HC Deb 22 April 1873 vol 215 cc818-77

in rising to call attention to the state of affairs in Central Asia; and to move an Address for Copies of Correspondence relating to the Missions to Khiva of Mr. Thomson and Rajib Ali; and, of any Dispatches in 1862 and 1863 respecting the employment of British Officers with the troops of His Majesty the Shah, and respecting the state of Khurasan at that time, said— It is admitted by all that the Central Asiatic question has now reached a stage when any further delay in its settlement is impossible, and at which, in one way or the other, it must be brought to a conclusion. These were not his words, but the words of General Romanovski, after he had, on the 23rd of December, 1866, resigned the government of Turkestán. On the 20th of May in that year, he had, to use his own expression, annihilated the Army of the Amír of Bukhárá, in the decisive battle of Irjár, taken by storm on the 5th of June following—"That most populous, wealthy, and picturesque city of Central Asia, Khojend," by which he perfectly tranquillized the new Russian Province, which he had thus extended southward to the 40th parallel, and further completely severed by Russian territory the Khanates of Bukhárá and Kokand. Finally, on the 13th and 30th of October in the same year, he took from Bukhárá, with a loss to the enemy of 8,000 men, the strong fortresses of Ouran Tiubé, and Jizákh, by which the whole Valley of the Jaxartes fell into the possession of Russia. Since then, the whole Valley of the Oxus, too, had in like manner been engulphed in the same immense Empire; its limit had been advanced from the 40th to the 38th parallel—that is, having already in 1866 passed in Asia beyond the parallel of Constantinople, it had moved still further southward to that of Sicily and Crete. Russia had thus become conterminous with the northern frontier of Persia along its entire length, and with Afghánistán, and had also made strides towards the Great Wall of China. Might we not, then, repeat the words of the victorious Russian general, and echo back to him that any further delay in the settlement of this question was impossible.

In one way or the other it must be brought to a conclusion. It might, however, perhaps be said, that the question was already settled, and that in the Papers in his hands, containing the results of the Granville-Gortchakow negotiation, its settlement was recorded. He was unwilling to disturb the repose of those whose wish was father to this thought, and who, from the happy corners of ignorance and indifference, were, no doubt, weaving, as had so often happened before, economical dreams as to the future impossibility of war, the reduction of our forces, and the transmutation of breech-loaders and bayonets into railway-sleepers and locomotives; but in approaching this question the notions of the careless and superficial were as much to be deprecated as those of the alarmist, and it would be his aim, therefore, to take the middle course and present things as they really were, leaving theory to others while taking his stand on facts. He would begin, then, by remarking that the Central Asian question was not a single, but a many-sided one. It had several aspects distinct from one another, but not unreal or untruthful from the different points of view from which the question was regarded. There were the Russian, the Central Asian, the Anglo-Indian, and the religious aspects. Nor was this all; for some of these had varied much in the course of time, changing with the change of circumstances. Like revolving lights, they became dim, and were oven altogether obscured at intervals and then flashed out again into startling brilliance. The change of the beacon, however, must not make us forget even for a moment that the danger was there still, and that we must give due diligence to steer our course so as to avoid it. He would commence with the Russian aspect of the question, and he desired to speak with the utmost diffidence, and to express his regret that it had not fallen to the lot of some one better acquainted with Russia and Russian policy than himself to deal with this part of the question. He had had, indeed, some opportunities of studying it; he had travelled through Caucasia, crossed the Caspian in Russian steamers, in a merchant vessel, and in a man-of-war, and had visited one, at least, of the principal Russian depôts. He had landed at Ashurádah and at Astarábád, and had passed along the whole frontier of Khurásán to that of Hírát. He was, too, for three years in communication with the diplomatists and Consular officers of Russia in those parts; and had done his best to learn something of the history of that grand and interesting Empire. But the little knowledge he had thus gained was only enough to show him the difficulty of predicting the course which might be taken by the Imperial Government towards the rest of Asia; of which immense Continent it already possessed more than a third—more, that was, than 6,000,000 of square miles, having even within the last quarter of a century, acquired there a territory almost half the size of Europe, thus leaving behind the lagging footsteps of our statisticians, and making our gazetteers and encyclopedias out of date. Abandoning, then, attempts at vaticination to those whose profound knowledge was a justification, or whose utter ignorance was an excuse for indulging in them, he would proceed to state facts which it would be difficult to invalidate, and from which hon. Members might draw what inferences they thought best. He would ask, however, for the indulgence of the House if he dwelt long on the history of the question; for, without a connected view of it, it was impossible to come to a right conclusion. The first fact was that Russia was at least as much an Asiatic as she was an European Power. This was a fact which should never be lost sight of in dealing with this question of Central Asia, because it had both a sentimental and a practical bearing upon it, the importance of which could not be overrated. Yet during the last century and a half Russia had exerted so powerful an influence on Europe, and had extended her dominion so far into the very centre of our Continent, that her Asiatic origin and nature were, perhaps, too much forgotten. Of the three races, however, which composed the great Russian people, two, the Ugrian and the Turk, were purely Asiatic; and the other, the Sarmatian, which included the Sclavonic, only half European. As for the Varangian or Scandinavian element, it was far too little to leaven the whole lump. But it mattered not what European mixture there was in the Russian nation up to the lath century, for whatever it was, it then all passed through the Asiatic Mint, and at no more remote date than that of our Henry III. was all, as it were, re-coined when the Mongols conquered Russia and held it for three centuries. The facts of which he would speak, though remote, were germane to the question, and had a most remarkable bearing upon it. With Asiatics, thought was stereotyped, and the invasion of which he was speaking, strange as it might seem to us, had a living influence on the events which were now taking place in Central Asia. The conquests of the Mongol Emperor, Tamugin or Chingíz, were the most stupendous ever achieved by one man, and of the four portions into which his immense empire was divided at his death it was the fact that that which went to the heir of his eldest son was a great part of that Central Asia of which he was speaking, and Russia. This portion, itself an enormous empire, was divided into the four Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, the Crimea, and Kipchak, which last comprised Khiva, the Caspian, and perhaps part of Bukhárá. Never was there a more iron yoke, or a bondage more complete and ignominious than that imposed by the rulers of these Mongol Khanates on Russia. It lasted till 1480, when the Golden Horde or Camp of Astrakhan was destroyed by the general of Ivan III., the Nogai Tátars of the Crimea, and the Hetman of the Cossacks; but the struggle was not completely over till 1554, when Ivan the Terrible captured Astrakhan, having two years before taken Kazan. For three centuries, then, the Mongols enslaved Russia, and for the succeeding three centuries Russia had been subjugating the Mongols. The whirligig of time had indeed brought strange revenges, for the successor of those grand princes, who held the horses of Uzbek envoys in the attitude of slaves, was now the Arbiter of the destinies of the whole Uzbek race. If it were allowable to argue from a somewhat parallel case, he might point to the four invasions of Constantinople by the Varangian rulers of Russia, the last of which took place in the 11th century, and the attempts to renew them by the Czarina and Czar of the 18th and 19th. But he should have to return to this matter in order to notice some facts which he imagined would surprise the House, and in the meantime he admitted it to be not improbable that the continued passage of envoys and travellers from other European States through Russia to Persia, India, and China during the Middle Ages might have had an effect in inducing Russia to advance in the same direction for commercial as much as for political reasons. These missions and expeditions began as early as the 9th century, when Alfred the Great sent the Bishop of Shernburg on a pastoral mission to Christian Communities in India across the Caspian and by way of Balkh. From the 13th century the intercourse of Europe with Central Asia through Astrakhan became frequent up to the 16th, when the adoption of the sea route to India caused the more arduous route overland to be wholly disregarded and discontinued. Russia, however, continued to advance, and the more her European dominions were consolidated, the more she extended her power in Asia, and the more portentous grew the shadow she cast over that vast continent. The historical writer, Bell, indeed told them that "Russia that had been Asiatic under the Ruriks, rapidly developed a tendency to become European under the Romanofs," and he added that after the Treaty with Poland, in 1619, "Russia, so long considered an Asiatic nation, began to take its place among the European States." But facts proved that the advance of Russia in both Continents went on pari passu, and that if in one period an onward stride was made in Europe, the next period saw a corresponding stride in Asia. Thus the acquisition of the provinces of Perm and Viatka at the close of the 15th century, and of Kazan and Astrakhan in the 16th, on the European side of the Ural mountains, was balanced by the submission in 1574 of the Bashkirs, the original inhabitants of the Orenburg territory, and by the annexation of vast tracts in the immense region of Siberia, on the Asiatic side of the Ural range, the conquest of which was commenced and carried a long way by Yermak, the Don Cossack, about that time. The same balance was maintained in the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine II., and he could not assent to the statement of General Romanovski, that the Asiatic conquests of those Sovereigns were not conducted on any system or preconceived plan. He said nothing of that somewhat apocryphal document, the Czar Peter's will; he only looked at facts. Peter commenced by sending expeditions up the Oxus to Bukhárá, and across the Khivan territory, the most famous of which was that of the unfortunate Prince Bekevitch in 1717. The great Czar settled Americans at Astrakhan to carry on the silk trade with Gílán, and a Russian company at Shamákhí, in the heart of the Persian provinces, on the Caspian. He encouraged shipbuilding on the Caspian, and General Perovski admitted that his attention continued to be steadily directed to the regions of Central Asia, to explore which he despatched Beneveni to Bukhárá in 1718. Finally, he devoted the latter years of his life to the conquest of Persia. On the 15th of May, 1722, he sailed with 49,000 men to attack the Persian provinces on the west coast of the Caspian, and next year he concluded a Treaty with the envoy of Sháh Támásp, by which Persia ceded to him Darbend and Baku, Dághistán, Shírwán, Gílán, Mazandarán, and Astarábád, on condition of his expelling the Afgháns from Persia, and seating Támásp on the throne. Sir John M'Neill had told us that this was a discreditable transaction, and that it was wholly disavowed by the Shah. Be that as it might, it was certain that Peter was looking only to extending his empire, for he made no attempt to assist Támásp, and no sooner was he dead than a partition Treaty was made on the 8th of July, 1725, between Russia and Turkey, by which Catherine—who was no doubt only carrying out her husband's scheme—was to have all the Caspian provinces, and Turkey all the rest of Western Persia. It was not till 1732 and 1735, after 130,000 Russian soldiers had perished by disease in those provinces, that they were restored to Persia. But, as usual, Russia, while forced to relinquish territory in one quarter was rapidly acquiring it in another. In 1703, Ayuk, the Kalmyk Chief, with great numbers of that tribe, crossed from Central Asia and settled in Russia. In the same year the Khán of Khiva did homage to the Czar as did several of his successors, whence, according to General Perovski, "arises the positive right of Russia to the Khanate of Khiva." In 1732 the Sultán of the Lesser Horde of the Kirghíz Kazzáks swore allegiance to the Empress Anne, as did also the Kárá Kalpáks, and about the same time—that was, in 1728—the Treaty of Kiakhta added that important place to the vast territory which had been acquired in Siberia, and which already extended along the whole breadth of Asia to Behring Straits. At this time, however, a period of trouble and disaster set in for Russia, especially on her southeastern frontier, which lasted till about 10 years after the accession of Catherine II. The reigns of her rulers were brief, and in some instances disastrous. The Bashkirs rebelled in 1735, and continued in revolt for six years. They rebelled again in 1755, and in 1771 the Kalmyks, 400,000 in number, attempted to escape from Russia and to return to Central Asia; but Russia, rather than lose her hold on this part of the Mongol race, pursued them into the Steppe, whore the troops of General Fravenberg and the Kirgiz almost entirely destroyed that vast multitude. In 1773 the rebellion of Pugatschef shook the throne of Catherine, and by it, and the previous revolts, the progress of Russia in Asia was delayed for more than 70 years. But this long struggle only brought out into stronger light the intense tenacity with which Russia holds to her policy of annexation, a policy from which it might be truly said, that— Neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder, Can wholly do away I ween The marks of that which once hath been. At the end of 1772 the era of conquest recommenced with the partition of Poland, and two years afterwards the Treaty of Kainarjí paved the way to the absorption of the third Mongol Khanate, the Crimea. The close of the 18th century, and of Catherine the Second's reign, saw Russia with her European dominions vastly enlarged preparing for fresh conquests in Central Asia by receiving the submission of the Turkumans, and invading Persia with a formidable Army. From this time to the Crimean War, he passed over the history of Russian wars and annexations, eandem semper cantilenam, for they had been sketched by the masterly pen of the author of that famous pamphlet, The Progress of Russia in the East, which had no doubt been read by all who heard him. There were only one or two points in the chronicles of that half century to which he would briefly advert. The first was the agreement between Paul and Napoleon in 1801 for the invasion of India. The invading Army was to consist of 70,000 regular soldiers, Russians and French in equal numbers, and 50,000 Cossacks, and was to be conveyed from Astrakhan to Astarábád—a voyage which took three days now—and march thence to the Indus by way of Hírát, Farah, and Kandahár. Seventy years ago, then, Russia adopted the idea of invading India by way of Hírát, the nearest point of her territory being then at least 1,200 miles from that city. The distance was now barely 400 by way of Khoja Sálih and Marv. This project of invasion revived with the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, and re-appeared for the third time during the Crimean War, adding one more proof, were any required, of the fact that an aggressive idea once adopted by Russia was never abandoned. Another instance was the scheme of annexing Khiva attempted by the Cossacks in the 17th century, again determined on and attempted by Peter the Great in 1717, resolved on by Nicholas in 1830, and attempted by him in 1841, disavowed by Alexander II. in 1869, and accomplished by him in 1873. He dwelt for one moment on the preparations made by Nicholas in 1830, because they were the sequel of an aggressive movement so complicated as to be rare even in the history of Russia. On the 21st of February, 1828, Russia hastily concluded the Treaty of Turkumáncháí with Persia, by which she annexed a considerable territory, in order to attack Turkey, and having brought that State to the very brink of destruction, at the last moment conceded to her, at the intercession of the other great Powers, another half century, it might be, of existence by the Treaty of Adrianople on the 14th of September, 1829. But no sooner was the Treaty signed, than Nicholas collected troops at Orenburg for the reduction of Khiva, and entered into an agreement with Persia to divide the spoil—an agreement which would have been carried out had not the Russian Army been hurriedly called away to suppress the rebellion which had broken out in Poland. Another passage in this period of history to which he must refer, was what happened with respect to Persia in 1837. In February of that year our Ambassador at St. Petersburg, Lord Durham, remonstrated with Count Nesselrode on the conduct of Count Simonich, the Russian Minister in Persia, in urging Muhammad Shah to advance against Hírát. Count Nesselrode replied that if the Count had acted in the manner stated by Sir John M'Neill, he had done that which was in direct opposition to his instructions, and he (Count Nesselrode) entirely agreed with the English Government as to the folly and impolicy of the course pursued by the Shah. Yet at that very time the secret emissary of the Russian Government, Captain Victevich, was carrying to Kábul and Kandahár letters from the Emperor, asking the chiefs of those Principalities to connive at the capture of Hírát by the Persians; and shortly after Count Simonich took the command of the Persian troops in the trenches before that city, and a regiment of Russian deserters that just before had been made over to the Count, assisted in the siege and in the assault. But he had no wish to dwell upon these facts. Tie mentioned them simply because, if he found similar disclaimers in the negotiations which they had to consider to-night, they might have a standard by which to judge them, and might estimate the wisdom of the Government which deemed it to be thoroughly safe to rely upon them. For the rest he desired to speak with respect of a great Power, which had sometimes been our Ally, which had accomplished a great work of civilization in the immense and inhospitable regions of Siberia, where no other European State could penetrate, and which had, at least, one justification for its boundless ambition, and that was unbounded success. He said nothing, then, of secret Articles, such as that of the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, of schemes of annexation so wild as to be almost incredible, such as the designs of Paskievitch on Baghdad, the attempt to purchase Astarábád, not indeed so absurd now, and to acquire Thibet; and he contented himself with summing up this part of the subject in the words of Sir John M'Neill, in 1837, that even then Russia had annexed more than half Sweden, as much of Poland as equalled the whole of Austria, and of Turkey in Europe as was equivalent to Prussia, a part of Persia as large as England, and provinces of Turkey in Asia and Tátary co-extensive with the rest of Europe. But he came now to 1854, and he thought that hon. Members who did not know the fact would be astonished to learn that at that time, when one would have imagined that the whole mind of Russia was concentrated on the Crimean War, a committee was actually sitting, of which Count Perovski, then Governor General of Orenburg, and General Hasford, Governor General of Western Siberia, were members, to decide on a plan for connecting a line of forts which ran from Siberia to the base of the Thian Shán mountains with a converging line from Orenburg along the Jaxartes; in other words, upon the occupation of Central Asia. In alluding to this fact, General Romanovski said, with a sang froid which bordered on the sublime, "While accepting this decision, which must have inevitably led one way or another to the subjection of Kokand, Bukhárá, and Khiva, the Russian Government was far from entertaining any ambitious views!" The Russians had, in fact, long been preparing for this advance. In 1833 they had built the Mangishlak Fort on Khivan territory, in the north-east corner of the Caspian, and in 1842 they had occupied Ashuradáh belonging to Persia in the opposite extremity. They had erected the Orenburg, Ural, and Kárabulak Forts, in the Orenburg Steppe on the rivers Turgai, Irgíz, and Karábul, and Fort Raimsk, or Aralsk, east of the Aral Sea in 1847, and in 1848 had launched a steam flotilla on that sea. In 1851 they commenced the capture of a line of forts, built from 1817 to 1847 on the banks of the Jaxartes by the Kokandians. They had thrust back the Kirgiz from the Orenburg Steppe, and had spread over it a Cossack population of 239,046 men, women, and children; and, above all, they had established a fortified line of posts in the shape of a crescent, from Guriev, on the Caspian, to Orenburg, Orsk, Troitska, Petropalovski, Semipalátinsk, and Bakhtarminsk, which extended far up into the Altaí mountains, and over a distance of 2,200 miles. It was from those lines, from the horns of the crescent, that they now proposed to advance a wedge of fortification which would enable them to go forward 1,000 miles, and take up another position at the foot of the mountains of Khurásán. In 1853 they took Ak Musjid, an important fort on the Jaxartes, commanded by Yakúa Beg Kushbegi, now better known as the Atáligh Ghází, the present ruler of Kashgár, who made a heroic defence. Operations were somewhat retarded by the Crimean War and a rebellion of the Kirgiz, but they were never abandoned. In 1854 they founded Fort Vernöe, and occupied the Trans-Ilí region. Vernöe is 800 miles from Petropalovski, that is from their original base of operations, and it became the capital of the Great Horde of the Kirgiz, numbering 118,000 persons, who all became subjects of Russia. In 1858, M. Khanikoff, a distinguished diplomatist and man of science, with eight other savants, was sent on a mission to Hírát, which he thoroughly examined and surveyed. In 1859 Gouníb was taken, and Schamyl sent prisoner to Russia. The Circassian Exodus followed, and the great Army of Caucasia was set free for fresh conquests. In 1860 General Zimmermann destroyed the forts of Pishpek and Tokmak, belonging to Kokand. Thus, in 1864 the time had arrived for a general advance, so as to effect the junction of the Siberian and Orenburg Lines recommended by the committee of 1854. Accordingly, General Cherniayef, with 2,500 men, moved from the east along the Siberian Lines, and General Verëfkin, with 1,500 men, from the west along the Jaxartes Line. On the 6th of June, General Cherniayef, after capturing some smaller places, took from the Kokandians, with a loss to them of 700 killed and wounded, the strong fort of Auliéta, and on the 19th General Verëfkin captured the City of Turkestan, thus effecting a junction between the two lines of advance, and on the 22nd of September the City of Chemkend fell to General Cherniayef. The object the committee of 1854 had in view was thus accomplished, and Russia had attained a position in Central Asia which enabled her to control the Uzbek States. It was unnecessary to advance further, and she determined to affect a virtue of moderation if she had it not. Accordingly, on the 21st of November, 1864, Prince Gortchakow addressed a Circular Despatch to the Representatives of Russia at foreign Courts, declaring that the town of Chemkend "fixed for the Russians with geographical precision the limit up to which they were bound to advance, and at which they must halt." But the ink of this remarkable document was no sooner dry than their conquests recommenced. In fact, the Russian advance was never suspended at all, not even at the time when Prince Gortchakow was penning this admirable despatch, which was a model of diplomatic writing, and which pointed out with much eloquence and no little truth, how it had been the fate of every country that had barbarous neighbours—the United States in America, France in Algeria, Holland in her Colonies, England in India—to be irresistibly forced "less by ambition than by imperious necessity" to an onward march of conquest, "where the greatest difficulty was to know when to stop." It was desirable to appease the jealousy of England, and, perhaps, of France and Germany, and a despatch cost a Russian diplomatist so little, hence this Circular; but the Government of the Czar had clearly no real intention of pausing in their career of conquest, and they had none now. From that day to this the Russians had been ceaselessly advancing, not in Central Asia only, but along the whole line, as he would show. Chemkend fell on the 22nd of September, and on the 27th General Cherniayef advanced 70 miles to the south against Tashkend. It was a city of 100,000 inhabitants, but he hoped to carry it by a coup-de-main. He was repulsed, with the loss of 16 killed and 64 wounded; but he had only 1,550 men, and the wonder was that with so small a force he should have ventured to attack so great a city in the midst of a hostile population of 500,000. On the 4th of December the Kokandians, encouraged by this success, attacked, under Alim Kul, their ruler, the station of Chilik, between Chemkend and Turkestán, in immense force. A detachment of 100 Ural Cossacks, sent from Turkestán with a howitzer to relieve Chilik, were here almost destroyed, losing 5 officers and 52 men killed, and 2 officers and 41 men wounded. Yet they defended themselves for three days against a whole army, until relieved by a force from Turkestán. Few more gallant actions were ever fought, and he mentioned it in order to show what sort of troops those Ural Cossacks and the advancing columns of the Russians were. On the 12th of February, 1865, the newly-acquired territories of the Russians were, by an Imperial Ordinance, erected into the province of Turkestán, which was at first made subordinate to Orenburg. General Cherniayef was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief, but the Government of the Czar refused to sanction his project of annexing Tashkend; but, it was added, "took care to supply him, without loss of time, with means for a strong defence;" in other words, gave him 15,000 men, and threw on him the responsibility of advancing. This he was quite willing to accept, and on the 29th of April he took the strong fort of Niyazbek, 15 miles north-east of Tashkend, and commanding its water supply; and on the 7th of May he took up a position against Tashkend itself, repulsing on the 9th a sortie of 7,000 men, and killing Alim Kul, the ruler of Kokand, who led it. Tashkend fell on the 15th of June, and reinforcements were immediately sent from Orenburg and the Volga, but were long in arriving. Meantime, in October, General Cherniayef sent an embassy to the Amír of Bukhárá, "who had the audacity to detain it;" whereupon General Cherniayef made an unsuccessful reconnaissance in the territory of Bukhárá, and was, consequently, in January, 1866, replaced by General Romanovski, who requested that he might not be hampered by formalities, and reaching Tashkend on the 25th of March went to work at once. On the 22nd of April the first steamer with reinforcements arrived from Fort Perovski on the Jaxartes, and soon after came another, proving that the Jaxartes was navigable, and that the stories to the contrary were fabrications meant to blind us. On the 20th of May was fought the decisive battle of Irjár, to which he had already alluded. The Amír of Bukhárá was utterly routed, with the loss of all his baggage, guns, and ammunition, and at least 1,000 men killed, while the Russians had only 12 men wounded. The cities of Náú, Khojend, and Ouran-Tiube—all important places, situate 80, 70, and 100 miles to the south of Tashkend—fell on the 26th of May, the 5th of Juno, and the 13th of October. In the last place the Russians lost only 17 killed and 210 wounded, and acknowledged to have themselves buried 2,000 of the enemy; while the Bukharians put their loss at 15,000 killed and wounded. On the 30th of October, Jizákh, in the territory of Bukhárá, 90 miles west of Khojend, was stormed, and 53 guns taken. The Russians had 6 killed and 92 wounded, while the Bukharians had 6,000 killed. General Romanovski was relieved at the end of 1866 by General Kauffmann, who was said to be one of the ablest officers in the Russian service, and the only one not to be tempted into fresh annexations. However, on the 14th of May, 1868, he, too, advanced, and captured on that day Samarkand, the city of Tímúr, which he entered at the head of a brilliant staff, among whom was the Afghan Prince, Iskandar Khan. The gallantry of the Russian soldiers had been beyond praise; but the circumstance most important to us, and the only one to which he would call attention, was that after that battle a corps of Afghán refugees, 300 strong, which had been with the Amír of Bukhárá, came over to the Russians, and were now in their service, commanded by Iskandar Khán, son of Sultán Ján, the ruler of Hírát, and the murderer of Sir William Macnaghten. It was only natural that these events should have attracted the notice of the Viceroy of India and of Ministers in this country, but he did not see why there should have been any mystery about the course intended to be taken. Nevertheless, mystery there was, and when in the Session of 1869 he proposed to call attention to the subject, he was twice requested by the Prime Minister to postpone—pending negotiations—the Motion, which he was not enabled to make till the 9th of July in that year. Those negotiations were be- fore the House, and he would say at once that he did not see why they should have been kept secret; nor, secondly, why they were entered into at all. He was always alarmed when we began to negotiate; because we had an unlucky habit of meaning what we said, and of intending to be bound by it, but yet of expressing ourselves in such a way that those with whom we negotiated thought we meant something else. Besides, if, as was here stated, we had perfect confidence in our own strength, and dreaded nothing from the advance of Russia, but yet thought that the States with which we had relations should not be encroached upon—as Persia, Afghánistán, and Kashgár—would it not have been more dignified to have simply intimated to Russia that we should regard an advance beyond a certain parallel—for instance, the parallel of Samarkand, as an unfriendly act, which would necessitate our adopting such measures as we might deem expedient. He believed that our wishes would have been complied with; for, independently of the friendly feeling which he hoped existed between the two countries, Russia would hardly choose this moment, he imagined, for dissension, when she had Central Asia to settle, and was reorganizing her Army, in which 40 to 60 per cent of the superior officers were Germans, while there was a great deficiency of officers generally—1,300 doctors alone, it was said, being wanting. Negotiations, however, there were; and he regretted that it would be his duty to show that during the whole time they were carried on, the Russians, while affecting to yield to the remonstrances first of Lord Clarendon, and then of Lord Granville, were incessantly advancing, and adding fresh annexations to those which already formed the subject of complaint. For instance, on September the 3rd, 1869, Prince Gortchakow told Lord Clarendon, at Heidelberg, that it was the intention of the Emperor not to retain Samarkand; and on the 26th of February, 1870, General Milhutine, the Russian Minister of War, said to Sir Andrew Buchanan that he still hoped that the occupation of that city would not be permament. But at that very time, according to the Russian Review, General Abramow was sent with an expedition to the Iskándar Kul Lake, which lies 50 miles to the south-east of Samarkand, and to the dis- tricts of Faráb, Mágián, and Kishtúd, which, he believed, lay to the east of the Lake, and also to Falgar and Fán, dependencies at one time of Hisár, at another of Ura-tepe, as well as to Mátcha and Yaghnan, which belonged to Karátegín, a chiefdom at a very considerable distance to the south-east of Samarkand. General Abramow deposed the chiefs of those places, united Faráb, Mágián, and Kishtúd to his own government, and told the people of Falgar, Fán, Mátcha, and Yaghnan that they would be free from taxation till the end of 1870, after which they must send to Samarkand trouble and 20 kopecks for each farm, as henceforth they were to consider themselves subjects of Russia, and neither Kokand nor Karátegín would have any claim upon them. In short, instead of Samarkand being relinquished, the country surrounding it had been annexed to Russia, and the city itself had the strongest garrison in Turkestan—four out of the 12 frontier battalions being stationed there, and at its outpost Katta-Kungán. But Bukhárá itself was virtually annexed to Russia, for Abdu'l Fath Mírza, the youngest son of the Amír, went to St. Petersburg on the 3rd of November, 1869, to do homage to the Emperor, and to petition for the succession. What did that mean? We knew what it meant in the case of Heraclius of Georgia, and of so many other Princes who had submitted to Russia, and we might guess the result as regards the young Prince of Bukhárá. But the next year to that of General Abramow's expedition saw another important annexation, of which little, if any, notice had been taken in this country—that of Zungaria. Cheveng, the ruler of this country in 1700, was the rival of the Emperor of China. He ruled from Lake Balkash, in latitude 47 degrees, over all the territories now held by the Atáligh Ghází, and over Thibet, and, according to General Perovski, over Bukhárá also. He demanded the daughter of the Emperor of China in marriage, and on being refused, maintained an equal war with China for years. It was not till 1721 that the Emperor Kanghi was able to expel him from Thibet, and not before 1759, long after his death, that the Chinese conquered Zungaria. He mentioned these facts to show the importance of this country. The capital—Kulj a—was annexed by the Russians in July, 1871, and they thus recovered the sovereignty over the Kalmyk nation, who had migrated to Russia in 1703, and returned to Zungaria in 1771. The Russian frontier was thus extended 200 miles to the south, and made conterminous with that of Kashgár, along its entire length. Last year another advance was made by the Russians still further to the east. They marched from Kiakhta 200 miles to the south, and took possession of Ourga with 2,000 men. This town was in Mongolia, and it was alleged that it was occupied because the Dungans, the Muhammadan rebels of China, would have seized it and impeded the trade. Be that as it might, it was certain that the whole of Mongolia was ready to submit to Russia, and that would carry the Russian frontier to the Great Wall of China. Meantime a caravan with a formidable military escort had traversed the country between Zungaria and Ourga, which seemed to for-bode annexation. In the extreme east, in the province of Amurskaya, there was the same activity on the part of the Russians. He was informed that a line of steamers was to run from Nicolaiev to Hankow in the centre of China, but he would rather leave it to others to speak of what was going on in that quarter. But there was one most remarkable circumstance that he must bring to the notice of the House, which he was told had been reported by our Consul at Newchang. He said that he had fallen in with several parties of Russians exploring in Manchúria who gave out that they were digging up landmarks which showed that those regions belonged to Russia in bygone ages. This could only mean that they pretended to have found the landmarks of the Mongols, whose successors they were, and whose original country they possessed, as, for instance, the Great Forest, near the Onon River, in which Chingíz was born, and where Gibbon told us he held his Court and used to settle the tribute of the Grand Princes of Russia, the Kháns of Central Asia, the Kings of Iconium, Persia, and other intermediate countries. He had commenced by saying that Russia was at least as much an Asiatic as she was a European Power, and the long array of facts he had cited showed that in nothing was she more Asiatic than in that insatiable desire of annexing new territory, which was so pre-eminently the cha- racteristic of Asiatic rulers. To her the Central Asian question then was evidently one of aggrandizement, and when he said he found it difficult to predict her course of action he did not mean to express a doubt of her ambition but only of the way in which it would be manifested. He had shown that the progress of Russia since the Crimean War had been enormous, but her present preparations proved that she was now meditating something even greater. In Poland she had made and was making herself strong against Germany and Austria in the almost impregnable quadrilateral of Modlin, Czenstochowa, Ivangorod, and Brczse Litewski, the entire garrison of which in time of war would probably exceed our whole regular Army. There were, it was said, 80,000 men in Modlin alone. She was planning and completing railroads, one from the Don to Petrovsk on the Caspian, three from Central Russian cities to the Volga, which would enable her to throw a large army into Central Asia at any moment. She intended to re-fortify Sevastopol, and was sending circular iron-dads down to Taganrog and Kertch. She had torn up the Treaty of Paris, and was re-organizing her Army on the principle of compulsory service for all classes which would enable her to draw 2,100,000 regular soldiers from the 4,000,000 of men she had at the age for conscription. In seven years—in ten at the farthest—she would have that stupendous Army in the field. The time might then be propitious. Germany and France might then be fighting out their deadly quarrel. Turkey, if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer were a true prophet, would then be bankrupt, and Russia firmly posted at Mary and Hírát would demand of fortune one of her two long-coveted prizes, and would receive for answer, Utrum mavis accipe. He must now for one moment look at the question as Central Asiatics themselves regarded it. He was no defender of the slave trade. No man had denounced it in stronger terms than he, and he believed that had his advice, offered ten years ago, been taken, it would have half died out in Central Asia. His despatches showed how the occupation of Mary and Hírát by Persia would affect that trade, and he regretted that the Government should have thought it right to refuse to lay his despatches on the Table. He ab- horred slavery, but was bound to acknowledge that it was a Muhammadan institution, sanctioned by the laws and the religion of Islám. What was happening in Zanzibar sufficiently proved that fact. He was bound, too, to say that the Turkumans and not the Uzbeks were responsible for the murders and other atrocities which marked the slave trade in Central Asia, and the Uzbeks had no power to control the Turkumans. So far from that, the Turkumans murdered one of the Kháns of Khiva in Khiva itself, and the city swam in blood, for 12,000 of them were murdered in return. They sent the head of another Khán to the present Shah of Persia, who, with true magnanimity, buried it and built a mosque over it, though it was the head of an enemy. Even if the Uzbeks had not bought slaves, the Turkumans would have captured men for their own service. The Uzbeks treated their slaves well; allowed them to save up money to purchase their freedom, and granted them some singular privileges. It must be remembered, too, that there had been, and still were, things, which might have induced the Uzbeks to think that those who complained of their keeping slaves were not, after all, much more immaculate than themselves in the matter. It was not so long since Russia emancipated her serfs. Captain Abbott related that the Persian Ambassador to Khiva of his time purchased in Khiva two beautiful women for slaves, who were released by the Khán himself. Our own Native Agent, Rajib Ali, who was sent to Khiva from Tehrán about 1858, purchased a number of girls of good station, who were sold with their families by the Khán's order for some political disturbance. Rajib Ali brought those females to Tehrán and sold them there. The Persians had slaves, the Afgháns had slaves, and even our own Afghán protégés, living under the very eye of our Mission at Tehrán, and paid from the Mission Treasury, they, too, had slaves. But he did not seek to acquit Khiva. No doubt before the Russian invasion she was guilty. He only said that the charges brought against her since then were unfair, and would not be endorsed by any native of Central Asia. He held in his hand the Russian Manifesto containing those charges, but it omitted all mention of the aggressive acts committed by Russia against Khiva during a cen- tury and a half, and was inconsistent with the statements of the Russian generals themselves. In 1864, when the Amír of Bukhárá, proclaimed a holy war against Russia, and invited Khiva to join in it, Khiva refused. This was admitted by General Romanovski, who said— The rumoured participation of Khiva in a war against us was not very credible. That Khanate appreciated too highly the profits of a trade, which had greatly increased; and, moreover, Khiva looked upon Bukhárá with distrust. So long back as 1854 the same author told us— Our relations with Khiva improved after the establishment of the Sir Daryá line and the Aral flotilla. They became noticeably less hostile. The Manifesto accused the Khán of Khiva of encouraging the Kirgiz to revolt, and of sending in 1869 and 1870 plundering bands into the Orenburg Steppe; but where was the proof? In the meantime we must remember that the Russians erected a fort on Khivan territory, in Krasnovodsk Bay, in 1869, and from that time to this had been occupying other parts of Khiva and sending military expeditions through the land. Yet the Khán had done his best to obtain peace. He had sent two Embassies—one to Caucasia and one to St. Petersburg—to solicit terms, both of which had been repulsed. If no embassy had yet been sent to General Kauffmann, it was obviously because no mercy was expected in that quarter. But whatever the shortcomings of Khiva might have been, we, at least, had no cause for complaint. We commenced diplomatic intercourse with Khiva by sending a Native Envoy from Hírát in 1839. He was graciously received, and a return mission was sent. Captain Abbott was next deputed to Khiva to obtain the release of Russian prisoners, and was most hospitably received and entertained by the Khán, who, to oblige him, and out of compliment to the Queen, released a number of Hírátí ladies and a Persian servant of the Tehrán Mission. He also wrote to the Amír. of Bukhárá, interceding for Conolly and Stodhart, and in spite of the disastrous failure of Perovski's expedition against him, set free and sent to Russia, under the charge of Sir Richmond Shakespeare, all the Russian prisoners he had, 416 in number. Abbott styled him the just, kind and honorable Khán Hazrat, and said that he loved and respected his character. Sir Richmond Shakespeare, too, spoke well of him, and he thought it much to be regretted that General Perovski should have represented his character so differently, and should have accused the British officers of coming there "for the purpose of making a survey of the Caspian and of the Russian fortresses," and of wishing to take credit for the release of the Russian prisoners, "which was really due to the Russian cornet Aitoff." But some years after, Mr. Thomson was sent from Tehrán to Khiva, and was well received, as was our unworthy agent, Rajib Ali, and the present Khán had sent Envoys to Calcutta, so that from first to last our relations with Khiva have been most friendly, and so would it have been with Russia had her intentions been equally above suspicion. But the fact was that the Chiefs of Central Asia looked upon Russia as an Asiatic Power like themselves, and they knew that her policy, like their own, was one of encroachment and annexation. This idea impelled them to a double course of action which was not so inconsistent as it would appear at first sight. On the one hand, they regarded Russia with dread, and stubbornly opposed her advance. On the other hand, they thought her success fated, and sullenly acquiesced in her triumph, because they thought she was one of themselves. This was not theory, but fact, as he had heard again and again from the lips of Central Asiatics themselves, and it accounted for the voluntary submission of so many wild tribes to Russia. He came now to consider our own view of the question, and certainly not one had varied so much in the course of years. At a time when Russia was separated from India by the vast and apparently impassable desert of Central Asia, we "went to meet that which we would most avoid," we crossed the Indus and advanced to Kábul and Hírát to set up by war a barrier against war. There were fatal errors in that movement. We chose a cruel and licentious tyrant, of whose evil deeds he knew some which had never been chronicled, to be the ruler of Kábul, in place of the ablest and best Afghán chief of whom there was any record, and we made arrangements at Kábul, and, indeed, at every station we occupied, except Kan- dahár, so extravagantly bad as must have ruined any cause. We did other things which stirred up the fury of the Afgháns against us. He might tell the House that, being in charge of a district at the foot of the Bolán, at that period many Afgháns came to see him as they passed through and told him of these things, and said if the Russians came they would have vengeance for them; and yet like things had been done since in Persia. It was doubtful, too, whether anything could have justified our sending an army so far from its base of operations with the independent countries of Sindh and the Panjab intervening between it and the British India of that day. He believed Lord Hardinge told an officer of high rank that in his judgment our Empire in India trembled in the balance during the Sikh War. He asked, could anyone now think without dismay of what would have happened if the splendid Army of the Sikhs had risen against us when so large a part of our forces was cooped up in Afghánistán? Yet, in spite of all this, he must say our danger was chiefly of our own making, and he believed that had we been prudent we might have carried out our enterprise, rash as it was, without disaster. He said now as he had said then, that had we placed Shah Shuja on the throne and then retired upon Kandahár and Hírát we should have remained masters of the situation. The Afgháns could never have dislodged us from those places, and Shah Shuja, unsurrounded by the hated Firingis, would have made a better fight in his own savage ruthless way than with our aid; and had he fallen, Dost Muhammad, after the severe lesson we had taught him, would have been only too glad to accept our terms. Even as it was, our expedition, though rash in its conception, miserably mismanaged in execution, and fraught with disastrous consequences, was not altogether without results to be carried to the credit side of the account. It taught our Indian Army, then in a lethargic state, something of war on a grand scale, made us acquainted with our present north-west frontier and with the countries beyond, and dispelled for ever the bugbear of an Afghán invasion. But whatever our mistakes might have been at the time of the Afghán War, he believed that we were now falling into errors equally pernicious. At least, we had then a policy, now we had, so far as he knew, none at all. Perhaps, indeed, he should be told that drifting, waiting on Providence, with our hands in our pockets, and a "rest and be thankful" look was a policy. But, at all events, he hoped no one would say that the negotiations recorded in those pages with their lengthened sweetness long drawn out, their babbling of neutral zones and imaginary spheres of influence, represented a policy. We had heard of neutral zones before, and we knew what came of them. By the Treaty of the 18th of September, 1739, the territory round Azov was then evacuated and turned into a neutral zone between Turkey and Russia, and Kabardia was to be another zone, but in the next war the neutral zone was, from its dismantled state, the first place taken, and was forthwith incorporated with Russia. Besides, it was not every country that could be made a neutral zone, and to talk of Afghanistan as a neutral zone seemed like asking an Irishman to sit quietly between two combatants. It was true, however, that. Lord Clarendon spoke, not of a neutral zone in his first letter, but of "some territory as neutral between the possessions of England and Russia, which should be the limit of those possessions, and be scrupulously respected by both Powers," and the suggestion that Afghánistán should be the zone seemed to come from Prince Gortchakow rather than from him, the Prince giving a positive assurance that the Emperor looked upon that country "as completely outside the sphere within which Russia may be called upon to exercise her influence." This view was confirmed at page 4, where it was distinctly stated that the "proposal was made by Prince Gortchakow." But the fact that Lord Clarendon was "not sufficiently informed," "at once to express an opinion as to whether Afghánistán would fulfil the conditions and circumstances of a neutral territory between the two Powers," was quite sufficient evidence to prove how incompetent the Foreign Office was to deal with these questions which affect India directly, and this country only on account of India. He passed over the sang froid of the Russian Prince in assuming that all the territory between the Russian outposts and the frontier of Afghánistán was, as a matter of course, to go to Russia, as, for in- stance, Karátegin, Hisár, and other districts where no Russian had yet shown his face, while we were to be absolutely restricted to what we already possessed; but did not Lord Clarendon remember that we had relations with Afghánistán quite inconsistent with making it a neutral territory; that, for instance, we had just been sending up rifled guns and money to Shir Ali to enable him to triumph over his rivals, that the Treaty of Paris might at any time compel us in the interests of Persia, if not our own, to interfere with Afghánistán, that we were constantly obliged to march men into the mountains bordering on Pesháwar, and that to declare that region neutral would be to hand over our troops to slaughter and our officers to assassination. Luckily the Council of India and Lord Mayo knew more about the matter, and it was owing to their determined opposition that we were not caught in this snare. So at page 4 they would find Lord Clarendon, on the 17th of April, hurriedly retreating from the suggested neutrality of Afghánistán, and proposing that the Upper Oxus should be the boundary line which neither Power should permit their forces to cross; but Prince Gortchakow immediately conjured up the phantom of Bukhárá, that could not raise a finger to save her own lifeless body, to combat this proposition. The end was that the neutral zone seemed, as far as England was concerned, to vanish into thin air, and that, seen through the mirage of Russian misrepresentation, it was still Afghánistán. He was really afraid to touch the Papers at all for fear of brushing away some diplomatic cobweb or other. But he would go back for a moment to the discussion about the relinquishment of Samarkand—that Samarkand which gave Russia the virtual possession of Bukhárá, because Bukhárá depended on it for its supply of water. He had already shown the utterly illusory character of the pledge of relinquishment as proved by the annexation and taxation of districts still farther to the south, but he could not help adding that it was diametrically opposed to the language held by the Russian governors and generals in Central Asia. As soon as we got clear of the honeyed talk of diplomacy and emerged into the region of common sense, we soon found out what the Russians really meant. "No instance," said Vambéry, "has yet been known of the Russians ever retracing their steps in any part of Asia." In strict accordance with that statement was the language of Count Perovski's proclamation on entering Central Asia. "The Russians have come here not for a day, nor yet for a year, but for ever!" That was intelligible enough; it was downright plain speaking. Again, Romanovski says—"But the experience of the last years had convinced us that, after occupying any point in Central Asia, it was impossible for us to abandon it." The fact was we had no right to ask Russia to give up Samarkand, no more than Russia had to ask us to give up Pesháwar, and she had no more idea of complying than we should have, or rather infinitely less. Let them, then, put away for ever the idle notion that Russia meant to go back, and the no less delusive one that she would become weaker as she advanced. Those notions would delude only the ignorant. In a year or two Central Asia would be Russia—as much Russia as the Crimea or Astrakhan—more so, perhaps, for the exceeding richness of the soil along the Jaxartes, and in the Oasis of Khiva, would bring in a flood of Russian colonists from the starved surplus population of the far north. If anyone would look at page 118 of General Ronaanovski's pamphlet, he would see that there were 440,036 Cossacks of both sexes in the Ural, Orenburg, and Siberia, and 239,446 in Orenburg alone. These were the Russian pioneers, and could all be pushed to the front. There were already Russian schools, clubs, churches, and newspapers in the cities of the Uzbeks, and brigades of Cossacks had preceded them. The steam power that Russia had in the Caspian and the Volga was more than five times what she had on the Baltic. She had on the Caspian 423 steamers with 33,725 horse-power, and if the Oxus should really be turned into its old course it would be but a fortnight's voyage from Nijni to Khojend. For Central Asia, then, they might read Russia in future. There were one or two other things in these Papers to which he must refer. The first was the contradictory way in which the conduct of the Russian generals was spoken of to suit the occasion. Lord Clarendon was told to be under no apprehension that Russian generals would communi- cate with Indian malcontents, because "Russian generals are well disciplined;" but at page 9 Prince Gortchakow himself admitted to Lord Clarendon that "the military commanders had all exceeded their instructions in the hope of gaining distinction, and consequently one after the other had been recalled," and in the serious and to us critical matter of the integrity of the Atáligh Ghází's dominions, there was a strange admission "that two Russian officers, with a few followers, did penetrate, not long ago, into Kashgár territory, but contrary to orders"—as if any Russian officer would go without permission from his general—"and so as to draw upon the officers concerned the displeasure of the Russian Government." Now, considering that Captain Valilkanoff, the aide-de-camp of the Governor General of Siberia, had in 1858 been to Kashgár, had spent 11 months and 15 days in the journey and residence there, and had made an elaborate Report which he (Mr. Eastwick) had himself read, it was not easy to understand why a fresh expedition should have so recently gone into Kashgár territory, more particularly as it appeared from Mr. Shaw's letter, at page 17 of the Papers, that the Atáligh Ghází was painfully jealous about the Russian encroachments, and spoke very bitterly regarding them. But in reality this pretended disobedience of Russian officers had become too transparent a device. If Russian generals were to deal with their instructions on the frontiers of Persia and Afghánistán as they had dealt with them in Bukhárá, the sooner we increased our Estimates the better. For his part, he could not understand an English Minister enduring to be told that the friendship of this country was so slight a matter that the generals of Russia one after another would risk a rupture with it in order to obtain a cross or a riband. Had we fallen so low that our peaceful relations were made to depend on General Kauffmann's being satisfied with the number of orders he had obtained? The second point was the gathering of Afghán malcontents of the highest rank and influence in Bukhárá, on the frontier of Afghánistán. A parade was made of the Russian Minister at Tehrán being instructed to refuse protection to an Afghán there, of whom we were told next to nothing. But of what conse- quence was that to us compared with taking into the Russian service a whole corps of Afgháns, commanded by the son of the late ruler of Hírát, who killed Sir William Macnaghten; or of what moment was it when placed beside the residence on the frontier, under Russian protection, of the Sardár Abdarrahmán Khán, the grandson of Dost Muhammed, and the vanquisher and dethroner of Shir Ali? It was true that he had married the daughter of the Amír of Bukhárá, and that that was some excuse for his residing in the territory of his father-in-law, but it was with the aid of that father-in-law and with his troops that he invaded Afghánistán in July, 1865, gathered adherents, and entered Kábul on the 2nd of March, 1866, and defeated Shir Ali in the bloody and for the time decisive battle of Sháhábád. With the consent of Russia, what he then did might be repeated, and at page 40 he found the Sardár actually proposing this to General Kauffmann. It depended, then, on the will of the Russian general whether Afghánistán should or should not be enveloped in the flames of war, and to his mind it was clear that, as these Afghán Sardárs must be interned somewhere, it would better be in our territory, where we had the power to keep them in check without placing ourselves under an obligation to Russia—an obligation probably discussed in every bazár from Samarkand to Delhi. The last thing he would mention was the now palpable absurdity of making the whole negotiations hinge on our restraining Kábul, and Russia keeping back Bukhárá—poor, helpless Bukhárá—while all the time the real danger lay at the south-eastern corner of the Caspian and along the frontier of Khurásán, a well-watered and well-inhabited country, where we had absolutely no means of knowing what went on. In his speech of the 9th of July, 1869, he pointed out that if we had cause for apprehension it was not at Kábul, but at Astarábád, Marv, and Hírát. He said that a Russian expeditionary force might with ease and almost without the knowledge of the Persian Government, be landed at Astarábád and marched along the Perso-Turkuman frontier all the way to Hírát. He had just received a letter from Khurásán which said that that was being done now. He believed that to be exaggeration, but it showed what was expected, and he thought it would not be denied that Russian troops had entered the Persian district of Gurgán in pursuit of some Turkumans, and that they had received the submission of some of the Turkuman tribes who owed allegiance to Persia. No man with any pretensions to a knowledge of strategy could overlook the danger to India that this concentration of force at Ashurádah and Chikishlar implied. It was idle to call it a movement against Khiva which could be reached from the Aral, from Bukhárá, and from Mangishlak by much shorter routes. It would be ludicrous, if it did not involve such serious issues, to see our Foreign Minister struggling to keep Afghánistán safe—that Afghánistán that knew so well how to protect itself. By warning back the Russians from crossing the fearful Valley of the Upper Oxus, in which Wood told us whole caravans were buried in a single avalanche—from crossing it, he said, in order to get into that hornet's nest of the Afgháns by scrambling up the stupendous slope of the Hindú Kush, where an English sailor, Wood himself, could only crawl on his hand and knees, and with the help of the nimble mountaineers, who, with much greater ease than they dragged him up, could have pitched him like a stone into the abyss beneath, while all the time the Caspian Gates, the front door of India, stood wide open, the Russians clustering on the Steppes, and not a detective in sight. He was not alarmed at the Russian advance, though he quite appreciated its importance. It meant, of course, the downfall of the Turk and of the Turkish religion, which, buoyed up in one quarter, now sank at the fountain-head. It meant danger to India if we were resolved to throw away our vantage and to let persons who had no practical knowledge of the subject, and who delighted in official darkness, guide our counsels. It meant peace and good will and a neighbourly rivalry in commerce with Russia, if we acted with the strength we really possessed, threw overboard all secret diplomacy, came out manfully, and insisted on everything between Russia and ourselves being done in the light of day. If, for instance, we were to have negotiations, let them be before a Congress of the Great Powers; but, above all things, let us not live in a fool's paradise and despise the re- sources of others while we magnified our own. The immense population of India was not so great a security to us as the waterless deserts and scantily-inhabited plains of Central Asia were to Russia. On the contrary, a teeming and discontented population was a serious danger. Our real strength lay in our fair Government, our English Army, and our wealth; for in the East the sword was his who would pay. It was a real strength and a sufficient one, but then we must not throw away our friends, and must spend our money wisely. We must not neglect the commonest precautions, dig impracticable tunnels at Atak, while it took a week to ferry over a cavalry regiment because there were but few boats, and these altogether unsuited for the purpose. Pesháwar should be strong, and civilians said it was; but the best general we ever had there, Sir Sydney Cotton, said it was weak, and if we wished it to be strong we had much to do. We must begin by making Pesháwar a military government, giving the general the power to deal with offenders. Some thought we should have a suspension bridge across the Indus; but, at all events, we should have some means of crossing it all seasons, and railways to Atak from Lahore and Karáchí, an earthwork at Pesháwar, and our European regiments in healthy cantonments, such as Campbell-pur, with the means of placing them, if requisite, instantaneously at Pesháwar, and we should clear, once for all, the Hills of the robbers, and sweep away the Akhund of Swát, and his followers, the Hindustani rebels and the fanatical assassins. There were other things he might mention, such as the occupation of Quettah, and the maintenance of an Envoy at Hírát. Quettah was in Kelat, and Kelat was to all intents and purposes India, and the sooner we declared it to be so the better. If our generals said it was wise in a military point of view, then there should be a garrison at Quettah, there should be no weak truckling to the Afgháns in a matter of our Treaty rights with which they had no concern, and a garrison we should have there. He had seen a letter from a great Afghán chief which made him think there would be no objection, but the reverse, to our occupying Quettah; and, as for the Bilúchis, it ought to be known that during the Indian Mutiny Sir Henry Green put himself at the head of 12,000 of them, marched to Káhan without any British troops, and recovered the three guns we had lost at Nafushk. Such were the officers we had had and might have on the frontier, and they were the proper persons to advise whether Quettah should be occupied or not, and to them he left the question. But that was a smaller matter than our alliances with Persia and Kashgár, particularly Persia. Kashgár was, he hoped, provided for by the mission of Mr. Forsyth and the personal character of the Atáligh Ghází. As to Persia, he could say much; but there was no time for it now. One thing, however, he would say, and it was that our interests there had been sacrificed for the last 10 years. Why, for instance, when His Majesty the Shah directed him (Mr. Eastwick) to apply to his Government for British officers to instruct his troops, was that request disregarded? Why was the despatch asking for those officers withheld? He asked that his despatch on the subject might be laid on the Table. He was sorry to hear the noble Lord the Tinder Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the debate last year pass an eulogium which was not deserved. He had too much respect for the noble Lord to doubt the sincerity with which he spoke, but he dared say they would hear contrary opinions expressed, if not there, then in "another place." But he trusted he should have some other opportunity of dealing with that matter as regarded Persia, and he would now content himself with expressing a hope that in future if we made friends of our enemies, as we had done in the case of Sultán Ján, of Shir Ali, and the Afgháns generally, we should at least not make enemies of our friends, as we did with the Sardár Abdu'r-rahmán Khán, and with Persia in too many instances. Lastly, we should have as little secret diplomacy as possible, and he trusted that in this respect the Government would at once make a change by granting the Papers for which he now asked. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for the Address.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, That She will be graciously pleased to give directions, that there be laid before this House Copies of Correspondence relating to the Missions to Khiva of Mr. Thomson and Rajib Ali: And, of any Despatches in 1862 and 1863 respecting the employment of British Officers with the troops of His Majesty the Shah, and respecting the state of Khurásán at that time." (Mr. Eastwick.)


said, he recalled the remark of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) when this question was brought before the House in 1869 that of all things the most to be deprecated was a policy of mystery. Yet he found that Lord Granville in a despatch to Prince Gortchakoff urged upon him the necessity of coming to a decision at an early date, in order that the question might not be complicated by possible discussions in the British Parliament. He regretted that a Member of the Government which he supported should show such a dread of discussion in regard to a subject which vitally affected the interests of this country. He could not see any reason for the extreme alarm and excitement which took possession of the public mind last autumn on the subject of the Russian advance in Central Asia. The general conclusion arrived at in 1869, when his hon. Friend (Mr. Eastwick) brought forward this question, was that there was no ground for uneasiness. The position had not materially changed since that time, and high authorities had long ago regarded the Russian advance to the Oxus as inevitable. He had no doubt that the Russian Government were perfectly sincere in their desire for no further extension of territory, as sincere as our East Indian Company were when they even censured their Governors for extending it. Khiva was 500 miles west of Samarcand, and consequently so much further from India; and he did not see that the occupation of Khiva would give Russia any advantage against Persia which she did not now fully possess in the island of Ashourada in the south-eastern angle of the Caspian. There was great force in the Russian argument that any further enlargement of their territories depended less on themselves than on the conduct of the native tribes. He did not believe that Russia could avoid advancing her boundaries in Central Asia. Like ourselves in India, she must take more in order to keep what she had got. Did anybody suppose that if we had gone on the principle of confining ourselves to Bengal we should now be in India at all? He protested against the notion that the people of Central Asia should be denied the benefits of good government because we might think it our interest to have barbarous tribes rather than a civilized nation for our neighbour. History presented no example of governments more fanatical and cruel, or of people more debased and oppressed than were to be found in these Khánates, which showed, as Vambéry said, to what a state of degradation tyranny allied with fanaticism might reduce a people. In the interests of humanity he wished to see the absorption by Russia of these countries, although the result might be to make Russia a great Power in Central Asia. He believed that Russian rule would be as great a benefit to these countries as English rule had been to India. Prince Gortchakoff had said no one would now wish to see British rule withdrawn from India; and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the English Government had said that he saw nothing to complain of in the action of Russia against Khiva. Let us be as fair towards Russia as she seemed disposed to be towards us. We had never given up an inch of territory once acquired in India. Why, then, should we be always nagging Russia for doing the same in Central Asia? Turning to the Correspondence, he thought it clear that Prince Gortchakoff acceded to our view on the implied condition that we should be held responsible for the good conduct of the Afghans. But we could not be really responsible for the conduct of a weak ruler and a turbulent people unless we assumed the control and direction of their affairs, and to do this we must place British officers in power at Cabul, and support their authority by a military force. The result of the policy foreshadowed in these Papers would probably be such that within a few years he fully expected to see British political officers in Afghanistan. Now, our true policy was to avoid all entangling alliances with that country. Whatever European Power first entered Afghanistan would make the Afghans their enemy. Our re-appearance in that country would revive the memories of our former occupation in the minds of the people. Whatever dependence might be placed on the ruler of that country, no reliance could be placed on his subjects—a national party would be formed who would rouse the fanatical feelings of the people against the English, and the English alliance would be as much a source of weakness to the existing ruler as it had been to a former ruler. For the last 70 years there had never been a strong Government there. Family dissensions had always prevented it, and the succession was sure to be disputed on the death of the present Ameer. We were placed on the horns of a dilemma. We must either assume a protectorate over Afghanistan and occupy it by British troops—which would involve great cost and arduous responsibilities—or we must leave her to herself, contenting ourselves with giving good advice, which would probably be unheeded. And then what would become of the new boundary arrangement? Instead of keeping Russia at a distance we had drawn ourselves nearer to her. Formerly, if Russia wished to molest us, she would have had to move a thousand miles from her base to find us, whilst now we should have to move from our base and seek her on the Oxus. If it was in the power of Russia to exercise a disturbing influence on our Indian interests the danger was aggravated by our present policy. The very talk of limiting the advance of Russia caused a sense of uneasiness amongst the natives of India. He was of opinion that 30 or 40 or 50 years must elapse before Russia could so extend her conquests in these parts as to make them the base of operations against India. He believed that Russia, with an exclusively Mahomedan population of a fanatical hue, would be far more vulnerable than ourselves, and that the mass of the population of India, both high and low, had no wish to change the rule of England for that of Russia. The tone of the Indian Press was that although many shortcomings were to be imputed to England, her rule had been very beneficial to India, and that in the event of a contest between Russia and England for dominion in India, the people of India would heartily support England. One thing the Indians viewed with great satisfaction, and that was the perfect freedom of meeting, writing, and discussion allowed them, a privilege which they did not expect to enjoy under the rule of any foreign Power but that of England. No doubt war would be popular in India, whether among members of the military or the civil service, because it would open a fresh field for distinction. This was perfectly natural; but it showed that the country should not implicitly rely upon Anglo-Indian opinions. A Russian diplomatist had recently startled the world by the statement that commercial Treaties with Asiatic nations were merely political instruments. If our officers were as candid they would probably say the same. He did not believe the trade with these poor, thinly-peopled, mountainous countries beyond our territories could be of the least importance to India with her immense seaward and still greater internal trade. In his opinion, the proper course for this country to adopt was to persevere in a policy of inaction with regard to the advance of Russia in Central Asia. He would not have been a party to setting up a neutral zone between Russian territory and our own. Years must elapse before Russia could come into collision with our Indian interests. Should she ever show an intention of advancing into countries within the sphere of those interests, it would then be time enough to warn her that we could not permit those interests to be endangered, but we remained judges of the circumstances that constituted that danger. We should thus have maintained complete liberty of action, and should be free to select the time and place for resisting the further progress of Russia, and have avoided placing ourselves in the awkward predicament of being forced into a war at an unfavourable juncture merely to preserve our dignity. Neither did he see any reason why we should endeavour to set up an English influence in Persia as opposed to Russian influence, although, of course, we should cultivate friendly relations with that country. As far as regarded India itself, doubtless, as education and intelligence progressed in that country, the aspiration of the natives would be not for a change of dominion, but for self-government, and to that aspiration we should yield as occasion demanded, especially as regarded local taxation. Should we adopt such a course we might rest confident that we should retain our hold on the affections of the people of India, and then secure in the stability of our rule and in our power to repel aggression from whatever quarter it might come, we might with perfect safety wish Russia good speed in her mission of civilization in Central Asia.


My hon. Friend the Member for Penryn (Mr. Eastwick) has addressed us at some length, and in a speech which, like most of his speeches on Eastern subjects, is at once interesting and instructive. In following him I will try to point out, as briefly as I can, how far his views agree with and how far they differ from those of Her Majesty's Government. It seems to me that the simplest order in which I can arrange remarks which will necessarily apply to the whole of the countries lying immediately west and north-west of India is the geographical one, and I will accordingly begin on the south with the State of Khelat. Our relations with the Khan of Khelat are defined by a Treaty which has lately been laid before the House on the Motion of my hon. Friend. For the most part the stipulations of that Treaty have been fairly observed by the Khelat State, and although the Khan has given some trouble of late, he met the Viceroy on his recent tour and made the amende honorable, so that we are now quite good friends again. My hon. Friend wants us to advance to Quetta, a place in the dominions of the Khan of Khelat. There is no doubt that we have a Treaty-right to station British troops in Khelat if we choose so to do, but why should we do it without manifest necessity? Why put it in the power of the disaffected to say—"There, you see, in spite of all the talk about non-annexation, the British are at their old game, pressing forward indefinitely. They have passed the Indus; they have passed the Hala Range; where will they stop—why should not they go on to Tehran, or for that matter right up to the Turkish frontier?" I do not agree with my hon. Friend in advocating an advance to Quetta in time of peace, and for these reasons—because such an advance could not, as things are at present, be otherwise than extremely disagreeable to the Khan of Khelat, and I suspect to the Afghans also, because further it would be very unpopular with the Army—not just at first, when there was a certain excitement prevailing consequent upon an onward move, but as soon as that excitement had subsided— yet further, because it would be very expensive, and although not so poor as our ill-wishers suppose, we have not money to play ducks and drakes with. Lastly, because, if at any time and for any purpose it were desirable to go to Quetta, to Quetta we could go with the greatest possible ease. General Jacob found no difficulty in sending troops to Khelat even in the middle of the Mutiny. I come now to Seistan. With regard to Seistan the state of the case is this. At the time of our last discussion about these matters, a dispute was raging with respect to that territory between the Persians and Afghans; and, as I then mentioned, Her Majesty's present Government had not given any positive or final opinion as to the respective rights of either party. Since that time—July 9th, 1869—British officers have, at the desire of both parties, traversed the disputed districts, and laid down a boundary which they considered to be that which best meets the rights of the rival Governments, as those rights were modified by the events which took place between the Treaty of Paris, which was signed in 1857, and the commencement of the demarcation. Neither the Persian nor the Afghan Government was satisfied with the boundary that was assigned, and both appealed to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whose judgment it had been agreed was to be final, and that judgment has just been given in favour of the line laid down by Sir Frederick Goldsmid. My hon. Friend has spoken of the close connection which once existed between England and Persia; but what was the history of that close connection? It had its origin in our fears of Napoleon I., and strange to say also in our fears of an Afghan invasion of India. I say those fears were strange, but our connection with Persia had its origin at a time when living men still remembered that mighty wave of Afghan conquest which overwhelmed the Mahrattas on the field of Paniput on that ever-memorable day when—as has been well said—Polytheism and Monotheism, as such, met in conflict for the last time, perhaps, in human history. That very close connection between the Governments was not particularly satisfactory to either party, and no one knows better than my hon. Friend by what unpleasant incidents it was diversified. Some people consider that the turning point in the relations of England and Persia was the Treaty of Turkomantchai in 1828, and although exception might be taken to that statement it may be admitted that the opinion that we had feared too much from some other quarters, and built too many hopes on Persia, kept gradually getting stronger during the half generation which preceded 1830. Persia, in the meantime, which had built upon us hopes far wilder than any we had ever built upon her, became more and more dissatisfied, and her dissatisfaction was manifested from 1830 onwards in a long series of events, of which the most important were the attack on Herat, made famous by the name of Eldred Pottinger, and the war of 1856. It is unnecessary to go into a narrative of these events. The time has come when they with the recriminations connected with them, should be forgotten, and Persia made to understand that while we have long ceased to dream of her being an outwork of India, or a bulwark of India, we nevertheless, alike for our own sake, and for hers, desire to see her peaceful and prosperous, independent and rich. An enlightened self-love, to say nothing of other motives, would be quite sufficient to make us desire this happy lot as well for Persia as for all our other neighbours. The necessities of our position as a civilized people, ruling over half-civilized people, oblige us to make so many changes in India, that it is highly desirable for us to be as little distracted as possible by violent changes round our frontiers; and the old words—"Shake not Kamarina, for she is better not shaken," is highly appropriate to our Indian foreign policy, although highly inappropriate to our Indian home policy. It has been said that the Shah should be encouraged to take Merv. Why should he be encouraged to take Merv, to add an oasis and some more thousand square miles of desert to a country of which some one said that it consisted of only two parts, the desert with salt, and the desert without salt? Would it really be to his happiness to add to a territory which is already 20 times as big as Ireland, and which even before the last famine, had only a population of about seven to the square mile? With regard to Herat, I do not see that its possession would really benefit Persia. But if it did, Herat is not ours to give. It belongs to the Afghans, who are our allies just as much as the Persians. It is quite beside the mark to assert that we at one time over-rated the importance to English interests of Herat staying in the hands in which it was. Very possibly we did; but it is one thing to say that we might have done wisely 40 years ago not to trouble ourselves so much about Herat, and quite another thing to say that to change our minds about it now, and to say that it ought to belong to Persia, would be a wise measure, even if it were a just one. We are, no doubt, so strong in India that we might afford to disregard the imputation which would be sure to be made—that namely, we had changed our policy about Herat under pressure. But putting aside, as I have said, for a moment, the justice of the case, it would be quite undesirable to give an altogether unnecessary shock to public opinion in Asia. My hon. Friend has spoken frankly and I will speak frankly. My hon. Friend has some influence in the Councils of Tehran. Let, then, my hon. Friend do all he can to turn away the minds of all persons there from any idea of aggression; be it on Turkey, be it on the small independent potentates of the Gulf, be it on Russia, be it even on the Turkoman barbarians, if these last leave the Persian frontiers alone, which by the way, they will hardly do, unless some better force is organized for their protection. If my hon. Friend will do this and make himself at the same time the advocate of material progress and European ideas of Government, he will do a far greater service to his friends than by stamping the complaints of some of them with his authority. It is with great satisfaction that I observe the rise of a new generation of Indian officials who take as strong an interest in Persia as did the officers whom we sent in former days to train the armies of the Shah. The knowledge of that country which is now possessed by Sir Frederick Goldsmid, Major Bateman-Champain, Major St. John, Major Murdoch Smith, and others who have been connected with our Persian telegraph line is most honourable to them, and cannot fail to be in many ways useful to their Government. The state of things in Persia is certainly in many ways regrettable, but there can be no doubt that the eyes of the highest personages at Tehran have been recently opened to the fact that the great misfortune of Persia is the interposition between it and the civilization of Europe of large provinces belonging to Russia and Turkey, which are very indifferent conductors of civilization. But English capitalists are planning enterprises in the dominions of the Shah which will assuredly, whether they succeed or not, pour a golden flood into those dominions, and the expected visit of the King of Kings to Europe this summer, attended by a largo number of distinguished persons, can hardly fail to make an epoch in the history of his country. I trust our illustrious guest, who may be expected, I understand, to arrive early in June, may be so favoured by weather and all other circumstances as not to regret having come so far. He will assuredly meet with a warm reception at the hands of the English people. Passing then from Persia, I come to her great neighbour, the mighty power which, crushed for a time by the Tartar hordes, is now rolling slowly over Tartary. There are some persons who believe that sooner or later this mighty power will become dangerous to England, and will try conclusions with us on the banks of the Indus. Well, there are no doubt dreamers in Russia who dream of the invasion of India. But Russia is not the only country where there are people who do not know the difference between dreaming and thinking. I will make a further admission. I will admit that there are politicians in Russia who think that it would be a good thing if they could come sufficiently near India, to be able—so to speak—by moving a knight under the shadow of the Hindoo Koosh, to give us check on the Bosporus. I will admit that, I say, fully; but that is not the real cause of the Russian advance towards our border. Russia is impelled and dragged forward towards our border partly voluntarily, partly involuntarily. She is dragged forward involuntarily by her own officers, who suffer under a disease which we may call the St. Ann mania, and which is as nearly allied to that K.C.B. mania which we know so well in India as scarlatina is to scarlet fever. She is impelled forward by perfectly sober, though mistaken calculation. Russia is still a slave to the same commercial delusions which held captive our own policy before 1846. She still disbelieves in what Mr. Cobden so well called the international law of the Almighty. She still fancies that she can be commercially sufficient to herself. She is still ill-informed enough to cherish the notion that it is of paramount importance to her to bring within her mercantile system the populations of Central Asia, to draw from them the cotton, the wool, and the silk, which she will work up in her mills, sending back to them the finished produce of her industry. She has already got into her power one of the two great roads running east and west through Central Asia, the road of the Jaxartes, and she wants perfectly naturally to get the other—the road of the Oxus—with all that lies between them. That is what she is chiefly aiming at. She makes no concealment about it, as anyone who happens to have access to her newspapers may easily see for himself. For whatever purpose, however, Russia may desire to advance in Central Asia, advance she does, and it is extremely important that when we discuss the position of the Russians with reference to India we should have tolerably clear notions of what that position actually is. That position remains pretty much what it was when we last discussed this matter on the 9th July, 1869. Their nearest points of advance towards India are Samarcand and its neighbourhood on one side, and a small fort on the Naryn, that is the Upper Jaxartes, on the other. Now to make the character of this position clear to hon. Members, I must repeat a few words which I used in this House on the 9th July, 1869. Persons who look at the map of Central Asia and know that the Russians are at Samarcand, and that they have also an outpost only 167 miles from Kashgar, high up on the Naryn, very naturally conclude that these two extreme points of their advance towards Afghanistan and Cashmere are connected with each other. But this is as far as possible from being the case. The whole independent part of the Khanate of Khokan lies between these points of advance, and in addition there is a huge mountain knot of hardly peopled country. Roughly stated, the position is this—Suppose some Power advancing from the North towards Italy. Let it have one body of men, say 2,000 strong at Clermont, in the heart of Auvergne. Let it have another body of men, say 1,000 strong, at Zurich, in Switzerland, and let the military connection of this body of 1,000 men be kept up with Clermont only by a route leading round through Southern Germany to a point to the north of the Lake of Con- stance. That is about the state of affairs if, instead of Clermont, Zurich, and Augsburg, you read Samarcand, the outpost of Kurtka, and Fort Vernoe, the most southern point in which the Russians are in anything like strength in the direction of Cashmere, from which it is separated by many hundreds of miles, and by some of the most difficult country on the face of the earth. And there is this difference between the European and Asiatic regions which I am comparing—in France, Germany, and Switzerland there are good roads; in Central Asia there are none. In all the huge province to which they have lately given the name of Turkestan, and of which one centre is at Samarcand and the other at Fort Vernoe, the Russians may have on a liberal computation some 25,000 men, for the most part scattered in lonely posts engaged in keeping up communications. Transfer the scene again to Europe. Would the existence of such a force between Clermont and Augsburg, with its reservoir of strength 1,800 miles to the northwest of Clermont—that is, far in the Atlantic behind the British Isles—be sufficient to frighten the holders of the Venetian Quadrilateral out of their propriety?"—[3 Hansard, cxcvii. 1570.] Such being the nature of the Russian position in the summer of 1869 with reference to India, let us see how far it has been modified since. The most important events that have occurred with regard to Russian progress since our last discussion in this House upon Central Asian affairs have been these. In the spring of 1870 the Russian made an expedition towards the sources of the Zarafshan, the river which descending from the high mountains which separate Western from Eastern Turkestan, or, in other words, exterior from interior Central Asia, looks in the earlier part of its course as if it were going to play as important a part in the water communication of those regions as the Oxus or the Jaxartes, but is drunk up by the thirsty land through which it passes and never reaches any lake or sea. They made some small conquests on the Upper Zarafshan, absorbing several lordships, the names of which few have heard, and still fewer would care to remember. In the summer of 1870 they sent an Embassy to Bokhara, under Colonel Nossovitch, an account of which has been published, worth reading, as showing—first, what an odious place Bokhara is; and secondly, for the purpose of comparison with the narrative which was published some years ago by Mr. Markham, of Clavijo's Embassy to the Court of Tamerlane, at Samarcand, illustrating as it does how much more odious these countries are in the end of the 19th than they were even in the beginning of the 15th century. In the autumn of 1870 the Russians subdued a semi-independent province of Bokhara, and gave it back to the Ameer of Bokhara. And they also annexed about the same time to their own dominions two other small lordships. All these events happened in the Western part of the Turkestan region; or, again recurring to my European comparison, in the Clermont, Lyons, and Macon region. In the autumn of 1870 they sent a commercial mission to Kokand, and 1871 was signalized by operations in Dzungaria and by the occupation of Kuldja, which was before the great Mussulman revolt, a Chinese town,—these events happening far away to the Eastward; or, again recurring to my European comparison, in the Augsburg region. About the same time they extended their knowledge of the mountain passes leading from the Westward into Eastern Turkestan. In the same year, 1871, far, far away on the shores of the Caspian they made two expeditions, I suppose in the nature of reconnaissances, from Krasnovodsk, which they had occupied in the autumn of 1869—these expeditions being across the Steppe in the direction of Khiva. Towards the end of the same year they occupied another point east of the Caspian on the north bank of the Attrek; so that they have now four points of advance on the east of the Caspian—Fort Alex-androfsk, far to the north; Krasnovodsk, further south—this settlement at the mouth of the Attrek, which is called Chikisliar, further south still, and the island of Ashurada, quite at the south, not far from the Persian city of Astrabad. If any one of these advanced posts of the empire, from Kuldja in the north-east to Ashurada in the far south-west, can be said in any sort of way to affect British India it is Ashurada or Chikisliar, because no commander not quite out of his mind would think of advancing upon British India from any of the other places I have mentioned. But the panic about Ashurada has been discounted. The Russians established themselves there in 1837, and a generation of Russo-phobes now in their graves made themselves unhappy on account of it. Chikisliar again could only be important to us if the Russians meant to feel their way along the north of the Attrek and to take possession of Merv. That however, is a proceeding of which they have not given the slightest hint, an infinitely stronger measure than an expedition to Khiva. But to proceed with my narrative of Russian progress since 1869. In 1872 the Russians concluded a very important commercial Treaty with the Atalik Ghazee, the ruler of Eastern Turkestan—a commercial Treaty, however, which contains nothing adverse to our interests, and leaves it open to us to conclude another, which I heartily hope we shall do; for although it would be easy to overrate the importance of trade between Eastern Turkestan and India, I do not doubt that the existing trade may be considerably increased. A mission is about to leave India for Yarkand under the most favourable auspices. These steps of Russia in advance, not very large or very important ones, are all that I have to chronicle as having been made by her since the summer of 1869, with the exception of Colonel Markozof's reconnaissance, the failure of which has led to the Khivan Expedition. Yes;—these facts of a military character, and the diplomatic fact of the Correspondence which has been laid on the Table of the House, are the only facts that have arisen to modify the situation in which we found ourselves with regard to this question in the month of July, 1869. Any amount of speculation may be built upon these facts, but the facts themselves are few in number, and have no very great significance. If there was cause for uneasiness in 1869, there is cause for uneasiness now, and, if not, not. Now, with any speculations on such a subject I can in this place have nothing to do; but I want to ask one or two questions about matters of fact. First, then, when people say glibly that Russia will soon have the Army of the Caucasus ready for operations in Turkestan, what do they mean? General Romanoffski, a good authority, makes the following statement:— In future, then, the Caucasus Army will be regarded by our Generals as the reserve of the Turkestan force, and being always so strong that it can easily spare some battalions without injury to the service entrusted to it, its sphere of action will, in fact, extend to both countries alike. On this Sir Henry Green grounds the following startling announcement:— From the above it will be seen that at no very distant period Russia will have at her disposal for operations in Turkestan the Army of the Caucasus, numbering 150,000 of her best trained troops, and having attached to it a considerable body of irregulars, composed of the most warlike tribes of the Caucasus and of Asia Minor, organized somewhat after the manner of our Indian Army, and within a fortnight's call of the forces in Turkestan. With an Army of Reserve so advantageously placed, is it to be believed that Russia would remain passive with regard to India in the event of its suiting her general policy to make an aggressive movement towards that country. That is a specimen of the kind of reasoning of our alarmist friends. Because the Caucasus Army will soon be able to spare some battalions to re-inforce the Army of Turkestan, therefore the whole Caucasus Army will soon be disposable for an attack on India. It reminds me of the famous German saying in ridicule of some fanciful philosopher's reasoning—"Because the lion is a ferocious beast, immortality is beyond dispute or cavil." Secondly, I want to ask some of our Russo-phobes to put down in black and white the occasions on which Russia has given any evidence of an intention to disquiet us in India. Lord Strangford long ago made the same challenge; but I am not aware that it has ever been taken up. If it were taken up I cannot help thinking that the evidence for each particular intention of disquieting us would be found very scanty. In the preparation of such a paper, unsupported assertions and vague rhetoric would, of course, go for nothing. Thirdly, I want to ask what is the meaning of the constant reference in these discussions to the document called the testament of Peter the Great. A very eminent person described a similar document, ascribed to Frederick the Great, as the longest eared platitude now walking about upon the earth's surface; but until some further evidence has been brought forward than I have yet met with in favour of the well-known testament having been really the production of the great Czar, I shall venture wholly to dispute the title of L' Art de Regner to that bad eminence. Before concluding what I have to say about Russia, let me remark in passing that I observe throughout the Correspondence occasional traces of misconceptions that seemed to have assailed—at least momentarily—even the most august personages in Russia with regard to the views of Her Majesty's Indian Government upon the Central Asian question. It is natural that foreign statesmen, although they know, cannot quite realize that the Governor General and his Council in India work in perfect harmony with, and if difference of opinion arises, in absolute subordination to the Secretary of State sitting in Council in London. But the existence of such misconceptions makes it all the more desirable that I, as representing the Secretary of State in Council and the Indian Government in this House, should say that there is not a shadow of distinction to be drawn between their views and those which have been communicated to the Russian Government through the Foreign Office. And now, in conclusion, a word or two about Afghanistan. A purely accidental circumstance gave an altogether absurd importance to a trifling difference of opinion which arose in the course of a long and languid Correspondence which went on for more than three years about the frontiers of that country between the Russian Foreign Office, our own Foreign Office, the Viceroy in Council, and the Secretary of State in Council. The difference of opinion between Russia and ourselves was about a point of political geography of the most obscure and difficult kind; but we, as having better means of getting information with regard to the little known country on the Upper Oxus than the Russians had, chanced to be right, while they chanced to be wrong. Well, they very frankly and very gracefully admitted that they were wrong, and added the expression of a hope that we would do what we could to keep Shere Ali from making aggressions on his neighbours. There the matter ended. Nothing can be less correct than to say, as has been said, that the result of the negotiations was to give up all the country north of the Oxus to Russian invasion. The negotiations had nothing to do with the country north of the Oxus, but left it precisely as they found it. Equally incorrect is the allegation that we came, as the result of the negotiations, under any new and peculiar obligations with regard to Afghanistan. Of course we shall do our best after the negotiations, as we did before them, to try to impress upon Shere Ali or any of his successors the importance of peace both within and without his borders, but that is no new thing. It is a matter of the greatest importance to us as well for commercial as for other reasons not to have, as I once said before, one of our trade gates filled up by a burning house. It is part of our policy, and a very important one, to surround our frontiers by a circle of States over which we do not wish—nay, would shrink from attempting to exert any authority—because amongst other reasons the charge would be far too great a burden upon our Indian finances, but which we desire to be in close alliance with and powerfully influenced by the Indian Government. The most important of these States are Khelat, Afghanistan, Nepaul, and Burmah. I hope any one addressing this House a few years hence in the office which I fill, may be able to add Thibet and Eastern Turkestan. We consider that these territories are within the legitimate sphere of our attraction, and no hostile interference with them would be viewed with indifference by us. We think they belong of right to the sphere of English commerce and of English ideas; but as for erecting them, or any of them, into defences against Russia or anybody else, that is not what occupies us. If we want at any future time—and in the changes and chances of human things of course it is within the range of possibility that we may want bulwarks against somebody or other—we shall know how to make them, even if the Suleiman and the Hindoo Koosh, and the Karakorum, and the Himalaya into the bargain are so obliging to our foes as to take themselves out of the way. We shall find bulwarks in our own arms and in our own policy. It was by these that we won India against odds, the like of which even the wildest alarmist never brought against us in his worst fits of Russo-phobia tremens, and it is by these we mean to keep it. I am heart and soul with those who say that we should watch and know every step of Russian advance. The result of not doing so is, that we are exposed from time to time to such foolish panics as that which has been lately raging but if we really do take the trouble to keep ourselves accurately acquainted with what Russia is doing, it will be many a day before it is necessary to do anything in consequence which we are not already doing for other reasons, and the best advice that can be given is contained in the Spanish proverb, "Let him attack who wills, the strong man waits."


Sir, nobody can have watched the history of events in Central Asia during the last 20 years without feeling they are of the highest possible importance not only to the countries there, but also in connection with our relations with Russia. However, after the exhaustive speeches delivered in the course of this debate, I will not occupy the time of the House by calling attention to the events which preceded the negotiations now under discussion—how the Russian frontier has been advanced across the Kirghis Steppe; how forts have been placed along the Jaxartes; how that river has been turned into a Russian highway; and how, after the capture of Chemkend, the situation was summed up by General Romanowski in these words— All the later events on our Central Asian frontier were the direct consequences of a scheme that had been very long in contemplation, and which had been favoured with His Imperial Majesty's approval in the year 1854.….. During the periods between the years 1854 and 1865 the Government scheme was actually carried out. The advanced lines of Orenburg and Western Siberia were finally closed, and at the same time we obtained beyond the Steppes fertile tracts of land upon which, without inconvenience, we could concentrate an adequate number of troops. These events naturally led the diplomatists of Europe to turn their serious attention to these transactions, and a circular-despatch was written by Prince Gortchakoff, which was meant to quiet the mind of Europe. I will read a sentence or two from that despatch— By the adoption of this line we obtain a double result. In the first place, the country it takes in is fertile, well wooded, and watered by numerous watercourses; it is partly inhabited by various Kirghize tribes, which have already accepted our rule; it consequently offers favourable conditions for colonization, and the supply of provisions to our garrisons. In the second place, it puts us in the immediate neighbourhood of the agricultural and commercial populations of Kokand. We find ourselves in presence of a more solid and compact, less unsettled, and better organized social state; fixing for us with geographical precision the limit up to which we are bound to advance, and at which we must halt, because, while, on the one hand, any further extension of our rule, meeting, as it would, no longer with unstable communities, such as the nomad tribes, but with more regularly constituted States, would entail considerable exertions, and would draw us on from annexation to annexation with unforeseen complications…It is needless for me to lay stress upon the interest which Russia evidently has not to increase her territory, and, above all, to avoid raising complications on her frontiers, which can but delay and paralyze her domestic development. Notwithstanding these pacific assurances before 12 months had elapsed Russia was at war with Bokhara. General Kaufman entered Samarcand in March, 1868, and the whole district was added to the Empire of Russia under the name of "Tyenaplistan District." Shere Ali, the ruler of Afghanistan, saw that Bokhara, his neighbouring State, was at the mercy of Russia, and that the Cossacks might any day water their horses on the banks of the Oxus. Under these circumstances, he sought an interview with the Viceroy of India, and the Conference at Umbrella was the result; and Mr. Forsyth was allowed to proceed to St. Petersburg to communicate to Russia the views of England upon this subject. Three events have also taken place which ought not to be forgotten. 1. The Caucasus has been conquered. 2. The Black Sea Treaty repudiated. 3. The heart of Russia has been connected with the Volga by three railways. This was the condition of things when the negotiations began to which these Papers refer. I much regret that in the Papers which have been produced the House has not been favoured to a greater extent with the opinions of the Government of India, because I cannot help saying, without disparagement to the Foreign Office, the opinion of the former may be more useful than that of the latter. Although the negotiations have been going on for three or four years, only one point is settled—namely, that relating to the north-western boundary of Afghanistan. Nobody can doubt that so far the result is satisfactory, for the British Government have succeeded in the contention they have put forward, and the Russian Government have acquiesced in their view; but these Papers raise two questions of great importance with regard to the negotiations. Has Russia abandoned the contention she originally made, that Afghanistan should be considered as neutral territory? and, secondly, what is the position of our engagements with Russia in connection with Afghanistan? I am under the apprehension that this country will be landed in a great deal of difficulty if the contention of Russia is not repudiated. The House will have observed that the original idea of our Foreign Office was that there should be a Recognition of some neutral territory between the possessions of England and Russia, which should be the limit of those possessions, and be scrupulously respected by both. Afghanistan was suggested by Baron Brunnow as fulfilling the conditions of a neutral territory, and the idea was eagerly accepted by Prince Gortchakoff, who alleged that the idea was first suggested by Lord Clarendon. So far as we can learn from these Papers, this was an error on the part of the Prince, because Lord Clarendon never did anything of the kind. In the first conversation he had with Baron Brunnow on the subject, he carefully guarded himself by saying he was not sufficiently informed upon the subject to say whether Afghanistan would fulfil the conditions of a neutral zone; and, subsequently, he distinctly arrived at the "decided opinion" that Afghanistan would not fulfil those conditions. Two months after that, a communication between Prince Gortchakoff and Mr. Rumbold is reported to the Foreign Office upon the subject, and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government mentioned in this House in July of 1869, that negotiations were in progress upon the basis of a neutral zone. Again, in the interview which took place at Heidelburg, in September, 1869, Lord Clarendon and Prince Gortchakoff discussed the expediency of an "understanding" between the two Governments, by which a "neutral ground" between the two countries might be established, and Prince Gortchakoff again suggested Afghanistan as "neutral ground" which it was expedient to establish. Again, His Majesty the Emperor of Russia, alluded to a "neutral zone" in his conversation with Mr. Forsyth at St. Petersburg. During the next few months the negotiations made little progress. But at the end of last year, the idea of a neutral zone seems to have been revived, for Lord Augustus Loftus reports a conversation which he had last November with M. de Westmann. On the 30th of December, Baron Brunnow communicated to Lord Granville the despatch of Prince Gortchakoff, in which he recapitulates the different phases of the negotiations. This is the important point, for as I read it the question of Afghanistan being considered by Russia as a neutral zone is left in some doubt— They had consequently come to an agreement that it was expedient to have a certain 'intermediary' zone, for the purpose of preserving their respective possessions from immediate contact. Afghanistan seemed well fitted to supply what was needed; and it was consequently agreed that the two Governments should use all their influence with their neighbouring States towards preventing any collision or encroachment one side or the other of this 'intermediary' zone. All that remained, in order to make the agreement between the two Cabinets complete in fact as it already was in principle, was to trace the exact limits of the zone. It was here that a doubtful point arose. The founder of the Afghan State, Dost Mahommed Khan, had left behind him a state of confusion which did not allow of the territorial extension which Afghanistan had acquired at certain moments of his reign, being accepted as a basis. It was consequently agreed that no territories should be taken into account, but such as having formerly recognized the authority of Dost Mahommed were still in the actual possession of Shere Ali Khan. It thus became necessary to ascertain, with all possible accuracy, what were the territories in his actual possession. For this purpose it was requisite to have positive local data, which neither Government possessed, with reference to these distant and imperfectly-known countries. It was agreed that the Governor General of Turkestan should be instructed to take advantage of his residence in the proximity of and his relations with the neighbouring Khanates, to collect all the information ncessary to throw light upon the question, and to enable the two Governments to come to a practical decision with the facts before them. A few days after this despatch was communicated to Lord Granville, Count Schouvaloff arrived in this country, and the negotiations were conducted between that diplomatist and Lord Granville, on the basis of what was called "Gortchakoff-Clarendon" arrangement. But the "Gortchakoff-Clarendon" arrangement was, I have shown the House, upon the basis of a "neutral zone." As to Afghanistan constituting a "neutral zone," I wish to know whether it has been abandoned by Russia. I can conceive no greater source of difficulty in the future than that this country should be compelled to regard Afghanistan as neutral territory. We have never professed to treat Afghanistan as a neutral territory, seeing that hardly a month passes without our being called upon to chastise some of the tribes which owe allegiance to that country—an act which would certainly be a breach of neutrality. I am strongly of opinion that we ought to continue the policy of aiding the Ameer of Afghanistan and supporting him in every way in our power, and I trust that the idea of Afghanistan being rendered neutral territory will be abandoned. Then, as to our future engagements. The interpretation placed upon Lord Granville's words by Prince Gortchakoff is not correct, and is, in my opinion, dangerous. It is alleged by Prince Gortchakoff that England will use all her influence "to induce the Ameer to maintain a peaceful attitude," or as the French may more properly be rendered, "to maintain him in a pacific attitude." That is an engagement of a very onerous character, and it is to be remarked that there is no reciprocal engagement on the part of Russia; while greater difficulties are likely to arise from the tribes over which Russia has influence than from Afghanistan. I hope the Government will be able to inform the House that the interpretation put upon Earl Granville's despatch by Prince Gortchakoff is not the correct one. With respect to Khiva, I do not think England has any right to object to the course—so far as she knows it—that Russia has taken. For the last 150 years the relations between Khiva and Russia have been of a most unsatisfactory character, and no one can excuse the barbarities which have been perpetrated upon Russian subjects. Russia will, I hope, be content with establishing friendly and commercial relations with Khiva, and that diplomacy will induce her to do that which it effected in the case of the Emperor of the French, when, 12 years ago, he withdrew his troops from Syria, rather than disturb the peace of Europe. Russia is far too astute not to know the result of adopting any other policy. She has a perfect right to advance her commercial interests; but if she effects a permanent settlement North and South of the Attrek, it can only be for one purpose—namely, aggression. Russia ought to be fairly and plainly told that such acts as these will lead to the disturbance of peace. I believe that able and straightforward diplomacy may avert such a calamity. England has a great and glorious inheritance in the East, which she is determined to maintain, with the help of God. She has also a great mission in the East, which her people are determined to accomplish. Russia also has a great inheritance and a great mission. Let us, then, pursue each our own course, without infringing upon the domain of the other. I will not advert to measures which it may be expedient to adopt for the sake of self-preservation. There are men in England now who can give Her Majesty's Government the best information upon the subject, and I do not think it desirable to say more upon that matter; but I am glad to see that the Viceroy of India is following up the policy that was initiated two years ago with regard to Yarkand, and that our commercial relations are to be fostered with Eastern Turkestan. Our true policy is, I believe, to make the frontier States as powerful and independent as possible, to increase our influence with them by the establishment of friendly relations rather than by giving them the cold shoulder, and to show them that their destruction will be effected on the day that the British power in India is seriously shaken.


denied that any entangling engagement had been entered into respecting Afghanistan. The only engagement was that England should, by moral persuasion, endeavour to keep the Ameer of Afghanistan within the boundaries recognized by Russia, and Prince Gortchakoff's despatch, reiterating this understanding, implied nothing beyond this. He had failed to discover that the hon. Member who brought this subject forward (Mr. Eastwick) had made any practical recommendations as to the course which should be pursued, though he criticized the course of the negotiations. He seemed, indeed, to recommend the venturesome policy that we should ally ourselves in Central Asia, and he even implied that this should be done in reference to Khiva itself. He (Mr. Cartwright) did not deny the value of a Persian alliance; but he denied that Persia had been treated with neglect, or that within the last 30 years we had acted wrongly towards her. As to the officering of the Persian Army with British officers, that policy culminated in a very disastrous transaction, condemned by the best statesmen of England and India. These questions must be looked into, not from an Anglo-Indian, but from an Imperial stand-point, for a collision in Central Asia would be a collision between England with all her interests and the other Power, and with such perils in the atmosphere, the question could not be in better hands than those of the Foreign Office, which regulated our international relations.


said, he did not wish to enter upon the large question which had been discussed that evening; but he would say that the point which had been raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Bourke) was one that required careful consideration and full explanation on the part of the Government, that was, with regard to the amount of obligation which we had contracted by the Correspondence which had taken place with regard to our relations to Afghanistan. He believed that there was a tolerable agreement that whilst we ought not to neglect the advance of Russia in Asia, we should not be overmuch alarmed at it; but still it was a remarkable advance, and it was impossible not to feel that it had a direct effect upon our position in India, and certainly it must have an indirect effect by causing a good deal of anxiety and excitement in the minds of our fellow subjects in India. On the other hand, we had no reason to doubt the truth of the motives put forward by Russia for her advance, and we might feel that Asia was large enough for us both, and that the interests of civilization would probably be best promoted by the absence of jealousy between two great European Powers, and that nothing could be more unfortunate than any unnecessary collision between them. Then the question was raised, in what way were we to proceed in consequence of the advance of Russia? Were we to take any forward step or to remain on the defensive? He thought the general opinion of the country was in favour of our remaining as far as possible within our own boundaries, strengthening ourselves by improving our administration of India, by consolidating our Empire there, by conciliating the affections of our subjects, and protecting our frontier by railways and other strategical measures which would enable us to resist attack. Another question was, what should be our policy with regard to the States immediately bordering our Indian Empire; because in keeping ourselves strong within our own limits, it was important to cultivate good relations with those States, and prevent the flame of discontent and of hostilities from being lighted in any of them. If Russia had any designs of an aggressive character against us—which he was most unwilling to suppose—it was clear that nothing could be more favourable to their execution than the disturbances which might be raised on the frontiers of India. On the other hand, if she had no such designs, still, if disturbances occurred on our frontiers, it was quite possible—if she had come very near to those bordering States—that she might be forced against her will into action, which might bring her into collision with us. Therefore, we had to consider what policy we should pursue with reference to those countries, and especially to Afghanistan. In recent years we had taken a step of considerable importance in respect to Afghanistan. The policy initiated by Lord Mayo was a wise one—namely, to give that kind of assistance to the de facto Ruler of Afghanistan which would be most likely to prevent troubles in that country and put down disturbances. They were to give him no guarantee, but assistance with a view to keep the country quiet. Whether wisely or not—he would not now inquire, although he had some doubts as to its wisdom—Lord Clarendon, as the representative of England, thought it expedient to open a communication with the Russian Government with regard to the possibility of some future collision in Asia between the two Powers, and suggested, in order to avoid such collisions, that some neutral zone might be established to lie between them and keep them, as it were, apart. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Cartwright) said, that although that suggestion was made at the beginning of the Correspondence, the neutral zone soon dropped out altogether, and had nothing to do with the arrangement that was actually made. Now, he should be glad if he thought the Correspondence bore out that view; and that was a point on which they ought to ask for an explanation from Her Majesty's Government. Was the neutral zone really a notion which had been got rid of, or one which had pervaded and governed the whole Correspondence, and was the essence of the arrangement which had been come to? In the despatch, dated March 27, 1869, Lord Clarendon said— It was in order to prevent such a state of things that I earnestly recommended the recognition of some territory as neutral between the possessions of England and Russia which should be the limit of those possessions, and be scrupulously respected by both Powers. That was the original proposal. Then came the suggestion that Afghanistan should be that neutral territory, and thereupon Lord Clarendon expressed some doubts whether Afghanistan fulfilled all the conditions that were de- sirable for that purpose, because there was some uncertainty as to what its limits actually were. Then some discussion arose between the two Governments about the proper limits of Afghanistan, and ultimately they came to an agreement. When Prince Gortchakoff summed up the position, he said the two Governments had agreed that it was expedient to have a certain intermediary zone to preserve their respective possessions from immediate contact—that Afghanistan seemed well fitted to supply what was needed, and all that remained was to trace its exact limits. Ultimately it was agreed that its border should be that which had been settled. Nobody could doubt that it was an excellent thing for the peace and tranquility of Afghanistan that her limits should have been settled between England and Russia, and that Russia should have recognized the boundary so described as lying altogether out of the pale of Russian influence, and disclaimed any intention of going into Afghanistan, which we had no intention to interfere with except for the purpose of keeping peace. Still, some uneasiness was naturally felt as to how far we were bound by the original expression that this was to be treated as a neutral country, and to be strictly respected. Were we at liberty to interfere with the affairs of Afghanistan, if it became necessary, in order to preserve the peace in India? Supposing, for instance, that invasions wore made into our territory, with the sanction and encouragement of the Ruler of Afghanistan—or supposing a contest hereafter arose between two Chiefs of Afghanistan for supremacy in that country, and an attempt was made on one side or the other to excite the population which sympathized with Afghanistan on the English side of the frontier—were we to be so bound by the engagement we had entered into with Russia that we could not, if necessary, interpose in the affairs of Afghanistan to chastise those who might disturb our frontier or cause us uneasiness in any other way? That was the point, on which there ought to be a distinct understanding, because it seemed to him that the original suggestion of an intermediary zone had governed the whole of the negotiations, and formed the essence of the arrangement which had now been made. He felt, however, that in this matter they ought to abstain from hampering or inconveniencing Her Ma- jesty's Government. The matter was one of considerable delicacy and great importance. It was impossible not to see that when they entered into engagements of that kind with a Power which might at some future time have reasons for not being sorry to pick a quarrel with us, it would be extremely dangerous to give Russia an excuse for interfering with us when it was not our interest or our wish to have a quarrel with her. One could not help feeling that there would be, as heretofore, many occasions of quarrel between Afghanistan and the neighbouring States, and that it was quite possible complications might arise for which we should not be in any way responsible, and which would not directly affect us, but which, under present arrangements, would give Russia a pretext for saying—"You must stop the Afghans from what they are doing, or we shall be obliged to come and chastise them, and perhaps annex Afghanistan."


said, that in discussing this question our relations with China had been overlooked. In the midst of our distress, in 1858 and 1859, on the Peiho, Russia took advantage of it to obtain a vast amount of sea-board territory, by which she obtained possession of the navigation of the Amoor, and other advantages of great importance. So far as we could ascertain from Chinese documents, the influence of Russia had of late years been used in hostility to us. If, along with the acquisition of territory in Central Asia, Russia favoured the extension of commerce and of peace and goodwill we should have no reason to find fault with what she had done. But Russia carried on her commerce in a manner so exclusive as to prevent that intercourse which would lead to a good understanding with other nations. And as for peace and goodwill on her part towards India, had we forgotten former days, when the interference of Russia involved India in great danger? No one was more alarmed than Lord Dalhousie at the intrigues of Russia, and if any hon. Members had a doubt on the subject he would beg them to read the remarkable Minute of Lord Dalhousie in the beginning of 1854. Russia had then no possessions near India as she had now. She had then many difficulties to contend with, and yet she had caused much anxiety to such a man as Lord Dalhousie. Remembering these and other things, he thought we had little reason to rely on the assurance of the Under Secretary that Russia entertained towards India sentiments of peace and goodwill. He would recall to the recollection of the House the siege of Herat, which the Under Secretary had designated the "Gate of India," and which that gallant young officer Eldred Pottinger had defended for nearly a year. Russian troops on that occasion were in the pay of Persia; they were deserters from Russia, nevertheless they were encouraged by the Russian Minister to attack Herat. The very fact that we sent a special Ambassador to Russia to demand explanations of her conduct with regard to Afghanistan showed what we thought. Russia then disavowed what her two Ministers had done; but it was plain those men had intrigued against India. When he was in India himself they were in great anxiety on account of Russia, and had been forced to incur expenditure from which India had not yet recovered. In 1838 Russia was far distant, but now she could advance to Herat in a far shorter time than we could march to Candahar. It was on that account that he would earnestly beg the Government not to allow panics to come upon us because those panics were the forerunners of expenditure, would retard the improvement of India, and prevent Lord Northbrook from carrying out those great reforms which more than anything else would produce peace and contentment in India. The best means of allaying those panics and feelings of distrust would be to make public the fullest information on this subject that could be obtained, and in the manner proposed by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Eastwick).


said, the Motion had only this morning been placed on the Paper and the Foreign Office had not had sufficient time to search out and examine the Papers for which the hon. Member (Mr. Eastwick) asked. It was impossible, therefore, for the Government to say whether it would be prudent to publish them, and in that case he presumed the hon. Member would not press for their production. Matters of great delicacy, however, had been discussed during the debate upon which it was incumbent upon him to say a few words. Reference had been made to the expression that the object of the Correspondence was to establish "a neutral zone" be- tween the British territories on the one side in Asia, and on the other side the territories of Russia, or other territories with which Russia was supposed to stand more or less in relation. With regard to the expression of a "neutral zone," he wished to observe that there was no necessity of treating it as a part of the contention either on one side or the other. On the 27th of March Lord Clarendon wrote that he earnestly recommended some territory as neutral between the possessions of England and Russia, and therefore it was so far not a Russian but a British contention. There was, however, no contention at all. It was afterwards suggested that there should be an intermediary zone. That expression did not appear to have been used as a technical or formal expression, but one dictated for the convenience of both sides alike. He did not think it to have been a matter of engagement between the two countries that a neutral zone should be established. He thought it to have been a general and somewhat indefinite mode of expressing, in a very general way, the views entertained on both sides, and of giving expression to ideas which were subsequently to receive a more specific form. That was why the expression occurred in the early part of the Correspondence, and why it did not appear in the final letters and discussions in which the positive intentions of the parties were definitely expressed. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford North-cote) viewed with some apprehension the use of this expression on account of a particular sense which might be applied to it if it were understood that there should be a neutral zone or territory. He had asked whether England had in any degree restrained the rights she previously possessed to look to her own safety if a case of necessity should arise in connection with the territory of Afghanistan. He answered that question unhesitatingly in the negative. There was in this Correspondence no restraint upon belligerent rights—upon the rights of England to maintain her own honour, and her own interests, as she might conceive herself bound to maintain them in Afghanistan, or indeed in any portion of the world. The Correspondence proceeded upon the assumption that in Asia two Powers, such as Russia and England, naturally stood in the position of what might be called re- lative superiority to the Asiatic States, with which they were respectively conterminous; it assumed that a certain influence would flow from these superior Powers, perhaps insensibly, and affect the Asiatic Powers; the Correspondence referred entirely to the exercise of that influence and its geographical limits. So viewed, the Correspondence contained three things. In the first place, it contained a negative engagement on the part of Russia. That negative engagement was perfectly distinct, and it was described by Lord Clarendon on the 27th of March, 1869, when he said that Baron Brunnow called upon him that morning and gave him the positive assurance that Afghanistan would be considered as entirely beyond the sphere in which Russia might be called upon to exercise her influence in the East. That engagement was a negative engagement. It was a negative engagement on the part of Russia, which was described in the words of Lord Clarendon on the 27th March, 1869, when he quoted the letter of Prince Gortchakoff, giving a positive assurance that Afghanistan would be considered entirely beyond the sphere within which Russia might be called upon to exercise her influence in the East. The next important component part of the Correspondence was the discussion with respect to the actual frontier of Afghanistan, which was a subject of considerable difference of opinion; but upon careful examination and investigation, the Russian Government, in a manner for which they were entitled to every credit, acceded to the British view, as being probably founded on more copious and accurate information than it had been in their power to obtain. Therefore, a distinct understanding had been arrived at sufficient for all practical purposes as to the geographical line of the frontier of Afghanistan. The third portion of the arrangement was the positive engagement entered into by the British Government. He entirely agreed in the remarks made on the propriety of promoting in Afghanistan, as the best of all bulwarks, a state of things which would make the people contented and prosperous; but he saw no cause for the apprehension expressed as to the extent of our obligations. England had undertaken to impress on the Ameer in the strongest terms his obligation, in consideration of Russian recognition of his boundaries, to refrain from any aggression, and to continue to exercise our influence in this direction. Russia naturally attached value to this undertaking, and he would not extenuate its import. Prince Gortchakoff had given his own version of it, in which he spoke of England as engaging to use its influence with the Ameer to maintain a peaceful attitude, and to give up all measures of aggression or further conquest. Even if Prince Gortchakoff had placed the construction on our engagement that it bound us to coerce the Ameer and become responsible for his conduct, we should not be bound by this, unless it were a construction flouted in our face, in which case we should have been called upon to repudiate it; but Prince Gortchakoff had done nothing of the kind, the fact that the argument turned entirely on the use of the word influence showed that moral influence was meant, not an engagement to use force; and he believed the French version was even more satisfactory than the English on this point, the word "insist" being more capable of the construction of physical force in English than as it stood in the French version. The engagement referred solely to the moral influence necessarily possessed by England and Russia in the East, Russia engaging to abstain from any attempt to exercise it in Afghanistan, and England engaging to exercise it for a pacific purpose. He did not believe that any doubt had arisen or could arise between the parties concerned as to the meaning of the engagement.


referring to the use of the term "guarantee" in Prince Gortchakoff's last despatch, which appeared to cast on us a greater responsibility for the Ameer's conduct than Lord Granville's words had committed us to, would ask whether any reply had been sent explaining or re-affirming our intentions; and, if so, whether it would be laid on the Table?


said, no reply had been sent, the Government believing that none was necessary. He could fairly leave the case in the way in which it had been put by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government.


said, he would withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.