Speech by MR. GLADSTONE.
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There is one point upon which I could have wished that the noble Lord had also touched—I know there were so many subjects that he could not avoid touching that I share the admiration of the House at the completeness with which he seemed to have mastered all his themes; but when the noble Lord recalled to our recollection the deeds of admirable valour and of heroic conduct which have been achieved upon the heights of Alma, of Balaklava, and of Inkermann, I could have wished that he had also publicly recognized that the deeds of heroism in this campaign had not been merely confined to the field of battle. We ought to remember the precious lives given to the pestilence of Varna and to the inhospitable shores of the Black Sea; these men, in my opinion, were animated by as heroic a spirit as those who have yielded up their lives amid the flash of artillery and the triumphant sound of trumpets. No, Sir, language cannot do justice to the endurance of our troops under the extreme and terrible privations which circumstances have obliged them to endure. The high spirit of an English gentleman might have sustained him under circumstances which he could not have anticipated to encounter; but the same proud patience has been found among the rank and file. And it is these moral qualities that have contributed as much as others apparently more brilliant to those great victories which we are now acknowledging.
Sir, the noble Lord has taken a wise and gracious course in combining with the thanks which he is about to propose to the British army and navy the thanks also of the House of Commons to the army of our allies. Sir, that alliance which has now for some time prevailed between the two great countries of France and Britain has in peace been productive of advantage, but it is the test to which it has been put by recent circumstances that, in my opinion, will tend more than any other cause to confirm and consolidate that intimate union. That alliance, Sir, is one that does not depend upon dynasties or diplomacy. It is one which has been sanctioned by names to which we all look up with respect or with feelings even of a higher character. The alliance between France and England was inaugurated by the imperial mind of Elizabeth, and sanctioned by the profound sagacity of Cromwell; it exists now not more from feelings of mutual interest than from feelings of mutual respect, and I believe it will be maintained by a noble spirit of emulation.