing of the abuse which was showered on his brother, said with much truth—
It makes one sad, as well as indignant, to hear the world speaking as if straightforward honesty were a thing incredible, impossible. A man, and above all a man to whom truth is no new thing, says simply that he cannot assert what he knows to be false, and the whole world says, “What can he mean by it 2 Treachery, trickery, cowardice, ambition, what is it?’
And it is difficult to see how Lord John, holding his opinions, could have remained in office. Deeply dissatisfied with the conduct of the war ; impressed with the conviction that his colleagues were wrong in not grappling with the whole subject of military administration ; and that sufficient energy and foresight had not been shown either in Downing Street or in the Crimea, it was hardly possible for him to answer Mr. Roebuck. But he was also firm in the belief that inquiry is the peculiar function of the House of Commons ; and that, where cause for inquiry existed, it cannot properly be refused. He himself wrote in a retrospective memorandum—
As the moment approached, I felt more and more strongly the reasons in favour of inquiry. Let me refer to some of those reasons.
Inquiry is the proper duty and function of the House of Commons. When the British arms have suffered a reverse, this duty has always been performed. Thus when Minorca was lost in 1757 Mr. Fox consented to an inquiry. Thus when General Burgoyne capitulated in 1777 the House of Commons inquired into the causes of the disaster. Thus when the Walcheren expedition failed in attaining the chief objects of the enterprise the House of Commons inquired. Inquiry is, indeed, at the root of the powers of the House of Commons. Upon the result of the inquiry must depend the due exercise of these powers. If from vicious organisation the public affairs are ill