LORD PANM17RE, THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE, AND THE CRIMEAN WAR.*
PUBLIC opinion about Lord Paannure, who succeeded the Duke of Newcastle as Secretary for War during the Crimean War, has not been authoritatively corrected since the publication of Kinglake's romantic history. Kinglake, as the fiercely loyal partisan of Lord Raglan, denounced the famous despatch of February 12th, 1855, in which Lord Panmure charged Lord Raglan with failing to acquaint himself with the health and conditions of his army, and to inform the Government of the situation. Kinglake supposed that Panmure had wrung a reluctant consent from the Cabinet to enable him to send this despatch. A writer in the Edinburgh Review, it is true,
* (1) The Panmure Papers : being a Selection from the Correspondence of Fox Mauls, Second Baron Panmure, afterwards Eleventh Earl of Dalhousie, K.T., G.C.B. Edited by Sir George Douglas, Bart., MA., and Sir George Dalhousie Ramsay, (lB., late of the War Office. With a Supplementary Chapter by the late Rev. Principal Rainy, D3). 2 vols. London : Hodder and Stoughton.
net.1—(2) The Life of Minn Nihon, Fifth Duke of Noweattle; 011-1861. By John -Martineau, of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. With Portraits. London: John Murray. - [Use net.J
• refuted this belief very soon after Kinglake had published it; but the authoritative refutation comes for the first time now. Here we have the text of the letters and despatches which passed between the Queen and her War Minister and the generals in the field. We see, as it were, passing under our • eyes the management of a great war by the Cabinet and the Sovereign, with the voice of the Press and the growling of the public acting as chorus and continually being taken into account and propitiated. Nothing could be more instructive.
No student of history can afford to neglect these two stout volumes, which are excellently edited. The despatches tell their own story, and little more than the editing was required.
The career of Lord Raglan has caused many lances to be crossed, and the conflicts have mostly been futile and irrelevant. It is quite possible to believe at one and the same time that Lord Raglan was one of the most gallant men and lovable of personalities that ever commanded an army, and yet to hold that through his own fault or that of his Staff he did not appreciate the extent of the suffering among his troops in the snow, or, appreciating it, had not the fund of energy necessary to conquer all the difficulties and remove the causes of distress. But unfortunately the partisans have done their best to prevent vs from reconciling these two perfectly reconcilable beliefs. We have generally been invited to believe that Lord Raglan was unassailably efficient
at all points or at none. The Panmure Papers ought to end
these absurd conflicts at cross-purposes ; and they will give the reader reason to think better than he ever did before of Lord Panmure, even though he will have to smile grimly now and again at the spectacle of the War Minister pouring out his cascade of comments and questions to Lord Raglan, and thus confirming the conditions which made the latter keep all too closely to his desk instead of examining the wants of the army at first hand. Even as it was, Raglan did not give the information that was really wanted ; and if one person complained more than another of this, it was, as is now seen, the Queen herself. The Crimean War will remain, let us • Lope, the classic example of a war which was "muddled through." Our commissariat and our medical service were a disgrace. The bitterness of our officers and men was increased by the sight, alongside of them, of the French arrangements, which were scientifically thought out. General
Simpson described them as "marvellous." If there is a consolation in this detrimental comparison, it is that ulti- mately the position was nearly reversed. Our national faculty for strong-hearted improvisation came to our rescue, whereas when French science was at last overtaxed there was
little or nothing behind it.
Fox Maule, second Baron Panmure, and afterwards eleventh Earl of Dalhousie, was named after Charles James Fox by his Whig father, who had a deep reverence for Fox's political principles. That the father's principles were more academic than humane, however, may be judged from his treatment of his son, whom he required to side against his mother in a family quarrel on pain of being cut off from all riches. Young Fox Maule—he was only sixteen at the time—knew that the blame of the quarrel lay with his father, and when posed by this monstrously cruel alternative he chose, to his eternal credit, poverty and loyalty to his mother. The poverty was never mitigated till his father's death. He entered Parliament in 1834, and rose by gradual stages to succeed the Duke of Newcastle in February, 1855. It was his task to bring the Crimean War to an end. Very few of his letters appeared in the recently published volumes of Queen Victoria's letters. Here we have not only his letters to the Queen, but a great number from the Queen herself. These only confirm the impression one received from the collection of Lord Esher and Mr. Benson; the Queen's judgment was always prompt, firm, direct, and remarkably sane, as one saw there, in foreign affairs ; in these new volumes we are astonished at her mastery of military details. "The Queen wishes also," she says in a letter of October, 1855, "to observe that in this Morning's State and in the one preceding it, the Artillery has been left out as well as all the horses. This ought to be observed upon." Again, in December, 1856 :—
"The Queen wishes to remind Lord Panmure that we are now approaching the end of December, and that she has not yet received the report from the Fortification Department for the September quarter. She hopes that Lord Panmure will be able to stop this continued remissness of the same Department, of which she has to complain every quarter."
Again, about the Victoria Cross in February, 1856 :—
"The Cross looks very well in form, but the metal is ugly ; it is copper and not bronze, and will look very heavy on a red coat with the Crimean Ribbon. Bronze is, properly speaking, gun- metal; this has a rich colour and is very hard ; copper would wear very ill and would soon look like an old penny. Lord Panmure should have one prepared in real bronze, and the Queen is inclined to think that it ought to have a greenish varnish to protect it ; the raised parts would then burnish up bright and show the design and inscription. The reverse ought not to be quite flat, but should be finished as much as the front."
And what could be better than the Queen's discrimination in choosing a motto for the Cross ?— "The motto would be better, 'For Valour' than 'for ths brave,' as this would lead to the inference that only those are deemed bravo who have got the Cross."
Examples of Queen Victoria's industrious care for details in military matters could be multiplied indefinitely. The letters
from the Prince Consort, too, are nearly all sensible. Generally he writes professedly as the mouthpiece of the Queen; sometimes he offers his own opinions. A want of proportion is only displayed seriously once, when he speaks of the Army being "despoiled of the advantages it should have won by the pen of one miserable scribbler!! !" This is, of course, an allusion to the Times correspondent. His "scribbling" was at the time a new form of journalism, and it was beyond doubt improperly controlled. Yet it was he
who informed the public of the condition of the army in the Crimea ; he whose burning letters brought out Miss Nightingale ; and he who, by concentrating opinion at home on the miseries of the troops, indirectly procured the downfall of the Aberdeen Ministry, and (us generals as well as civilians have admitted) "saved the Army in the Crimea."
Panmure, though always considerate, was not so gently devious as the Duke of Newcastle in his letters to Raglan.
He had taken office in a house tumbling about his ears, and it was a sign of pluck that he was willing to sit there at all.
Almost as soon as he had gone to the War Office the Prince Consort wrote to him :—
"A fact which has been brought to my knowledge yesterday ought to be known to you, and therefore I write a line notwith- standing my reluctance to trouble you, when such a heavy press of business must already be on your hands. It is admitted by all medical men that the greatest danger to our Army arises from scorbutic diseases and a corrupt state of blood, caused chiefly by the use of salt provisions. Vegetables are of tho utmost import- ance to the poor men. It so happens that one of the Crimean Relief Societies sent out a whole shipful of vegetables. On its arrival at Constantinople, the man in charge of it reported himself to the Commissary (I believe Smith, reported to be our best), who was delighted to hear of the arrival of provisions ; when he saw the list, however, and found they were vegetables, he declined purchasing ` as the Commissariat had no power to purchase vegetables ' ! ! "
Panmure in his answer said that this was "of a piece with the old-fashioned departtnentalism throughout the whole administration of military affairs, which must be entirely overset." As for Panmure's reproaches to Raglan, be did not convey them, as we said at the beginning, of his own impetus and in the face of unwilling colleagues. The following letter—and there are many like it—points indis- putably to the original source of the annoyance :— "The Queen returns the Morning State of the Army in the Crimea, and must express astonishment at tho meagre and un- satisfactory reports from Lord Raglan, which contain next to nothing, and certainly nothing for the guidance of the Home Government. How different are General Rose's despatches reporting on the State of the French Army ! "
The position of Ministers at home who were trying to defend
officers abroad, while those officers gave them inadequate data for an advocate's purpose, received its reductio 0(1 absurd urn. in the letter in which Panmure seriously suggests to General Simpson (Raglan's successor) that his despatches should be more " verbose " ; then it would be easier for
Ministers to fog the public with details :—
"The papers have been discussing your affair of the Redan, and pulling you all to pieces. I think that, if you had sent a more verbose and well-digested despatch, without so many rough edges on it, you could have allayed the storm better and smoothed down the grumblers. You cannot conceive how I have been pestered by critics and tormented by fools with long faces."
We must not omit to mention the interludes by Palmerstor, who is characteristically sprightly and offhand. He suggests in one latter that General Simpson should be instructed "not to trouble himself about peace, but to make the beat of the war."
In conjunction with these valuable letters we should advise the reading of Mr. john bfartineau's biography of the Duke of Newcastle, who was Panmure's predecessor. It contains many hitherto unpublished letters from Lord Raglan of the first interest. As for the criticism of the book, Mr. Martineau almost out-Kinglakes Kinglake in his defence of Lord Raglan. The answer to most of this is to be found in The Panmure Papers.