Home About Sources Topics Background

Crimean texts

The Times 27.8.1868 p 4




Sir — I find I was right when I despaired of altering Sir W Codrington’s opinion, and that the quotation from Mr Kinglake’s account of the gallant officer in the second volume of his History gives a correct view of his character. The opening sentences of the Review in The Times of the 25th inst will spare me the trouble of making a reply to Sir W Codrington’s reiteration of his former complaint. He has a theory, apparently, that a Reviewer has no business to draw deductions from the work he criticizes. If he does so, he must take the consequences, among which on the present occasion are the results of Sir W Codrington’s own peculiar mode of exercising the critical function. I repeat that the flank march was, as described by Mr Kinglake, conducted in a loose and slovenly manner. The proofs are given in Mr Kinglake’s narrative, and in the facts which I laid before your readers on the same authority. From the same work I gather the materials for the description of “the army, English and French,” on the night Lord Raglan slept at the Tractir bridge. Let the readers judge. But Sir W Codrington talks of my “disparagement of an English army engaged in a difficult enterprise.” Can Sir W Codrington understand that the conduct of the leaders of an army is quite distinct from that of the army itself, and that the ordering of a march has nothing to do with the troops who make it? It is not necessary for me to deny a charge so utterly baseless as that which General Codrington makes in these words. Sir W Codrington finds fault with the ambiguity of my language. He has, however, no difficulty in assuming that I attack Mr Kinglake in order to depreciate Lord Raglan, attack Lord Raglan in order to depreciate Mr Kinglake, and attack the army in order to depreciate Mr Kinglake and Lord Raglan together. I do not believe in the natural connexion or the triune association here suggested by Sir W Codrington, but as he is in doubt in the matter I will leave the solution to his mature deliberations, merely saying that the problem is quite Sir William Codrington’s own, and that Œdipus could best answer his own riddles. To Sir W Codrington’s tribute to Lord Raglan I most heartily subscribe, and I believe he will find even a stronger testimony to the merits of that noblemen in the beginning of the very Review he attacks. But I must differ from General Codrington when he says that Lord Raglan does not require defence. I say that his Lordship’s memory needs to be defended against his eulogist.

If I were sure I understood this sentence, “But the army — this congregation of regiments, brigades, and divisions, and having no individual existence — is exposed to all sorts of remarks, all sorts of criticisms, safe in their generality of blame, from which it is liable to remain without defence. Thus we see that the Reviewer, when obliged to admit the incorrectness of his censure as to one portion of the army, says that the Light Division or a brigade was not the whole army to which he refers, and continues his assertion until contradicted by officers dispersed in the army all over the world,” I would ask Sir W Codrington to point out any “blame” cast by me on the “congregation of regiments” which he has rushed forward to defend against an imaginary assailant. There is not even a windmill in the way except it be my assertion that the “Light Division or a brigade” was not the “whole French and English army.” When “officers dispersed in the army all over the world” contradict “my assertions” they will merely say that Mr Kinglake afforded data for erroneous conclusions. The “condition and preparation” of the British army were not exposed to any “depreciatory expressions” of mine, and the only “injustice” I have been guilty of towards the “Light Division” was that I reminded Sir W Codrington it was not all the army. Sir W Codrington commanded the British army on the recall of the late Sir J Simpson, and described in his own language the destruction of the docks of Sebastopol, but I doubt if even he, with his professional life wrapt up in it, with his well-won honours derived from it has done — no, Sir, I refrain. I will say, values more dearly the fame, honour, and welfare of that army than, Sir,

Your obedient servant

Home About Sources Topics Background