The Earl of LUCAN said, —
I rise, my lords, in pursuance of notice, to move for a copy of Lord Raglan’s report of the Battle of Balaklava. I consider it due to your lordships and to myself not to forgo this, the first, opportunity which has occurred to me to make a statement of what was my conduct on the day of that battle, and at the same time to show what has happened since in reference to it. Up to the present moment I have most scrupulously abstained from saying one word in this house upon this subject. Having applied for a court-martial, I considered that court the most competent to deal with charges exclusively of a professional character. As long as I could hope to have such a tribunal it best became me to be silent in this house, but, my lords, this has been resolutely refused me, and I am told as a reason for this refusal that there is no precedent for such a court-martial, and therefore I cannot have one. My lords, I believe that it is equally unprecedented that an officer of high rank should be summarily recalled from the army in the field, and that he should have charges of the greatest severity reflecting on his professional character brought against him four months after the event, he having in the meantime commanded his division before the enemy. I believe it to be equally unprecedented on his arrival home — these charges being brought for the first time against him — that he should not be allowed an opportunity of meeting or refuting them. Having failed in my application for this court-martial, when I come to make my statement in this house I am met by the Minister of War, who warns your lordship against allowing this house to be made the arena for the discussion of military discipline. He also warns you against trenching on the prerogative. There is no noble peer in this house less inclined than myself to trench on the prerogative. I freely admit that Her Majesty has the power to recall from the army and the service any officer she thinks fit, but I tell the Minister of War when he, as the advisor of the Crown, can advise the exercise of that prerogative, he must not allow himself to accompany that recall with charges discreditable and disgraceful. As in the case of a person in the noble lord’s employment, he would undoubtedly have a right to dismiss him, but he could not make charges of a disgraceful nature against him without affording him an opportunity of proving their inaccuracy. I cannot believe that in this house, however your lordships may be disposed to pay attention to precedent, or however sacred you may be disposed to hold the prerogative, you will prefer either precedent or prerogative to justice. It will be necessary for me to trouble your lordship at some length, and in my endeavour to exculpate myself it is my intention and my wish not to inculpate others. (Hear, hear.) It is now my intention to make this matter as clear as I can, and I shall have to take your lordships to the Battle of Balaklava. At about 11 o’clock on the 24th of October that excellent soldier Sir C. Campbell — I cannot allow myself to mention in this house the name of this officer, with whom I was acting in concert for four months, without stating that a more gallant or useful soldier never existed in the army (cheers) — forwarded to me a letter stating that a spy had arrived with news of the approach of the Russian army. I immediately joined Sir C. Campbell. We examined the spy, and we thought the report he brought so deserving of attention that Sir C. Campbell wrote a letter to Lord Raglan, which I thought of such importance that I ordered it to be conveyed by my aide-de-camp, who happened that day to be my son. The spy reported that 20,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry were marching upon our position at Balaklava, from the south and south-east. My aide-de-camp told me that he delivered my letter to General Airey, who made no reply, and that he subsequently met Lord Raglan, who only said that if anything new should happen it must be reported to him. At this time we were accustomed to be mounted an hour before daylight, and immediately at dawn I proceeded to the fort No. 3 on the plan. ( A plan of the position had been furnished to all their lordships, and the noble earl continually referred to it.) This was the extreme fort of our position. I then found that heavy columns of infantry were advancing from Tchernaya river and from the Kamara range. Sir C. Campbell prepared his troops and battery on the left of No. 3 fort, and I brought my cavalry in position and posted my battery on the left of No. 3 fort. The engagement commenced very soon afterwards, and Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 forts were attacked by the Russians. No. 1 was driven in after a very respectable resistance. I am anxious to state this, because the Turks on the occasion got less credit than they deserved. No. 2 fort was then driven in. There were in these forts in all 9 English guns. After these forts were evacuated by the Turks, I, by previous concert with Sir C. Campbell, brought my cavalry close on No. 5 fort. The cavalry were particularly well placed in a position to receive in flank any Russian force which might come from the east. To my great discomfiture, I received an order from Lord Raglan to take the whole of the cavalry and take ground on the second line of the redoubts occupied by the Turks. By this order all the cavalry were moved in a mass to the westward of No. 6 fort. They were standing in a mass according to Lord Raglan’s orders when, through the orchard, I saw some Russian cavalry coming over the hill. I ought to mention that, just before, I had received an order that part of the cavalry just moved should go back to Balaklava; and eight squadrons of heavy dragoons had just gone a quarter of a mile on their way when I saw the Russian cavalry advancing. I rode at speed, and had just time to wheel up the Grays and Enniskillen Dragoons and to order a charge under General Scarlett. As the Russian cavalry advanced with wings our cavalry only covered their centre, and, their two wings outflanking them, wheeled inward and enveloped our force. Having the 5th Dragoons disposable, I took the opportunity of attacking the Russians in the rear. This shook their column, but did not break it, when I ordered the 4th Dragoon Guards to charge. They did so, and this enormous column of Russians, consisting of five times as many as their assailants, and amounting at least to 3,500 men, was repulsed and routed. (Cheers.) I should do little justice to the heavy brigade if I did not take this opportunity of stating how they had distinguished themselves. (Cheers). I believe there never was an action in which the English cavalry more distinguished themselves than in this action, and what were its results? They were most important. Lord Raglan has told you that the Russian infantry amounted to 25,000 men on that occasion; and that great masses were moving up the centre valley between Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and were marching on Balaklava, but when that large mass of routed cavalry fell back on the infantry it induced them to retire. This cavalry charge was not only a wonderful feat of arms, but its results were of more importance from this fact that no infantry had come down to oppose the Russian infantry, excepting a portion of the 93d regiment, under Sir C. Campbell. I do not think there is a disposition in this country to do full justice to that charge. The French, than whom there are perhaps no better soldiers in the world, and who understand the science of war to a greater extent than any other European army, did full justice to it, for they looked upon it as one of the greatest feats of arms in military history. It has been asked why there were not more men present at the charge? — why I did not take advantage of the light cavalry? My answer is, that Lord Raglan had placed them in a position in which they were altogether out of my reach. After the charge we dismounted, and the prisoners were being taken away when I received an order (No. 3) from Lord Raglan, which I think will create much discussion. At that moment the heavy dragoons were very much in the position that had been occupied by the Russian columns. The order put into my hands was, —
“The cavalry to advance and take advantage of any opportunity to recover the heights. They will be supported by infantry, which has been ordered. Advance on two fronts.”The original order did not say “to advance,” but it is possible that the word “to” may have been inserted by mistake in the copy which I furnished to Lord Raglan, and I therefore wish to impute nothing to his lordship with respect to it. There was a full stop after the word “ordered,” there was no “to,” and there was a large A to “advance.” It would have made a great difference if “to” had been inserted and “advance” had commenced with a small “a,” so as to make the whole one sentence. But the sentence, “Advance in two fronts,” stood by itself. Immediately on receiving this order, I took up a position to the eastward with nine squadrons of cavalry, the heavy cavalry being in the rear of the fort marked No. 5 on the plan, which was merely a sort of breastwork. When we first mounted our horses the infantry were coming down the hill from the Sebastopol heights, and there were no infantry in the valley. I was anxiously waiting their arrival, as I had been told that they were to support me in endeavouring to recover the heights. I had been waiting there for 35 or 40 minutes, when Captain Nolan galloped up with what I considered, and with what I think your lordships will consider, as a fresh order, quite independent of any previous order. The order was to this effect:—
“Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop of horse artillery may accompany. French cavalry is on your left.”
Lord Raglan when he gave this order was upon very high ground, about a quarter of a mile to my rear, where he could see the Russian cavalry to the north and east, and the infantry on the other side of No. 3 fort. His lordship also fancied that he saw — and he was not the only man who laboured under the same impression — although, in fact, he did not see — the enemy taking our guns out of Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 forts, and moving off, and therefore he sent this order to prevent their being taken. I could produce half-a-dozen men, all of whom say they were under the same impression. I told Captain Nolan that I disapproved very much this movement — that there was great danger attending it; — but if your lordships will allow me I will read my letter explaining what passed. (Hear, hear.)
“In your lordship’s report of the cavalry action of Balaklava of the 25th ult., given in the papers that have just arrived from England, you observe that, ‘from some misconception of the instruction to advance, the lieutenant-general considered that he was bound to attack at all hazards, and he accordingly ordered Lord Cardigan to move forward with the light brigade.’ Surely, my lord, this is a grave charge, and an imputation reflecting seriously on my professional character. I cannot remain silent. It is, I feel, incumbent on me to state those facts which I cannot doubt must clear me from what I respectfully submit is altogether unmerited. The cavalry was formed to support an intended movement of the infantry, when Captain Nolan, the aide-de-camp of the Quartermaster-General, came up to me at speed, and placed in my hands this written instruction.”
(The noble earl then repeated the order and proceeded.)
I certainly understood the order to be an imperative and positive order to be taken per se, even before anything had been said by the aide-de-camp, but when I spoke to the aide-de-camp he told me something that Lord Raglan did not say in the order — namely, that his lordship intended that the cavalry should attack immediately.
“After carefully reading this order, I hesitated and urged the uselessness of such an attack, and the dangers attending it. The aide-de-camp, in a most authoritative tone, stated that they were Lord Raglan’s orders that the cavalry should attack immediately. I asked him, ‘Where, and what to do?‘ ”
I think it is right that I should now read to your lordships what an aide-de-camp is. The general orders of the army, which no officer can violate with impunity, say, — “All orders sent by aides-de-camp are to be delivered in the plainest terms, and are to be obeyed with the same readiness as if delivered personally by a general officer.“ (Hear, hear.) I ask any military man — I ask the noble duke near me (the Duke of Richmond), who has been aide-de-camp to no less a man than the Duke of Wellington — whether an aide-de-camp is not the organ of his general, and whether an officer who took upon himself not to receive an order brought by an aide-de-camp would not risk his commission? If this were not so, why could not an orderly dragoon deliver an order as well as an aide-de-camp? An aide-de-camp is chosen because he is an officer of more education and intelligence than a dragoon, and is therefore more likely to convey an order correctly; he is also supposed to be in the confidence of his general. I shall be told that Captain Nolan was not in the confidence of his general. Was he not? General Airey told me this, — “I first of all communicated the order verbally to Captain Nolan. Captain Nolan turned his horse and was galloping away, when I called him back and put it in writing.” Under such circumstances, I would ask any reasonable man whether I am to be told that any mistake was committed on the part of Captain Nolan? The words of Captain Nolan were that the cavalry should attack immediately; and I may here quote from my letter to Lord Raglan what passed between myself and Captain Nolan:—
“I asked him, ‘Where, and what to do?’ as neither enemy nor guns were within sight. He replied, in a most disrespectful but significant manner, pointing to the further end of the valley, ‘There, my lord, is your enemy; there are your guns.’ So distinct, in my opinion, was your written instruction, and so positive and urgent were the orders delivered by the aide-de-camp, that I felt it was imperative upon me to obey, and I informed Lord Cardigan.”
My lords, I here wish to bring another matter under your consideration. The words of the order were these — “French cavalry is on your left.” Now, the French cavalry were not within my reach — in fact, they were not within three-quarters of a mile of my position, and I had reason to suppose that they were much nearer to Lord Raglan than to me. They were entirely out of my sight, and out of my reach; and what was the meaning of the words “French cavalry is on your left,” but to inform me that I was to receive support from that French cavalry, and that the French cavalry were to act with me in a combined movement? Had I failed in performing any part of the duty intrusted to me, I felt that I should have placed the French cavalry in a position in which it would have been difficult for them to defend themselves. (Hear, hear.) I felt perfectly satisfied as to what my duty was, and that I could not hesitate under the circumstances. I accordingly desired the light brigade to advance, and your lordships are well acquainted with the brilliant character of the charge which was then made by Lord Cardigan. (Cheers.) It is impossible to exaggerate the gallantry of the British troops upon that day, and, from all that I have witnessed, I believe that a more brilliant charge was never made. (Cheers.) I may now tell your lordships what arrangements I made when I found, as I considered, that I had no choice left in the matter. I thought that a senseless attack was about to be made, and I endeavoured to take measures to render it as safe as possible. I formed the cavalry in three lines, and I brought up, not, my lords, two regiments of heavy dragoons, as it has been supposed, but every heavy dragoon I had. It is undoubtedly true that in my letter of the 30th of November I only mentioned having brought up two regiments of heavy cavalry, but everybody knows that I had in support, in addition to those two regiments, the 4th Dragoon Guards, the 5th Dragoon Guards, and the Enniskillen Dragoons. I myself followed the light brigade up to near No. 3 fort. It is a mistake to suppose that I ever imagined the charge could be successful by the aid of one brigade alone. I thought that the services of the whole division were called for, and the only reason that the whole of the division were not in the same difficulty as the light brigade is, that when I found the perfectly hopeless nature of the charge, and that any further advance of the heavy dragoons would merely lead to their destruction without rendering assistance to the light cavalry, I prevented them from advancing, and placed them in a position where they would be able to render the most effective support to the light brigade. (Hear, hear.) The consequence was that they were not pursued; and can any man assert that they would not have been pursued if the enemy had not seen that the heavy cavalry were watching their movements? (Hear, hear.) It is right to tell your lordships that at this time the first division, commanded by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, and the fourth division, commanded by an officer whose death your lordships must much lament — Sir George Cathcart — advanced, and it is also right that your lordships should recollect that both these officers were my seniors, and were, therefore, my commanding officers. Having gone so far, it is now proper that I should deal with the letter of Lord Raglan. On the night of the action at Balaklava I saw Lord Raglan, and the first remark made to me by his lordship was, “Why, you’ve lost the light brigade.” I denied that I had lost the light brigade, and I said, “I felt myself obliged to carry out your lordship’s orders.” Lord Raglan made no further remark upon that occasion, except to say that I, being a lieutenant-general, ought to have exercised my own discretion. Notwithstanding that Lord Raglan, as commander-in-chief, was upon the spot at the time, and far better able to see what was going on than myself, his lordship said to me that if I disapproved the charge, as a lieutenant-general I had a discretionary power and ought not to have made it. He said, “You did not advance far enough in the movement before,” but he never attempted to show that one order had the least connexion with the other. The day but one after the action at Balaklava, General Airey called upon me in my tent. The moment he came in I said, “General Airey, this is a most serious matter; you may depend upon it, it will create a great deal of talk and dissatisfaction at home.” General Airey’s reply was, “Oh! these sort of things will happen in war; it’s nothing to Chillianwallah.” (“Hear,” and a laugh.) I said, “I know nothing about Chillianwallah; but I tell you, General Airey, that this is a most serious affair; and, what is more, I tell you that I do not intend to bear the smallest particle of responsibility. I gave the order to charge under what I considered a most imperative necessity, and I will not bear the blame.” General Airey then tried to convince me that the order was not imperative, and, after some conversation with him upon other matters, I said, “Now be careful, General Airey, that no responsibility is placed upon me, for I will not bear any.” His reply was, “You may rest quite satisfied, Lord Lucan. You will be pleased with Lord Raglan’s report.” Perhaps I had better here call your lordships’ attention to the fact that throughout the whole of this conversation General Airey, though he had signed the two orders that I had received from Lord Raglan, never gave me any reason to suppose that there was any connexion between the two. Had the last order been in any way connected with the first, would he not naturally have called my attention to the fact? But he did no such thing. He never pretended that the last order had the slightest or remotest connexion with that which preceded it. Now, my lords, I did not expect that any injustice would be done to me at home. In my simplicity I even omitted to supply the English public, who do not appear to deal very justly with their absent friends, with a copy of the order I received. I did nothing until Lord Raglan’s report arrived at the end of November; and I beg to call your lordships’ attention to what then happened. On the 28th of November I read Lord Raglan’s report in the newspaper, and I felt exceedingly hurt and grieved to receive at the same time several letters from my friends asking what I had been doing, and saying that my conduct had been strongly censured at home. I considered what I should do, and I thought the most moderate course I could take would be to wait upon Lord Burghersh. I accordingly waited upon Lord Burghersh, and said, “I come to you more as a nephew of Lord Raglan than as his aide-de-camp. I feel greatly grieved at the report which his lordship has made, but I do not wish to say anything that can give Lord Raglan the slightest pain. Will you ask Lord Raglan to see me, so that we can talk the matter over in a friendly way?” Lord Burghersh came over to me the next day, and said, “If you particularly desire to see Lord Raglan he will see you, but he is very much occupied at this moment.” I replied, “I can very well believe that Lord Raglan would rather not have any conversation with me, but it has occurred to me that it would not be objectionable to Lord Raglan if I were to write a letter to him explaining the facts, and requesting him to send it to England.” Lord Burghersh immediately brightened up, and said, “Lord Raglan can have no objection to that, if that is all you require.” I replied, “I require nothing more on earth than that the English public should know the facts of the case;” and I added, “If in my letter there should be anything offensive or annoying to Lord Raglan, if he will be kind enough to point it out, I shall have great pleasure in altering it.” Now, my lords, I don’t think that was either an unfriendly or disrespectful communication to make to my commander-in-chief. I wrote the letter that very night, as the post was going out on the 1st or 2d of December; and I delivered it early next morning in the hope that Lord Raglan would have sent it by that post. But I heard nothing more of the letter until the 4th of December. On that day an aide-de-camp of General Airey called upon me, and began to talk about the hutting of the horses. At last he said, “General Airey will be glad to speak to you upon that subject.” Well, my lords, I went to General Airey, and he began in a rambling manner to talk about the hutting for the horses; but after some time he produced my letter, and said, “The real object of my wishing to see you is with respect to this letter.” I said, “That letter! I believed that letter to be half on its way to England by this time.” He replied, “No; Lord Raglan thinks that this letter is very unnecessary. You have received the thanks of Her Majesty and the thanks of the Minister of War; surely you ought to be satisfied.” I said, “General Airey, I don’t know why I am to be so particularly grateful. I think both Her Majesty and the Minister of War have said quite as much as Lord Raglan’s report would have warranted; but if you put the question to me whether I am charmed with this report of Lord Raglan, I say I think my Lord Raglan was exceedingly scanty when he came to my praise. I wanted nothing more than justice in that report, but when I recollect that with 700 men I have successfully repelled the attack of something like 3,000 or 4,000 men, and repelled it under the most disadvantageous circumstances, I do not see in that report anything with which I am very much enamoured. But I have only touched upon this subject in consequence of your having sent for me, for, if you had not, I should never have mentioned it either to you or any soul living.” I also said, “I am very much annoyed by the word ‘misconception;’ there was no misconception of the order.” General Airey answered, “Lord Raglan is very much annoyed by this letter, and says that no power on earth shall induce him to change his report.” My reply was, “I have not expressed any wish that he should change his report; it would be most unreasonable that I should ask him to do so, for I take it for granted that when he made that report he believed it to be true, and I have no right to ask him to change it. I only ask him to carry out what I understood to be agreed upon — namely, that my statement of facts should be sent with it to England.” General Airey, not a very unskilful diplomatist, then thought he would take a higher tone, and threaten; he was sure that Lord Raglan would be so annoyed about it that he would wish me to be sent back to England. I said I was very sorry, but I could not help that. Lord Raglan had not objected to the letter; it was written by agreement, and I did not ask him to change his report. Upon that, General Airey changed round all at once. “Oh,” said he, “if you don’t ask Lord Raglan to change his report he has no objection to send the statement,” and upon that we parted. On the 9th of the month I got another letter from General Airey, Saying that Lord Raglan wished very much that I should have some more conversation with him (General Airey). I met him accordingly, when he said, “Lord Raglan don’t like this letter at all. He says you have charged him with injustice.” I said, “I do not see it. Point out to me where I have done so.” Well, after beating about and hesitating a long time, he pointed to the word “unmerited,” and said, “There.” I said it was very extraordinary — Lord Raglan had had this letter 10 days. I had offered to make any alteration, and it was strange that he should now object to that one word. General Airey said his lordship said something about the cavalry, upon which I said, “Am I to understand that you, as quartermaster-general of the army, say that his lordship is dissatisfied with the commander of the cavalry?” He said, “I did not mean that;” but, said I, “You said something to that effect.” Then, my lords, he said, “Well, but really, after all, it was agreed between yourself and Lord Burghersh that any word objected to should be removed,” and we parted with the thorough understanding that any little difficulty about the word “unmerited” was explained away, and that the letter was to go. My lords, I heard no more of this letter, and fancied it had gone to England by the next post, but it did not appear to have gone till two posts after. I now come to the letter of observation, but before I advert to it I may be permitted to say — and I believe I can say it with truth — that there never has been anything approaching to a quarrel between myself and Lord Raglan, but that all our communications since have been as friendly as they were previously, and fully as friendly as with any other divisional officer. My lords, on the 13th of February I received my recall, and I now come to the letter of observation, and I will enter into an undertaking with your lordships that I will refute every sentence and every word in that letter of observation. I will read it to your lordships, and I will tear it to rags:
“My Lord Duke,— I regret to be under the necessity of forwarding to your Grace the copy of a letter which has been addressed to me by Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan. When I received it I placed it in the hands of Brigadier-General Airey, the quartermaster-general, and requested him to suggest to his lordship to withdraw the communication, considering it would not lead to his advantage in the slightest degree.”
Now, my lords, I have given your lordships every word which passed between Brigadier-General Airey and myself, and I put it to your lordships whether he asked me to withdraw the communication? No doubt he wished me to do so, and tried to induce me to do so, but that he did not put that question to me I boldly and solemnly assert. His lordship continues:—
“But Lord Lucan having declined to take the step I recommended, I have but one course to pursue, that of laying the letter before your Grace, and submitting to you such observations upon it as I am bound in justice to myself to put you in possession of. Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan complains that in my despatch to your Grace of the 28th of October I stated that from some misconception of the instruction to advance the lieutenant-general considered he was bound to attack at all hazards. His lordship conceives this statement to be a grave charge, and an imputation reflecting seriously on his professional character, and he deems it incumbent upon him to state those facts which he cannot doubt must clear him from what he respectfully submits is altogether unmerited. I have referred to my despatch, and, far from being willing to recall one word of it, I am prepared to declare that not only did the lieutenant-general misconceive the written instructions that were sent to him, but that there was nothing in that instruction which called upon him to attack at all hazards.“
My lords, I never said there was, and if your lordships will refer to my letter of the 30th of November you will not see one word of the sort; on the contrary, I always talked of movement. It is perfectly true that Captain Nolan told me there was to be an attack, but I never said there was to be an attack. I never used the word “attack,” but this word “attack,” which is used by Lord Raglan, he endeavours to fasten upon me. Lord Raglan proceeds:—
“There was nothing in that instruction which called upon him to attack at all hazards, or to undertake the operation which led to such a brilliant display of gallantry on the part of the light brigade, and, unhappily, at the same time, occasioned such lamentable casualties in every regiment composing it. In his lordship’s letter he is wholly silent with respect to a previous order which had been sent him.”Unquestionably I was, and I was equally silent with respect to orders 1 and 2; I had received altogether three orders; and why, in the name of Heaven, should I be expected to allude to an attempt to dovetail three separate orders? But I defy any person reading the two orders in question to find the least connexion between them. At all events, General Airey never once attempted to do so, although his signature was attached to them all.
“This previous order was in the following words:— The cavalry to advance and take advantage of any opportunity to recover the heights.“Very well. You have the map before you. The cavalry were to advance, and the order goes on to say,
“They will be supported by infantry, which has been ordered to advance in two fronts.”Now, the infantry never were so ordered. The Duke of Cambridge never received any order to advance, nor did Sir George Cathcart; because my aide-de-camp went to Sir George to ask him, and he said he could not, because he had no instructions to do so. (Hear, hear.) Under these circumstances, I did all I could do. I put myself in the position which Lord Raglan’s aide-de-camp told me to take up, and I was waiting there for the co-operation of the infantry which was to support me — which infantry, for want of orders, were stationary, and had their arms piled. Now, from 35 to 40 minutes had elapsed between the arrival of the two orders, Lord Raglan being on the hill all this time; and if the former movement which I was ordered to make had been mismanaged his lordship was surely close enough to see it, and could have given directions accordingly. I am not to suppose that Lord Raglan was not looking on between the delivery of the first and the second of these orders, and, therefore, if he found that the first had not been properly carried out, he had nothing to do but to send an aide-de-camp and call my attention to it, and say, “You have not executed this movement exactly as I wished it to be executed.” But nothing of the sort; he sends an order that the cavalry are to advance to the front, and “take advantage of any opportunity to recover the heights.” Now, what did taking advantage of any opportunity mean? Was I to create the opportunity myself, or was it to be created for me by the infantry? As to recovering the heights, the fact was there was not a single Russian on the heights. In the morning redoubts 1, 2, 3, and 4, upon the evacuation of the Turks, became occupied by the Russians; but after the heavy dragoon charge the enemy evacuated No. 4, and there was not a single Russian until you came to No. 3 fort. Now, I ask any military man here present, what the cavalry were to do in order to “recover the heights,” when the whole of the enemy that were upon those heights were in redoubt No. 3, the strongest of the whole, or beyond it? Did Lord Raglan intend the cavalry to attack that redoubt? Was it not more reasonable that the infantry should attack, and that the cavalry should wait for the opportunity of cutting off the retreat of the Russians, when the infantry had succeeded in their attack? (Hear, hear.) I ask, will the order admit of any other construction? Had I given any other directions than those which I actually gave, should I not have been justly chargeable with imprudence? There were no heights to recover, but there were three forts, Nos. 1, 2, and 3, to recover, and I know when the infantry were ordered down to our position it was intended to recover them. It was the wish of Sir George Cathcart to attack them, but it was thought that, as they could not be held, they were not worth the loss of life which would certainly attend any attempt to recover them. I have now shown, I think, that there is not a single sentence thus far which I have not shivered. But Lord Raglan goes on to say,—
“So little had he sought to do as he had been directed that he had no men in advance of his main body.”Now the fact is that Lord Cardigan’s brigade was so much in advance that I received a communication from his lordship, through his aide-de-camp, objecting to stand where he was, because he was so much in advance that he expected the batteries on the left to open upon him. I think, therefore, that I have disposed of that statement, for it would have been very imprudent to have placed my men more in advance than they actually were. —
“He made no attempt to regain the heights”(No; first of all, because there were no heights to regain, and, secondly, because I was waiting for the co-operation of the infantry);
“and was so little informed of the position of the enemy that he asked Captain Nolan where and what he was to attack, as neither enemy nor guns were in sight.”Now, if your lordships will only read my letter, you will understand in what tone and in what manner I put that question to Captain Nolan. I was expressing to him the absurdity and the uselessness of the order, and when he persisted in telling me to attack, I said, “Attack, Sir! attack what? and where? Where is your enemy?” I knew very well where the Russians were, not having lost sight of them since 6 o’clock in the morning. “What guns are those we are to recover?” I asked. “There,” said Captain Nolan, and he pointed exactly to where the Russian battery was. Your lordships should observe this. I have stated the impression which prevailed that the Russians were taking away our guns from forts 1, 2, and 3, and the spot pointed to by Captain Nolan was the only road by which they could be taken away. Now, those guns were never moved. The whole thing was a misapprehension, or, to use a more popular word, a misconception. The letter proceeds —
“This is the lieutenant-general’s own admission. The result of his inattention to the first order was, that it never occurred to him that the second was connected with and a repetition of the first. He viewed it only as a positive order to attack at all hazards. (The word “attack,” be it observed, was not made use of in General Airey’s note.)”Now, my lords, I altogether dispute the inference here drawn as to the use of the word “attack.” [Lord PANMURE here made an observation that was inaudible in the gallery.] My lords, I thought I had shown just now that the orders of an aide-de-camp are to be received as the orders of the general himself; and did I not say that Captain Nolan ordered me to attack the enemy immediately? If this was so, then I was surely ordered to attack. But I will give your lordships another argument. I was told “to advance rapidly to the front” — to “follow the enemy,” and to “prevent them from carrying away the guns.” Now, I confidently ask any military man what that means if it does not mean immediate attack? (Hear, hear.) Were we, in the face of such an order, to stand with our hands in our pockets? (Laughter.) Were we not clearly called on to pursue till we reached the enemy? Will the noble lord opposite say what I was to pursue?
Lord PANMURE, when he interrupted the noble earl, had simply pointed out to him that the word “attack” was used in his own letter. He had made no comment whatever.
The Earl of LUCAN — What I object to is the phrase here used, “attack at all hazards.” But, to proceed I was told that in carrying out this operation “a troop of horse artillery may accompany.” Your lordships will observe that the word “may” was used. I considered so much of the order as discretionary, and, I may say, I never exercised more discretion in my life. Just fancy a troop of horse artillery proceeding through this field, which was a ploughed field, at a gallop, to face three of the Russian guns opposite! Why, there is not a noble lord here who will not think as I did, that if I had taken these guns into that valley the horses would have fallen, and the guns would have been lost without ever coming into action, or with any probability of doing so. (Hear, hear.) I, however, exercised the discretion that I thought was reposed in me, and saved your guns. (Hear, hear.) Then the letter proceeded —
“He was informed that the French cavalry was on the left, and he did not invite their co-operation.”This is a most extraordinary charge. Why, in the first place, we had that co-operation without seeking it, and, in the next place, they were out of sight on the other side of the ridge of the Inkermann valley, and much nearer to Lord Raglan and General Canrobert than to me. I could not tell whether there were 300 or 3,000 French cavalry, and I could not guess whether they were governed by subalterns or by a general. Moreover, I was told the attack was to be immediate, and I could not have reached the cavalry in less than a quarter of an hour. (Hear.) But, my lords, we had the co-operation of the French cavalry, and of the greatest use that co-operation was. There were only three squadrons of French dragoons, and they took the battery in the flank and reverse, silenced the battery, and saved my brigade of heavy cavalry by so doing. (Hear, hear.) It is next said, —
“He had the whole of the cavalry at his disposal; he mentions having brought up only two regiments in support.”Now, in my letter of the 30th of November, I then mentioned two regiments, but Lord Raglan must have seen that I had every heavy dragoon under my command in his proper place at that moment — that the whole five regiments of heavy dragoons were in line at intervals of 300 paces, which is the proper distance, and were the last men in the field. (Hear, hear.) It is afterwards said, —
“He omits all other precautions from want of due consideration, &c.”Now, I cannot help thinking that I took every precaution that could be expected of me, and I should like to know what precaution I omitted to employ? It is immediately added that I showed “a want of due consideration.” As to this charge, it must be evident, from what I have said, that I did not jump into this business but after a great deal of consideration. (Hear, hear.) Then it is stated that I acted on the supposition that the enemy were not in such numbers as they really were. Now, my lords, when I had been in the field from half past 6 in the morning in the face of the enemy, I should like to know why it was supposed that I did not know something of their force. (Cheers.) My lords, I said I would answer every charge in that letter from Lord Raglan; I said I would tear it to rags and tatters; and I ask if there is a single word in it that I have not fully answered? (Hear, hear.) I shall now allude to a letter from the commander-in-chief. I shall remember to whom I am referring, and it shall be my endeavour to show him that respect to which he is entitled, and which I have accorded to the commander-in-chief ever since I became connected with the service. But, my lords, I must ask the Minister of War whether, when he gave an extract from the letter to which I allude he was aware that he was not giving the exact copy of the letter sent to me, but that, whether accidentally or purposely, there has been an additional paragraph added to it. I wish to know whether that was done purposely or accidentally?
Lord PANMURE. — I was not aware of any difference.
The Earl of LUCAN. — The letter states, —
“It is to be regretted that the lieutenant-general, acting upon a misconception of a written order, did not show that order to Lord Cardigan.”Of course, my lords, if the commander-in-chief tells me it is the duty of a lieutenant-general to show his orders to his two major-generals, unquestionably that will be my guide for the future, but certainly I never conceived it to be the duty of a general to do so. There was no more reason why I should show that letter to Lord Cardigan than to General Scarlett, because it was not intended to be an attack of a brigade but of the whole division, for which reason I placed myself in the rear of one brigade and in advance of the other. I cannot understand how it could possibly be my duty to discuss the order with my major-general, unless it were supposed I had a wish to throw on him a responsibility which ought solely to attach to myself. (Hear, hear.)
“And that, influenced by the authoritative tone and disrespectful manner of the aide-de-camp, he did not decide upon his own judgment.”With the greatest respect for the noble viscount, I ask why he supposes I allowed myself to be influenced in any way, except by a sense of duty, to carry out the orders conveyed to me? I do not know where the noble lord has been so informed, but I ask the noble lord to tell me how I showed myself to be influenced by the tone of the aide-de-camp? I altogether deny that I was influenced by anything said or done by that aide-de-camp. I was influenced by a sense of duty, which imposed upon me the necessity of carrying out what I considered an imperative order, and therefore I say, to impute that I allowed my feelings or temper to be actuated in any way was not doing me full justice. (Hear, hear.)
“Supported by the concurrence of his major-general that the charge ought not to be made”— I deny that it was necessary to ask the concurrence of anybody, or that a divisional general should consult with a brigade general. I think that a divisional general is unfit to be at the head of his division if he does not consider himself fully qualified and fully able to carry out the instructions he receives from his commander-in-chief. (Hear.) I never did conceive it to be the duty of a divisional general to consult with a brigade general, and should very reluctantly adopt such a course. (Hear, hear.) I have certainly heard many strange things said since my return in the way of private criticism. I have heard it said, “You should have had moral courage enough to disobey your general.” I say to you, my lords, I had not the moral courage to show myself insubordinate, and to consider my opinion as superior to and overruling that of the commander-in-chief. (Hear.) Then I have been told it is asked, why I did not head the light cavalry charge? Because, had I taken the light cavalry charge, I could not have commanded the cavalry division. (Hear.) It seems to be imagined that I was unexposed in the affair. All I can say is, that I was under No. 3 fort, with four staff officers, and out of five of us only one escaped untouched. My own aide-de-camp was killed. I was wounded myself. Another officer had his forage cap shot off close to his head. Another had a ball in his horse; and I think that for four out of a party of five to be struck is sharp practice. (Hear.) One reason of my recall is stated to be that I placed myself towards my general in a position which made it most advisable that I should be recalled. I could only have placed myself in that position by my letter of the 30th of November. I have no doubt that it appeared to the noble duke to be a very uncourteous and insubordinate letter, but I can assure the noble duke I never heard that letter so characterized by any other person. Perhaps the noble duke did not always think it so very violent and immoderate. Perhaps, at one time, he thought it calm and temperate. If he did, I believe he only entertained what is, at the present moment, the universal opinion. (Hear, hear.) I am ostensibly recalled on account of that letter, but, with regard to any quarrel, I never had a word of difference with Lord Raglan. Lord Raglan never found fault with a single act of mine, or said that I could do anything better. Long subsequently to the letter he very kindly received recommendations from me and appointed officers to my staff on my nomination. I have not only communicated with Lord Raglan since on the subject of the command of the division, but on matters totally foreign to that command — respecting transport, ambulance, and other corps — and I therefore think, when the noble duke found it necessary to withdraw me from my command in consequence of bad feeling between me and Lord Raglan, the noble duke acted under a misconception. (Hear, hear.) I can tell your lordships a fact that will appear rather extraordinary. This recall, which, as your lordships are aware, came very unexpectedly on me, came as unexpectedly on Lord Raglan. My Lord Raglan, I am told, said, he could not in any way account for it, that he never asked for it, that he did not understand what it meant, that he knew nothing about it. My authority is General Estcourt, who told me, when I was putting my foot on board ship to come to England, that Lord Raglan could not guess, that he had not the least notion what occasioned the recall — that he was as entirely ignorant of the cause of the recall as I was myself. I will tell your lordships how I obtained this command. When I heard of troops being embarked on active service I wrote to the commander-in-chief asking for employment. Not believing much cavalry would be sent, I asked the commander-in-chief to be good enough to appoint me to a brigade of infantry, stating that, having already served in the infantry, having served a campaign in Bulgaria, and being accustomed to foreign armies and foreign officers, I thought my services might be useful. The noble lord, in the kindest manner possible, and I believe of his own accord, for which I have always felt I owe him personal obligation, wrote to say the Government had determined on sending a division of cavalry, and to offer me that appointment. I very soon embarked, and I arrived in the East previously to the arrival of the division. Unlike many of my brother officers, I was blessed with continued good health. The consequence was, from the time that the division landed till the noble duke so summarily recalled me I was never absent one hour — one moment — from my duties. (Hear, hear.) I believe I am not overstating it when I say there was no divisional general in that army who exerted himself more than I did. I believe I can say that not only was I constantly at my post and doing my duty, but that I was not altogether an unsuccessful general. During the time I was at the head of the cavalry division the flanks or rear of our army were never annoyed by Cossacks or the enemy’s cavalry, and I had the good fortune to command and carry out all the details of the heavy dragoon charge at Balaklava. (Hear, hear.) Therefore I do not think I was altogether an unsuccessful general. (Hear, hear.) I may be allowed to state that I acted in concert with Sir C. Campbell for four months, and what did he say at the time I came away? He said, “I shall always remember this, that when we have had in the army croakers, grumblers, and dissatisfied men, you have always laughed at every difficulty” (hear), and that observation, coming from Sir C. Campbell, was very flattering to me. I know that the Adjutant-General of the army said, not to me, but to others, “if they recall that officer they will recall a man who, while other officers are skulking and flinching from their duty, is always at his post.” I am told that with regard to the battle of Balaklava I need not have obeyed that order — that I ought to have had moral courage not to have done so. But what is the opinion of all the military men — of all the best authorities in the field there? That the order was imperative, and that I had no choice; and there was not a commanding officer of the 10 regiments of my division but said that the order was of a character that I dare not disobey. It is said you might have unquestionably have taken another course; but you could not have shown yourself in that army — you would have been held responsible for the guns which it was erroneously imagined were being carried away. The censure would have been thrown on you — you would have destroyed yourself. That is the opinion of every senior officer — the opinion of every officer whose opinion was worth taking in that army. I am talking of living officers, but I will now give you the opinion of an officer who, unfortunately for the army and the country, is now no more — I mean Sir G. Cathcart. I will give his opinion with regard to that cavalry charge, and with regard to my conduct. (Hear, hear.) This is a letter which Sir G. Cathcart could not have anticipated I should have seen; it came under my notice by the merest accident. This opinion is contained in a letter written by Sir G. Cathcart to Lady Georgina Cathcart. This letter was on his person when he fell, and when taken from his body it was found that a bullet had passed through it. The letter was written on the 2d of November, three days before the battle of Inkermann and eight after the Balaklava charge, and the following is the extract which refers to it:—
“I have another opportunity of writing to you. You will read about the affair at Balaklava in which the Light Cavalry Brigade suffered so severely. It was a most gallant, but unfortunate affair. Neither Lord Lucan nor Lord Cardigan was to blame, but on the contrary, for they obeyed orders. . . . . I was sent for with my division to set matters to rights, and did so as soon as we could arrive, but we had six miles to march.”Without wishing pour faire valoir, I may say that I did my duty, and I suddenly find myself recalled. I am not told that I am recalled by the prerogative, but I am given to understand that I am recalled in disgrace, for I defy your lordships to put your fingers on a sentence in the letter containing a word of comfort. You might have endeavoured to have softened the recall, but there was not one word of consolation to be found. Before I left this country Her Majesty did me the honour, in consequence of my appointment, to invite me to Buckingham Palace. On their return from the army there has been no officer of any rank who has not received from Her Majesty that gracious invitation; but she has not — and I conceive could not do otherwise — thought me a proper person to receive that honour. I am positively in such a position that I have not been able to avail myself of even the satisfaction of waiting on Her Majesty at a levee. I have troubled your lordships at some length, but I believe I could not have compressed what I had to say. To the Government I say,— you have wronged — grievously wronged — as zealous a soldier as Her Majesty has in her army. (Hear, hear.) I say to you, if you have acted in error, give my statement your attention; and if you become convinced that you have committed a gross injustice, I ask no more than this, — that you will reconsider your decision, and give me a court-martial and a fair trial.
The Earl of CARDIGAN.— I regret that I feel myself called upon to address your lordships on this occasion, because I came down with the firm determination and wish not to mix myself up in this question as to take a part in the proceedings. (Hear, hear.) My lords, I only rise to correct a statement made with respect to myself. When the noble earl, in his address, said I sent my aide-de-camp to state that the force of the enemy were so numerous in front of the Light Brigade that I felt it difficult to hold my ground — (Cries of “No.”) yes; those were his very words, I sent no such message whatever. In the message I sent I said, observing a movement was going to be made, that the hills on both sides of the valley, leading down the valley at right angles with it, on which was the Russian battery, with the cavalry behind it, were occupied by Russian riflemen and artillery. I sent this message; and when the lieutenant-general came in front and ordered me to attack the battery in the valley, behind which was placed the large force of Russian cavalry — which had been perfectly perceptible to myself and to the whole of the Light Brigade for at least 20 minutes — my reply was, “Certainly, Sir, but before I go I must be allowed to point out that the hills in both valleys are covered with Russian artillery and riflemen.” The answer I received was, “They are Lord Raglan’s positive orders.” I immediately obeyed orders; and so true was the report I had made with regard to the Russian batteries and riflemen that we had not advanced 20 yards before Captain Nolan, who was galloping about in front at about the distance of 100 yards from the Light Brigade, and in no way leading the charge, was killed by a shell from one of those flank batteries which I had pointed out. I have nothing further to say. I only wished to remove any misconception as to my having said that the Light Brigade were not safe in the position in which they were placed. (Hear, hear.)
Lord PANMURE.— I am sure your lordships will agree with me in thinking that a more painful discussion than the present has never been brought before this house, and that a gallant officer, whose courage, be it remarked, has never been accused, was never placed in such a position as that in which we have witnessed the noble and gallant earl. (Hear, hear.) The noble and gallant earl has gone into detail as to his services, and has given the history of certain great and gallant actions in which he was engaged with great minuteness, which may have been extremely interesting; but, at the same time, your lordships will perceive that this is a subject into which it is impossible for me to follow him; it is a subject upon which I cannot presume to have an opinion. I must say I am somewhat surprised at the course the noble earl has taken, not only in making statements which it is impossible for me to contradict or even in any way to modify, but also in making statements impugning the discretionary power of his Commander-in-Chief and the orders and counter-orders given by him upon the eventful day in question. No one can regret more deeply than I do the existence of what has been called the “misconception” of an order by any officer. The disastrous effects which attended that misconception were lamented throughout England; but I cannot say that I altogether regret the occurrence of a cavalry charge which will never be effaced from the history of British arms (hear, hear), or that I look upon it as entirely ineffective, because it has carried into the heart of the enemy a terror of the British cavalry that I am quite convinced will be of good service to the army, for the very appearance of those squadrons in some future well-fought field may perhaps put to flight the squadrons of Russia even without the necessity of a collision. (Hear.) I had anticipated that the noble and gallant earl — for gallant I admit him to be in every sense of the word (hear, hear) — would have dwelt upon that part of his case upon which he has on former occasions laid so much stress — namely, his demand for inquiry at the hands of a court-martial. But the noble and gallant earl has simply referred to that point in the latter part of his speech; he has contented himself with a vindication of his military conduct, and with laying before your lordships what he terms the injustice of the report to which he has referred, but he has altogether omitted to touch upon any of the doubts which I am sure must have arisen in his mind as to the legality of his claim to a court-martial and the expediency and propriety of granting such an inquiry. With reference to the recall of the noble and gallant earl, I have simply to refer to the statement in your lordships’ hands. He states that it might have been more courteously worded, so as not to have hurt his feelings as a soldier; but I think it sufficiently sets forth that it is in no way connected with any doubt as to the gallantry of his conduct in the field. Differences had arisen between the noble and gallant earl and the Commander-in-Chief with regard to the term used by the Commander-in-Chief in the despatch wherein he attributes the unfortunate result of the charge to a misconception of his orders by the noble and gallant earl, and it was quite evident to Her Majesty’s Government that the confidence which ought to exist between the Commander-in-Chief and an officer commanding a division in his army had to a certain extent been shaken. It therefore appeared to the Government and to my noble friend the Commander of the army, that it was for the benefit of the public service and for the advantage of the army that one or other of those officers should be recalled, and, with all deference to the officer commanding the cavalry, I think he was the person to whom the recall ought to have been directed. The noble and gallant earl says that he is entitled to an inquiry into his conduct upon this eventful occasion. Now, if this had been a question confined to the noble and gallant earl, there might have been less difficulty in coming to a decision upon it; but in this case, as in all other military matters, a precedent set in the case of the noble and gallant earl must be followed throughout the army — what is law for him must also be law for the meanest private; and the question arises whether there are grounds in the complaint of the noble earl which would justify him in calling for inquiry, any more than a man in the ranks who has been censured by his superior officer, and who has claimed the right to have that censure reversed by a military court. There is no law which can guide this case, except that law by which all armies are governed — either the Mutiny Act, or the Articles of War, or the custom of war. I have looked with care into the Mutiny Act and the Articles of War — I have reviewed under the most competent advice all the customs of war in cases similar to the present, and I cannot find in the one or in the other any ground whatever for granting the inquiry before a military court which the noble and gallant earl has demanded. There are cases stated in the Mutiny Act in which a soldier has an option of being tried by a court-martial or of submitting to certain punishments, such as forfeiture of pay or imprisonment; but they are specifically recorded in the act and in the Articles of War for the information of the soldier, and among none of them can the case of the noble and gallant earl be ranked. But it may be said that the peculiar circumstances of this case ought to make it an exception to the general rule. I cannot see any ground for their so doing. And here let me draw a distinction with respect to a word which has been frequently used by the noble and gallant earl. He says that certain charges have been brought against him by Lord Raglan. Now, no charge, in the technical sense of the word, has been brought against him, and I will presently show your lordships that, in the technical meaning of the phrase, no charge could be brought against him by Lord Raglan. His conduct has been described by Lord Raglan as a misconception of orders, which led to unfortunate results. Has not such conduct as that been attributed to officers and general officers in former days over and over again? During the Peninsular campaign did the Duke of Wellington never say that, owing to the misconception of one order, the non-fulfilment of another order by officers, certain great operations had miscarried, and did the Duke of Wellington ever dream of bringing those officers to a court-martial, or have they ever been brought to a court-martial in consequence of such observations having been made? If you are to recognise the right of every officer to be tried by a court-martial who may make the claim on the ground of his feelings having been injured by remarks made by his superior officer, there would be an end at once to all discipline in the army, to all the power of the Commander-in-Chief, and to all control over the troops. But suppose we were to recognise the right of the noble and gallant earl to an inquiry, by whom are the charges against him to be framed? Are they to be framed by Lord Raglan himself? (“Hear,” from the Earl of Lucan.) The noble lord, who expresses his assent, knows little or nothing of military law. (The Earl of Lucan again cheered.) If the noble earl assents to that proposition he knows little or nothing of military law, or he would be perfectly aware that the first maxim of military law is that any officer or soldier who shall have been guilty of any crimes for which he may be brought to a court-martial, if he shall have been employed upon any day before the court-martial takes place, such employment absolves him from the crime he has committed. (Hear.) The person who would have had to frame the charges against him has condoned his offence, and cannot therefore make those charges. While I admit that the noble and gallant earl is competent to perform gallant and glorious actions in the field, I will not yield to him in the technicalities of military law, and I think he will find that I am putting a proper interpretation upon th em. If then, my lords, Lord Raglan cannot frame these things, is the Judge-Advocate-General to frame them? If I am right, I believe that the person who would have had to frame them would have said, at the very outset, “These charges will never hold water. The crime or act has been condoned by the general officer in command of the army.” (Hear, hear.) It is impossible, in such a case, that the sentence of any court-martial could be confirmed, or that the carrying out of any such sentence could be recommended. Upon these grounds, therefore, even if it were expedient, it would be impossible to grant a court-martial in this case. But I rest the whole facts of the case with regard to a court-martial upon the question of discipline. I resisted it upon the question of discipline from the very beginning, for I believe that to grant a military inquiry in this case would be to strike at the root of the whole discipline of the army. (Hear, hear.) Now, my lords, let us look at what happened last year. A military commission sat upon the promotion of officers in the army. What can be so great an offence in the eyes of an officer as to see himself passed over in a promotion? That military commission, however, recommended that promotions for merit should be made by selection, and that officers of noted and general merit should be promoted out of their turns, and over the heads of other officers who were their seniors. This, too, was to be done without any other reason being given than the merit of the individual officers promoted. Now, if all the officers over whose heads other officers were promoted for merit were to complain of being passed over, and were to claim an inquiry into their merit, I apprehend that it would be impossible to carry out the recommendations of the commission. Without imputing to the noble earl anything whatever that could injure his reputation as a soldier, either in point of courage in person, or of conduct in the field, or upon any other matter except on those points of misunderstanding which have arisen between the noble earl and Lord Raglan, I think the Government can, without casting any reflection upon the noble earl, refuse the inquiry for which he asks. I am afraid I can hold out no expectation of our reconsidering the determination to which we have arrived, and I am afraid I can give him no answer to the ex parte statement which he has made of the events which have attended the campaign in which he has been engaged. I only hope and trust, after the appeal which the noble and gallant earl has made — after the opportunity which your lordships have kindly given him of stating, in his own vindication, all the acts of his public career during the last four months — that here the matter will rest, and I do hope that when this ex parte statement goes forth to the Crimea it will not add to the anxiety of the gallant general to whom we are all so deeply indebted for the exertions he is making for his country in the field of battle, nor render the position he occupies still more painful than it must have been from all that has passed in this country during the last few months. (“Hear,” and cheers.)
Viscount HARDINGE.— As the noble and gallant earl alluded to me in the latter part of his address, I trust your lordships will allow me a few words in explanation. I may say, first of all, that I perfectly concur in the remark of my noble friend behind me (Lord Panmure) that the statements that we have heard must be considered ex parte, inasmuch as we have heard from the noble earl an account of conversations which have passed between himself, General Airey, Lord Burghersh, and Lord Raglan. It is perfectly impossible for me, or for any other peer in this house, to be able to answer any one of those points upon which the noble earl has appealed to me. I have the highest confidence in the honour and integrity of my noble friend, Lord Raglan, and I should be the last person to believe that my noble and gallant friend would wilfully misrepresent anything that has occurred. I am therefore placed in this painful position, that I am called upon to hear the explanation of the noble earl of what has passed between him and Lord Raglan and General Airey, while at the same time it is impossible for me to suppose that Lord Raglan, upon those terms of friendship which the noble and gallant earl has represented, could have sat down to pen such a despatch as that of the 16th of December, in which he states, respecting the noble earl,—
“He has referred to my despatch, and, far from being willing to alter one word of it, I am prepared to declare that not only did the lieutenant-general misconceive the written instruction that was sent him, but that there was nothing in that instruction which called on him to attack at all hazards, or to undertake the operation which led to such a brilliant display of gallantry on the part of the light brigade, and, unhappily, at the same time occasioned such lamentable casualties in every regiment composing it.”The despatch goes on in the same strain to state very minutely what the impressions of the noble lord were. Lord Raglan says that,—
“The noble earl was so little informed of the position of the enemy that he asked Captain Nolan ‘where and what he was to attack, as neither enemy nor guns were in sight.’ This, your Grace will observe, is the lieutenant-general’s own admission.”Lord Raglan again says, and I believe it is an important point for the consideration of your lordships,
“The noble earl viewed it only as a positive order to attack at all hazards (the word "attack," be it observed, was not made use of in General Airey’s note) an unknown enemy, whose position, numbers, and composition he was wholly unacquainted with, and whom, in consequence of a previous order, he had taken no steps whatever to watch. I undoubtedly had no intention that he should make such an attack — there was nothing in the instruction to require it — and therefore I conceive I was fully justified in stating to your Grace what was the exact truth — that the charge arose from the misconception of an order for the advance, which Lord Lucan considered obliged him to attack at all hazards.”I trust your lordships will pay particular attention to the words of this despatch. It is hardly likely that a man of the strict veracity of Lord Raglan would have persisted in stating that he never meant his order to be considered as an order of attack, and I am therefore of opinion that Lord Raglan is speaking the exact truth, and that he never meant that an attack should be made at all hazards. On the contrary, I have every reason to believe that he meant to place a discretionary power in the hands of the noble and gallant earl. He says,—
“I entertain no wish to disparage the Earl of Lucan in your opinion, or to cast a slur upon his professional reputation, but, having been accused by his lordship of having stated of him what was unmerited in my despatch, I have felt obliged to enter into the subject, and trouble your Grace at more length than I could have wished in vindication of a report to your Grace in which I had strictly confined myself to that which I knew to be true. I had indulged in no observations whatever, or in any expressions which could be viewed either as harsh or in any way grating to the feelings of his lordship.”I cannot say that I have read the private correspondence of Lord Raglan, either to the noble duke (the Duke of Newcastle) or to my noble friend behind me (Lord Panmure), but this I can say, that, in all the correspondence of Lord Raglan which I have seen, upon no occasion has my noble friend indulged in a single reflection in which the credit or honour of the noble and gallant earl has been called in question. (Hear, hear.) Now, what is the statement of the noble and gallant earl? He says,—
“After carefully reading this order, I hesitated and urged the uselessness of such an attack, and the dangers attending it. The aide-de-camp, in a most authoritative tone, stated that they were Lord Raglan’s orders that the cavalry should attack immediately. I asked him ‘where and what to do?’ as neither enemy nor guns were within sight. He replied, in a most disrespectful but significant manner, pointing to the further end of the valley, ‘There, my lord, is your enemy; there are your guns.’ ”The noble earl then says that he decided against his own conviction, he being a lieutenant-general, upon making the attack, and he observes,—
“I did all in my power to make it as little perilous as possible.”He then goes on to say —
“I considered at the time — I am still of the same opinion — that I followed the only course open to me. As a lieutenant-general, doubtless, I have discretionary power; but to take upon myself to disobey an order written by my commander-in-chief, within a few minutes of its delivery, and given from an elevated position commanding an entire view of all the batteries and the position of the enemy, would have been nothing less than the direct disobedience of orders, without any other reason than that I preferred my own opinion to that of my general, and, in this instance, must have exposed me and the cavalry to aspersions against which it might have been difficult to defend ourselves.”Surely, when the noble earl talks of possible aspersions, it shows that his decision to attack was taken, not upon any impression which he had of Lord Raglan’s order, but upon the fear which he entertained of aspersions from his officers and soldiers. He then goes on,—
“I did not dare to disobey your lordship, and it is the opinion of every officer of rank in this army, to whom I had shown the written order, that it was not possible for me to do so.”The noble earl also referred to my letter in which I state,—
“It is to be regretted that the lieutenant-general, acting upon a misconception of a written order, did not show that order to Lord Cardigan, and that, influenced by the authoritative tone and disrespectful manner of the aide-de-camp, he did not decide upon his own judgment, supported by the concurrence of his major-general, that the charge ought not to be made.”Surely, my lords, I am justified in making that assertion, because at the time the letter was written I had seen Lord Cardigan, and had his opinion, and not only did he think the charge ought not to have been made — that it was useless and worse than useless — but that he had never read the order, that he had never been consulted, and when two men of the same age and of the same rank — [Lord LUCAN,—“No, not the same rank.”] — or nearly the same rank — I do not wish to hurt the feelings of the noble earl with respect to his rank, but both are in the Army List as major-generals; and when I asked Lord Cardigan, “If you had received an order written by Lord Raglan, and signed by General Airey, should you not, before you made the attack, have considered you had discretion to send it to Lord Lucan,” he answered, that he considered the order left the lieutenant-general full discretion, and that he thought it the duty of an officer in command not to obey implicitly, on such an occasion as that, an order which would imperil his men, but to exercise his discretion. I must say that I think on all occasions a cavalry officer has a right to exercise his discretion much more than an officer of infantry, because cavalry have far more opportunities of making efforts and changing the disposition of their force as the occasion arises. Under those circumstances, I conceive that the noble earl had a perfect right, considering the wording of the order, to exercise his discretion upon it. That is my opinion, and I take it that it would be that of any man who saw the terms used by Lord Raglan in the despatch which the noble earl has contravened. I don’t mean to say the noble earl may not be right — I cannot say that the troops ought not to have been brought more forward. I will not enter into a discussion upon that, but I say that the whole statement of the noble earl is ex parte as far as it goes, and although I do not blame the noble earl for anything that has been said, either in the course of this debate or upon any former occasions, I say that, from the tone of Lord Raglan’s despatch, there appeared to be a difference of opinion between him and the Earl of Lucan, upon professional grounds so strong that it would not be advisable for them to continue in the same position, because they would not act well together. I was asked my opinion, and I said that it was not advisable that a commander-in-chief and an officer so high in rank as a lieutenant-general, commanding a division, should be upon such terms, and therefore I gave my advice to my noble friend behind me (the Duke of Newcastle), who acted accordingly. I can only say, my lords, with regard to the general merits of the question, I should be extremely happy if the noble earl could have a court-martial by which his conduct might be examined, but I am bound to observe that, in the records of the army, there is no instance in which an officer in the position of the noble earl has claimed a court-martial. I believe he cannot do so on legal grounds; it is a matter of favour; and it is equally impossible on that ground. When the lieutenant-general arrived in this country it was my duty to consult the Adjutant-General, and the strongest opinion was given by that officer that it was impossible that the noble earl could claim a court-martial; first, for the reason given by my noble friend behind that the acts he was supposed to have committed were overlooked at the time; and, secondly, because it was impossible to frame any charge against the noble earl. My noble friend took the objection that the noble earl had served since. I recollect a soldier in the 40th Regiment, in the Peninsula; he was about to be punished, but while under sentence was allowed to go into action, and was afterwards most severely punished. Upon that occasion the officer was brought to a court-martial and cashiered, the charge against him being that he had used the services of a man and afterwards punished him for an offence committed before such service was rendered. I therefore concur with the Adjutant-General that the subsequent services of the noble earl would disqualify him for the investigation of a court-martial, and I do not believe there is any precedent for it. At the same time, I must say, personally, I for one greatly lament the step taken of recalling the noble earl, the more especially as I had a material part in recommending him to Her Majesty’s Government for the appointment; but I believe Lord Raglan is perfectly incapable of making a statement in such strong terms as that which has been alluded to unless he believed every word of it. (Hear, hear.)
The Duke of RICHMOND.— I think your lordships will concur with me in expressing great regret that this subject has been brought before the House. No doubt it is natural for my noble friend to wish to stand well before the people of England, but I submit that my noble friend ought not, because he is a peer, to be in a position to demand that which would not be granted to any one else. If your lordships in this house interfere with the discipline of the army, there are men sitting not far from you who will follow your example, and the consequence will be, the army will be placed under democratic power. My lords, I am not going into the discussion of those points which have already been touched upon, but I regret to hear acts, accusations, and private conversations brought forward in this house. I think my noble friend ought not to have lent the weight of his high character to the attacks which have been so unjustly made upon Lord Raglan, the man who landed the British army in the Crimea, who stormed the heights of Alma, who fought the battles of Balaklava and Inkermann, and who has done that for which every other man in this country who wishes for peace must feel deeply grateful; he has promoted and cemented more than any other man the firm alliance and brotherly feeling between this country and our brave and gallant ally. (Cheers.) My lords, I know that my noble friend did not wish to attack Lord Raglan, and no doubt he did not wish to attack Colonel Estcourt or Colonel Airey — officers with whom I have no personal acquaintance — but, I ask, is it right or is it just to lower these men in the opinion of the army by detailing those conversations? My noble friend, with respect to Colonel Airey, said he began in a sort of threatening tone, and then assumed a more diplomatic manner. I say that is not the way to teach the officers or men of the British army their duty, but it is the way to teach them to look down on men holding high and responsible situations. I go not into the question as to whether or not my noble friend misunderstood the order. He appealed to me, and, reading from the Queen’s regulations, asked whether an officer is not bound to obey the order of an aide-de-camp? No man can doubt for a moment that he is so bound to obey it, but I can tell my noble friend what a most gallant general officer did in the Peninsular war — Major-General Crawfurd, who commanded the light division. One of the aides-de-camp, who brought him a written order, behaved pretty much as I am afraid this officer did — gave him his advice when to attack and where to attack. General Crawfurd’s answer was,— “When General Crawfurd asks the opinion of Colonel A., he will have the goodness to give it, but not till then.” Now, that is the way in which I should have acted in this instance. My noble friend says that he received a further order from Captain Nolan, besides the written order. Now, if that is the case — if my noble friend acted upon the verbal order — what, in Heaven’s name, was the use of sending the written order at all? (Hear, hear.) The written order ought to have been the one attended to, and my noble friend ought to have disregarded what the aide-de-camp said. Captain Nolan was a very brave and gallant officer, and it is far from my intention to say anything against him, but he was a man, above all others, who had written a book upon cavalry which contained the most fantastic notions as to cavalry being always able to destroy formed infantry. I should have said to that gentleman immediately, “When I ask for your advice, give it to me; in the meantime, go back to your general and report.” As my noble friend has appealed to me, I have no hesitation in saying, as far as I can understand the matter, I should have looked to the written order, and that in advancing the cavalry I should not have read that order as he did. (Hear.)
The Earl of Derby.— I should not have risen to address your lordships on this occasion, but for the purpose of expressing a hope that after this, in many respects painful, though perhaps unavoidable debate, we may be spared the continuance, or, at all events, a repetition of it. (Cheers.) I am not at all prepared to say that there may not be, as the noble lords the Minister of War and the Commander-in-Chief have stated, that there are legal and technical as well as substantial difficulties arising out of the exigencies of the public service which might render it impossible and, at all events, inexpedient to grant the court-martial or the military inquiry for which my noble and gallant friend asks. But, then, I cannot refrain from saying that if it were impossible so to grant that inquiry — if it were impossible to afford to my noble and gallant friend an opportunity of vindicating himself from the charges (I do not use the term in the technical sense) made against him, and from the imputations cast on his professional character, and which seriously affect him in the opinion of the army — perhaps of his Sovereign — and in the opinion of the country at large — if it were impossible to do this, then, I think, it was most unfortunate that that second letter of Lord Raglan, containing these serious charges and imputations, was ever placed by a Minister of the Crown in the hands of your lordships, as indicating the reasons of my noble and gallant friend’s recall. If my noble and gallant friend had merely complained of the expression as to his misconception of orders, and if he had appealed to a Minister of the Crown for a court-martial, or an inquiry of any description, to investigate whether, in point of fact, he had misconceived those instructions or not, I should then say that my noble and gallant friend, however hard his case might be, had no ground to stand upon. But when an officer high in command finds himself charged by his superior with the heavy crime of disobeying a positive order, and finds that that charge is officially declared by the Minister as the reason why he is recalled and brought back to this country — I will not say in disgrace, but with his professional character to a certain degree affected — I say that his case is one of extreme hardship; and it is one as to which I am quite sure every man in this house, military or non-military, must deeply sympathize with my noble and gallant friend. Upon one point I differ from the noble duke behind me (the Duke of Richmond). I cannot blame my noble and gallant friend for that, having urged, entreated, and besought for some means of vindicating his professional character before that which no doubt would be the fittest tribunal to investigate such a question — namely, a tribunal composed of military officers — he should have availed himself of his seat in this house to make that plain, straightforward, unvarnished, manly statement which your lordships have heard tonight. (Hear, hear.) I am not about to depart from the wish I expressed at the outset, and to set the example of neglecting the suggestion I then threw out, by entering upon any discussion as to the merits of the question, or on the degree of responsibility resting on my noble and gallant friend from the first or second order received by him. I must, however, be permitted to say that my noble and gallant friend appears to me to have been placed in a most unfortunate dilemma, and I do not see what possible exercise of discretion, what possible judgment or knowledge of his profession could have saved him from one of the horns of that dilemma. The noble viscount the commander-in-chief has insisted a good deal upon this point — that, holding the high position of lieutenant-general in the army, it was the duty of my noble and gallant friend to exercise a large discretion with regard to the order he had received, more especially for the advance of the cavalry. Now, my noble and gallant friend upon a previous occasion, when he received the first order to advance the cavalry and occupy the heights, did exercise a discretion so far as regarded the extent to which he should advance the force under his command; and then we find in a subsequent letter of Lord Raglan that upon the fact of his having so exercised his discretion is founded a charge of disobedience to a positive order. (Hear, hear.) In the second instance my noble and gallant friend, receiving (in consequence, as Lord Raglan says, of his having disobeyed the first order) a peremptory command from Lord Raglan, conceives that no discretion is left to him, and executes that peremptory order, upon which he is told that he ought, as lieutenant-general, to have exercised discretion, and to have disobeyed the order, although it was brought by Lord Raglan’s own aide-de-camp. (Hear.) Now, I will not say whether my noble and gallant friend was justified in the whole course he took upon the one occasion or the other; but I will ask, with the charge hanging over him of having unduly exercised his discretion in the first instance and of not obeying his orders, what would have been said of him if he had abstained from obeying a second order addressed to him consequent upon his non-compliance with the first order, and had again acted according to his discretion? (Hear, hear.) I do not wish to say a single word which may be considered as disrespectful to Lord Raglan, or to express any opinion with respect to matters which seem to require a judgment peculiarly military; but it does appear to me that my noble and gallant friend, by the opposite charges made against him, has been placed in a position of extraordinary difficulty (hear); and, although there may be one man in 10,000 — certainly not more — who would venture to incur the moral responsibility of such a double disobedience of orders, I think it cannot be made a charge against my noble and gallant friend because he conceived himself bound by such positive orders to take a certain course, even though he might not think that course a judicious one. I may be permitted also to say, with regard to the responsibility attaching to my noble and gallant friend as lieutenant-general, that, on the one hand, he is charged with not having assumed a proper degree of responsibility, and, on the other hand, the noble viscount, the commander-in-chief says my noble and gallant friend ought to have consulted with the Earl of Cardigan as major-general, because they were nearly of the same rank, forgetting that my noble and gallant friend had the local rank of lieutenant-general, commanding the division, and that Lord Cardigan, as well as Major-General Scarlett, were major-generals of brigades, acting under the orders, and, consequently, not approaching to the rank, of my noble and gallant friend. (Hear.)
I beg your lordships’ pardon for having gone so far into the question as I have gone, but I will repeat my hope that, after the defence of his conduct made by the noble lord this evening — after a statement entered into by him which I am sure must have gone straight to the heart and the feelings of every man among your lordships, as I think it will throughout the country generally — this will be the last occasion on which we shall hear in this house a discussion upon a question which undoubtedly, if habitually brought before this House, must create considerable inconvenience. (Hear.) My noble and gallant friend will have the satisfaction of knowing that, at all events, he has had the opportunity of making his own defence, clear and unequivocal as that statement was, before your lordships and the country, and whatever opinions may be formed as to the responsibility attaching to him — if there be any responsibility — with regard to that brilliant but unfortunate charge of the light cavalry at Balaklava, he need be under no apprehension that his countrymen are likely to forget the important military services rendered by him or are likely to forget that on that day he had the merit of ordering another almost equally brilliant and more successful charge of the heavy brigade, under the command of my old and valued friend Brigadier-General Scarlett — a charge which covered with glory the troops engaged in it and which must reflect the utmost credit upon the general who directed it. (Cheers.) My noble and gallant friend has, besides, the satisfaction of knowing that he has come before your lordships and the country with the full consciousness that he has a good cause; that he is anxious to have his conduct investigated in the closest and most searching manner by military and professional men; that if he is deprived of such an inquiry it does not rest at all with him, since he has sought, courted, and entreated the fullest investigation into every part of his conduct, and, satisfied with that knowledge, I trust he will from this time permit the subject in this house to drop, and will throw himself and his character (and I am sure he may safely do so) upon the justice and the good feeling of his countrymen. (Cheers.)
The Duke of NEWCASTLE.— I will not, any more than the noble earl who has just sat down, enter into the merits of this question, for I feel strongly that there is no member of your lordships’ house who is in a position either to confirm or to refute the assertions which have been made by the noble and gallant earl who has brought his case under your consideration. I feel, my lords, that if I were to attempt to make any vindication of the conduct of the commander-in-chief of the army in the Crimea I should find myself most inadequate to the discharge of such a task, or to enter into any general discussion of the case. At the same time, I am bound to say that the noble earl who has just spoken has not stated the case quite correctly with regard to Lord Raglan’s second order. All I understand Lord Raglan to say is, that he sent the subsequent order in consequence of seeing that the first had not been obeyed. (Hear, hear.) I will not, however, enter upon that subject, and, as I am not about to discuss the case between the noble and gallant earl (Lord Lucan) and Lord Raglan, still less will I enter into the question whether or not there should have been a court-martial. This point is one with regard to which I should feel myself bound to defer to the military authorities, and to the legal authorities conversant with military law. I am bound to accept the decision on this part of the case as stated by my noble friends near me, and to believe that they have advised the Crown in the course which has been taken on sufficient data — on data which have been strengthened by the opinion of the noble duke. (Hear.) At the same time, my lords, I regret what has taken place here, because undoubtedly it will go forth to the public that a general commanding a division, and having a seat in this house, has advantages over every other officer in the army which he ought not to possess. (Hear, hear.) The noble earl opposite has complained that my noble friend (Lord Panmure) had furnished the letter which contained the imputations against the noble and gallant earl, and he went on to observe that the possession of that letter entirely changed the position in which he stood. But the noble earl forgot how that came to pass. It occurred from the circumstance of the noble earl (Lucan) being a member of this House, and coming down to the house and reading a letter which had been sent to him by Lord Raglan, containing the despatch written by me on the occasion. (Hear, hear.) Undoubtedly when an ex parte statement was laid before the House by the noble and gallant earl, then, and not till then, did my noble friend (Lord Panmure), feeling that it gave him an unfair advantage against the commander-in-chief in the Crimea, send to the noble and gallant earl the despatch of Lord Raglan, stating his case, and leaving it to the noble and gallant earl to produce that letter, if he thought that doing so would answer his purpose. (Hear, hear.) So far from this being a cause of complaint against my noble friend, I think he acted in a fair and candid spirit towards the noble and gallant earl, by enabling him to see what the case was against him before he brought it under the notice of the House. (Hear, hear.) I am ready to join the noble earl opposite in expressing an earnest hope that this discussion may not be drawn into a precedent. I speak with all possible feeling towards the noble and gallant earl. I sympathize with him, and can truly say, I never took a more painful course in my life than in writing that despatch to which he has so often referred, but I cannot help thinking that the interference of this House in such matters is not likely to raise it in repute with the country. (Hear, Hear.) The noble and gallant earl has stated that he did not know whether Lord Raglan had or had not addressed to me some documents of a character different from that which had appeared respecting him. I can relieve his mind of any such suspicion. There are no public documents at the War-office except those that have been produced, and, as regards any private letters sent to me by Lord Raglan, the noble earl is well aware that in the letter which Lord Raglan addressed to me giving an account of the Battle of Balaklava, he did not refer to him at all, and that, on other occasions, when he did refer to him he had always done so in the kindest possible tone. (Hear, hear.) The noble and gallant earl says I at one time considered his letter calm and temperate. I undoubtedly did consider that letter calm and temperate, and I do so still. The noble and gallant earl has made use of a private opinion which I expressed, and that opinion I have not altered; but did I not, when I expressed that opinion, accompany it by an expression of my belief that it was of such a character that, if it came before the public in any way whatever, it could not fail to be detrimental to the public service, and that on no account ought it to be published? (Hear, hear.) A complaint has been made that the recall of the noble and gallant earl was not accompanied with any expressions of sympathy. I can only say that if the noble and gallant earl’s feelings were hurt by the mode of communication, I have to regret that such expressions of sympathy were not employed; but, at the same time, I think it will be admitted that expressions of sympathy in official despatches like these are rather out of place. (Hear, hear.) Opposed as I am to the noble and gallant earl, I must say that I never felt anything more personally painful to me than the duty of recalling him from the Crimea, but I was compelled to discharge that duty by a sense of what I owed to the service and the country. (Hear, hear.) Though I do not complain of the course which has now been taken by the noble and gallant earl, I must say I have listened to this discussion with the greatest regret, because I do not believe it is one upon which the House can with propriety enter, and because it cannot in any way conduce to the public interests. (Hear, hear.)
The Earl of HARDWICKE could not altogether agree with the noble duke as to the propriety of that House listening to the complaints of one of its members.
The Duke of NEWCASTLE had not denied the noble and gallant earl’s right to address them, but he had expressed his regret that an officer holding a seat in that house should be able to do that which was denied to other officers.
The Earl of HARDWICKE thought it was a great privilege which every peer possessed to be able to come forward and clear his character in that house when it was attacked, and he could not understand the squeamishness which had been shown on this point. In extreme cases, where men of high distinction, whose characters were traduced, were refused investigation by the usual tribunal, he thought Parliament was not an inappropriate place in which to make their defence. (Hear, hear.)
The Marquis of BREADALBANE differed from the noble earl. He thought a peer who took advantage of his position to bring forward a case which ought to be submitted only to military authorities, was not using his privilege for the public interest. (Hear.)
The Earl of LUCAN.— It is not my intention to make any reply upon the general question, but I will make a reply to the noble duke. The noble duke has made a charge against me of betraying confidence, by referring to some private letter —
The Duke of NEWCASTLE.— I have made no such charge.
The Earl of LUCAN.— Pardon me, but I heard you.
The Duke of NEWCASTLE.— I did not say so, I said the noble earl had asked a question whether I had not expressed my opinion that his letter was calm and temperate. I said I had expressed that opinion, and I adhered to it, but, that as he had quoted my opinion, I would ask him a question whether I did not also express another opinion as to the publication of that letter.
The Earl of LUCAN.— My answer is, that the noble duke expressed no other opinion. If the correspondence can be termed private, it is not private by my seeking. I made no private communication to the noble duke. The noble duke thought right to make to me a private communication. I made a reply, not private again. If I recollect rightly what was written by the noble duke was simply this:— a gentleman called on my behalf on the noble duke, and asked him when it was his intention to publish my letter of the 30th of November — a letter which, as I have stated, was written by agreement with, and by consent of Lord Raglan; and the noble duke, in writing to me, expressed his hope that the letter would not be published, and gave his reasons for it; but, if I mistake not, he told this gentleman I should not publish this letter until my conduct was attacked before the public, and that when I was attacked it would be my duty to publish it.
The Duke of NEWCASTLE.— It is necessary I should enter now into further explanations with reference to this private communication, which the noble earl says was none of his seeking. I say it was none of my seeking; but it does happen, very unfortunately, that the witness between us is no more. It so happened that the noble earl and myself employed the same private solicitor, and while I held the office of Secretary for the War Department that gentleman called upon me and produced the letter dated the 30th of November, some ten days before I received it from Lord Raglan. He desired me to read it. I asked Mr. Parkinson for what purpose he produced the letter to me, and I told him it placed me in a very difficult position. Mr. Parkinson then said he had been authorized, as the legal advisor of Lord Lucan, to publish the letter in The Times newspaper, and he felt that was not a wise or proper course to pursue; but at the same time he was placed in difficult circumstances,— he was in the habit of endeavouring to act as the friend as well as the legal advisor of his clients, and he came to ask me what I thought of the matter. My answer was, “It is out of my powers to give you any advice; if I were a private individual, being one of your clients, and on terms of friendly relationship, I should have no objection, but I must decline to give any advice in the position in which I stand.” Mr. Parkinson said Lord Lucan had desired him to ask me whether I had received that letter. I had no hesitation in saying I had received no such letter? He asked if I were likely to receive it soon? I said I was utterly unable to say, as I had no information of the existence of any such letter. Mr. Parkinson said, under the circumstances he would wait until the next mail. I said he would do very wisely, and, as far as that, I would give my opinion. Partly owing to the circumstances which have been explained this evening, and partly because two mails in succession missed, and three mails all arrived together, it was a long while before the letter from Lord Raglan, which was in the first mail, came to hand. At the last moment before it arrived Mr. Parkinson came to me about the publication of the letter, and I certainly now regret that I went a point beyond my duty in saying to Mr. Parkinson I would endeavour to hold him harmless with Lord Lucan. I said to him, “I think you have acted most wisely as the friend of Lord Lucan, and under the circumstances I will comply with your request, and write a private letter to Lord Lucan, telling him I entirely concur in the course you have taken.” That letter was written in great haste, and, to the best of my belief, I have no copy of it; but I have no objection whatever to the noble earl producing it. (Hear, hear.) It was in that letter I used the expression which the gallant earl has quoted, that his letter was in itself calm and temperate, but I went on to state generally, that anyone acting under a commander-in-chief (of course, I did not use the words “commander-in-chief”) placed himself in an improper position by volunteering a controversy of that description. I do not pretend to give the words, but I am sure I give the general substance and purport of that letter. It contained just a simple opinion that Mr. Parkinson had acted properly; and secondly, that I considered the noble earl’s letter calm and temperate; but it will not bear this construction put upon it by the noble earl, that to publish the letter before he was attacked would be acting imprudently and improperly. (Hear.)
The motion was then put and agreed to.
The Despatch of Business (Court of Chancery) Bill was read a second time.
The Commons Enclosure Bill passed through committee.
Their lordships then adjourned at 10 minutes to 9 o’clock.