17 FEBRUARY 1855, Page 1

The latest reports from Sebastopol, which come down to the

6th instant, are what is called somewhat more favourable; repre- senting great progress in the arrangements for the comfort of the soldiers, and such an advance in the front of the works as leads to the expectation of a final attempt. Yet we cannot say that they impart the slightest confidence in the result of that attempt. "Improvement" is not sufficient. What we seem to require is a total and fundamental alteration of the position of the Allies, and of our own troops in particular. Our works are said to be well constructed ; but if General Niel—the engineering officer rendered conspicuous by the complaints of Sir Charles Napier at the Man- sionhouse—passes approval upon the execution of the French and English works, he does not appear to speak in terms of en- comium or certainty. If our provisions have at last arrived, the Russians have introduced immense supplies into the town. If our artillery gradually exceeds its original amount, there is no probability that it yet surpasses, if it equals, the Russian. If the South side of the fortress could be stormed, we have no new assurance that the occupation could be maintained under the fire of the citadel on the North side. Essentially the position does not appear to have been so reversed as to secure for the Allies the decided command that should precede conquest. Some of the latest reports recal the complaint that subordinate officers, relying upon routine, have obstructed their superiors ill efforts to improve the situation. The latest instance is described, with dramatic effect, by the special correspondent of the Times,—

the refusal of an official in charge of the Government stoves to give two or three for a hospital ship, where the patients were threatened with death by cold—or even to lend the stoves ; the rules of the service, or his own impertinent intrusion of them, being the obstacle. Such cases prove, beyond question, either that individuals have rendered themselves criminally responsible for obstructing the necessary requirements of the service, or that the official system is in itself so impracticable that we cannot pretend to carry- on war until we have thoroughly broken it up. ¶1 here

is, no doubt, a further question, not now whispered for the first time. Great responsibility will have been incurred by tolerating

the working of such a system for a full half-year; and it begins to be anxiously observed, that all the officers of rank who have re- turned from the Crimea preserve a uniform and mysterious silence with respect to the command in chief.