The blown up colonial squabble that is the Crimean War is still grinding on. Everyone knows that the British Army have been blundering from campaign to campaign, but regardless, there are a few victories here and there.
On the 9th of September, 1855, crucially, the Siege of Sevastopol went the allies’ way. This probably was the beginning of the end for the Russians, who never really recovered.
A victory is always a good chance to have a good old gloat about how great the British army is, and Sevastopol is no exception. But, give Punch an inch and he’ll take a mile. Punch sees it as a great opportunity to gloat about anything. And more than anything, he likes to gloat about press freedom, which is severely lacking in Russia.
(For the Invalided Russe.)
SUCH of our countrymen as are acquainted through our columns with the real state of public opinion in England, as to the unholy war in which that island is engaged with us, will, we apprehend, be quite prepared to learn that the intelligence of our temporary evacuation of Sebastopol has plunged the entire kingdom into the deepest mourning and dejection. Accounts slightly at variance with this statement have, it is true, been published by the English press; and an obscure print, called the Times, whose circulation is about as limited as its ability, has had the effrontery to suggest that a medal should be struck to perpetuate the memory of our triumphant retreat. We need, however, scarcely remind our enlightened readers, that nowhere is the censorship of the press exercised with greater rigour than in England; and any editor who had dared in this case to reveal the real feeling of the nation would have been tried by a court-martial, and in all probability sent to Coventry, an equivalent, it is well known, to our own Siberia.
But, notwithstanding the dastardly attempts of the despotic British Government to prevent the transmission of letters to the Continent evinced [sic] especially of late by their reduction of the rates of postage we have received from one of our own Manchester correspondents, a description of the way in which the so-called victory was actually celebrated: for the veracity of which our known character of truthfulness will, we do not doubt, be a sufficient voucher. In part, for we epitomise his report he says :
” The news of the partial capture of Sebastopol has occasioned here the greatest sorrow and indignation. Throughout the Metropolis, on the night of its arrival, the people were so incensed at the Government that it was found necessary to call out the militia; and an attack being meditated upon St. James’s Palace (the usual autumnal residence of HER MAJESTY), the QUEEN and her Ministers fled with the greatest precipitation to the Highlands, where they are still hiding under the alleged plea of living in retirement.’ Knowing somewhat of the real reeling ot the populace, the LORD MAYOR very prudently declined the office of proclaiming the so-termed victory. There is little doubt that ‘he would have been torn to pieces if he had attempted it. General illumination there was none, of course. At the French Embassy some two or three lamps were lit up’on the sly, but on the approach of an indignant member of the Peace Society they were hurriedlv extinguished.
At Woolwich there was a tremendous bonfire in the Arsenal, the mob destroying several millions’ worth of Government stores. Effigies of GENERALS SIMPSON and PELISSIEE were burnt a la Guy Faux, and the boys exploded a vast number of 10-inch shells and Congreve rockets without the slightest injury to any of the bystanders. The one ship left in Portsmouth had her flag hung half-mast high, in mourning for the loss of the remainder of the Russian fleet. Her captain has in consequence been dismissed the service, and is now en
route for St. Petersburg, where he will doubtless be received with honour.
As may be supposed, the demonstration at Manchester was extremely gratifying. All the manufactories and shops were closed, and the principal inhabitants appeared in deepest mourning. The bells rang muffled peals throughout the day, and most of the churches were hung with black. At a meeting in the evening, a vote of condolence with the EMPEROR and PBINCE GORTSCHAKOFF was unanimously agreed to, and a subscription for the late inhabitants of Sebastopol was most liberally commenced. Three groans having been given for the murderers, SIMPSON and PELSSIER, three hearty cheers for Russia were led off
by MR. BRIGHT.
P.S. There is little doubt that on their return home, the British troops will be lynch-lawed and their officers beheaded.
(September 20th, 1855)