THE FIRST NIGHT OF THE SESSION.
IT is now certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not bring forward his budget in the ten-days session before Christmas ; it is equally certain that the public will expect the War Minister to bring forward his statements to account for Sebastopol, to satisfy the public respecting ide "ways and means" for the war, and to give some general idea of his future plans. When Members meet in both Houses, the aubject thus generally expressed will be uppermost in every man's mind; the whole country, throughout Tuesday next, will be wondering what Ministers will say ; and every reader of the public journals next morning will hastily look to see what has been said.
Sebastopol, of course, is the first question. How did Ministers come there by their deputy the Army ? How could they undertake to crack so hard a shell with so comparatively feeble an instrument? If they have not succeeded, why ? If they could not succeed, why did they begin ? If the fortress is not to be taken by the means at our disposal, is the army to beat itself to pieces against the walls ; or has it to be reinforced for safety, if not for conquest ? We can in part anticipate the answers to these questions, and it will be well if the answers anticipate the utterance of the questions in Parliament. Ministers, probably, could not enlarge their force in that quarter until the movements of troops homewards from India and the Colonies enabled them to maintain the garrison at home, while they strengthen the garrison in. Sebastopol, by substituting Militia regiments for regular troops in the Mediterranean depOts, and while they continue the training and embodiment of the Militia that will take the place at home of Indian and Colonial regiments hereafter to be sent out. All these are movements and operations that inevitably require time. That Ministers were compelled to begin although imperfectly prepared, is probable ; since in 1829 they learned that if Russia were not forced back she would continue to move forward ; and as the Russian farces receded from the Danube, the Sereth, and the Pruth, it was necessary that the Allies, who were virtually in battle with Russia as soon as they landed at Varna, should advance upon the abandoned ground. It was for the time a dilatory game—a game of moves simply to maintain a position of advance, while the real game was preparing in another quarter. And since Omar Pasha was not in a state to enter into the open. field—since Austria had not yet secured. the acquiescence if not the positive cooperation of Germany —and since the Allied forces were not powerful enough to throw themselves into the Russian wilds amidst the Russian armies—it is probable that the expedition to the Crimea constituted the best of possible "next moves." But whether it is by the reasons adduced, or others, the first anxiety of the public will be to know how we came there, how we stand, and what are the probabilities of the next move beyond? The Baltic I—That is all "next move " • the past having sunk entirely to a secondary interest. But it will not be forgotten on. the first night. The reverses that Ministers have encountered, if so strong a term may be used, do not constitute so great a. responsibility as their successes. Make the most that we may of Russian bravery, of lamentable loss in our victories, of Turkish weakness, of Baltae non-results and Austrian hesitations, the fact still is, that-we occupy Russian territory in spite of the Czar and his armies ; that we have prevailed in forcing Germany on this side of the boundary of neutrality ; and that we have secured an open field for our diplomacy and forces, naval and military, along the whole boundary of Russia from South to North.. If Austria has succeeded in compelling Prussia and Germany to come under her direction, France and England have equally succeeded in overruling the hostile Russian influences that originally divided the councils of Austria. If the additional article to the treaty of April 20 is a victory for the Austrian Government, the treaty of Decemher 2 is equally a victory for the Western Powers,--a victory not the less signal and promising of future advantage because it is in fact shared. by the power that made the concession, Austria. From the very commencement of these "transactions," as diplomatic people phrase it, the course of France and England has triumphed over innumerable obstacles, and the field is before them for future progress in accelerated ratio and with broader issues. The resources which our Government commands, perhaps as much exceed the expectation as the difficulties of reducing Sebastopol have exceeded expectation. Undoubtedly, it was said in Parliament last year, that whatever Ministers fairly required for the prosecution of the war would be cheerfully given ; but it was also said, and with great probability from past experience that as soon as the English people began to feel the pressure Of taxation they would revolt from a disagreeable dutyTha statement is reversed by the fact : the additional taxes are not only borne with cheerfulness, but they receive a supplement in the voluntary contributions of the people for the purposes of the war. One subscription comes on the top of another. No sooner is any form of assisting the forces in the war or of assailing the enemy publicly proposed, than, from contributions of lint to offers for assisting Mr. Nasmyth in the construction of his gigantic guns, the aid is proffered voluntarily without waiting the demands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There never was a country possessed of such wealth as England at the present moment, and its coffers are thrown open for the purposes of the war. The Colonies come in with the same large gene rosity ; even India, comparatively poor and not long since oppressed as she was, sends her mite. Ministers have the field of Europe opening before them, the boundless resources of England at their back. It is with a reasonable inquisitiveness that the public awaits to learn from the War Minister, what, speaking in general terms, are his views for pursuing that path—what are the ways and means which he intends to take. Disclosures will hardly be anticipated ; many things that might form subjects of disclosure are almost by that fact marked as improper to be stated. Yet there are specific points to be cleared up, and the public will not be content with "drifting" into another year. Still sticking to general terms, the desire unquestionably is, to knowwhether the design of Ministers is commensurate with their opportunity and their resources.