MR. H. BERKELEY rose to move that a humble address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that she would be graciously pleased to order that an inquiry by court-martial be held on Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan, for ordering a charge of the light cavalry at the Battle of Balaklava. It might, perhaps, be thought that the motion he was about to submit to the House would have been better in the hands of a military man. He could only say that, owing to the absence, through illness, of a gallant relative of his, the member for Cheltenham, he now had the honour to stand in his place. At the same time, he must say that he had met with no military difficulties in this case which should prevent any civilian from undertaking it; and it was his intention, as much as possible, to keep clear of all military technicalities. He took it for granted that there never was a time when our soldiers were more dear to the nation than they were at that moment. Their brilliant gallantry, their patient endurance of suffering, their intelligence, and the high moral tone which beamed forth in the correspondence of all ranks of the army entitled them to our respect and gratitude, and, he would fain hope, to our protection. Was it not their duty then, as the representatives of the people, narrowly to watch over the safety and interests of such an army? Already the people, through the mouths of a large majority of their representatives, demanded inquiry into the destruction of our gallant countrymen by withholding from them the absolute necessaries of life Hansard — fuel, food, raiment, and medical comforts; and the late Ministry, by opposing the appointment of the Committee on the Army before Sebastopol, had not only sacrificed their places, but, he believed, lost caste with the country. Their efforts, however, were in vain. The Committee had been appointed and was worthily doing its duty, and the result of its labours promised to be most satisfactory to the nation. He was there, however, to ask for an inquiry into the destruction of a particular portion of our army, namely, of a body of 300 soldiers, as brave as ever drew sword or put foot in stirrup, who, it was admitted, had been uselessly and wantonly sacrificed in an attempt of which there was no possibility of success, and where defeat was certain. He was not about to ask the House to grant a Committee to inquire into that loss, but, inasmuch as there already existed a proper tribunal to investigate the conduct of those composing the army, whether officers or men, and the Horse Guards having proved as much opposed to an inquiry as the Ministry, it seemed to him advisable that they should address Her Majesty, praying that She would direct a court-martial to be held on the officer who was charged with being the cause of the wanton destruction of those men. He was at a loss to understand on what principle such an inquiry had been refused. Courts-martial could be held upon a couple of boys who had dragged each other out of bed and beaten each other about the head with candlesticks; but, when the subject of inquiry was the wanton destruction of 300 men, it was not conceded by the Government. The care of human life was peculiarly English, and the country was renowned as being the safest in the world to live in. Laws were passed not only to punish those who wilfully took life, but those who by their ignorance, carelessness, neglect, or incompetence were the occasion of its loss. Should a railway servant cause the death of any person while in the execution of his duty, it was no apology for him to say that he made a mistake or misconceived the orders of the board of directors; he was held to be criminally liable; and in like manner recently had been the driver of an omnibus who had accidentally driven against a truck and killed the boy in charge of it. Why was it, then, that Parliament would not extend that protection to our gallant soldiers which it willingly afforded to railway travellers or boys employed about the streets? Were they prepared to say that the moment Englishmen put on Her Majesty’s uniform they forfeited all claim to protection or sympathy? Were they prepared to treat them as mere food for powder? If so, at all events, let them clearly understand it. Let the commanders speak of the battle of Balaklava in the same strain as Falstaff of the battle of Shrewsbury, and with him say, “I have led my ragamuffins where they are well peppered; out of 150 there are but three left alive, and they are for the town’s end to beg for life.” Was that the way to treat our soldiers? If the lives of those gallant men, who were prepared to shed their “golden blood” like water, at the command of their officers, were dear to their country, ought they not to be protected from commands falling from the lips of ignorance and incompetence? He was there to ask for inquiry into the conduct of Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan, because he believed that, through the misconception of an order received by him, the disaster at Balaklava had been occasioned. In consequence of that fatal mistake not only were 300 soldiers slain, but he might mention, though it was a minor consideration, the country had lost 360 horses, estimated with their equipments at the value of £160 each; and, in point of fact, the Brigade of Light Cavalry, at that time in the Crimea, had been almost annihilated. In bringing this subject forward he was animated by no personal feeling of animosity against Lord Lucan, he had no enmity whatever to gratify, but he did it simply in the fulfilment of what he conceived to be his duty. He made no charge against the honour or the courage of Lord Lucan, he believed them both to be undoubted; but a grievous wrong had been done to our troops, and an inquiry into the matter would be received with joy by the whole army, for it would prove to them in what esteem they were held by that House, and would be a guarantee against the recurrence of similar mistakes. It, therefore, seemed to him that the present course was the only one which he could take; the sanction of the House was required to find the ways and means for the support of the naval and military force of the nation, and it was, therefore, their duty carefully to guard the interests and well-being of both services. The House of Commons having, however, placed those services at the disposal of the Crown, if it should decide that a case of wrong had been made out, it was its duty humbly to address Her Majesty, praying Her to institute a court-martial upon the offending party. He did not, therefore, ask for a court-martial on the ground that any officer was aggrieved, he did not ask for a court-martial for Lord Lucan, but he stood up to ask for a court-martial against Lord Lucan. In order to place before the House the grounds of his Motion, it would be necessary for him to state briefly a few of the particulars of the battle of Balaklava more immediately connected with the brilliant but most disastrous charge of the light cavalry. The Russians had advanced in great force, variously estimated at from 20,000 to 30,000 men, they had driven in the Turks, and, flushed with their easy conquest over the true believers, they advanced with a portion of their cavalry against Sir Colin Campbell, who easily repulsed them with his gallant Highlanders. Another portion of the cavalry advanced against our heavy brigade, and were also defeated, and retreated in confusion. He begged the House to observe it was late in the day, and at a period when the Russians were in retreat, and, as Lord Raglan imagined, were attempting to carry off the guns deserted by the Turks, that his lordship issued the following order, than which, he (Mr Berkeley) conceived, nothing could be more clear or precise for the purpose it was intended to serve —
“Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy,” — mark that word — “and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. A troop of horse artillery may accompany. The French cavalry is on your left. Immediate. (Signed) Airey.”
Lord Raglan issued that order, and Lord Lucan on the strength of it — though it could only be interpreted as a direction to follow in the rear of a broken force and harass its retreat — caused a body of 670 Light Dragoons to charge the whole Russian army, horse, foot, and artillery formed and in position 20,000 strong. It would be observed that that was no army in retreat, which Lord Lucan could follow according to the order, but an army with their faces towards him and in the strongest position that an army could possibly be in. The whole of the case he had to submit to the House hinged on Lord Raglan’s order, and if there could be found in it one word which could extenuate Lord Lucan’s conduct, most gladly would he make a present of it to the noble Lord; but the more it was dissected and analysed the more clear did Lord Raglan’s intention become. In the first place, no order whatever was given by Lord Raglan to charge, the order being to follow the enemy and try to prevent his carrying away the guns. The mode of doing that was left entirely to Lord Lucan. The direction to follow certainly could not be applied to a stationary force, for it was impossible to follow a man who did not run away. But one point of the order which made Lord Raglan’s intention more clear than another was the permission given to Lord Lucan to send a troop of horse artillery, for nothing could be more proper than that a couple of light guns should be sent with a brigade of light cavalry to protect it from the cloud of the enemy’s cavalry which might be thrown out to cover the enemy’s retreat; but, to suppose Lord Raglan contemplated that a troop with guns, merely six pounders, should follow and blaze away against the whole of the enemy’s guns, some of them of very large calibre, was as absurd as to suppose that he contemplated 670 dragoons dealing with the whole of the enemy’s army. The fact was, that Lord Lucan was ordered to do one thing, the necessity for which had passed away, and on his own responsibility he did another thing, and that the worst thing in the world he could have done. Why, if Lord Lucan had been ordered to embark his cavalry at Dover, and, not finding any transports there, had then ordered his men to ride over Shakespeare’s cliff into the sea, he could not much more have misconceived the order, or committed an error more fatal to his men than he did at Balaklava. It certainly was strange that the noble lord should have misconceived one of the most intelligible orders ever issued. Lord Raglan, in his despatch after the battle of Balaklava, said —
“Lord Lucan was ordered to advance rapidly and follow the enemy in their retreat, and try and prevent them effecting their object. In the meantime, the Russians had time to re-form upon their own ground, and, from some misconception of the order, the lieutenant-general considered he was ordered to attack at all hazards, and he ordered Major-General the Earl of Cardigan to move forward with the Light Brigade.”
They had heard a great deal of what Captain Nolan said and did; but if his evidence could be taken, as unfortunately it could not, it would avail nothing whatever against Lord Raglan’s written order, and must be useless unless the seal could be “railed” off that bond. Captain Nolan was unfortunately killed — and de mortuis nil nisi bonum — yet he really believed Captain Nolan to have been a most amiable and gallant officer. According to Lord Lucan’s account, General Airey first gave Captain Nolan a verbal message, but luckily for Lord Raglan he afterwards called back Captain Nolan, and committed the message to writing. Now, one of the greatest military authorities of the day, the Duke of Richmond, fully agreed in his (Mr. Berkeley’s) view of the case, and that was not a little support to an humble civilian like himself. It appeared that Captain Nolan was most anxious to have a fight, and volunteered his advice, or as Lord Lucan stated — very justly no doubt — obtruded his advice. It was only to be lamented that Lord Lucan did not rather take the opinion of Lord Cardigan, but permitted Captain Nolan’s advice to operate on his mind so as to lead to that unfortunate charge, instead of putting Captain Nolan under arrest, as had been suggested elsewhere. Now, if anything could be pointed out in extenuation of Lord Lucan’s conduct, he would be most ready to admit it. Perhaps it would be charitable to suppose that Lord Lucan imagined that the enemy was in retreat, but nothing of the sort had occurred to his Lordship’s mind. He was prepared to show the House that when Lord Lucan sent those 670 dragoons to contend against such odds he was perfectly informed of the strength of the enemy and their position. When Lord Lucan received the order from Lord Raglan he commanded Lord Cardigan to advance. Now, if there was one man in the British army to whom an order to advance would be more grateful than to another, that man was Lord Cardigan. All the antecedents of that nobleman’s life — which had been known to the public, savoured rather of rashness than caution. A most gallant man, he might well be termed the Hotspur of the British army, and it might be said of him that he would consider it —
“An easy leap
"To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon.”
But how did Lord Cardigan receive the order to attack? Did he receive it with alacrity? Far from it; he received it with grave consternation. He had the great moral courage to demur to that order, until he was perfectly assured that Lord Lucan was aware of the desperate nature of the attack ordered. Lord Cardigan sent his aide-de-camp to Lord Lucan to explain the nature of the ground, and to state that the place ordered to be attacked was three-quarters of a mile distant, that there were batteries on each flank, and that the hills on each side were covered with infantry. Lord Lucan still persevered in his order to charge, and then Lord Cardigan himself iterated to Lord Lucan the description just given. After that, Lord Cardigan made the charge, riding himself at the head of his dragoons, and it was not too much to say that when that gallant body marched down “the valley of death,” there was not one man, from the general officer to the farrier, but believed that he was about to charge upon eternity. He would tell the rest of the tragedy in Lord Cardigan’s own words, extracted from a speech delivered at the Mansion-house on the 6th of February, and reported in The Times —
“We advanced down a gradual descent of more than three-quarters of a mile, with the batteries vomiting forth upon us shells and shot, round and grape, with one battery on our right flank and another on the left, and all the intermediate ground covered with the Russian riflemen; so that when we came to within a distance of fifty yards from the mouths of the artillery which had been hurling destruction upon us, we were, in fact, surrounded and encircled by a blaze of fire, in addition to the fire of the riflemen upon our flanks. As we ascended the hill the oblique fire of the artillery poured upon our rear, so that we had thus a strong fire upon our front, our flank, and our rear. We entered the battery — we went through the battery — the two leading regiments cutting down a great number of the Russian gunners in their onset. In the two regiments which I had the honour to lead, every officer, with one exception, was either killed or wounded, or had his horse shot under him or injured. Those regiments proceeded, followed by the second line, consisting of two more regiments of cavalry, which continued to perform the duty of cutting down the Russian gunners. Then came the third line, formed of another regiment, which endeavoured to complete the duty assigned to our brigade. I believe that this was achieved with great success, and the result was that this body, composed of only about 670 men, succeeded in passing through the mass of Russian cavalry of — as we have since learned — 5,240 strong; and having broken through that mass, they went, according to our technical military expression, ‘threes about,’ and retired in the same manner, doing as much execution in their course as they possibly could upon the enemy’s cavalry. Upon our returning up the hill which we had descended in the attack, we had to run the same gauntlet and to incur the same risk from the flank fire of the Tirailleurs as we had encountered before. Numbers of our men were shot down — men and horses were killed, and many of the soldiers who had lost their horses were also shot down while endeavouring to escape. But what, my Lord, was the feeling and what the bearing of those brave men who returned to the position. Of each of these regiments there returned but a small detachment, two-thirds of the men engaged having been destroyed? I think that every man who was engaged in that disastrous affair at Balaklava, and who was fortunate enough to come out of it alive, must feel that it was only by a merciful decree of Almighty Providence that he escaped from the greatest apparent certainty of death which could possibly be conceived.”
At a dinner at Northampton, on a subsequent occasion, the Earl of Cardigan said, his absence from the Crimea was accounted for by his having no longer any army there to command; and he then went on to say —
“In the attack at Balaklava, 400 horses were killed or rendered unserviceable; 370 were killed in action, and the remainder were in such a sad state from numerous wounds that they were obliged to be destroyed the following morning. But, in connection with that charge, I have to mention a much more serious circumstance — I mean the sad loss of human life that then occurred. No fewer than twenty-six officers and 276 non-commissioned officers and private soldiers, making a total of 300, were killed and wounded in that action. It is for this reason that I never can allude to the subject without the deepest feelings of regret. At the same time, though I do not pretend to more sentimentality than other men, it seemed to me at the time, and still seems, that the loss was so certain and serious, and the advantage to be gained by the attack so slight, as to make it a matter of deep regret that the order was given. I received the order, however, to attack, and although I should not have thought of making such an attack without orders, and although I differed in opinion as to the propriety of the order, I promptly obeyed it.”
No language could be too strong or too laudatory to describe this gallant achievement on the part of the men. It was a glorious proof of the power of discipline, and a sublime example of their loyalty to their Queen and devotion to their country. Lord Cardigan, by his share in it, had won for himself the respect of the British army and the admiration of the world, and it was not too much to say that his name would go down to posterity enrolled in the page of history as a belted Earl of the nineteenth century, entitled by his chivalrous prowess to stand side by side with the Bedford, the Bohun, the Talbot, the Chandos, of the olden time. The terror, the admiration, and the enthusiasm of the bystanders when they saw the British sabres flashing among the Russian guns had been graphically described by an eye-witness, as well as the disgust felt by the army at those who ordered so Quixotic an enterprise. General Canrobert, speaking of the men, was reported to have said, “C’est superbe! C’est magnifique!” But, speaking of the generals who commanded the charge, whoever they might be, he added, “Mais ce n’est pas la guerre.” The Russian commander, too, told the aide-de-camp who was sent into the Russian lines to inquire after the prisoners who were taken, that the affair was a bétise — a charge de fous. And, indeed, if it had been a Russian general who had ordered such a charge and risked his men’s lives in that way, there was little doubt that he would have died under the knout, or would now have been digging in a Siberian mine. But had any notice yet been taken of Lord Lucan’s conduct in this affair — had anybody demanded a court-martial? True, the noble Earl himself, indeed, had demanded a court-martial, and that he had acted gallantly in so doing he would not deny; for he was not now arraigning Lord Lucan’s courage, or even his military knowledge, except with regard to this particular case. He did, however, arraign the conduct of the military authorities at the Horse Guards in appointing Lord Lucan, an untried man, over the heads of so many men of proved ability. It was plain that in this case untried aristocracy was preferred to proved middle-class merit. Lord Lucan’s claims weighed heavier at the Horse Guards than the claims of such men as Henry Wyndham, Joseph Thackwell, Brotherton, Lovell — better known as Badcock — and Cavendish. He submitted to the House that he had now made out a case at least for inquiry. It was an insult to the service that such a transaction should take place without an inquiry. If Lord Lucan could justify himself, without doubt a court-martial was the proper tribunal before which to do so. He intreated the House, therefore, to concur in this Motion for an Address to the Crown for a court-martial, in justice to those martyrs who had found a bloody grave on the disastrous field of Balaklava, in justice to the survivors to guard against the possibility of the recurrence of such blunders, and in justice to the parents, the widows, and the orphans of those unfortunate men, whose tears for their fall were embittered by the reflection that, though they had died gloriously, they had died in vain.
LORD ELCHO said, that in seconding the Motion of the hon. Gentleman he did so from a deep conviction that it was due, not only to those gallant men who had distinguished themselves on that disastrous day, but also to Lord Lucan himself, that his conduct in this affair should be inquired into. No one, indeed, desired inquiry more earnestly than did Lord Lucan. Before, however, proceeding to advert to the facts of this case, he wished to say a few words with reference to his own position in connexion with it. It was a position alike painful and peculiar, for it must at all times be painful to have to defend a relative when his conduct was impugned, but it was doubly so when the accusation referred to an occasion on which he had the misfortune to lose a relative still nearer and dearer. He said this, not with a view of exciting the interest or sympathy of the House, but simply to show that whatever effects the events of that day were likely to have upon him, they were not calculated to prejudice him in favour of Lord Lucan. It was from a deep sense of justice that he supported this motion, for never in his life had he been so firmly convinced of anything as that Lord Lucan was a grossly wronged and injured man. Lord Lucan, as he had just stated, courted inquiry into his conduct, and his duty, as Lord Lucan’s relative, was to endeavour to induce the House to grant that inquiry. He knew too well the value of the time of the House to occupy it with any lucubrations of his own on military tactics; which, as those of a civilian, could have little claim on their attention. He should not, therefore, follow the hon. Gentleman (Mr H Berkeley) in fighting over again the battle of Balaklava, he would simply ask two questions which required an answer. The first was with regard to the order sent to Lord Lucan, which, it was said, he had misconceived; and on this he could not help remarking that, though they had heard much about what it did not mean, no one yet had attempted to say what it really did mean. These were the words of the order:—
“Lord Raglan wishes the Cavalry to advance rapidly to the Front, follow the Enemy, and try to prevent the Enemy carrying away the Guns.”
The sense in which that order was understood by Lord Lucan and by the aide-de-camp was, that the cavalry were to advance rapidly to the front; but now it was said that the English language was not to mean what it did in the ordinary acceptation of words, and that therefore the order must be read in a non-natural sense. He therefore wanted to know, and hoped that some Member of the Government, or that Lord Raglan himself, at some future occasion, would explain what the real meaning of the order was. It should be observed that within a short time of their advance Captain Nolan had the misfortune to fall, which showed that they were already in a position from which the slightest advance brought them immediately under the fire of the enemy’s guns. As Lord Lucan had been blamed for having obeyed that order in its ordinary acceptation, and for being guided by the explanation of the aide-de-camp, and was now in this country in disgrace in consequence, he begged to ask would Lord Lucan have been in a more favourable position, would he now be commanding the cavalry in the Crimea and an honoured man, if he had disobeyed that order? Those were the two questions with reference to that order to which he wished to direct attention; but, as much had been said about Lord Lucan being afraid to take upon himself that responsibility which, as a lieutenant-general commanding a division, he should have done, and as upon that point military opinions greatly differed, he begged to point out to the House that Lord Lucan was not a man who shirked or was afraid of responsibility. Lord Lucan had published his speech, delivered in another place, in the form of a pamphlet, to which he had appended notes. In one of those notes Lord Lucan said,—
“Lord Lucan, in his speech, omitted to state that at an interview with General Estcourt, which he had asked for the purpose the day after the battle of the Alma, he sent a message to Lord Raglan through the Adjutant-General, expressing a hope that his Lordship had that confidence in him, as commanding the cavalry, that he would allow him to act on his own responsibility as occasions should offer and render advisable; for, otherwise, opportunities of acting would be frequently lost to the cavalry. To this Lord Lucan received no reply. Lord Lucan was led to make that communication in consequence of his having on the previous day taken upon himself without orders to remove the artillery and cavalry across the river, with the view of protecting the flank of the infantry in its ascent of the heights. This movement, though accidentally delayed by the upsetting of a gun in the river, proved most advantageous in its results, as it brought the cavalry to the front immediately after the Highlanders had crowned the heights, gave them the assistance of his guns, which were most effective, and protected them from a large body of the enemy’s cavalry which was hovering in that quarter. And again Lord Lucan considered that had he felt himself more of a free agent on that occasion more prisoners might have been taken.”
He thought that that passage clearly proved that Lord Lucan was not a man to shrink from responsibility, and that he had asked Lord Raglan to intrust him with responsibility because he felt that without it, and a certain amount of discretionary power, he could not make that use of the cavalry arm which he might otherwise do. This was further confirmed by a passage in a previous note, referring to a conversation which had taken place between Lord Lucan and General Airey the day after the battle of the Alma. The note was in the following terms:—
“At this conversation Lord Lucan expressed his hope that orders less peremptory, and leaving him some discretion, should be sent to him; for, if orders were sent to him more fitting for a subaltern officer than for a general to receive, as a subaltern he would execute them, as he would not expose himself, in the absence of a discretion which had been denied him, to being charged with disobeying an order.”
He (Lord Elcho) would here corroborate what Lord Lucan stated with regard to his conduct at the battle of the Alma by reference to a letter which had been written soon after that battle by his late brother, in which the writer stated that Lord Lucan, at a certain period of the action, ordered up the cavalry and the artillery, and that they proved so effective and of such signal service to the Highlanders, who at that time had just crossed the heights, that Sir Colin Campbell went up to Lord Lucan, shook him by both hands, and with tears in his eyes thanked him for what he had done. He should not say anything further respecting the battle of the Alma; but, as he had said that he should not enter into any discussion of the battle of Balaklava, or weary the House with any military lucubrations, so neither did he intend to discuss the prerogative of the Crown or the right of the Government to recall Lord Lucan. That right undoubtedly existed, and it was necessary for the efficiency of the army that it should be exercised by the Crown without being questioned. He might doubt, however, whether in the case of Lord Lucan the recall had been either just or necessary. The reasons which had been given for it were that he had written a letter to, and was on bad terms with, Lord Raglan. Everyone had been led to believe that the letter of Lord Lucan had been couched in disrespectful terms. When it came to be read, however, he thought that that was not the impression which was conveyed to the people of this country; and he knew from a statement made by Lord Lucan in another place that previous to his embarking on his return home General Estcourt said that Lord Raglan was astonished at his recall, that he regretted it, and was unable to understand why it had taken place. There was one point, however, with reference to the recall of Lord Lucan to which he wished to direct attention. As he had before said, he did not dispute the right of the Government to exercise their power of recalling him; but if they considered it so essential for the good of the service that two officers who were on such bad terms should not remain together, how was it that so long a period had been allowed to elapse between the receipt of Lord Raglan’s letter and the recall of Lord Lucan? Lord Raglan’s letter was written on the 16th of December; Lord Hardinge’s reply to the reference made to him respecting it was dated the 26th of January, and the date of the recall was not till the 27th of February, so that upwards of three weeks must have elapsed between the receipt of Lord Raglan’s letter and the recall of Lord Lucan. [Note by DK: Elcho has got the last date wrong — the date of the recall letter was 27 January, not February. Newcastle received Raglan’s letter on 8 January.] He asked this question because he had heard it stated by others that the delay might have arisen from the fact of there having been a question as to who should be recalled at that time. There was, moreover, a strange coincidence of dates between the recall of Lord Lucan and the notice of a question put upon the papers by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol with reference to the battle of Balaklava. No doubt, a clear explanation of these matters could be given by the Government, but as he had heard them mooted in society, he had thought it desirable to call attention to them. The point to which he wished mainly to confine his remarks was the letter of Lord Raglan, which brought against Lord Lucan charges of the gravest character. It appeared to him that the production of that letter on the part of the Government was, if he might be allowed to say so, a grave mistake. It entirely changed their position. So long as they kept it in the office of the Minister of War they could take their stand upon the right of the Government to recall any officer without assigning their reasons for the step; but when they produced that letter they shifted their ground, and it appeared to him that they must either stand by the one course or take the consequences which naturally flowed from the other. In a communication which Lord Lucan addressed to the Commander-in-Chief, praying him to reconsider his application for a court-martial, he thus described that letter of Lord Raglan’s:
“It contains entirely new matter, and is replete with new charges, reflecting more seriously than before on my professional judgment and character. There is now imputed to me, and for the first time, not only the misconception of one order, but inattention to and neglect of another order; and, again, a total incapacity to carry out any instructions, and to avail myself of the means placed by his lordship at my disposal. Charges so grave and of a character so exclusively professional cannot, I submit, be properly disposed of without a military investigation. I find myself therefore compelled to express my anxious wish that the Commander-in-Chief will be induced kindly to reconsider his decision, and consent to my whole conduct on the day of the action of Balaklava, the 25th of October, 1854, being investigated by a court-martial.”
He thought that any military man would admit that what Lord Lucan said upon that point was justified by the fact, and that the charges which had been brought against him were of a very grave professional character, and required a professional investigation. That second appeal of Lord Lucan’s, however, was also refused, and it was not until all other modes of redress had been denied him that he had ventured to make that statement in another place which was now in the possession of most hon. Members. He (Lord Elcho) wished to examine, as well as he was able, the grounds upon which the appeal of Lord Lucan for a court-martial had been refused. In the letter containing the refusal no grounds were assigned; and he must therefore look to the speeches which had been made upon the subject in another place by the noble Lord at the head of the War Department and by the Commander-in-Chief. So far as he could gather from those speeches, there appeared to be four principal grounds upon which the refusal had been based. First, it was said that there was no precedent for a court-martial appointed under similar circumstances; secondly, it was urged that if a court-martial were granted to Lord Lucan, it must be granted to every officer and every private who thought himself aggrieved; thirdly, that there would be a difficulty in framing the charges; and, fourthly, that Lord Lucan had done duty since the action at Balaklava, where he had been at fault, and that therefore by military law he could not be tried. He would next proceed to examine these four reasons which had been adduced against granting a court-martial, and he would first touch upon the question of precedent. He had himself a great respect for precedent, but at the same time all precedents must have a beginning, and in a case where justice demanded a fair trial, he did not think that the absence of a precedent was a sufficient cause why that trial should not be granted. At the same time, however, he thought that a precedent did exist in the case of Lord George Sackville, afterwards Lord George Germaine, the commander of the English cavalry at the battle of Minden in 1759. He had looked with great care into all the circumstances of that case, and it appeared to him to be in its main features analogous to that of the Earl of Lucan, although, indeed, there was the difference that Lord George Sackville was condemned for not obeying his orders, whereas the Earl of Lucan had been censured for his implicit obedience to them. He did not think it would be necessary for him, and, indeed, it would be presumptuous on his part, to enter into the detail of the battle of Minden; but, perhaps, the House would allow him to read an extract from the general order issued by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, the Commander in Chief of the allied army, in order to show the grounds upon which Lord George Sackville demanded a court-martial to inquire into his conduct. In his general order, issued the day after the battle of Minden, which was fought on the 1st of August, 1759, Prince Ferdinand wrote:—
“His Royal Highness further orders it to be declared to Lieutenant-General the Marquess of Granby that he is persuaded that if he had the good fortune to have him at the head of the cavalry of the right wing his presence would have greatly contributed to make the decision of that day more complete and more brilliant. In short, his Serene Highness orders that those of his suite whose behaviour he most admires be named (Lord George Sackville, not included in the list), and his Royal Highness desires and orders the generals of the army that upon all occasions when orders are brought to them by his aides-de-camp they be obeyed punctually and without delay.”
It was that insinuation against him which led Lord G. Sackville to request that he might be allowed to return to England, and, leave being given to him, he arrived home on the 7th of August, and immediately wrote a letter to the military authorities praying for a military inquiry into his conduct. On the 10th of August he received an answer granting him an inquiry, but in the meantime he was deprived of his military emoluments and his military position. In that answer he was informed — and the point was well worthy of the consideration of his noble Friend at the head of the Government — that the inquiry would be held whenever the officers on service returned to England. The court-martial was subsequently held, and its verdict condemned Lord George Sackville as being guilty of disobedience of orders. He could not but think that the position of an English general was somewhat unfortunate, for there was precedent for granting a court-martial in the case of Lord Lucan, and that precedent was a court-martial which condemned Lord George Sackville for not doing that which Lord Lucan was condemned for doing. In the case of Lord George Sackville, two orders having been given to him by two aides-de-camp which appeared to him to be of an opposite character, he rode up to Prince Ferdinand to have his difficulty cleared away; for that he was condemned, and yet they were told that it was the very course which ought to have been adopted by Lord Lucan, or that he should, if he had any doubt about the order, have sent some one to the Commander in Chief for an explanation. In that respect he considered as he had just said, the position of a British general unfortunate. Wishing to find out as much as he could that would bear upon the case, he had spent some time in referring to books and pamphlets in the British Museum, and he found among other things, that amongst the officers by whom Lord George Sackville was tried was one William Earl of Panmure. He hoped this might be regarded as a favourable omen, and that we should soon have a warrant signed “Fox, Baron Panmure” ordering a court-martial upon Lord Lucan. He found also a letter of consolation addressed to Lord George Sackville by the Maréchal de Contade, the French commander at the battle of Minden, and transmitted by Voltaire, in which that general alluded to the shooting of Byng and Lord George Sackville’s condemnation, and said that the conduct of the English with respect to their admirals and generals bore a strong resemblance to that of the Carthaginians, who, whenever they lost a battle or a place of strength, crucified a general. Bayle said that there was no class of men who had more need than the generals of the army to cultivate those qualities which would be useful in a life of retirement. With reference to the bearing of military law upon this point, he found that Mr. Arthur laid down the principle —
“An officer who may be suspended, and feels his character unjustly impeached, may demand an investigation of his conduct by court-martial, which, if not attended with manifest injury to the service, ought to be granted, that an opportunity of justification may be afforded. Lord George Sackville, having been suspended and divested of all military employ, and finding his character to be impeached in the public opinion, demanded an inquiry into his conduct, which the King, from motives of justice and humanity, and regard to the reputation of an officer of such high rank, readily granted. Captain Norris, of the Essex, even after having resigned the command of his ship in the Mediterranean, finding his character had been aspersed by his officers in the engagement off Toulon, applied to the Admiralty Board for a public investigation of his conduct, and a court-martial for that purpose was accordingly ordered.”
And, in the case of Sir Hugh Palliser, Mr. Fox said, a court-martial might be appointed to try him at his own request, as had been done in the case of Lord George Sackville — even though dismissed the service. He would next pass to the second argument, which, as he understood it, was, that if a court-martial were granted in the case of Lord Lucan it would be necessary to grant one in the case of every private or inferior officer who might demand it; but he thought that he should be able to show that no analogy existed between those cases. What were the grounds upon which Lord Lucan was condemned? He was condemned because it was said that, as a lieutenant-general, he was a responsible person possessing a discretionary power, and that he did not exercise it, but simply obeyed orders, a thing which any private or inferior officer ought to have done, and which Lord Cardigan also did. What was the real state of the case? Lord Lucan, upon receiving the order, did not understand it — and, certainly, it was not very intelligible — and he ventured to ask the aide-de-camp its meaning. The aide-de-camp explained the meaning of the order, and Lord Lucan obeyed it. The order was given to Lord Cardigan, who objected to it, and remonstrated against the madness of executing such a charge; but he obeyed the order, and in so doing did his duty in a manner which no man admired more than he did. Two men acted in precisely the same manner, and yet one was received with praise and honour, while the other was more or less censured and professionally disgraced. If responsibility were conferred upon an officer, and he was called upon to exercise a discretionary power, more favour ought to be conceded to him than to an inferior officer who held no such position. The third argument adduced against granting a court-martial was, that there would be great difficulty in framing the charges. To that argument he could reply that, in the case of Lord George Sackville, Prince Ferdinand in his general order did not mention his name, but it was on account of an insinuation that he demanded a court-martial. The Judge Advocate of that day found no difficulty in framing charges and drawing up a bill of indictment against Lord George Sackville, upon which he was condemned, declared unfit to hold a command, and dismissed the service, and he (Lord Elcho) had too much respect for the abilities of the right hon. Gentleman who at present filled the office of Judge Advocate not to believe that, from the letter of Lord Raglan, containing charges against Lord Lucan — charges of so grave a nature — he could easily frame charges and draw up a bill of indictment. The fourth and last point with which he had to deal was the argument that Lord Lucan had done duty with the army after the battle of Balaklava, and that, by military law, he could not, therefore, be put upon his trial. He did not mean to question the military law. He granted, that if an officer had committed a fault for which he was put under arrest, and was subsequently released from arrest and did duty, that he was thereby condoned for his offence, and could not be put upon trial for the same offence. But it was a question whether he might not be put upon his trial by a superior officer to him who put him under arrest, and who subsequently released him. At all events, here was a law really enacted for the benefit of the accused; and surely the House did not mean that that very law should be used to the disadvantage of the accused, which would be the case in the instance of Lord Lucan, should the present Motion be rejected. He might of course quote many cases in illustration of the principle, that if a soldier, after arrest, was discharged and allowed to resume duty, he could not be subsequently tried for the offence for which he was arrested. An instance had been given that during the Peninsular war a private soldier was put under arrest, and subsequently allowed his freedom, and served with great gallantry before the enemy; that after the battle he was again arrested and brought before a court-martial, found guilty, and flogged. Unquestionably nothing could be more unjust than such a proceeding, and as there was no doubt that the military law was enacted for the benefit of the accused, the soldier in that instance would naturally have claimed its protection; but in the case of Lord Lucan it was decidedly adverse to his interest. It appeared to him that if Lord Raglan, when he wrote his letter, believed the charges he made, he was to blame for leaving a general officer who had proved himself, according to that letter, so incompetent as Lord Lucan had done, to remain one hour after showing his incompetency in command. The whole safety of our army in the field depended upon the cavalry, and the efficiency of the cavalry depended upon its commander. But what did Lord Raglan do? He left Lord Lucan two months in command without putting him under arrest or sending him home, one or the other of which he submitted Lord Raglan ought to have done if the charges against Lord Lucan were well founded. A great deal was heard about this not being a fitting subject to bring under the consideration of Parliament, and Lord Lucan had been blamed for having brought his case forward in another place. No doubt the House would be told by the right hon. Gentleman the Judge-Advocate, or by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for War, that nothing could be more dangerous than to establish a precedent for bringing the subject of military discipline under discussion in the House of Commons. He confessed he did not feel at all alarmed at any such thing. The Queen had, undoubtedly, the prerogative of commanding the army, but that prerogative was at all times subject to certain checks and control. The House of Commons reserved to itself the power of passing the Mutiny Bill from year to year, and it had also the power of stopping the supplies, by which it necessarily exercised a very powerful control over the whole army, and also over the management of it. According to a high authority on military law — Simmons on Courts-martial —
“It was quite evident that courts-martial were as strictly derived from, and formed part and parcel of the law of England, as any Courts depending on Statute could be. It had been aptly observed by Mr Tytler, ‘The Mutiny Act was, by the very limited term of its duration and frequency of its renewal, more truly and immediately framed by the people itself than any other of the existing Statutes of the Realm.’ ”
This power of control and check was a power of which the House was jealous, and justly jealous; and it was a power which had been frequently exercised. He had taken at random, from Hansard, instances of Motions being brought forward materially affecting the discipline of the army, and such Motions had been followed by the most beneficial results. In 1745 an Address was moved and carried for a court-martial on Admirals Matthews and Lestock, to inquire into their conduct in the action off Toulon between His Majesty’s fleet and the combined fleets of France and Spain. In that debate Mr Henry Fox used these words:—
“As we in this House are the great inquisitors of the nation, this, Sir, was the reason — and it is a sufficient reason — for an inquiry into the case, and the end we proposed to ourselves by such an inquiry was, to vindicate the innocent and to punish the guilty.”
Mr H Pelham, who opposed the Motion on behalf of the Government, said, —
“When there appeared to be a failure or want of justice on the part of the Crown, we may inquire into the conduct of any officer, or into the proceedings of any court-martial.”
Now, he contended that in the case of Lord Lucan, there was not a failure of justice on the part of the Crown, but a failure of justice on the part of the commander of the forces. To return to previous subjects of a similar nature, in the same year (1745) Parliament voted the proceedings of the court-martial appointed to try Captain Norris (to whom he had already referred), to be “arbitrary, partial, and illegal,” and this, too, in the teeth of the opposition of the Minister of the day, Mr Pelham. In 1778, Mr Luttrell moved for a court-martial to inquire into the conduct of Vice-Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser for disobedience of orders, and Mr Fox afterwards moved that he be dismissed the service. In 1814, Colonel Palmer moved for papers relating to the trial of Colonel Quentin. In 1815, Lord Proby moved the introduction of a clause into the Mutiny Act, to prevent the dismissal of an officer without the previous inquiry of a court-martial. In 1832, Mr Hume moved for the production of papers relating to the trial and punishment of Alexander Somerville for writing a letter to a newspaper — a well-known case. But more recently the noble Lord the Member for Huddersfield (Viscount Goderich) had made a Motion — for which he received very considerable support — that materially affected the discipline of the army, and in which he endeavoured to show that great injustice was done to the private men by their not being promoted. But he had a case to quote which he thought his noble Friend at the head of the Government would not refuse to recognise as of weighty authority. In 1836 a Motion was made for a Committee to inquire into the conduct of the commander of the forces with reference to a recent appointment, and he found that the name attached to that Motion was that of his right hon. Friend the Chief Commissioner of Works (Sir W Molesworth). The reason which led his right hon. Friend to bring forward the Motion was, that he thought the appointment calculated to be injurious to the service and generally to the army, and he boldly and ably, in one of those carefully prepared and elaborate speeches which he was wont to deliver, laid down the law with reference to the responsibility of Ministers in regard to the administration of the army. He on that occasion said — and his speech was almost prophetic —
“I consider that one of His Majesty’s Ministers ought to be at the head of the army — ought to be held responsible to this House for the administration of the army, and be present by himself or delegate in his place in the House of Commons to answer to the questions and complaints of the people with reference to his conduct in the administration of military affairs.”
[See 3 Hansard, xxxiii.535.]
Nothing could be more sound doctrine, and a doctrine which he was happy to say had been acted upon. If the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion should be met with the objection that it infringed upon the Royal prerogative, he (Lord Elcho) had forearmed himself with a passage from the speech of his right hon. Friend in reference to that point, for his right hon. Friend observed that —
“Whenever we hear the word prerogative made use of in this House, we may feel convinced that some abuse is about to be defended — some attempt is about to be made to escape inquiry — to shrink from responsibility.”
[See 3 Hansard, xxxiii.533.]
He hoped, therefore, that that argument would not be adopted on this occasion, but that the present would be considered an open question, in which case he felt secure of the support of his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works. But he was prepared to maintain that the interference of Parliament had not only been innoxious, but that in many cases it had been highly beneficial. Take the case of flogging. Would ant Gentleman say that that did not affect the army? He found that Sir George Murray, in his reply to a Motion by Mr Hunt in 1832 on the subject of flogging in the army, said —
“He was afraid, if that House became a court of revision for military offences, it would infringe on the great principle of the constitution by which the army was placed under the exclusive control of the Crown.”
Was the House controlled by that argument and prevented from interfering with the subject? Not at all. The House did interfere, and the result, as they all knew, was most beneficial. It was notorious that flogging in the army had comparatively ceased; and if they wanted to know whether it had been attended with beneficial results or not he would point to the Crimea, where they had an army without crime, and where officers and men vied with each other, not more to maintain the reputation of the British army for valour than for high moral discipline. He thanked the House most sincerely for its indulgence, while he had endeavoured to show, to the best of his ability, that this was not a question of prerogative, or a question to which the objection would apply, that it would affect the discipline of the army. Whether he had succeeded or not, the case of Lord Lucan was so strong and so good that it could not suffer from the feebleness of the advocate. As he had said, Lord Lucan courted inquiry, thinking his professional reputation damaged by the charges brought against him. He knew that it had been stated in another place by the organ of the Government, the Minister of War, and, that evening, by the hon. Gentleman (Mr H Berkeley), that Lord Lucan’s personal character and honour were unimpeached; but what consolation was that to a man whom the Government had disgraced? He could not believe that discipline required the perpetration of injustice, or that the public interests were served by disgracing as gallant, as zealous, and, he would venture to say, as efficient a soldier as any in Her Majesty’s service. The hon. Gentleman (Mr H Berkeley) stated that he had brought forward this motion as a question of justice to Lord Lucan, as well as to those gallant men whose conduct that House and the whole country admired. The hon. Member said Lord Lucan’s honour was unimpeached, but he added that if the general who commanded on that occasion had been a Russian subject, he would have died under the knout, or have been exiled to Siberia. Lord Lucan had the good fortune to belong to a free country, in which such extreme measures were not resorted to. The knout under which he suffered was the censure of the hon. Gentleman. The Siberia to which he was banished was the professional disgrace by which he was incapacitated, as long as these charges were not met and refuted, from again holding command in Her Majesty’s service. He had said Lord Lucan was as gallant an officer as any in that service. He was present when his Lordship was examined before a Committee of that House, and after his examination a statement was made to him (Lord Elcho) by a member of the Committee, whose name he had no authority to mention, but whose name, if he could give it, would add to the effect which he hoped his opinion would have upon the House and upon the Government: that hon. Gentleman, a friend of his, and a member of the Committee, said to him, “Lord Lucan has proved himself, by his evidence, to be an able and a zealous officer, careful of his horses and of his men, and a thorough master of every detail connected with the management of his division.” His reply was, “Do you think that a general officer, who has shown himself thus competent in the camp is wholly incompetent in the field?” There was an innate love of justice in the breasts of Englishmen. Lord Lucan had appealed to the proper authorities for redress, and had failed to obtain it. Lord Lucan had made a statement in the House of Lords, and, now that the hon. Gentleman, though not at his request, had brought the subject under the consideration of the House of Commons, he appealed to them on behalf of his gallant and noble relative, confidently trusting that the House of Commons would do him that justice which had been denied elsewhere, and by the expression of its opinion induce the noble Lord at the head of the Government to recommend Her Majesty, in the exercise of her undoubted and unquestionable prerogative, to grant that professional inquiry which could alone vindicate his conduct, and relieve him from the disgrace under which he now more or less laboured.
Motion made, and Question proposed —
“That an humble address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to order that an inquiry by Court-martial be held on Lieutenant General the Earl of Lucan, for ordering a charge of the Light Cavalry at the Battle of Balaklava.”
Mr C VILLIERS said, the question before the House was, whether upon a certain statement of facts they would agree to an address to the Crown prating that an inquiry by court-martial should be instituted into the conduct of the Earl of Lucan; and as it was his duty, from the office which he had the honour of holding, to be acquainted with the principles and practice which regulated the military tribunals of the country, it might be convenient if he thus early addressed the House on the subject. He should not dispute with the noble Lord about the right of Parliament to interfere in matters affecting the army, though he thought some of his noble Friend’s views were somewhat extreme on that matter. He should confine himself to the question of the particular claim for interference put forth in this case. In the first place, he must observe that his hon. Friend (Mr H Berkeley) had brought this Motion forward, not so much as an original proposition for inquiry, as an appeal from a decision which had already been given by the Crown, by the Commander in Chief, by the other House of Parliament, and by the legal officers who had been consulted. He would not question the propriety of his hon. Friend in adopting this course, but he would merely observe that the hon. Gentleman, instead of proposing any other mode of inquiry, asked for a court-martial upon the Earl of Lucan, with the perfect knowledge that it was the precise form of inquiry already demanded by Lord Lucan himself, decided upon by the authorities to which he had referred, and for the refusal of which reasons had been assigned. Holding the peculiar office which he did, the facts of this case, as is usual in cases where a general court-martial was contemplated, had been communicated to him for the purpose of advising whether it was one in which a court-martial should be appointed. He had viewed it without reference to the station of the person, or some of the peculiarities attending it, and he was quite ready to share all the responsibility which attached to the course which had been pursued. He thought, now, that he should best consult the wishes of the House if — without referring to topics somewhat irrelevant that had been alluded to by the seconder and mover — he called their attention to the particular facts which had been submitted to him, and the reasons which were assigned for refusing the particular tribunal which was demanded. What were the facts of this case? Lord Lucan, on the 28th of November, became aware of the terms in which Lord Raglan had referred to his conduct on the 25th of October, and thereupon entered into communication with Lord Raglan on the subject, expressing his displeasure at the mode in which his conduct had been reported by Lord Raglan. Lord Lucan complained, not only of injustice done him, but also questioned the veracity of Lord Raglan’s communication to the Minister of War. Thereupon a series of communications ensued between Lord Lucan and Lord Raglan, the purport of which on the part of Lord Raglan was, that Lord Lucan should withdraw a certain letter of comment on his report which he (Lord Lucan) had sent him, and should remain satisfied with the report already sent to this country. Lord Lucan was unwilling to do this, and pertinaciously adhered to his own explanation of the events of the 25th of October at Balaklava, and left Lord Raglan no peace until he sent his communication, or rather his criticism upon his (Lord Raglan’s) despatch, to this country. At the same time Lord Raglan felt himself bound, in vindication of his original despatch, to send his observations upon that letter, entering more fully into his reasons for having expressed some kind of disapprobation of Lord Lucan’s conduct at Balaklava, while he so far modified that expression of disapprobation as not to cast any slur upon Lord Lucan’s professional character, or preclude him from receiving the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. It was upon receipt of these communications that the Minister of War discovered that there were essential differences between the lieutenant general of cavalry and the commander of the forces in the East; and upon that ground, and that ground alone, fortified by the opinion of the Commander in Chief in this country, considering that these differences were detrimental to the public service, and that harmony was essential between officers of that rank, the recall of the lieutenant general of cavalry was decided upon. He (Mr Villiers) stated these facts for the purpose of showing the grounds on which it was decided that Lord Lucan was not in a position to claim court-martial; and why it was not consistent with military usage to grant one. The House was aware, in the first place, that Lord Lucan, upon his return to this country, had claimed, as the unquestionable privilege of every officer, to have a court-martial if he chose to demand one; and subsequently, upon being apprised of Lord Raglan’s comments on his letter that he had asked as a favour, to have this court-martial, and had learnt that his Lordship’s request was refused in both cases. He would now apply himself to these facts in order to show on what ground of military law and practice Lord Lucan had been refused that inquiry by court-martial for which his hon. Friend (Mr H Berkeley) asked. In the first place, he thought the noble Earl, when he applied to have a court-martial as an unquestionable right, must have done so either in haste or under very erroneous advice, because every one might ascertain by searching the most elementary works upon the military system of this country, that an officer had no right whatever to a court-martial as a means of inquiry into his conduct. Persons who entered the army did so on the well-understood condition that they might be dismissed without any reason assigned, and without any redress given, at the discretion of the Crown. This power in the Crown was so ancient and had been so generally recognised that it was useless to discuss it. In the House of Commons the question had been raised whether such powers should be intrusted to the Crown, and there had been attempts to limit the prerogative in this respect, but Parliament had uniformly decided that the Crown was wisely intrusted with this prerogative. It was not, therefore, difficult to answer the question as to whether an officer possessed an unquestionable right to a court-martial. Then arose the question whether in this particular case it was proper to grant such an inquiry as a favour. [Lord ELCHO: Hear.] His noble Friend seemed satisfied to rest upon that. Well, but then arose the question whether a court-martial could be conceded upon the facts as they stood — namely, that either no military offence had been imputed to the Earl of Lucan by the Commander in Chief, or that if any such offence had been so imputed to him, it had been overlooked or forgiven by the same authority. For it must be remembered that Lord Lucan had been deliberately continued in his employment after the alleged offence had been committed. His noble Friend (Lord Elcho) treated that fact rather lightly, looking upon this ‘condonation’ as he called it, as one for the benefit of the offender, or, as in this case, the complainant, and as a matter which could no longer stand in the way when the complainant chose to demand an inquiry. Now, military laws and usages could not be dispensed with so lightly, nor was it fit that the administration of the army should be regulated by caprice, and no people were more interested in its not being so than the service itself. There was in the military, as in the civil system of judicature, a written and an unwritten law — the one based upon the Mutiny Act, and the Articles of War, and the other upon custom and established usage, recognised and applied in numberless cases. Both these branches of Military Law were recognised by the Legislature; and every member of a court-martial was required by the Mutiny Act to take an oath that he would administer justice according to the Mutiny Act, the Articles of War, and the custom of war in the like cases. The particular custom of war which had reference to the present case was this, that when any offence had been committed, whether by an officer or by a soldier, and that offence had been advisedly overlooked or not punished or forgiven, and the person implicated was continued in his employment, this was held a good plea and was deemed a bar to any further proceedings. There was no end to the cases which might be referred to in proof of this position. There was the case during the Peninsular war of Captain Archdall, who ordered certain of his men on service in the field after they had been sentenced by a court-martial and before the sentence was carried into execution, and who proposed to execute that sentence after their return from service. For this he was put upon his trial by the Duke of Wellington, was convicted and broken. Again in 1811, there was a case of a very striking kind and of just the same character, and now reported in the books, in which, though a man had been guilty of mutinous language, yet having afterwards been engaged in active service, the Duke of Wellington felt himself for that reason under the necessity of ordering him to be released. Then there was the case of Colonel Quentin, regarding whom a court-martial found the facts to be true as alleged in one of the charges preferred against him, but they found also that upon these facts he had been reproved in the field by his commanding officer; they therefore refused to convict, upon this charge, because Colonel Quentin had been dealt with before for this offence, and they rebuked the prosecutors for introducing such matter into the charges. He (Mr Villiers) repeated that it was an established usage in the army that no man whose offence had been knowingly and advisedly overlooked by competent authority, could be tried afterwards for that offence, and in the present case, the question would arise, as to who was to act as prosecutor, for Lord Raglan having condoned the offence, and Lord Lucan having been continued in employment, the offence was obliterated, and nobody could act as prosecutor. Not only, then, did the legal difficulty he had pointed out exist, but there were technical difficulties in the way of any proceedings. There was nobody to prefer any charge. In former times the Judge Advocate was officially the prosecutor, and the warrant for the prosecution was directed to him: but it is now nearly thirty years since a different provision was introduced into the Articles of War, and since that time it has been considered to be the province of the Judge Advocate General to watch the proceedings of the court-martial, to see that justice was done to the prisoner, and that the case was presented in a proper legal form on the part of the prosecution. Even if the Judge Advocate could, therefore, be directed to prefer charges, he was bound, in the first place, to give his opinion that there was a legal difficulty in the way of their prosecution, and in his capacity as responsible legal adviser of the Crown, it would be his duty to call the attention of the Sovereign to the legal objections that appeared to exist in the way of the confirmation of the proceedings. It was a common maxim in the civil courts that a man could not be tried twice for the same offence, and in this case a plea analogous to that of autrefois acquit would have applied. A man could not be allowed to compromise a criminal proceeding, or claim one against himself for a purpose of his own, nor would it be consistent with the duty of a judge to allow a second trial after an acquittal, merely on the request of the party accused. It was the duty of the Judge Advocate to see that the law was applied strictly. Still it was said that justice required that Lord Lucan should be tried by court-martial; but if such an inquiry were granted, when must it take place, and where? It certainly could not take place here. The commander of the forces could not be recalled in order to give evidence, because his presence could not be dispensed with in the Crimea, yet his evidence here would be indispensable, and it would be impossible to secure the attendance of witnesses who would be essential to the inquiry. Then, could the inquiry take place in the Crimea? It certainly would be most inconvenient at present. Men high in command could hardly be called upon to vindicate their conduct when they had important duties to discharge requiring their whole attention. Consequently, an inquiry could only take place when the war was over, and when many of the persons who ought to be examined would not be forthcoming. Had he been Lord Lucan, at the time the conduct of the noble Lord was first noticed by Lord Raglan — and it was right to remember that on the very night of the action there was a difference between Lord Lucan and Lord Raglan on the subject — he should have said when he was first charged with having misapprehended the order, ‘Let there be an inquiry at once. Let me have a court-martial now, when the witnesses to my conduct are still living, and upon the spot where the action occurred.’ It was open for Lord Lucan to have followed that course, and the noble Lord had already declared that every officer of rank there was in his favour. It was said, however, that Lord Lucan was recalled indirectly on account of his conduct on the 25th of October, and that, having been deprived of his command, it was an injustice not to grant him an inquiry. It must, however, be remembered that Lord Raglan had never demanded the recall of Lord Lucan. On the contrary, Lord Raglan had throughout shown great consideration to Lord Lucan, if he believed him to be wrong. It was the opinion entertained at home that the differences between Lord Raglan and Lord Lucan, which appeared upon the face of the letters referred to the Minister of War, ought not to be allowed to continue. He understood from the noble Lord who had just addressed the House that Lord Lucan admitted that there had been a difference between Lord Raglan and himself — [Lord ELCHO: I admit it.] — and that Lord Lucan had not been recalled at the request of Lord Raglan. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr Berkeley) and the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) seemed to take up this question upon very different grounds. His hon. Friend the Member for Bristol came forward on behalf of the public, as he said, to demand a court-martial, and his noble Friend very naturally came forward on behalf of his relative. The question, however, was the same, namely, whether, or not, Lord Raglan had exercised his discretion wisely, and whether he was justified in his report of Lord Lucan, with reference to the celebrated charge at Balaklava. [Mr Berkeley here made an observation, which was inaudible in the gallery.] Yes; but that is the hon. Gentleman setting up his judgment here against that of Lord Raglan in the field. Lord Raglan did not complain of Lord Lucan in the manner in which the hon. Gentleman did. The hon. Gentleman, from his great military experience, he supposed, took a view of Lord Lucan’s conduct upon this occasion widely different from that taken by Lord Raglan. Lord Raglan ventures to say, that Lord Lucan is a meritorious officer. ‘No man could have acted more bravely on the 25th of October; but in this particular instance he misconceived my orders.’ The hon. Gentleman, on the contrary, said, ‘This man has been shown to be so unworthy and so faulty as a general’ — [Mr Berkeley: No, no!] Not faulty as a general, then; but only, to have given such an order as to have produced one of the greatest disasters that have yet occurred; not faulty — only, by want of capacity, he has caused the destruction of his troops! The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) complained of an injustice done to Lord Lucan by Lord Raglan, and thus, in fact, both agreed in bringing Lord Raglan’s conduct before the House, and thus proposed that they should here sit in judgment upon the manner in which the Commander of the Forces exercised his discretion in the field. Why, what was the question at issue? It was whether the Commander in Chief was to have the discretion of censuring, blaming, or, at least, of reproving those over whom he was placed, and whose conduct he was required to observe. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) asserted, if he (Mr Villiers) understood him correctly, that it was not true that Lord Lucan had misconceived the orders given to him, and that if Lord Lucan was guilty of the conduct imputed to him on the 25th of October, he ought to have been broken or deprived of his command, and at any rate the offence ought not to have been condoned. In the opinion of the hon. Member for Bristol, Lord Lucan had acted so badly, that he ought not to have been continued for a moment in his command. The House was therefore called upon to condemn Lord Raglan, and, at the same time, to address the Queen, to remind her that she had neglected her duty in not having already instituted an inquiry into Lord Lucan’s conduct. The hon. Gentleman, as Member for Bristol and a Member of Parliament, considering that the Queen had not been rightly advised, appealed from her decision already given in this matter, and demanded inquiry. The hon. Gentleman complained of the manner in which the Crown had acted. [Mr BERKELEY: No, no.] He complained, then of the manner in which right Crown had been advised to act, and raises a question as to the discretion with which the commander of the forces ought to be entrusted. If the noble Lord (Lord Elcho) was right in complaining of Lord Raglan’s censure of Lord Lucan, other persons would be equally justified in complaining that sufficient praise had not been bestowed upon other officers who had been noticed in the despatches of the Commander in Chief, if such complaints were received, the conduct of Lord Raglan must of necessity be called in question. But, surely, it was requisite, that the Commander of the forces in the field should be invested with large discretionary powers, and among others with that of censuring those who were wrong, of praising those whose conduct deserved admiration, and even of visiting a certain amount of punishment upon those whose conduct he disapproved. Of course his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) would say — ‘That this was monstrous, for thus a man might have reflections cast upon his character and conduct, and have no redress.’ That, however, was not precisely the case, though, if it was so, it would not apply only to his relative, but possibly, to those acting under him and reproved by him. But the discretionary power entrusted to a Commander in Chief in the field, like the discretionary power entrusted to a justice of the peace, was not unlimited; nor was the person entrusted with such power absolutely irresponsible. If Lord Raglan had wantonly abused his power, or had exercised it corruptly or maliciously, the Earl of Lucan was not without a remedy; it was competent to him to prefer charges against Lord Raglan, with a view to having his conduct investigated before a court-martial. There were plenty of cases in which subordinate officers had preferred charges against their superiors, in some of which they had succeeded and in others failed. Nobody can doubt that as the case now came before them , it was one between Lord Raglan and Lord Lucan — unless Lord Raglan had not the usual powers of Commanders. Lord Lucan complained that he had been aggrieved by Lord Raglan, and it was open for the noble Lord to prove that Lord Raglan had gone beyond the limits of the power and discretion confided to him, and that he had been actuated by unworthy or malicious motives. The papers in reference to the case were already before the House, and hon. Members were perfectly able to judge under what impression Lord Raglan conveyed his opinion at first, with regard to Lord Lucan. Lord Lucan had, however, been noticed for his gallantry in the field, and had already received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. When Lord Raglan was obliged to speak more explicitly, and to state more fully his views with regard to Lord Lucan, which he had been forced to do by the course adopted by Lord Lucan, he said he had no intention of casting any slur upon his character, or indeed of hurting his feelings. Lord Lucan was not charged with having wilfully disobeyed orders, and it was just as much open the Lord Raglan to demand a court-martial upon the charges made by Lord Lucan as it was for Lord Lucan to demand a court-martial upon the charges made by Lord Raglan. What had been said by Lord Raglan against Lord Lucan was said in vindication of his own conduct. When his mode of noticing Lord Lucan’s conduct was called in question, it was clear that large discretionary powers must be placed in the hands of the Commander of the forces. Precedents for the course that Lord Raglan had taken had frequently occurred under the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula, and though officers might not have been satisfied, no complaints were preferred by them. The Commander in Chief, was answerable to his country for his conduct, but large discretionary powers in the field he must have, and if it was to be questioned in this manner, in one case, it might be in every other case. With these remarks, he would leave the matter in the hands of the House, believing that no case had been made out either against Lord Hardinge or Lord Raglan, and that there was no ground for calling for a court-martial.
MR FRENCH said, he would admit that there might be some technical difficulties in the way of granting a court-martial, but still he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate was not justified in his sneer against Lord Lucan for not having asked for a court-martial on the evening of the action of Balaklava. Lord Lucan, however, could not have demanded inquiry, immediate inquiry, on the spot, for he never dreamt that a report would be made such as that which had been made. Indeed, he had been assured by General Airey and others that the report would be favourable to him; and it was only when Lord Raglan’s report came back to the Crimea that he learned what had been done. To the motion of the hon. Member (Mr H Berkeley) he had no objection, but he did object to the mode in which it had been met by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate. The hon. Member for Bristol had spoken highly of the heavy cavalry charge, but he had not done justice to his noble and gallant Friend (Lord Lucan), for he had omitted to mention that this movement was ordered by him in person. No doubt the charge was brilliantly executed by General Scarlett, but the whole merit and credit of the business were due to Lord Lucan. The hon. Member said that Lord Lucan did not attend to the first order of Lord Raglan; but the reason was, because it was impossible for it to be carried out, for redoubts could not be captured by cavalry alone. The order was peremptory to wait for the infantry, but they did not arrive, and there was no reason to suppose that the order had been given to the infantry to advance. If it was the intention of Lord Raglan that the infantry should advance upon the redoubts, that order was never given. The second order was so exceedingly plain that it could not be mistaken by any one. The Russians had never made any attempt to carry off the guns that were in the redoubts abandoned by the Turks. Captain Nolan was an officer of great reputation and distinction: he had received the order sent to Lord Lucan, first verbally and then in writing. He had just left Lord Raglan, who commanded a view of the field, and there could be no mistake either as to the tenor of the written directions or of Captain Nolan’s impressions of them, for he volunteered to show the way, and he rode a short distance at the head of the 13th Dragoons, when he unfortunately received his death wound. Regarded in a common sense point of view, Lord Lucan had no discretion whatever. The order was positive. For anything Lord Lucan knew, the fate of the French cavalry might have depended upon his arriving at a certain place at a certain time, and if a discretion on the part of an officer receiving such instructions were admissible, how could a commander in chief conduct any great engagement? It might have been possible to check the advance of the Russians only by one of those desperate charges in which a commander might find it necessary to sacrifice 300 or 400 to save a much larger number. That charge was one of the most glorious ever made either by English troops or by the soldiers of any other nation. His noble and gallant Friend did everything that man could do to make the light cavalry charge as effective and as little disastrous as possible. He himself led up the heavy division almost to the very point where the light division charged. Lord Lucan’s disposition of the troops was skilful; he was himself wounded, and one of his aides-de-camp near him was killed. He made no error whatever himself, and he did all that a general and a soldier could do to remedy the errors committed by others. The case was one of injustice to his noble and gallant Friend, for which no redress could be obtained. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate admitted that Parliament might interfere if a case of injustice could be made out. But no greater case of injustice could be made out than had been committed towards an officer who, from the moment he landed at the Crimea, had always been at his post and performing his duty.
MR J G PHILLIMORE said he should oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Bristol and at the same time he must call upon the House of Commons to be cautious how it sanctioned a Motion which might be drawn into a most dangerous precedent. If they did so there would be scarcely any one in the public service censured by his superiors who would not call for the interposition of Parliament, and seek to overthrow the prerogative of the Crown. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) had been driven to the case of Lord George Sackville as a precedent for inquiry. Than that case it was impossible to imagine one more opposite than the case of Lord Lucan; in fact, they formed a perfect contrast. Why, Lord George Sackville had been branded as a coward at the battle of Minden by one of the greatest generals of the age. His reproof was, that his name was passed over in silence, which every one knew was the greatest punishment that could be inflicted upon him. The public indignation in England was excited to the highest pitch. Lord George Sackville was at once deprived of his command, and of all offices under the Crown, and declared incapable for ever again serving. Lord George Sackville was accused of the gravest offence — and he (Mr Phillimore) thought rightly accused — that a soldier could be guilty of — cowardice. Now, Lord Lucan’s bravery was admitted upon all hands — he had received the thanks of Parliament — and the only charge which had been brought against him, if charge it was, amounted to this — that he had misconceived the orders that had been given to him. In the eyes of any high-minded person such an offence must be regarded as of an extremely venial character. The courage of Lord Lucan was unquestionable and unquestioned — his zeal was unquestioned — and every one who spoke on the matter expressed great personal respect for his character. He would repeat that, if Parliament interfered here there would arise a hundred occasions upon which its interference would be demanded. At the same time, he must observe that, in his opinion, his right hon. and learned Friend, the Judge Advocate, had pushed too far the principle of condonation, for it was a principle of the law of England that a man might waive his own privilege, that his own privilege should not stand in the way of his obtaining justice. The other arguments of his right hon. and learned Friend he considered irresistible, and that the House of Commons, whether it regarded its own dignity or the prerogatives of the Crown, could not and ought not to interfere in this case.
MR BELLEW said, he adhered to the law as laid down by the right hon. and learned Judge Advocate, which he maintained, in opposition to the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, was the law as it stood, and by that law it was impossible to concede the trial demanded. Still, he must say that, in his opinion, Lord Lucan was a very hardly treated man. He felt it to be his duty, entertaining the very decided opinion he did upon this subject, to vote against the Motion. The Crown having exercised its prerogative, and deliberately declared that it was not the wish or intention of the Crown to grant a court-martial, it was not for the House of Commons to attempt to wrest that power from the Crown, nor any Member to question or contravene its undoubted right and privilege. It was with great pain — believing, as he had already said, that Lord Lucan had been very hardly used — that he would feel bound to vote against the Motion.
COLONEL DUNNE said, it was excessively painful for a military man to be placed in Lord Lucan’s position, and he should not have ventured to trouble the House with any remarks, had it not been for certain doctrines on military law laid down by the Judge Advocate General. He agreed with a great deal of what had been laid down by that right hon. and learned Gentleman, but some points of his law he considered were perfectly new. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said the noble Lord could not raise the question, as it had already been decided by his superior authorities. This was tantamount to saying that no soldier had a right to have a question re-discussed in which the prerogative of the Crown was concerned. In the abstract he agreed with this principle, but the question to determine was whether a decision which the House and the country might think wrong should not be re-considered. The charges against Lord Lucan appeared simple, but they were very serious. In the first place, disobedience of an order in which Lord Lucan had exercised his discretion in not advancing, because the infantry were not sent. If he had obeyed, he must have advanced without the infantry; and having exercised his discretion, he was accused of having disobeyed the order. In a short time the second order came, and he was accused of having obeyed that order; and further, for not having brought the heavy cavalry into the same danger as the light cavalry. From his own opinion, and from the opinion of qualified officers, he was satisfied that Lord Lucan had done all that a prudent general could have done. The opinion of competent officers was that Lord Lucan could only do what he had done upon receiving the second order, and had he not obeyed that order, which both he and Lord Cardigan objected to, he must have braved disgrace for disobedience of orders. It had been laid down distinctly that the orders of an aide-de-camp must be obeyed the same as if given by the Commander in Chief. It was a mere quibble to say, that the order to advance to the front was not an order to charge. He must charge if he advanced. Lord Lucan was perfectly exonerated from blame in the opinion of the military men conversant with the subject and with all the circumstances. The doctrine of condonation had been pushed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate to an excess that he had never heard attempted before. Nothing was more clear, if a man was guilty of an offence, and afterwards went into action, that he could not be tried for that offence. But, assuming that a soldier had committed a theft, which was not discovered until after he had been ordered to march, that offence was not to be considered as condoned when the march was completed. The offender could be tried for the offence. That was the principle of Lord Lucan’s case. Lord Lucan had never heard the charge that was brought against him until he came to England. Therefore the doctrine of condonation, as laid down by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, was utterly unworthy of him. But that doctrine, coming as it did from so high an authority, would be felt in the army as tending to confuse the law, and as being capable of being drawn into a precedent. He should much regret to see the House go to a division on this subject. He hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would reconsider the matter. He did not think it advisable to have a court-martial; but then there was such a thing as a court of inquiry, which would be satisfactory in this instance. Additional powers had lately been given to these courts of inquiry; witnesses might be examined on oath; and he would therefore put it to the sense of justice of the noble Lord to say whether such an inquiry might not be held, although for a court-martial not a tittle of ground existed? If Lord Lucan were tried on the despatch of Lord Raglan, he would be acquitted with honour. He believed, if all the facts were fairly brought out, that Lord Lucan would stand acquitted of any charge of misconception of Lord Raglan’s order, and would be found to have done his duty in such a way as was an honour to the service and to the country.
COLONEL SIBTHORP said, he must express the gratification he felt, that Lord Panmure had issued a circular to the militia, in conformity with the assurance given to the House a few evenings ago. He ventured to say, on the part of that service to which he had the honour to belong, and on the part of that corps of which he had the command, that a finer body of men did not exist in the world. He did not wish to make a boast of what he had done or what he might do, in spending any sums of money within his power to make them efficient. He had heard the statement made the other evening by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, about the enrolment of the militia, with great delight, and he had immediately telegraphed it to his regiment. [Cries of ‘Question.’] Hon. Gentlemen might cry question, but this was a military question, and a question which interested him more than any other. He begged to assure the Government and the Crown that he would go to any lengths to keep the Royal South Lincolnshire Militia in the most efficient state - and that nothing should be wanting in his purse or person to make them in every way worthy of the country, and able for any service, whether foreign or otherwise, that they might be called upon to perform.
MR DISRAELI: I cannot refrain, Sir, from expressing my opinion that the question before us tonight ought not to be the subject of a division. Having followed with much attention this debate, I entirely sympathise with the feelings of a gallant soldier like Lord Lucan, who, after having served his sovereign and his country with great courage and devotion, finds himself, at a moment like the present, in the peculiar position in which he is placed. I think, however, the noble Lord must have felt that, in a free country like this, where every man has the power, by some means or other, of appealing to opinion, and placing his conduct fairly before the public, great as are the difficulties in which he has been placed, the appeals he has made to the calm reflection of his countrymen have not been unattended by satisfactory results. But, whatever may be our feelings with respect to the noble Lord, and however we may sympathise with a gallant officer under the difficult circumstances in which he is placed, we must, with regard to the vote we are now called upon to give, look to the nature of the Motion before us. I am not inclined, Sir, to take a pedantic view of the nature or the power of the Royal prerogative. I believe that, as it at present exists, it is extremely beneficial to every one of Her Majesty’s subjects. I am not inclined to uphold the dogma that that prerogative is too strong. My own feelings would influence me to a very opposite tendency. I would rather see the influence of that prerogative increased than diminished. At the same time, I cannot but admit that, under some circumstances in which the prerogative might be exercised, this House might feel it their duty to interfere. The first duty of the House of Commons is to redress the grievances of the people, and I suppose we have not arrived at that state of affairs when an individual who happens to be a nobleman may not yet enjoy the privilege of being counted one of the people. The first and the greatest grievance which any member of the community can suffer is certainly a denial of justice. If, therefore, it is alleged that there has been a denial of justice to any subject of Her Majesty, whether he be a patrician or a ploughboy, I maintain that it is our duty to consider the case; and, if we believe the appeal well founded, to do our best to afford justice to the applicant. But, Sir, I cannot bring myself to believe that the present is a case which sanctions interference with the prerogative. In a position of great difficulty the noble Lord has shown distinguished gallantry and great ability; and I may add, that in other positions of life he has exhibited qualities which entitle him to public respect. I cannot forget what Lord Lucan did in Ireland, in his character of a landlord, at a period when that country was in a position of very great difficulty, and when its affairs were brought under the consideration of Parliament. Although the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate has told us that this was really an affair between Lord Raglan and Lord Lucan, I could not resist the conviction, as I listened to the debate, that if the affair had only been left to Lord Raglan and Lord Lucan, there was no need why the country or Parliament should ever have been acquainted with it. The comments that were made upon the statement of Lord Lucan by Lord Raglan, the rejoinder of Lord Lucan to Lord Raglan, and all that afterwards occurred, even the representations to the Minister, did not necessarily require publicity. All this difficulty has been occasioned by the recall of Lord Lucan on the responsibility of the Minister of War. Now, what was the position of the Minister of War at that time? He was a Member of a Government in very great distress and difficulty, and against which a considerable amount of public odium was excited; and the Minister of War, when a victim was necessary — when it was thought, perhaps, that the recall of some general officer would in some degree appease public indignation, and might in some measure satisfy the vindictive craving which had seized the public appetite — fixed upon Lord Lucan. Taking advantage of circumstances which were within his official knowledge, he recalled Lord Lucan, he subjected a distinguished, and, as I believe, a meritorious officer, to a slur upon his reputation, and thus has led to all these discussions and debates. Now, although I cannot question in the present case, the exercise of the Royal prerogative, notwithstanding that perfectly legal, but, at the same time, in some respects, cruel exercise of the Royal prerogative, of refusing inquiry after condonation by which Lord Lucan has become the victim, I think there is one point upon which the House of Commons has a right to complain — there is one point which I consider a grievance. I cannot forget that this gallant officer, whose conduct is now so impugned, who is labouring under an infliction which must be most bitter to any man of generous spirit — I cannot forget that the noble Lord, in his capacity as a British general, was, a brief time since, marked out by Her Majesty’s Government as worthy of almost the greatest distinction that an Englishman can possibly receive. I remember the then leader of this House (the noble Lord now absent) came forward and proposed a vote of thanks by the House of Commons to those who had distinguished themselves in those glorious victories, which, whatever the fate of this struggle may be, will remain for ever in the recollection of Englishmen. I had the honour — and I deemed it a high honour — of seconding the Motion of the noble Lord. I told the House in the few words I uttered the deep responsibility that I felt, for I myself considered that the public expression of the thanks of the Parliament of England was one of those inestimable rewards which an Englishman cannot too highly prize, and which ought to be classed with those stars and ribands which are the symbols of the feelings of respect which our Sovereign entertains for the subject who distinguishes himself. Her Majesty’s Ministers are cheapening this great honour — they are treating it as a mere ceremony, as an idle ceremony — if they ask in this solemn and formal manner the House of Commons to express their thanks to the general officers, when they are in the possession of facts which could justify them in recalling one of those general officers in disgrace from the scene of his achievements and his conflicts. I do not think, Sir, the Government in this matter were acting fairly by the House of Commons. Either it was not acting fairly then to ask us to express our thanks to Lord Lucan for his conduct, or it is acting unjustly and unfairly to Lord Lucan now, after such a proposition, unanimously carried by this House, to recall, with a slur upon his reputation, that distinguished officer from the scene of his achievements. I do, therefore, think it is a circumstance which requires some explanation — if Her Majesty’s Government did not without thought propose the thanks of this House to the general officers, which were at once liberally, freely, and unanimously accorded, because there was only one opinion in this House as to the merit and services of Lord Lucan — if they did this when they were in the possession of circumstances which, according to their present interpretation, justify them in recalling the noble Lord from the scene of his professional labours. I will not attempt to give an opinion on those labours; it would be presumptuous in me to do so; but I have been glad to hear men who were entitled to give one, speak of the noble Lord in a spirit which I believe to be the general opinion of this country. As far as I can form an opinion from discussions, I certainly think that public discussion has not injured either the character or the career of the noble Lord. Although he may not receive the formal inquiry he has sought — sought, perhaps, without sufficient justification, but in a spirit which we must all respect — still it will be seen, however, that the character of the distinguished officer who has been engaged in the late struggle has been shown to be not unworthy of the public confidence and interest. I hope and trust that the result of those discussions has been soothing to the wounded spirit of Lord Lucan; but I cannot but say that the Motion, whether regarded in the spirit of the hon. Member who brought it forward, or of the noble Lord who seconded — and the two dispositions were very contrary — still I do not think that the Motion is one which the House of Commons can sanction. Still, in thus giving my opinion, I do not wish it to be inferred that I at all agree in any opinion adverse to the noble Lord’s professional reputation and conduct as a gallant officer.
VISCOUNT PALMERSTON: Sir, I entirely associate myself with the expressions which have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us, and in concurring with him in objecting to this Motion, whether placed on the grounds urged by the Mover, or whether placed on the grounds put by my noble Friend who seconded the Motion. I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, and trust that nothing has passed in this debate which can be considered as casting anything on the military character of the noble Lord who has been the subject of the present discussion. Nothing can be more painful to this House than discussions of this kind, involving the feelings of individuals and matters of professional conduct. There must be topics — whoever may be the subject, or whatever the occasion which has given rise to them — which the House must always feel a disposition to avoid, unless they are absolutely forced upon its attention; and these subjects are particularly to be avoided when they relate to officers of the army and to matters of military discipline. It is quite natural, in the present state of things, when the attention of the country has been so painfully directed to military events at the seat of war, that this House should sympathise with the public, and should have its attention more than usually directed to matters of this kind. At the same time, I think that the House ought not to forget that the command of the army is, by the constitution of the country, vested in the Crown; and if this House, whose powers I do not wish to limit or define, should take into its own hands matters involving the discipline of the army, or should take upon itself questions with respect to good services and the maintenance of good order, which ought to be left with the Crown, and its principal advisers, you may depend upon it that such a course will give rise to dangers, the extent of which may not at first sight be seen. I think, on the grounds which have been stated, that this is a case in which it is impossible for the Crown to grant a court-martial. I think the examples which have been adduced in justification of a court-martial go quite the other way. The case cited of Lord George Germaine is one in which that nobleman was accused of not having done enough in the execution of an order; but Lord Lucan is found fault with for having done too much. Nobody has ever questioned the courage of Lord Lucan, or his services during the whole period of the time he was employed. His case is precisely the reverse of Lord George Germaine’s, and not the slightest imputation has been cast on the military qualities of Lord Lucan, of which Lord George Germaine is said to have been deficient. If, Sir, therefore, I were asked to point out a case precisely the reverse of Lord George Germaine’s, I should cite that of Lord Lucan. I think, therefore, we have the strongest grounds why a court-martial should not be granted. We have grounds of a technical nature, grounds of the inexpediency of such a course, and grounds of particular and general consideration. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has adverted to a circumstance which I think tells in a different manner to that in which he applied it. He says, that Her Majesty’s Government seem to have treated lightly the thanks of the House of Commons, by having recalled an officer — as he says, in disgrace — which I utterly deny — to whom the thanks of this House had been given. I must say, as far as the military services of Lord Lucan are concerned, the very fact of that vote of thanks having been given to him, is a proof that Lord Lucan well deserves the thanks of his country, and places his character in a position in which his best friends would wish to have it placed. Was he recalled, I ask, for reasons at variance with that vote of thanks? Was he recalled because he had not done good service? He was recalled because differences had arisen between himself and his commanding officer (Lord Raglan) — differences which placed Lord Lucan in such a relation with his commanding officer as to render it incompatible with the good of the service for him to remain longer with the army, and which rendered it impossible, in the view taken by the Government, that these officers could continue to act usefully together, and consequently Lord Lucan was ordered home. But he was not recalled in disgrace, nor was there any reflection cast upon his character, and I should be the last man in the world to sanction any such inference being drawn from his being recalled. As far as the professional feelings of Lord Lucan and those of his friends are concerned, I hope they will be satisfied with this discussion, for I do not consider that any grounds have been shown on which a court-martial can be granted. I therefore trust that this Motion will be negatived as one which it is inexpedient for the House on any possible grounds to adopt.
MR EVELYN DENISON said, he was willing that the Motion should be negatived, but he thought that as matters stood there was one person who could not but feel aggrieved at the course which the debate had taken, he meant Lord Raglan. The Motion had been brought forward with a view of defending Lord Lucan, but had resulted in a series of attacks on Lord Raglan, who as an absent man had every right to complain. He hoped, that while Lord Raglan remained at the head of the army, nothing would be permitted to transpire in that House which could damage his reputation or impair his authority. He had no objection to the course suggested by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, but he humbly entered his protest against the charges which his noble Friend (Lord Elcho) had made against Lord Raglan while defending his relative, Lord Lucan.
LORD ELCHO said, he was not aware of having brought any charges against the Commander in Chief of the army in the Crimea. So far as he recollected, the only charge he made — if, indeed, it could be called one — was that, having brought those charges against Lord Lucan, and believed him to be incapable, Lord Raglan did not remove him from his command at once. After what had passed, he begged the hon. Gentleman (Mr Berkeley) not to press his Motion to a division. The honourable and respectful manner in which Lord Lucan had been spoken of — the testimonies which had been borne to his military services and military capacity by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr Disraeli) and other Members of the House, and also by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, would, he was sure, be satisfactory to Lord Lucan himself, as they could not but be highly satisfactory to his friends.
MR H BERKELEY said, he would consent to withdraw his Motion, as upon legal grounds the inquiry it asked for appeared to be impossible.
MR CARDWELL: Sir, before the discussion closes, there is one point that I think should not be left in doubt. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr Disraeli) has stated that, in his opinion, the late Government were actuated in the recall of Lord Lucan by feelings connected with the difficulties in which they were placed by the public demands for a victim. Now, that is an imputation of a character that should not be left in any degree of uncertainty. I did understand that the answer of the noble Lord at the head of the Government intended to go to that point and to negative the statement, when he said that the ground on which Lord Lucan was recalled was the incompatibility which, in the opinion of the late Government, existed between the discharge of duty by the Commander of the Forces and the continuance of Lord Lucan in his command.
VISCOUNT PALMERSTON: My right hon. Friend has correctly understood what I intended to say. The recall of Lord Lucan was founded entirely on the difference which took place between him and his superior officer, and there is no ground for the imputation which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr Disraeli) has cast upon the Duke of Newcastle of having made him a victim. For that act the Duke of Newcastle was not responsible any more than the rest of the Cabinet; it was the act of the Government, and I am as much responsible for it as the Duke of Newcastle.
MR DISRAELI: Sir, in the observations which I made to the House, I certainly did not intend to cast any imputations individually on the Duke of Newcastle. I have on all former occasions avoided making imputations on individual Ministers. I hold the Cabinet responsible, and not individual Ministers, and therefore I made no particular imputation on the Duke of Newcastle as distinguished from the rest of the Cabinet. But I beg to say in explanation, that I recognise no difference between the late Cabinet and the present; I look on them both as the same Administration.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.