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The Times 9.2.1863 p 10


Kinglake’s Invasion of the Crimea*

(Continued from The Times of Jan. 27.)

The last of these bulky volumes, already noticed in these columns, only contained an account of the transactions which, according to Mr Kinglake, led to the war with Russia. Among the principal causes of the conflict he assigns the coup d’état of December 1851. The narrative was, we remember, suspended for many pages that Mr Kinglake might interpolate a biography of the Emperor, drawn in peculiar style, and surrounded by medallions of his statesmen and generals. The world has already formed its own conclusions respecting the good taste and propriety of the interpolation, and the fidelity of the portraits. Even those who are most delighted with the inky depth and blackness of the inferno into which Mr Kinglake has plunged his enemies will probably admit that he is not a faithful artist. When he dips his brush in light and illuminates his heroes and demigods, men, recollecting how he exaggerated the very hideousness of his evil ones, will doubt if those he has made white can be so very white. For he does not paint from nature, but from the images and reflections cast by his own passions. He is a caricaturist, with a vigorous, laborious, and unequal pencil, which he wields to gratify his hate or his friendship. Certainly he is not an historian in the sense in which the word is most honourable. As a satirist, in his lowest flights he is not far above Scarron, and in his highest he is far below Junius. And, as writers in that fashion delight in contrasts, we find Mr Kinglake relieving the monotonous darkness of all his Frenchmen by radiant portraitures of most of his Englishmen. The public are presented with a gallery of sketches, some highly poetical, spirited, and pretty, others heavy, dull, and mediocre. Like the mediŠval painters, he represents his friends in the best light, and gibbets those he loves not — and he is a good hater — as Judases or unrepentant thieves. And these pieces and sketches are offered to the world as a connected historical picture. When Mr Kinglake is asked why he has introduced characters and events which have nothing at all to do with the period and scene of which he is treating, he says he has a right to put them there if he pleases, and that his antipathies, conjectures, and inferences are entitled to stand as facts.

But, though the pieces are detached, some are of colossal dimensions. This second volume consists of 517 pages, not including the appendix. The book closes with the Battle of Alma. The chapter which is devoted to that engagement runs to the length of 300 — three hundred — pages. The action did not last two hours. The movements of the troops were accomplished in far less time than is needed for reading the description. That would not be ground of objection if Mr Kinglake presented us with a view thoroughly coherent, unquestionably accurate, clear, impartial, candid, and just. But to our minds, notwithstanding the labour and the boasted resources brought to bear on it, the account of the battle is neither perfectly lucid nor yet quite trustworthy. Mr Kinglake, indeed, possesses the merit of thinning down the smoke of the field, but, for all that, we do not see the movement of the hosts. He subdues the thunder of cannon and rattle of musketry; but nevertheless we do not hear his captains giving their orders, nor can one catch the voices of our chiefs dominating in the fight. In taking pains to be intelligible, he has become obscure. But more, — he is, as we think can be proved by and by, inaccurate, partial, disingenuous, and unjust. There are bits of his work so beautiful and so true that it is all the more to be regretted the rest of the pictures are not entitled to similar praise. Mr Kinglake has tried to do that which is very difficult, but not impossible. As in painting it is the artist’s triumph to convey the impressions of animated beings passing across his canvass, and to give an idea of motion, so for the writer, who seeks to paint in words, it is very rare and very high excellence to describe well and clearly a scene consisting of several parts, the action of each at a different point, with shifting incidents and fortunes. Mr Kinglake has attempted to earn the praise due to such excellence by a series of carefully worked etchings. The effect reminds us of that produced by stereoscopic views of Niagara; — here a glimpse of the Horse-shoe Fall; there a view above the Rapids; again, as a foreground to the cataract, the simpering faces of a group of tourists. The ‘gazebo’ of a curiosity shop rises up in the midst of the downcast ocean beside Table Rock. When you have inserted slide after slide, and looked at them all, you have not the least idea of what Niagara is like, and the best result you can arrive at is, that the Falls resemble a whitewashed wall. So with the slides of Mr Kinglake’s Battle of the Alma. We are hurried into action and out of it; at one moment cantering briskly out of the way of Russian round shot with Lord Raglan and his Staff — at another clinging to the cover of the steep cliffs with the timid Frenchmen. Now we are burning in Bourliouk; in an instant more we are whisked off to the extreme right to advance with Autemarre; while dealing with hard material facts there, we are suddenly requested to consider an abstruse metaphysical problem, and to “inquire into the effect of Bosquet’s turning movement on the mind of Prince Menschikoff,” which we learn, in effect, nearly turned his head. The fatigued and irritated reader is dragged off his legs from regiment to regiment, from left to right, and back again, all over the field. He indignantly refuses to be philosophical in a battle. He attributes to his own stupidity or want of technical knowledge the hazy, clouded notions flitting through his mind, and is quite pleased when he gets to a placid spot in the middle of the carnage and reads a neat little dissertation on the life and times of Sir George Brown and of General Codrington, as they are busily engaged in storming “the Great Redoubt.” He has tumbled and scuffled up the slope with the Light Division, and is retreating with them, when he is obliged to halt and consider the moral character of the Duke of Cambridge, and lest he should be disrespectfully impatient he is brought up with this tremendous sentence — “The Duke of Cambridge is grandson of George III, and cousin of the Queen.” Before he has had time to weigh fully all the curious observations which Mr Kinglake makes on his Royal Highness, as he is dissecting him on the bank of the river, his attention is imperatively called away by an analysis of a body of men who are just about to move into fire. There is a fine bathos in the opening. “In its origin the appellation given to the regiments called the Guards imported that the personal safety of the Sovereign was peculiarly committed to their charge.” “Without being over drilled, they are well enough practised in their duties. The force is deeply prized by the Queen.” “Grief for the death of line officers is dispersed over the three kingdoms, but by the loss of officers in the Household regiments the central body of English society is touched, is shocked, is almost angered.” But there is no time for any more. Here come the Russians. They are on us! We fly! No, — we jump. Mr Kinglake is now on a little knoll a mile and a half off; we must get up beside him — listen to Lord Raglan wishing for guns, then bound off a mile or so to St Arnaud, who is riding with his imbecile columns, and observe the general helplessness of the Gallic army, and so on for the whole of these serried encounters till the day is won. The violent exercises to which one is put in these 300 pages are too much for the most devoted and robust of literary gymnasts, and we shall here desist from enumerating any more of the feats one is called on to perform, as there will be occasion to deal with the actual account hereafter.

The most serious charge against Mr Kinglake is that he has written a most mischievous book. The exhibition of virulent prejudices, which would expose this country to ridicule or illwill abroad, will also engender ill-feeling and bitterness of heart at home. Considerations of State and individual reputations are sacrificed in hecatombs on the altar he has erected in public to his animosities and his gratitude. We think it due to our good name, our good faith, and the national honour to repudiate his book as a history of the war, or as an exposition of the feelings of the people of Great Britain. The small-minded jealousy and injustice manifested towards our allies are not worthy of Mr Kinglake. They are unbecoming to any one who professes to speak on behalf of a great nation. Whom such an exhibition can please, what end it can serve, it is impossible to say. It is idle for Mr Kinglake to draw subtle distinctions between the French nation and the French army of the days of the Crimea, and the people and army of France in that delightful period of her history which is comprised in the interval from the Revolution of 1848 to the coup d’état of 1851. Orleanist, Legitimist, and Red Republican will alike resent the imputations on the gallantry of Frenchmen, no matter under whom they march. And, for ourselves, it must be observed that in proportion as we depreciate the valour of the French soldier, so do we tarnish the lustre of our own greatest triumphs. Nor will it meet that objection, to say the soldiers of the first Bonaparte were better than those whom his nephew sent to fight beside us. Their courage needs no vindication from those who saw the fiery charge of Balaklava, who acknowledge the services rendered at Inkerman, and who remember the storming of the Mamelon and the sanguinary struggles in front of the Bastion du Mât.

The first chapter of the second volume opens with a sketch of “St Arnaud, formerly Le Roy,” which we confess gives us a very high idea of the military value and soldierly ability of the French Marshal. Entering the army as sous-lieutenant in 1816, when Lord Raglan was a full colonel, he was obliged to retire in consequence of his excesses, and was lost to sight till 1830, when, at 33 years of age, he returned to France and re-entered the military profession. “But again the clouds passed over him,” and he quitted the army once more. He was in Algeria rising rapidly to notice. In 1836, nearly ten years after Lord Raglan had attained the grade of major-general, St Arnaud, for the third time, began the career of a soldier as lieutenant in the Foreign Legion. His promotion was rapid. It would be strange if it were not, according to Mr Kinglake’s account — although he had no family, no friends, no fortune — he resolved to win a soldier’s fame. “Even by acute illness he could not be kept out of action. When he lay upon the sick bed, if it chanced that the Arabs or Kabyles were offering any prospect of a fight within reach of the hospital, he almost always managed to drag his helpless, tortured body towards the scene of the conflict.” (P. 5) If there chanced to be a fire, “he would fly to the spot, scale the walls, mount the roof, and contrive to appear aloft in seeming peril displayed to the wondering crowd by the lurid glare of the flames.” He was bold, gay, reckless, with a great capacity for administrative business; an active, enterprising officer, skilled in his duties, knowing how to hold a conquered province, and terrible and prompt in the field. He danced, he sang, he wrote verses, he spoke and wrote several languages. This is Mr Kinglake’s account of “St Arnaud, formerly Le Roy,” not our own. And certainly, though he did once go to confession, as Mr Kinglake gravely records, such a man in the field was worth an immense number of respectable mediocrities:—

“He spoke with luminous force and with a charming animation, and it seemed to me, as we rode along by the side of the heavy-laden soldiery, that the clear incisive words in which he described to me the mechanism of the ‘moveable columns’, were a model of military diction; but his keen, handsome, eager features so kindled with the mere stir and pomp of war, he seemed so to love the swift coming and going of his aides-de-camp, and the rolling drums and the joyful appeal of the bugles; he was so content with the gleam of his epaulettes, half hidden and half revealed by the graceful white cabaan; so happy in the bounding pride of his Arab charger, that he did not seem like a man destined to be chosen from out of all others as the instrument of a scheme requiring grave care and secrecy.”

Mr Kinglake then relates that in 1845 St Arnaud smothered 500 Arabs in the Cave of Shelas; but, more wise than Pelissier, he kept that fact secret from all the world except Marshal Bugeaud and his brother. It is not explained how the men who were engaged in hermetically sealing the apertures of the cave were kept in ignorance of the existence of so many people, but at all events the news must have got wind some way, for M Fleury, six years afterwards, looking out for a sure and secret Commander-in-chief, picked out St Arnaud in 1851. But as Mr Kinglake gravely relates in this history that St Arnaud contributed materially to the capture of Constantine by imitating the sound of a ‘hurrah,’ which animated the foreigners of northern blood in his company so effectually that they rushed into the breach and carried it when the French were all running away, we must reserve our opinion respecting the credibility of these anecdotes and garnishings till we know more of the authorities. After the coup d’état the gossips of Paris gave St Arnaud an ill name, and although his enemies could never make out that he had been convicted, or even arrested, on a criminal charge (p. 11), they slandered him, and when war appeared imminent St Arnaud insisted on the command of the French expedition from his “accomplice” and “fellow adventurer,” and received it. Lord Raglan is next introduced as “one of a great and powerful body of nobles, who were proud on behalf of this favourite member of their House and fenced him round with honour.” (P. 13.) Mr Kinglake indicates that he will leave Lord Raglan’s character to be judged by his country rather than pass a verdict from his own knowledge, while he is prepared to show them “his way of maintaining an alliance,” and “how he dealt with armies in the hour of battle.” He does not, however, conceal his opinion that to have been under the Great Duke from boyhood up to old age, as Lord Fitzroy had been, was “to be relieved from the necessity, and even shut out from the opportunity, of thinking” for himself, and that 30 years of office life was “far from being a good preparative for the command of an army in the field.” (Pp. 16, 17.) For half a lifetime Lord Raglan had, he says, been engaged in maintaining a monotonous quiet in the army and making the wheels of office run smoothly, and he had to contend with all his soul against this baneful sort of experience and the habit of mind it engendered. The traits of Lord Raglan’s character are delicately drawn; the charms of his manner, the graciousness of his presence, the sway he exercised over men face to face with him; his sensitive honour, his antipathy to take thought for the morrow, and his dislike to mental excitation and to argument; his adroitness in evading great questions by starting little ones, are all touched and coloured with a loving and skilful hand. It is a pity that in nearly every sentence there should be some covert insult, or offensive contrast and allusion to the French Emperor and his Generals. There are Frenchmen, as Mr Kinglake may be aware, who write French as well as he writes English, and before another eight-and-a-half years are over he may find that there are two ways of telling a story.

The whole of Lord Raglan’s labours in Paris, when on his way to the Crimea, so far as we are permitted here to know them, were centred and included in evading any concert with the pondering Emperor as to the plan of the campaign and the mutual relations of the Allies, and in raising a discussion as to the choice of the camping ground best suited for the two armies. But he began to believe in the stability of the Emperor’s character and the value he set on the alliance. (P. 30.) And well the Emperor might. It would do him good, and it would also improve the character of his subjects. Mr Kinglake, however, sets to work to prove that, though the Emperor was thus sincere, and he had appointed St Arnaud to the command only because he was a creature of his own, St Arnaud was as anxious to break up the alliance as his master was to maintain it. It was working well, he tells us, at this time, and would have so gone on, had not St Arnaud been scheming to get the command of the Turkish army. His plot was frustrated by “the shadow of the Canning brow, and the thin, tight, merciless lips of the great Eltchi,” who “pressed him down by the majesty and graciousness of his welcome” when he went to state the particulars of his scheme. St Arnaud at once gave way; and, although Lord Raglan despised the Turks (p. 36), he resolved not to let Omar Pasha’s authority be diminished. The next attack of St Arnaud on the alliance which his master so much prized was a proposal that, when a detachment of the Allies were acting together, whoever was senior officer should command the force. It would scarcely be believed that Mr Kinglake suggests that this was a trick to get the command of the English army from Lord Raglan, inasmuch as St Arnaud was superior in rank to his Lordship (p. 37.) However, the Emperor crowned the duplicity of which Mr Kinglake is always accusing him by ordering the Marshal to desist from these schemes of ambition. The latter was not at all annoyed, but he resolved, nevertheless, to threaten the cohesion of the alliance once more. It seems that Colonel Trochu was sent out by the Emperor to check the wildness of St Arnaud. On his way to Constantinople he visited the French troops at Gallipoli. He was satisfied, from what he saw, that the French army was not in a state of equipment and provision to justify the General in undertaking immediate operations against the Russians. St Arnaud, acting on the advice of Trochu, proposed that only a French and English division should be sent up to Varna, and that the Allies should occupy a line south of the Balkan from Bourgas to Bournalat. That proposition would appear monstrous had not both Sir John Burgoyne and Colonel Ardent fixed on a line across the peninsula of Gallipoli much further south than Bourgas before the Russians had got down to Silistria at all and had we not made the famous lines at Bulair in the early part of the campaign. Mr Kinglake does justice, in spite of himself, to the French strategists (p. 43.) Lord Raglan objected to their plans. St Arnaud at once gave way to his “ascendant.” The armies moved up to Varna, and the French were, by a figure of speech, “pushed forward within hearing of the enemy’s guns” (p.47).

At Varna, Lord Raglan, schooled down by long years of office labour to a pedantic dislike of irregular troops, conceived such an almost superstitious horror of them that “when the fatal storm of the 14th of November was roaring through his port and camp he found time to sit at a desk and write down the Bashi-Bazouks” (p. 63). Lord Raglan, therefore, did not seek — nay, rejected — the aid of Turkish auxiliaries under British officers; far less did he aspire to command Turkish armies. And yet Mr Kinglake shows why he ought to have done otherwise very clearly. The tidings, meantime, which came from the Turkish garrison, and the gallant part borne by two young Englishmen (one of them a correspondent for this journal), in the defence of Silistria, kindled a zeal for the invasion of the Crimea in England. In spite of the qualms of the Government, this zealous inclination, so well analyzed and described by Mr Kinglake, was carried into effect by the Duke of Newcastle and the will of the people generally. These, however, would have been powerless, it is presumed, but for the existence of this journal, to which fell the task of ascertaining and declaring the opinion of the whole country. The Parliament made no stand against the project of invading the Crimea thus expressed, and so it was resolved to direct the allied forces against Sebastopol.

Now, if Mr Kinglake, instead of hinting doubts and hesitating dislikes, had boldly told us that the people of England, the Parliament of Great Britain, and The Times were all wrong together, and that he, Mr Bright, and Mr Cobden were right on that occasion, we could admire his boldness, if not his modesty. Would he have had England and France withdraw their troops and their fleets as soon as the Russians had evacuated the Principalities, leaving them free to renew the war against the Porte whenever they pleased? Were they thus to violate the Treaty of the Great Eltchi? An historian should not leave us in the dark respecting his views on such great questions. Mr Kinglake, after all, may be the secret advocate and agent of the Peace Party. If so, we can better understand the purpose of his book, and wonder at the subtlety with which he brings war, and all those vindicating it from any cause, or engaged in it under any stress of duty, into ridicule and contempt. We congratulate Mr Bright on his ally and subaltern in his campaign against the national instincts, the popular will, and the appeal to arms which the violence and ambition of men render necessary, and which is useful as an outlet for historians.

The passage describing the way in which the resolution of Government was taken comes under the head of what the Americans call ‘sensation’ statements. Mr Kinglake gives a lengthy apologetical explanation of the circumstances which justify him, as he conceives, in making the tale public. If a Cabinet Minister violated his solemn obligations in order to render his colleagues contemptible, Mr Kinglake may be held guiltless of any graver offence than an attempt to stigmatize the English Ministry as unworthy of their trust. But he ought to know that the sleep-compelling despatch which the Duke of Newcastle read before his colleagues was merely the formal embodiment of instructions previously determined upon, and known to every member of the Cabinet. The Ministry had resolved that the Crimea should be invaded because they were anxious to check the arrogant pretensions of Russia. They obeyed not only the popular impulse, which was rampant for war, as Mr Kinglake loudly declares, — they availed themselves of an opportunity to strike a blow at an enemy who excited their apprehensions in the East, who threatened to disturb the balance of Europe, and menaced us in our Indian Empire. It was because in the vast arsenal of Sebastopol Russia held uplifted a mailed hand for ever ready to strike the sick Turk, and to grasp his inheritance, that the Ministry and the people designated it as the point of attack. The despatch merely put in an elaborate form the orders which the Cabinet thought fit to give Lord Raglan to carry out their views. It contained no new principle, embodied no novel direction, made no alteration in plan. St Arnaud was at the same time ordered by the Emperor not to advance towards the Danube, and was directed to support the English in an invasion of the Crimea.

In the middle of July these orders reached the allied Generals, and in six weeks or two months more they would have been ready to carry on the operations of a regular warfare. Their forces numbered about 50,000 men, 100 guns, some siege pieces, and 1,800 horse. It was believed that the Russians had not more than 45,000 men at the highest estimate in the Crimea, but the Duke of Newcastle directed the English General to do his best to ascertain the truth. His directions were not obeyed. Lord Raglan was averse, forsooth, to employ spies to ascertain the numbers of the enemy, because it was repulsive to the feelings of an English gentleman! We can only say that if he was he had learnt very little from the Great Duke.

But Lord Raglan disapproved the project altogether. We are not told whether he used any arguments which, coming from a trusted military chief, would have caused the Cabinet to hesitate, and have strengthened the hands of those who doubted the policy of invasion. Did Lord Raglan write to the Duke of Newcastle or to any member of the Government, stating that he conceived it most hazardous to engage in such an undertaking as the invasion of the Crimea? Did he say he knew nothing of the strength of the enemy, and that it was against his feelings and principles to employ secret agents to ascertain it? Did he urge any solid military objection against the plan which he is stated to have received with such disfavour? If he had adduced any substantial objection to carry out the wishes of Government, there is nothing in the instructions or views of the Cabinet which justifies the belief that they would have then insisted on immediate execution. Not only that. Lord Raglan, as Mr Kinglake proudly proves, was absolute master of the situation, for he would have been supported to the fullest in his objections by St Arnaud. Having first accused the French Marshal of all kind of indecent tentatives against his colleague, Mr Kinglake next asserts that if the English General had decided against the invasion he would have been well content, and perhaps much relieved; but that, if Lord Raglan had pressed for its adoption, St Arnaud would have done his best to carry it to a good conclusion (p. 103). What more Mr Kinglake, on the part of Lord Raglan, would have had from the French General it is very difficult to conceive. Admiral Dundas, who had become “gray in the service of a political party,” and “by force of politics had now become troubled with the business of war,” was as much opposed to the expedition as his French colleague, Admiral Hamelin. So the weight of the councillors would have supported Lord Raglan to the fullest. The Duke of Newcastle imagined Lord Raglan was in the habit of “considering with your French colleague what it will be safe and advisable for you to do,” as it was the custom of the Home Government to take counsel and concert measures with the Government of the Tuileries. In ignorance of Lord Raglan’s alleged dislike to use any means to discover the resources of the enemy, the Duke directed him, in a despatch dated the 10th of April, to make careful inquiry into the amount and condition of the Russian force in the Crimea, and the strength of Sebastopol (p. 106), and clearly directed his Lordship’s attention to that quarter. This must have been to a thoughtful man who cared about the future, and was not averse to plans of action, an indication that the Government was looking forward to an invasion of the Crimea. It is one of the most remarkable of the many instances in which Mr Kinglake’s antipathies have deprived him of judicial calmness, regard for historical justice, and even of common sense, that with this despatch before him, with its express declaration that on the 10th of April the Government thought it likely operations of an offensive character must be undertaken, “and that the heaviest blow which could be struck at the southern extremities of the Russian empire would be the taking or destruction of Sebastopol,” he should (at p. 86) attempt to show the taking of Sebastopol and the occupation of the Crimea as some new and unheard-of project and puts it forth that The Times on the 13th of June suggested it for the first time. But Mr Kinglake, in view of certain persons and things, loses his reason; he is inflamed by the sight of them as a turkey-cock by a red cloak; he spreads out his periods, swells his sentences, fans out his feathery invectives, splurts angry sounds all over his courtly pages, and gobbles forth fiery phrases full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Let any man, for example, read the despatch of the 29th of June, and judge. Mr Kinglake must have had a bad attack of rabies when he declared that the Duke of Newcastle confined Lord Raglan’s discretion with a precision scarcely short of harshness. It is due to the Duke and to the Government to say that they gave Lord Raglan the most ample discretion on the only points where he required it. The Duke informed Lord Raglan that the Government thought the Crimea should be invaded and Sebastopol be attacked, unless Lord Raglan considered the means at his disposal were inadequate. He expressly told him — “You are not to be precluded from the exercise of the discretion originally vested in you.” .  .  . “This decision should be taken solely with reference to the means at your disposal as compared with the difficulties to be overcome.” (P. 110.) .  .  . “The tenour of the despatch is, — We are anxious you should invade the Crimea, as we conceive it the best means of securing peace, but we leave the matter in its military relations entirely to your discretion, on which we fully rely.” And Mr Kinglake, after all, argues that the power of deciding for or against the expedition was practically vested in Lord Raglan. He might have resisted the Duke if he liked. (P. 113.) The power of deciding “had passed from Paris and from London, and was all concentred in the English General.” Lord Raglan took counsel as soon as he received the despatch with the only General in camp whose assistance he ever sought. He sent for Sir George Brown, who “was of an eager, fiery nature,” which had fretted and fumed in various small rooms at the Horse Guards for nigh forty years since he last saw service in the field — Lord Raglan sent for Sir George, and, if we had not Mr Kinglake’s word for it, it would scarcely be possible to credit that two such men should have acted and spoken as Lord Raglan and his adviser are reported to have done. The Generals were far advanced in years; both of them had left the field as young men, and had grown gray at the Horse Guards. The Great Duke was no more. All the inspiration he had left to his subordinates was derived from an aching and insoluble eagerness to know what he would have done in a given case had he been alive. It is obvious the determination of these difficult problems was in a human sense impossible. Each man was left to his own wandering, vague, marrowless conjectures. There could be no certainty in any surmise. “The Duke would have done this, I think,” hesitates one. “Well, I think the Duke would not have done so,” gasps out another. What really occurs at the interview according to Mr Kinglake is this. Lord Raglan hands Sir George the despatch, and asks him his opinion about it. Sir George very pertinently inquires if Lord Raglan knows anything about the strength of the enemy. Lord Raglan answers that he has no information whatever, having neglected to resort to the means for procuring it which he had been directed to use two months before. “Then,” quoth Sir George, “you and I are accustomed, you know, to appeal to the dead for our guidance in all difficulties. We ask ourselves always how the Great Duke would have acted. I tell you I am sure he would not undertake this business if he did not know more than you do. That’s my opinion. But then, you know, it’s of no consequence what the Great Duke would have done. Because, in this case, if you act as the Great Duke would have done, you will be recalled. You must give in. If you mind the Great Duke, some one else will be sent out to take your place who won’t mind him at all. So don’t mind him, and say I, who always act on my idea of what his judgment would have been, agree with you.” Lord Raglan, having heard his General’s reasons for disregarding the probable course of their only guide, resolved, nevertheless, to throw over the authority of the Great Duke and to follow it at the same time. This would be a dilemma to most people. But Mr Kinglake is so ingenious! Lord Raglan’s decision was not governed by Sir George Brown’s theory that he would be recalled if he did not invade the Crimea. He believed the invasion was unwarrantable and very hazardous — the Great Duke would never have undertaken it. But the Great Duke had laid it down that a General abroad owed obedience to the Secretary of State. It is true, Mr Kinglake argues, that the Duke’s whole career was an unceasing rebellion against that doctrine. Lord Raglan, departing from the spirit of his master, who treated Secretaries of State in “a fierce, wilful, and contemptuous way” when he pleased, and having arrived at the conclusion that the Duke of Wellington would not have heeded the Duke of Newcastle’s instructions, and would not have invaded the Crimea, resolves that he will invade it against his own judgment and his own expressly reserved discretion, and the Duke’s presumed decision, because the Duke once said a thing to which he never would have given the smallest consideration himself had he been alive! It is, as we said, scarcely credible that Mr Kinglake should write such unmitigated nonsense, and hold up to such ridicule these two gallant and sensible old soldiers. If he were the bitterest enemy of England, bent on rendering her councils, her Generals, and her Government the laughing-stock of Europe, he could not have accomplished his purpose with greater effect. We protest against these absurd and vapourish inanities. If the Emperor of the French were our foe, instead of our friend, he might well forgive Mr Kinglake his imitation of Victor Hugo, in consideration of the ridicule he has heaped on our Generals and statesmen.


* The Invasion of the Crimea, &c . By A W Kinglake. Vol II. Blackwoods.

(continued on Feb 23)


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