Before the session closed, Mr. Gladstone and Lord John Russell took opportunities of making known their peculiar views. On the 3rd of August Mr. Gladstone maintained that the British Government was the obstacle to peace; which was true in the sense that the British Government would not assent to conditions which would have failed to secure the primary object of the war. Mr. Gladstone would have assented to such a miserable ending, and, had the Government done so, then there would have been a clear warrant for the charge that they had wasted millions of money and sacrificed thousands of lives for nothing. The spirit of Mr. Gladstone's views at this time was revealed in a bold defiance to the Western Powers to control the destinies of Russia, except for a moment; and what he meant by the destinies of Russia was shown in a speech which he delivered in the recess. He meant that it was the destiny of Russia to be paramount in the Black Sea and on the Bosphorus, and having formed this opinion, of course, he regarded any policy vain which attempted to thwart a destiny which Mr. Gladstone's literary studies had led him to believe in. Happily, more robust intellects had charge of the business; and were resolved to show that it was the destiny of England, among others, to save Europe from Russian domination. Lord John Russell, on the 7th of August, a week before the session closed, gave vent again to his lingering longing for peace on the Austrian basis. The Turkish Minister, he said, was willing to consent to the Austrian terms. This fresh backsliding of Lord John was met by Lord Palmerston with the declaration that he had no reason to believe the Turkish Government differed from those of England and France on that Austrian proposal. But, he added, in no case could the decision be left to the Turkish Government alone. France and England went to the East to protect Turkey, but they also went to repress the grasping ambition of Russia. That, of course, Lord John Russell knew, and he must have been either insincere or unmindful when he advanced this strange reason for accepting a hollow peace.
The Government had, since January, 1855, effected considerable changes in the machinery for carrying on the war, chiefly, however, in the concentration of power in the War Department. They had raised the total force of the army to 193,595 men, including 14,950 who formed the Foreign Legion; and they had increased the number of sailors to 70,000. They had embodied fifty Militia regiments, some of whom were in the Mediterranean garrisons; and from the whole militia force they had drawn 18,000 recruits for the army. Having found that the expenses of the war were outrunning the estimates of the spring, they increased those estimates, making the total for the whole service of the army, navy, transport, commissariat, and advance purposes, £49,537,692, bringing up the total estimated expenditure for the year to more than £88,000,000; to cover which they provided £96,339,000, leaving a large margin for contingencies. Among the ways and means were a loan of £1,600,000, and power to issue £10,000,000 Exchequer bills or bonds. The active navy consisted almost wholly of steamers, and among the supplemental votes of August was one to provide for the cost of a host of steam gunboats to be used, if required, in 1856.