Among the "amenties," as George Augustus Sala put it, of the Crimean War was a new friendship between England and French tested on the fields of the Crimean War in the autumn of 1854, and much discussed in the popular press:
There is no longer any jealousy between France and England; emulation has succeeded in the minds of both. The talismanic syllables of "Alma" and "Sebastopol," that will be inscribed hereafter on the banners of both armies, will strengthen their great alliance, and will be words of good omen in every household. France and her magnanimous ruler have even more reason to be satisfied than Great Britain. It is not only the remembrance of Waterloo that has been deprived of the sting that it once had to wound the susceptibility of France; but "Moscow" is a name that will no longer grate harshly upon the ears of a high-minded people. Nobly has France effaced the remembrances of both. In the bloody fields of the Crimea she has signally avenged herself of her former opponents: of Great Britain, by forgetting the unhappy fields of less enlightened times, and by fighting and conquering with her in the purest of causes; and of Russia, by showing the Russian people that though frost and snow, and the rigour of the elements may, perhaps, conquer the armies of France, all the might of all the armies of Russia which have the courage to face her, is powerless against the courage, the discipline, and the patriotism of Frenchmen. ["Crimea," The Illustrated London News, 7 October 1854, p. 333]
Indeed, the war correspondent of the ILN credits French forces with the rescue of the surviving members of the Light Brigade at Balaclava: "Then, hot and bleeding, and covered with the blood of enemies, the remnant, keeping close to their officers, fought their way back, only saved from annihilation by the desperate charge upon one of the Russian batteries made by the Chasseurs d'Afriques" (The Illustrated London News, vol. 25: 678).
Writing on behalf of Household Words(No. 225) and its "Conductor," in an unsigned editorial the previous summer, George Augusts Sala noted the new amity that had sprung up between British and French as a result of the Crimean War:
Happy and grateful should these nations be if the dreadful undertaking we are upon assume no more repulsive form than that which it has already taken. The war will have had its amenities indeed, if it terminate without a famine, without a press-gang, without national poverty, without a dreadful slaughter. Nor, among the amenities of the struggle, should we fail to reckon chiefest among them, should we reckon rather the fact that the war has brought closer and firmer together the bonds of intelligence and union between the two bravest, wisest, gentlest nations of the world. The hot eastern sun may melt away, ere it sets, many mutual hatreds, dislikes, prejudices, ignorances, jealousies, misunderstandings. Then when the steam argosies bear the peacemakers of the world back to their native shores again; standing hand in hand in a better brotherhood, Saxon and Gaul will agree, rather to repudiate every victory gained in ages gone, in contest with each other; rather to cast every tattered standard, every hard-won trophy, every bloodstained glory, into the fathomless sea, and let their memories perish there; than that one fresh bickering, one new jealousy, one angry word should arise between the great twin brothers of civilisation. [Saturday, July 15, 1854, "Some Amenities of War," p . 524]
Indeed, so exalted a personage as the "War" Prime Minister, Lord John Russell (who had replaced the less enthusiastic Lord Aberdeen), in a formal "Vote of Thanks to the Army and Navy" to the House of Commons," exonerating Lord Raglan for the x, after tabling the treaty between Austria, England, and France, noted the important role played by French forces in this unfamiliar theatre of war::
When we have to consider that these operations were operations to be conducted in common with the forces of an ally with whom we had not been, at all events, accustomed to cooperate in the field, however intimate the alliance between the two Governments had been during peace, the House will see at once it was not only valour in the field — and more valour was never displayed — but it was other and no less necessary qualities in the character of Lord Raglan that have made him of such service to his country (Cheers). ["The Vote of Thanks to the Army and Navy. Speech of Lord John Russell," The Illustrated London News, 23 December 1854, p. 678]
Punch on the Anglo-French Alliance
ReferencesSala, George Augustus. "Some Amenities of War." Household Words. Vol. 25. 15 July 1854. Pp. 521-525. "The Vote of Thanks to the Army and Navy. Speech of Lord John Russell." The Illustrated London News, 23 December 1854, p. 678.
Last modified 15 May 2014