HC Deb 12 December 1878 vol 243 cc639-734


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [9th December], "That the said Address be now read a second time."

And which Amendment was, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House disapproves the conduct of Her Majesty's Government which has resulted in the War with Afghanistan,"—(Mr. Whitbread,) —instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


There is a passage in Holy Writ which the learned now tell us is mistranslated in our version, but which has passed into current use in the form in which it there appears—"O that mine adversary had written a book!"If, Sir, there are any nations which wish us ill—if, above all, it be true, as some appear to believe, that there is a great nation lying between Asia and Europe whose statesmen spend their time in little else than in scheming against us—those nations, or that nation, need not say—"O that mine, or our, adversary had written a book." We have written a book, and written one with a vengeance. Some such reflections, I think, must have occurred to the mind of most people who have read the astonishing document which the India Office put forth a fortnight ago, for seldom, I suppose, has there been seen so wonderful a revelation. There stand for all eyes to see those astounding Instructions with regard to sending a special Mission to Cabul which Lord Salisbury gave to Lord North-brook; there stands Lord Northbrook's reply, which it can hardly have been agreeable to receive; there stand, in page after page, proofs of the painful truth that the Rulers of this great civilized people whose fathers conquered India, who advanced our outposts in that country during the military service of one single man over 1,000 miles of fertile territory, are now trembling because a Power 100 years behind us in civilization and strength is humbly following our example amidst deserts and oases. There stands, amongst many other strange things, the account of that Conference at Peshawur between the Envoy of the Viceroy and the Envoy of the Ameer, which reads like a scene in a comedy. Would to God it had not been the prologue to a tragedy! This Blue Book, or Drab Book rather— strange colour for a volume so redolent of war — contains, as I have said, many strange things. There are two things, however, for which we search its pages in vain. The first is an explanation of the reasons why the policy to which statesmen on both sides of politics were so deeply committed from 1868 to a very recent period has been so completely thrown aside; and the second what it is proposed to effect by the new policy. As no light is cast upon these most important points by this large and interesting mass of Papers, it is all the more satisfactory that we have in this House the statesman who having, as Secretary of State for India, introduced the policy with respect to Afghanistan which we took up and followed when in Office, has, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, felt himself obliged to give up that policy and adopt a new one. A living authority when we can get it is better than the letter of any Book—blue, or other—and the right hon. Gentleman can, if he so pleases, sweep away by a short statement all our doubts and many of our difficulties. I will endeavour, accordingly, to make as clear as possible what we desire to know from his lips. Before, however, I do this I should like to advert to some of the remarks which fell from the noble Lord the Vice President of the Committee of Council and the Under Secretary of State for India. The noble Lord told us "that the policy of masterly inactivity had one great merit. It was a safe policy; but in every other sense it was absolutely unworthy of a great civilized Power." In that phrase I recognize a thought which I believe to be much in the mind of the Viceroy, as to whom I take this opportunity of saying, that in spite of all that has occurred in connection with this disastrous Frontier business, I think there is a great deal of truth in the account which the noble Lord gave of him. Others have been more to blame than he in this matter—others who, happily, are nearer at hand, and whom we can attack with the satisfaction of feeling that they can have their say in return—although ho, too, set by them on a wrong road—has latterly been misled by the magic of his own misconceptions. But as to the thought itself, I think it is a mistaken one. The whole thing is a question of relative duties. Shall I be thought very parochially minded if I say that these people are not in our parish? India is, after all, only a corner of the great British Parish, and it contains 250,000,000, for whom we are doubtless doing much, if we look at it from the point of view of our numbers and position on the earth's surface, but on whom, after all, we are producing very moderate results. Is it, then, wise to enter upon a course of policy which is but too likely to end in landing us with the additional respon- sibility of what a friend of mine epigramatically described the other day as "Four Switzerlands inhabited by savages?" The noble Lord further explained that the reason why we desired to have an independent and friendly Power in Afghanistan was that Afghanistan had a Frontier from which, at any moment, "the Natives could invade or make a raid on India." Well, if that is so, all I can say is that I trust not 24 hours will pass before the India Office telegraphs to Lord Lytton to wind up the Indian Empire and come home. Talk of British India being invaded by the Afghans! Talk of England being conquered by the gipsies! To base a policy on a dream like that is, indeed, strange. But the noble Lord went on to quote Lord Lawrence's account of the plundering propensities of the Afghans. Who doubts them? I do not mean to say that they would not be too glad to invade India if they could, and I dare say the gipsies would be very glad to conquer England. We want the Afghan Ruler to be strong, because we want from him, as I have said before, "that kind of indirect assistance which a civilized Government must always derive from being known to exercise a pacifying and semi-civilizing influence around its own borders." But as for fearing the Afghans, I cannot understand what it means. Has it come to this, Sir? Has the shadow gone back upon the dial? Are we really not living in the year 1878, under the auspicious reign of Lord Beaconsfield and a Government which loves a spirited foreign policy? Are we afraid even of the Afghans? Is this not 1878 but 1761? Is Ahmed Shah, and not Shere Ali, on the Throne of Afghanistan? and we, are we like the last great ruling race which preceded us in India, about to suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the Afghans? What! am I to be told that when our troops have to meet this Afghan invasion, they will advance to do so as the Mahrattas are said by a historian of those times to have advanced at Paniput, with "every symptom of hopeless despair, rather than that of steady resolution?" Would "everything in our host bespeak the despondency of sacrifice prepared rather than the courage of victory determined?" And when the fight was over, would our commander have to write a letter to the Viceroy like that one which the Mahratta commander wrote to the Peishwa, and which broke his heart, as well it might, Sir, for it conveyed in figurative Oriental language only too true an impression of agonizing and intolerable disaster? Is that what is feared by this Government, which talks so much of a spirited foreign policy? India, as the noble Lord told us, has been often invaded from beyond the Passes. Doubtless it has, and England has been often invaded by the Norwegians and Danes. Are we afraid of the Norwegians and the Danes now? There are real dangers enough in India without inventing new ones. Did the noble Lord ever hear the Mahratta saying— "If each of us only threw a single clod of earth, we could overwhelm the white faces." Of course, they could; but did this prevent our taking fort after fort, each a sort of inland Gibraltar, and making the Mahratta country in no long time as quiet as Buckinghamshire or Kent? But we are told that a few Russian officers and a little money can do all sorts of dreadful things against us in Afghanistan. Supposing they could. Our policy is to keep them out of Afghanistan. Of course, if we went to war with Russia, we could not prevent her sending officers and money to Afghanistan, or anywhere else she could; but as long as we are at peace with Russia, we have a right to hold Russia to her engagements, one of which is to consider Afghanistan as wholly beyond her sphere of action. I am not hostile to Russia, but friendly to her, as long as she keeps her engagements, as a civilized Power should; but if she really sent into Afghanistan those European officers and that money of which the noble Lord speaks, I, for one, would desire to see it made a casus belli. I have ever been against fidgetty interference with the advance of Russia; but I have always maintained that we must draw a line at Afghanistan. Southern Central Asia is her affair—not to annex, if she be wise, but to influence; Afghanistan is our affair, not to annex, if we be wise, but to influence. There were a number of other things in the noble Lord's very interesting speech, as to which I shall state my views later, incidentally. I pass now to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who represents the India Office (Mr. E. Stanhope), to whom I should like to say that, although we are at the opposite poles of opinion about this particular matter—which is, indeed, not an Indian matter, but a broad question of Imperial policy—I shall hope usually to be able to give on purely Indian matters the kind of support which the right hon. Gentleman who now leads the House gave to me, and which I tried to give to the noble Lord, as he so gracefully acknowledged the other night. The hon. Gentleman, with more courage, I think, than discretion, attacked Lord Northbrook for his disregard of the orders of the Home Government. That, Sir, was a manifest afterthought, the offspring of disappointment at the course Lord Northbrook has seen it his duty to take in this business. If it was not an afterthought, why did the Government make Lord Northbrook an Earl? A Viceroy who disobeys the Secretary of State is criminally responsible. Bad as the eon-sciences of right hon. Gentlemen may be, they cannot think that being raised two steps in the Peerage by them is equivalent to a prosecution. But if Lord Northbrook was so guilty, why did the noble Lord who represented India on August 9, 1877, defend him in a manner so honourable to both parties? Then the Under Secretary of State complained of the mist of conditions and doubts in which, as he said, Lord Northbrook wrapped up his assurances to the Ameer. Would he, then, have wished that the assurances should have been unconditional? If so, he is in conflict with Lord Cranbrook, who expressly says that it was clearly impossible to make them unconditional. But perhaps he does not object to the assurances being conditional, but would have put conditional assurances in somewhat different words? If so, why did the Government which he represents never give a hint to Lord Northbrook that it would have preferred different words? Why did Lord Salisbury fail to authorize the Government of India, all the time Lord Northbrook remained at the head of it, to make any new concession to Shere Ali—new either in form or in wording? Is not this attack on Lord Northbrook equally good as an attack on Lord Salisbury? Then the hon. Member attacked Mr. Seton-Karr, and pooh-poohed his evidence about what went on at Umballa with respect to having British Agents in Afghanistan. Well, Sir, who is Mr. Seton-Karr? Mr. Seton-Karr is a gentleman who has been distinguished from the very beginning of his life, as all readers of Stanley's Life of Arnold know. After a long and successful Indian career, he found himself in 1869 Foreign Secretary. Through him went every single communication between Lord Mayo and Shere Ali which was of any real importance, and his evidence is, that Shere Ali and his people would not tolerate the idea of having British Agents in Afghanistan. Now, what do the Government set up against the evidence of Mr. Seton-Karr, who is, by the way, a strong Conservative, and has, in consequence, no bias in favour of our views? Why, chiefly the authority of Captain Grey, his own subordinate, and they make such reckless use of Captain Grey's evidence, that they quote him as an authority for what passed at an interview at which he was not even present. Then they press into the service a paragraph from a despatch of Lord Northbrook's Government, which runs as follows:— On the whole, however, we think that either the Ameer himself or his Minister Noor Mahomed Shah, did in confidential communications with Captain Grey express a readiness to accept at some future time not far distant the presence of British Agents at places in Afghanistan, excepting Cabul itself."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 131.] But they take precious good care not to quote the final conclusion of Lord Northbrook and his Government, which will be found at page 132, paragraph 20— Looking to all the circumstances of the case, the absence of any formal record of the alleged admission, its entirely private and confidential nature, and the uncertainty as to its scope and intention, we consider that we should not be justified in founding any representation to the Ameer regarding the Mission of a British Agent to Herat upon the assumption that he had, when at Umballa, expressed his willingness to agree to such an arrangement."—[Ibid. p. 132.] But what will hon. Members say when I tell them that Lord Northbrook authorizes me to mention that if, previous to sending that despatch he had been able to consult Mr. Seton-Karr, who was in England, and not in India, he would have considered his evidence as absolutely conclusive. That carries the matter a long way, but I can carry it further; for I am permitted to read an extract from a private letter from Lord Mayo to the Duke of Argyll, which absolutely settles the question. On June 3, 1869, Lord Mayo writes— The only pledges given were that we would not interfere in his affairs; that we would support his independence; 'that we would not force European officers upon him.' Now, any hon. Member who re-opens this question, of which so much has been made in this controversy, simply asserts that Lord Mayo deceived his official Chief—which no one will, I think, venture to do. I was led to these remarks by speaking of Mr. Seton-Karr; but Mr. Seton-Karr is not the only distinguished Indian who has been hardly treated by eminent persons during this controversy. Lord Lawrence has fared even worse, and the name of Lord Lawrence is too closely associated with some of the most stirring Indian memories for one who has represented the Indian Government in this House to hear him attacked without pain. In a great foreign city takes place a ceremony which I have never had the good fortune to see, though I know the place well, but which some who hear me may have been fortunate enough to have seen. Year by year the garrison of Seville marches into the great Cathedral, and lowers the colours to the tomb of St. Ferdinand; the King who took the city from the Moors six centuries and more ago. Sir, I think that, at least as long as he lives, Members of both Houses of Parliament would consult their self-respect if, when speaking of the North-West Frontier, they were to lower—observe, I do not say to strike—their colours to John Lawrence of the Punjaub. Are great men so abundant in this age of ours that the son of a great man should speak of one of our not too numerous great men, as the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) did the other night? Great men come only, Sir, at distant intervals, for opportunity must unite with Native force to make men great. Just look at some of our families most favoured by fortune. Take the Cecils. In the Elizabethan age there were two Cecils, one or possibly both of whom, at least as seen through the dimness of history, may fairly be called great. Well nigh 300 years have passed away before another Cecil has appeared who has risen sufficiently high on the ladder of success to have a chance of attaining even that sinister, that ill-omened greatness which comes from involving your country in grave calamity. Then an attempt was made to show that Shere Ali began to waver in his dependence on the British before Lord Lytton arrived in India. Had Lord Northbrook's policy been continued by his successor, I believe Shere Ali's ill humour would never have turned into anything like hesitation about the value of our alliance. But had not Shere Ali's uneasiness a good cause? Did the Under Secretary of State ever hear of a book called England and Russia in the East, and does he know by whom that most interesting book was written? That book was written by a Member of the Secretary of State's Council, Sir Henry Rawlinson. That book is full of most valuable things; but that book contains some passages which well might have frightened Shore Ali out of his senses. Well, that book, or parts of that book, are known to have been translated and to have reached his hand. I deeply regretted that that most valuable work was not weeded of some passages which could not fail to do mischief. I said so at the time, and I had some controversy with Sir Henry Rawlinson about it. I owe him, however, an apology, and I will make it. Trusting to the assurances given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) in 1873, and by Lord Derby in 1874, I believed that Sir Henry Rawlinson's book was to be blamed, as giving a view of English policy different from that of the Government. I now see that I was mistaken, and that Sir Henry Rawlinson, although writing under his own responsibility, spoke the secret mind of his official Chief; but, I still think as I thought, that passages in that book are most deeply to be regretted. I should be sorry to be misunderstood. I think Sir Henry Rawlinson's writings are of the greatest value. I have been in the habit of reading them for years with the keenest interest; but Sir Henry Rawlinson is like fire, an excellent servant—a bad master. The right hon. Gentleman made him a Member of the Indian Council, and acted most wisely in so doing. But did the right hon. Gentleman follow Sir Henry Rawlinson's advice about Central Asia? No, Sir; he knew better. What did he do? He took Sir Henry's Memorandum of 1868 and sent it out to India, thereby eliciting from Sir John Lawrence and his Council, by way of criticism and objection to that document, one of the most valuable sets of State papers ever laid before the British public. The Duke of Argyll succeeded the right hon. Gentleman. He, too, valued Sir Henry Rawlinson, and found him most useful. But did he follow Sir Henry's advice in Central Asia? No, Sir; he knew better. Time passed, however, and another Secretary of State ruled where the Duke of Argyll and the right hon. Gentleman had ruled. Then was seen a pendant to the old story of the magician and his apprentice. The right hon. Gentleman was an accomplished magician. He could raise his familiar spirit, make it do his bidding, and then lay it again. Not so the apprentice. Not so Lord Salisbury, he could raise the familiar spirit, and make it do his bidding for a while, but he could not lay it again. The familiar spirit was the stronger of the two, and imposed its will. Then the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State told us that no ordinary human being could understand the telegram which the Duke of Argyll sent to Lord Northbrook about Afghan affairs in 1873. Well, Sir, Lord Northbrook, to whom it was sent, understood the telegram, and acted on it. What more would the hon. Gentleman have? It has further been made a matter of complaint that the Duke of Argyll did not embody his views as to the affairs of Afghanistan in a formal despatch to Lord Northbrook in 1873. Why should he have done so? He had no new policy to announce. He found a very sensible policy in operation when he arrived at the India Office—the policy of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He held to that policy, never varying it in any one particular. Long before 1873, it had become, as he considered a "settled policy," past all discussion, so far as he was concerned. Had anyone called his policy in question in "another place" he would have been ready to defend it. He is not particularly slow in defending himself—rather likes, I should say, a free fight of an argumentative kind. When his policy was criticized in this House, I had his orders to defend it, and did so to the best of my ability. Whether I did so successfully or not is another question; but at least, neither in 1869 nor in 1873 did I leave in any doubt what his policy as to Afghanistan or the Russian advance in Asia really was. If those who called it in question thought they could have got any considerable minority of hon. Members to agree with them, I suppose they would have tried their luck in a division; but they knew that they would have had not only the then Government to fight, but all those Members on the other side who could be influenced by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who spoke on our side in both debates. And now, Sir, I turn from the noble Lord and the Under Secretary of State, to the great living authority to which I alluded some time ago. The right hon. Gentleman who now leads the House was Secretary of State for India when Sir John Lawrence came to the conclusion that Shere Ali was really the person whom the bulk of the Afghan people desired to support; and, when he determined, in consequence, to give material aid to that Prince, that step had the full support of the right hon. Gentleman, just as Lord Lawrence's previous policy—a policy absolutely commanded by our Treaty engagements, and advised by Dost Mahomed, of refusing to take a side as long as the issue of the civil war in Afghanistan remained doubtful—had also his full support. What I may call Sir John Lawrence's second policy remained the policy of successive Viceroys up to the time of Lord Northbrook's retirement. There was not one jot nor one tittle of difference between the Afghan policy pursued by Lord Lawrence at the end of his career, by Lord Mayo, and by his successor. All three assisted the Ameer, all throe gave him to understand that, as long as he conducted himself reasonably, he might rely upon our friendship; but not one of them was rash enough to give him the guarantees for which he constantly showed himself anxious. More than once, as I have said, the affairs of Afghanistan were before this House during the Vice-Royalties of Lord Mayo and Lord Northbrook, and the views which commended themselves to Her Majesty's then Advisers, and which were identical with those which he had held when in office, received the support of the right hon. Gentleman. Now, however, we find the right hon. Gentleman supporting a totally different policy, and what I want to discover are the reasons which have led the right hon. Gentleman to change his opinion. It may be that when we have heard his explanations we, too, shall be convinced. It will not be enough to say vaguely that circumstances have changed. How have they changed? It will be replied that Shere Ali has shown himself in less good humour with this country than he was at various periods since 1868—say, for instance, at the time of the death of Lord Mayo. Well, but I presume that the right hon. Gentleman when he sanctioned Lord Lawrence's later policy did so with his eyes open. If so, he know two things; first, that Shore Ali, though a man of natural ability, was a moody barbarian, with a dash of something very like insanity; secondly, that Afghans surpass the rest of the world in their addiction to the common practice of giving too little and asking too much. He must then have foreseen the inevitable, lie must have foreseen that the course of true love between Calcutta and Cabul would not run smooth; that Shere Ali would want more than he got, and would, from time to time, be very cross indeed with us. If he did not foresee this, then the policy which he inaugurated was wrong, and Mr. John Wyllie, the highly-gifted man, whose chance expression in an article in The Edinburgh Review—the expression, I mean "masterly inactivity"—has become one of the winged words of our generation, was right, in clinging to Lord Lawrence's first Afghan policy, and in censuring both the right hon. Gentleman and us. Up to Lord Lytton's taking charge of the Government, there was nothing whatever in Shere Ali's bearing to this country which might not have been expected by those who had studied his character. We had recognized his rights in the North to all the Dominions which had belonged to his father, from Wood's Lake along the Northern Oxus, and so right down the main stream to Khodja-Saleh; but we had not, in order to oblige him, done injustice to another of our Allies, the Persian Monarchy, nor would we give him guarantees, which would have been agreeable, but also it is but too probable fatal to him. Why would they have been probably fatal to him? Because, if we had given them the guarantees which he wished, the result in all likelihood would have been, first, that he would have embroiled himself with his neighbours; and, secondly, that he would have ruled so harshly at home as to cause the civil war to break out again. Take the case of Seistan. Will anyone tell me that if Shere Ali had thought he could reckon upon us to the uttermost, he would have allowed that question to be settled without a war? And what should we have gained by backing him in committing a wrong against Persia? Then as to his home government. Who that knows how influenced is the Court of Cabul by the lowest and worst kind of intrigues, would have thought it wise to go further than Lord Mayo did in his general assurances of goodwill with respect to Shere Ali's internal administration? Would it have been pleasant to have found ourselves engaged to support the side of one of the parties in a raging civil war, perhaps against the wishes of the bulk of the people? Supposing, for instance, we had guaranteed the succession of Abdoollah Jan, as Shere Ali wished us to do, and that that unhappy youth had lived, but that the bulk of the Afghan people had declared for Yakoob Khan, or some one else, would that have been pleasant? The world moves fast, and we forget the history of yesterday; but let anyone look back to Mr. John Wyllie's article, now re-published, on the old civil war, and see in what a pleasant predicament we might have found ourselves. All these considerations, I think, must have been present in outline to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman when he sanctioned Lord Lawrence's second policy; and, if so, the state into which Shere Ali was thrown when he wanted us to give everything he asked, while refusing to give anything soever in return, must have appeared perfectly natural. I should have expected then that the right hon. Gentleman would have exerted his influence in the Cabinet to have left things in state quo; to have allowed the Ameer having got out of humour to get into it again, as he doubtless would have done, whenever the pressure of necessity made him anxious once more to receive our liberal presents of money and arms. Unfortunately, however, this course was not followed. No sooner had Lord Lytton got to India than attempts were made to open negotiations with the Ameer, and proposals were pressed upon him of a nature most disagreeable to him. Now, I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman why this course—so contrary to all that he had done and to all that he had said during a long series of years—was adopted. I think I have made it clear that there was nothing in the attitude of the Ameer himself which should not have been foreseen by the right hon. Gentleman. Had then circumstances changed elsewhere? Had the attitude of Russia become such as to require us to throw over the old policy of the right hon. Gentleman, and to adopt a new policy with regard to Afghanistan? I reply that, in 1868, when the right hon. Gentleman was at the India Office, and when he sanctioned Lord Lawrence's second policy with regard to Afghanistan, every reasonable man who studied the question—and the right hon. Gentleman, a very reasonable man, must have studied it as a matter of political duty—ought to have come to the conclusion that the advance of Russia within a few years to the point which she has now reached was quite inevitable. Any policy adopted in 1868 with regard to Afghanistan which did not keep in view that Russia would gradually, and not slowly, advance in the three Khanates was a shortsighted policy and a bad policy. If the Afghanistan policy begun by the right hon. Gentleman and continued by us was to be rendered obsolete by the advance of Russia during the last decade, then it was built upon a shifting sand, and was altogether a wrong policy. I maintain, however, that as far back as 1868 the only wise way to look at this whole matter was this—Our interests are in no way so affected by anything that Russia can do in the three Khanates as to make it worth our while to take any steps with reference to her advance there. Our interests do not become affected till she approaches Afghanistan; but with regard to Afghanistan—and especially with regard to Herat—it must be distinctly understood that we could not for a moment tolerate any hostile interference. That country we hold to be within the legitimate sphere of our influence; and under no reasonable interpretation of Russian interests can it be of the slightest advantage to Russia to interfere with its boundaries. Then if the Ameer got into a panic because the Russians succeeded in their Khivan expedition, was it the part of men of firm mind to share his panic, to change their policy with regard to him, and to begin to negotiate with a view to counteracting Russian influence at his Court? That does not seem to me to have been the part either of firm men or of men who had a proper sentiment of their own dignity. It was with St. Petersburg, and not with Cabul, that we should have negotiated—if it was necessary to do anything at all. We should have reiterated to the Ameer the assurances so repeatedly given to him, and so solemnly renewed by Lord North-brook under orders from home; and if we had not said it sufficiently before at St. Petersburg, we should have again said there that any aggression on Afghanistan meant war with us. That position would have been intelligible and honourable, and would, I believe, have been supported by the whole people. Well, then, I think I have shown it to be extremely improbable that the right hon. Gentleman can have changed his frequently expressed policy for the reasons which I have examined. There must be some other reasons, which I cannot even guess, but which the right hon. Gentleman will, doubtless, be able to explain to us with his usual clearness. Granted, however, that the right hon. Gentleman had some good reason for changing his policy, I want to know what his new policy is? What is the Government driving at? Why are we making war? What end do we propose to attain when that war closes? Upon what do we propose to insist when we come to dictate the terms of peace? Is the war waged—as we have been told by a high authority—in order to obtain a scientific Frontier? or is it waged in order to force Shere Ali into being in all time coming an attached friend of the British Government? or is it waged because the Ministry, having by their mismanagement put themselves into the position of being slighted by Shere Ali, saw no other way of getting out of their scrape without a sacrifice of amour propre? or is it waged in order that in some mysterious way we may strengthen ourselves against Russia? or if for none of these, then for what other objects? First, then, as to the scientific Frontier. That opens two questions. Can we improve our present Frontier, and have we a right to improve it by going to war? As to the former of these questions, most diverse opinions are held by good authorities, My own impression, after comparing a great many different views, both at homo and in India, is that, if you take political and military considerations together and balance the advantages and the disadvantages of your present position, you have got, on the whole, a very good Frontier. I do not at all mean to say that those military men are not right, who tell you that for the purpose of defending yourselves against a great and well-appointed European Army, you ought not only to have the line of hills on your Frontiers, but the open country beyond. I have no doubt, for instance, that the Balkan Frontier—which the Government so much congratulated itself upon obtaining for those unhappy Turks at the Treaty of Berlin—is a very bad Frontier; and if everything were entirely different from what it is now, if Russia were five times richer than she is, and if she were ruled by a man as able and as warlike as Napoleon I., who was determined to invade India, it might be desirable before he started on his enterprize that we should, with the assistance and goodwill of the Afghans, who would have to bear the first brunt of invasion, be holding the triangle formed by Cabul, Ghuznee, and Jelallabad, with your present Frontier for your second line. I daresay that is true enough; anyhow, I am, for purposes of argument, perfectly willing to assume it to be true. But what has such a speculation as that got to do with the present state of affairs? Does anyone, not a candidate for Bedlam, believe that the Russia of 1878 could invade India if she wished so to do? and are we now going to go to the vast expense and trouble necessary for acquiring under present circumstances that coveted triangle, because it might conceivably be useful 50 or 30 years hence? It is hardly possible to imagine that any sane men should propose to embark on such an enterprize. Well, but perhaps it is not of this large rectification of the Frontier that the Government are thinking. Are they, then, going to turn Candahar and Herat into fortresses in advance of our Frontier, as has been proposed by another high authority? If so, have they counted the cost? The advance to Quetta looks very like taking the first step toward that most unwise and dangerous policy. If they are thinking of either of these two rectifications of our Frontier, no doubt they could not obtain them, as things stand, without war. But are they thinking of something much smaller—of certain little improvements at different points of our Frontier, then, I say, probably there are some improvements that they might make; but these would be at the expense not of the Afghans, but of some of the wild tribes between us and the Afghans. There is a little district very near Peshawur which, if there were no such thing as the eighth Commandment, or if our neighbours would sell it to us, I, for one, should be delighted to see in our possession, and I daresay our Frontier officers could show a good many such places. To attack the Ameer, however, in order to obtain those coveted spots, would seem a vain labour. Many of them do not belong to him, but to the wild tribes between us and him. To beat the Afghans in order to produce an effect on them is to invite a reply in the spirit of that which the English proprietor of Irish estates made to his agent when the unhappy man wrote to say that his life was in danger—"If my tenantry expect to intimidate me by shooting you, they are much mistaken." But is it, perhaps, of none of these Frontiers that the Government is thinking, but of a fourth, a new suggestion which has been lately imported into the controversy? Well, I, for one, am anxious to hear all that can be said for that new suggestion; but it is obviously open to many of the objections I have brought forward to the others. And one word now, Sir, about this scientific Frontier. What is a scientific Frontier? The phrase is a translation from the French, and in that tongue une frontière scientifique means a Frontier for which Nature has done nothing, and man has been obliged to do everything. The Frontier of France towards the Low Countries, which was defended by Vauban and others, with the line of fortresses which has become so famous, is the frontière seientifique, par excellence. The Frontier which Nature has defended by the Pyrenees is not a frontière scientifique. What the Prime Minister meant when he told us that we went to war for a scientific Frontier, goodness or the opposite of goodness only knows; but what he said was, that we went to war for a Frontier which we should be obliged to defend by a costly line of fortresses, leaving in order to do this a line of Frontier which Nature had made so strong that very little expenditure would be needed on it, even if an invasion were imminent, and none at all unless invasion were imminent. Under no circumstances could this scientific Frontier be found without taking in the whole of the wild tribes, nor, so far as I can see, without going right over into the valley of the Helmund. But supposing you take in the wild tribes, the proceeding is surely a most surprising one from a military point of view; while from a civil point of view, it is just as if a beekeper should annex 10,000 wasps' nests by way of a profitable investment. Supposing, however, that there is really some "scientific Frontier" in Afghan territory which we can obtain, and against which none of the objections I have stated can be brought—some "scientific Frontier" which has not yet been explained, but which the right hon. Gentleman will explain in his reply—have we a right to obtain that scientific Frontier by war? I do not think we have, unless it is a question of necessary self-defence. If it were proved that we should not be able to continue the vast civilizing process which we are carrying on in India without obtaining this "scientific Frontier," war might, no doubt, be a justifiable though hard necessity. But then it would have been our manifest duty to have put this scientific Frontier into our Ultimatum, to have said—"This scientific Frontier is to us a matter of life or death—give us it, or we will take it." No other course is consistent, I will not say with justice to our neighbour, but with justice to ourselves. Yet we have done nothing of the kind. We have never asked for a scientific Frontier, and it has, of course, never been refused to us. But perhaps this idea that we are going to war for a scientific Frontier is all nonsense, and we are going to war to shoot and sabre Shere Ali and his people into loving us for all time to come. If that be so, I will simply observe that the method has rarely succeeded in history; and our experiences with the Afghans in time past are not encouraging as to its success now. What is it that makes it so difficult to station British officers in their country? Chiefly the bitter recollections of the last war. The men who remember that war are beginning to die out, and it was probable that with time you might have overcome inveterate prejudice and suspicion. Now, however, you deliberately revive all the old feelings. Is that in accordance with common sense? But perhaps you do not wage war for a scientific Frontier; you do not expect to beat Shere Ali into good temper; and war has been merely resorted to as the easiest way out of a humiliating position. I confess it looks to me very much as if this were the case. I am afraid that when Lord Lytton was sent out, those who gave him his instructions were thinking rather of the effect to be produced at home by playing the card of a spirited foreign policy, than of anything else. I am afraid they did not calculate upon Lord Lytton going either so far or so fast, and that vast amounts of blood and treasure are now being sacrificed to questions of amour propre. If so, it may possibly pay for the moment. There are a great many people who like to find, when they open their papers in the morning, that we have taken a fort over night. They do not much care where or what the fort is. Undoubtedly the feeling which was expressed by the ferryman who, having asked a passenger if there was any news, and having been told, in reply, that the Dutch had taken Holland, thoughtfully observed, as his boat touched the further shore—"Guess we must turn them out of that, Sir," is a feeling pretty widely spread in this country, but it is not the deepest feeling in the breast of our people; and those who trust to it will find that they can build upon it neither enduring power nor enduring fame. But, perhaps, I do the Government great injustice, and it really has before it some vast scheme of policy with reference to Russia, of which this Afghan War is merely the prelude. If so, what is it? Are the Russians going to be driven over the Jaxartes? I firmly believe that that would be about the best thing that could happen to them; for I hold that their Central Asian possessions will, before the account is closed with them, cost them very dear indeed, in more ways than one. For Central Asia, however, I believe that it would be a great calamity. Russia in Central Asia has committed, doubtless, sins enough, and will commit many more; but she is, on the whole, a good and not a bad influence. But perhaps the Government is not dreaming of anything of the kind; if so, what is it dreaming of, or planning for, towards what goal are we advancing? May we not hope to have not vague phrases, but a clear, intelligible, definite statement of what we are fighting for? Of course, as I have admitted, the right hon. Gentleman may have something to tell us which will put an altogether new aspect upon this matter; but, if we are fighting merely to make the Ameer sue for peace, and promise to be our loving friend in the future; or, if we are fighting to make him accept a British Embassy at Cabul and elswhere; or, if we are fighting to make him receive British officers into the towns along his Northern Frontier, and not at Cabul itself; or, if we are fighting to obtain a small rectification of our marches; or, if we are fighting in the hope that Shere Ali will be overthrown and a more pliant Euler substituted for him, then I say that, irrespective altogether of the moral aspects of the transaction, we are buying brass with gold—we are pursuing, at vast expense and trouble, objects, some of which might be worth attainment, but none of which are worth making great sacrifices for. The Opposition has been taunted with not having a policy. It is not the business of an Opposition to find a policy; but, I presume, if we were in power, we should try to conclude the war as creditably as possible which the Government has so rashly begun, and then go back, as nearly as circumstances would permit, to the state of things when Lord Northbrook left India. The right hon. Gentleman does not wish to annex Afghanistan; of that I am sure. But what are we to think who read the following passage in a recent article of Sir Henry Eawlinson's:— The master of the upper plateau of Afghanistan commanding access to the Passes from the North is, in fact, the master of India, and it was in recognition of this military necessity, and not from any lust of territory or any hope of a re-imbursement of expense, that the Delhi Kings, whose rule we have inherited, held Afghanistan, for 200 years as a province of the Empire. Afghanistan, indeed, is both geographically and politically a part of India, although, since our last conquest of Cabul, in 1842, we have virtually and for our own convenience admitted the independence of the country. It will be said that Sir Henry Rawlinson, in writing this, is merely acting as a private person, and not as the trusted adviser of the Secretary of State for India, and at this very moment the head of the Political Committee in the Indian Council. In fact, Sir Henry does say so in so many words. He said, however, precisely the same thing in his book, England and Russia in the East, which was, as I have pointed out, one of the most important factors—perhaps the most important factor—in throwing the Ameer into the state of discomfort and suspicion which has led at last to this unhappy war. When Sir Henry published that book, he found himself in flagrant opposition to the views repeatedly put forward here by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer; yet it is Sir Henry's policy which has prevailed. Who shall say that his forecast will not turn out to be correct now also? If that be so, we shall only have gained a loss; we shall have brought about prematurely that meeting of the Sepoy and Cossack on the banks of the Oxus, which all wise politicians, who have studied the question, have at once foreseen and desired to postpone. It will not be necessary, even if they do meet, that they should meet as enemies; but, looking to the unjust and erroneous estimates of each others' characters which prevail in the two countries, it is but too probable, if they meet soon, that sooner or later they will engage in an armed conflict, while Asia stands by in silent amazement. If wise counsels had prevailed, it might have been that the meeting of our Frontiers would not have occurred till that weary group of East European and West Asiatic questions, which are the real cause of the estrangement between us and Russia, had been put in the way of settlement. Never were truer words spoken than some that were spoken to me in 1876 by the late Prince Tcherkasky, when he said that Central Asia was to Russia "l' Orient de fantaisie, while Turkey was l' Orient serieux." Now, however, the same Government which has upset the old arrangements between Peshawur and Samarcand has committed us, to the best of its ability, to strenuous opposition to Russia in Asia Minor. Just in so far as that opposition is successful do we increase her pressure upon us on the Oxus. If ever there was a state of circumstances which repeated trumpet-tongued to politicians the saying—"Can't you let it alone," it was that which has prevailed for many years back in the region lying between us and the outposts of Russia. An event once occurred which has not been very much noticed, but which struck Lord Ellenborough, who was Governor General at the time, very much indeed, and which may be worth mentioning. No sooner had the army which avenged our disasters in Cabul returned to India, and with all its vast train of followers put the Sutlej between it and the work which it had completed, than that mighty river came down in flood and swept away both the bridges by which it had crossed. There could hardly have been a more fitting ending for a melancholy chapter in our national history. It really almost looked as if a Higher Power had meant to give us a warning not to re-commence to play at the expense either of England or of India what was lightly and wickedly called, ere yet our first ill-fated army crossed the Frontier, the Great Game of Central Asia. I apologize, Sir, for having spoken at so much length; but there are numbers of points of the greatest interest which I have advisedly passed over. My wish has been chiefly to put a series of questions which might elicit from the right hon. Gentleman a statement as to the reasons why he has changed his old policy, together with a statement as to what he proposes to effect by the new one, and, in doing this, to indicate that unless he has some great surprises in store for us, I think he will find it difficult to convince us that the situation on our North-Western Frontier—difficult and anxious at the best of times—is likely to be improved by anything that has been done since Lord Northbrook left India. It is for the right hon. Gentleman, rather than for the Representative of the Indian Government in this House, to do this; for it cannot be too distinctly kept before the minds of hon. Members that none of the responsibility for this unhappy affair is shared by the Indian Council. The Indian Government had no more to do with the despatch of Lord Cranbrook, which let loose the dogs of war, than had anyone who read it for the first time in the newspapers, as was, doubtless, the case with many Members of that Council. Despatches about Indian affairs which have passed a Council of specialists, many of whom have been studying these affairs since boyhood, carry with them quite a different kind of authority from a despatch in which they have neither part nor lot; and to which not a few of the most experienced Members of the Council must have given the most determined opposition, had an opportunity been afforded them, unless they were to turn their backs upon some of the most important opinions they had held and expressed in a long and honourable career. It is the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues alone who are responsible for the blood which is now being shed. The Cabinet is quite peculiarly responsible in this matter. In 1877, attempts were made throughout all the Session to extract from the Government explanations as to what was going on on the North-West Frontier of India. We were met again and again by dilatory pleas; and when at last, on the 9th of August, I was able to bring the matter before the House, the right hon. Member assured us that "the mainlines of our policy on the North-West Frontier were unchanged"—I say, Sir, that we were not met fairly in that debate. Things were kept back which should not have been kept back—it was not fair as between man and man. But what happened "elsewhere" was a great deal worse. The answer given to the Duke of Argyll prevented the two highest authorities in this country upon Indian affairs initiating a discussion which would, as I verily believe, have roused the attention of the country in time, and have prevented this war altogether. The right hon. Gentleman will not, I hope, meet us in this debate, as he did in the Quetta debate. Of course, he will tell us the truth; but he will, let us hope, tell us the whole truth. There are certain people with whom, if I were addressing them, I should have to make some stipulations as to the kind of truth. I should ask them not to give us the kind of truth which would have made Escobar's hair stand on end, not the kind of truth which is thought good enough for the Duke of Argyll. The right hon. Gentleman will give us, I am sure, the good old-fashioned English article which goes down with the House of Commons—["Hear, hear!"]—I say, Sir, the House of Commons. There was once a great historical Assembly, I forget where, but in some far-off country, I suppose, in which a Minister, having been charged with giving to an ex-Minister a reply which it is impossible to characterise in language which I dare to use in your presence, calmly replied—"If such answers are not satisfactory, you shall have no answer at all." In that great historical Assembly the Members represented themselves. The Minister does not live who would venture thus to address the Representatives of the British and the Irish people. I have the greatest respect for the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but I pity the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A Chancellor of the Exchequer must have many bad quarters of an hour who belongs to a Cabinet which is prodigal of everything except authentic information to the two Houses of Parliament. I have, as I say, the greatest respect for the Chancellor of the Exchequer for many reasons; amongst others, because I also have respect for that old-fashioned virtue, economy, and I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be an economically minded man. Yes, Sir; but let him be economical of everything except of the facts which are necessary to enable the great Council of the nation to do its duty to the people and the Crown, and convince us that we are wrong. If he does, I, for one, am ready to follow him into the Lobby. I have expressed no opinion to-night which I have not expressed again and again in this House and out of it. I do not put Party above principle. I am open to conviction of the wisdom of the Government policy; but unless the right hon. Gentleman is going to burst upon us with some entirely new revelation, I cannot conceive how any man, unless he is actuated by mere Party motives, can do otherwise than vote with my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford.


said, the hon. Member who had just sat down began his speech by making an announcement they were all glad to hear—namely, that he did not mean to make any imputations upon the character of Lord Lytton; but he had ended by casting aspersions upon the character of Lord Salisbury, against whom he had ingeniously made certain inuendoes; and he had also cast asper- sions upon the proceedings and acts of the Members of Her Majesty's Government which he did not think the most subordinate Member of that Government could sit and hear and refrain from endeavouring to answer. The story of the answer given last year by the Marquess of Salisbury to the Duke of Argyll was now before the public; and he could not for the life of him see anything in the answer of Lord Salisbury that was not consistent with perfect truth, or that the answer was not as ample as the responsible position he occupied enabled him to give. Lord Salisbury was asked categorically by the Duke of Argyll whether we had endeavoured to force an Envoy upon the Ameer at Cabul? The Duke of Argyll knew as well as any person did that the gist of the question was in the words "forcing an Envoy at Cabul." Lord Salisbury answered that question with a distinct negative. The Duke of Argyll asked whether troops were being brought up to the Frontier; and Lord Salisbury answered that part of the question with perfect candour. The Duke of Argyll further asked, whether there wore any boats being prepared on the Indus; and Lord Salisbury answered that with the most perfect candour. The Duke of Argyll further asked, and it was last year, whether there had been any change in our relations with Afghanistan? Lord Salisbury replied that there had been no change for the last 12 months. Lord Salisbury gave the perfectly candid answer with which they were all acquainted; and, considering his position, he would not have been justified in going further than he did. Upon this incident the hon. Member had founded a general charge of want of candour on the part of Ministers in answering questions. He did not believe there ever was a Government that had been so much questioned as the present, and personally he had not been the least catechized; and he challenged the ingenuity and research of the hon. Member to detect any error of fact in any answer he had given.


I never dreamt of charging the hon. Gentleman with inaccuracy.


said, he know that the hon. Member did not say so; but he made a general charge against the Government. Not being acquainted with the archives in the Offices of his Colleagues, of course he could not do more than speak for himself; and he challenged the ingenuity of the hon. Member to find a single error of fact in any answer he had given to a Question. He must add that he had been asked many Questions suggestive of a great many things that it would not have been his duty to have gone into in his Answers. The gravamen of the charge against Lord Salisbury was that he did not choose, in his responsible position, to embark in all sorts of speculations with regard to Central Asia which now, a year afterwards, hon. Gentlemen thought would have thrown some light on the circumstances then occurring, but which had nothing to do with circumstances anterior to 1877. A great portion of the hon. Gentleman's speech was taken up with taunting Her Majesty's Government on the assumption that they wore afraid of the Afghan tribes, and the hon. Member founded that charge upon the speech of the noble Lord sitting behind him (Lord George Hamilton). The hon. Member seemed to have misunderstood the tenour and purport of the noble Lord's speech, just as much as he did the Answer given by Lord Salisbury. Certainly, so wild a notion as our being afraid of the Afghan tribes was never entertained by his noble Friend, who only said that Afghanistan was peopled by turbulent tribes, whose incursions had given us trouble for some years, and urged how desirable it was to terminate this state of things, both from a financial point of view, and also because of the effect these continual incursions had upon the minds of the people of India. That was a perfectly sound position, and entirely different from that which the hon. Member had described. The hon. Member went at some length into the question of the neutral territory. He stated that he would have left the question with regard to neutral territory just as it was; but he would have gone to Russia and said—"If you invade that territory in any way we will make it a casus belli." Well, why did the hon. Gentleman not do so? That was not the policy of the Duke of Argyll or the last Government. Lord Northbrook suggested that something of that kind should be done. He suggested that a despatch upon the subject of our relations in Central Asia should be brought to the notice of the St. Petersburg Cabinet, and they had on record in the last letter of the Central Asian despatches the distinct refusal of the Foreign Office to do anything of the kind. The hon. Gentleman complained of the expression which had boon used with reference to Lord Northbrook's letter to the Ameer that it was involved in such a mist of conditions that it was calculated to confuse and irritate the mind of the Ameer. He thought any candid mind reading these Papers must come to the same conclusion. That letter certainly did mystify the Ameer. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the Memorandum, with which all were acquainted, written by Sir Henry Rawlinson, which certainly had evoked some very valuable opinions, and no one who read that Memorandum carefully and candidly could hesitate to admit that there was a great deal of truth in it. Whether the author of the Memorandum or its critics were right, he would leave to the judgment of those who were most competent to form an opinion. The hon. Gentleman described at considerable length what he conceived to be the policy of the Duke of Argyll in regard to this question. A great many hon. Members, no doubt, knew from his speeches what was the policy of the noble Duke on this question. It was, however, unfortunate, and it might be regarded as an extraordinary omission in these Papers, that for a period of nearly five years there was not a scrap of paper to be found from which any human being could detect what the policy of the Duke of Argyll was. It was, therefore, so far satisfactory to hear an authentic account of that policy from the hon. Gentleman; but it would have been still more satisfactory if the House could have known from the Blue Book what that policy really was from 1869 to 1874 with regard to this great question. The hon. Gentleman devoted the latter part of his speech to the criticism of what was called a scientific Frontier, and he said we had gone to war for a scientific Frontier. We had gone to war for no such purpose. We had gone to war to wipe out an insult offered to the honour of England; and no British Minister could have avoided going to war for that purpose. As to the questions which the hon. Gentleman had raised with reference to a scientific Frontier, he would only say Her Majesty's Government would be perfectly prepared to justify any arrangement that might be arrived at; but the time had not yet come when they could talk of such a thing as our Frontier arrangement of the future. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the improved state of feeling in Afghanistan while the old policy was maintained; but he (Mr. Bourke) had failed to discover any satisfactory evidence of this in the Papers which had been produced. On the contrary, all that could be seen from the Blue Books was that our relations with Afghanistan since 1869 had been going from bad to worse, and the Border inhabitants could not visit Afghanistan without encountering hostile manifestations. But the hon. Gentleman said this was the effect of British policy in the East. Why, the measures to which the hon. Gentleman thus alluded were defensive measures. They were calculated to avert evils for which we were not responsible—against which we protested from the first—evils which were directed against the power and liberties of Europe; and those measures were ratified and approved by that House in a most signal and emphatic manner. And now, forsooth, these measures were to be condemned, according to the hon. Member. And why? Because, according to the theory of the hon. Member, they had been the moans of developing the danger which some public men had foreseen, but which the public did not before believe in, and which some, who should have known better, refused still to believe in with obstinate simplicity. A great deal had been said upon authority on this subject and on personal character connected with it. He did not complain of any hon. Member for citing authorities, and when one cited living authorities the citations had necessarily more or loss of a personal character. But there was one great difference between the authorities on the one side and on the other upon this question, and that was that the authorities who had been in favour of the inactive or old policy had boon the moans of landing us in the failure of 1873, from which we had never recovered; while those who had been on the side of Sir Bartle Frere and others had seen their prophecies altogether fulfilled. But this was not a question on which the House of Commons should be guided by authority only. They had the means of judging for themselves. No person with half the in- tellect of an ordinary Member of the House of Commons could fail to arrive at a conclusion satisfactory to his own mind. He would put aside the question the hon. Gentleman had addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; when his right hon. Friend had the opportunity of speaking he would, no doubt, explain the opinions he had formerly expressed in a manner that would be satisfactory to the House. The hon. Gentleman stated that the estrangement of the Ameer had been caused by persistent attempts on the part of the Indian Government to locate British Residents in his territory. He would undertake to prove that the estrangement of the Ameer happened before 1876, and there was no reason to believe that the Ameer in his heart really objected, under certain conditions, to have British officers resident in his territory. At any rate, he should be able to show that the demand for the residence of British officers in Afghanistan was a necessary and just demand. Between 1869 and 1873 active negotiations were carried on between the Cabinets of St. Petersburg and London with regard to Afghanistan; and the main result was that the good offices of England were to be exerted to restrain the Ameer from aggression on Bokhara, whilst, on the other had, Russian influence was to be exerted to restrain Bokhara from aggression on Afghanistan. Those negotiations were brought to the notice of the Home Government and they took them into their serious consideration. They were referred to in a despatch from Lord Northbrook, which would be found in the Blue Book dated June 30, 1873, No. 28. Lord Northbrook, after reviewing the general features of the case, said—the passage would be found at page 106— At the same time, much will depend on the firm adherence to the policy of non-annexation both by England and Russia; for we have good reason to believe that an advance of the Russian Frontier towards that of Afghanistan would undoubtedly revive in that country the uneasiness which the frank avowal of the good understanding between Great Britain and Russia on the general question of Central Asian policy has done much to allay. It was suggested that a copy of that despatch should be sent to St. Petersburg; but the Government of that time were certainly not of the opinion either of the hon. Member who had just addressed the House or of Lord North- brook, because the despatch was not sent. Lord Lawrence was much of the opinion of the hon. Member—namely, that we ought to have entered into an arrangement with Russia, and if Russia violated it, we were bound to go to war. But that was not the opinion of the late Cabinet. Well, the Ameer evidently became alarmed at this time by the advances made to him by the Governor of Turkestan. His alarm was expressed in a letter from the Vakeel at Cabul, which would be found at page 197 of the Central Asia Papers. In it were the following passages:— Yesterday a murrasila from the Russian Governor in Turkestan was received by the Ameer in answer to His Highness' communication mentioned in my petition of 18th May, 1872.….His Highness in private said that he gathered from this murrasila that it was the wish of the Russian authorities to establish a regular and frequent correspondence with the Cabul Government. What demands careful thought in their inconsiderate language is, that notwithstanding that the Russian Government must have thoroughly apprehended and been convinced that the weal or woe of the Afghan State is entirely bound up in and associated with that of the British Government, still when writing about boundaries they make use of this unguarded expression, which may indicate God knows what intentions in their minds, viz., 'for as much as the slightest alteration in intention leads to displeasure between parties, it destroys entirely the harmony which may exist between them.' Further, when the Governor of Turkestan writes in his letter that the instructions of his Sovereign are to avoid all interference with or annoyance to his neighbours, it is a cause of astonishment that the Russian interpretation of harmony with neighbours is a strange one, for in but a few years they have extended their possessions from the foot of the Throne of Russia to the borders of Bokhara, and now style the Afghan State 'their neighbours,' oblivious of the fact that Bokhara and Khiva intervene. If (which may God forfend) the country of Bokhara and Khiva becomes theirs, and their Frontier is extended without the intervention of any buffer ('pardah') to the limits of Afghanistan, which may indeed be truly styled the Frontier of Hindustan, God only knows what line of policy or demeanour they will adopt towards Afghanistan, and what troubles may be in store for the Afghan and English Governments. On these considerations he was induced to hope that when the British Government has read and understood the drift of this murrasila, they may bestow even more serious attention than they have hitherto done on the establishing and maintenance of the boundaries of Afghanistan. [Cries of "Date!"] The date was July 20, 1872. It was perfectly clear, therefore, that the Ameer was at that time thoroughly alarmed; but the Government of India, relying on the engagement with the Russian Government about the Ameer'a territories, treated his alarm as visionary, and wrote a letter telling him to regard the matter in a friendly spirit. We were told that anxiety day and night pressed on the Ameer; and when, after receiving such a letter from the Governor of Turkestan and attaching such a meaning to it, he found no notice was taken of it by those whom he had been led to look to as his protectors in case of need, he was naturally estranged. And, again, in a translation of a letter from the Agent at Cabul to the Commissioner at Peshawur, which would be found at page 110 of the Afghan Papers, there was an account of a conversation in which the Ameer said— My anxiety which I feel on account of the Russians will never he removed unless the British Government adorns the Afghan Government with great assistance in money and ammunitions of war for the troops, and unless great aid is given for the construction of J strong forts throughout the northern Afghan border. And, further, if an emergency arises for the Afghan Government to oppose the Russians, such opposition cannot take place without the co-operation of the disciplined troops of the British Government. At that time, therefore, it was perfectly evident that the Ameer was ready to admit the disciplined troops of the Indian Government into his territories, and that he was not averse from seeing British Residents in his dominions under certain circumstances. An Envoy was sent from the Ameer to Peshawur, and on his arrival he made two distinct propositions which would be found at page 114 of the Afghan Papers. He requested, in the first place, that in the event of any aggression in the Ameer's territories the British Government would distinctly state they would consider the aggressor an enemy; and the next was that the contingency of aggression by Russia should be specifically mentioned in the written assurances to the Ameer. Telegrams, therefore, passed between the Indian and the Home Governments, the result of which was that the Ameer's Envoy was told it was advisable to postpone the question to a more convenient season. This refusal of the British Government to allay his anxiety was warmly resented by the Ameer, for he always looked upon that Mission as a failure. The Ameer's feelings could be gathered from the reply which he gave to the Viceroy. That was the satirical reply which had been read before and which, of course, he would not read again. He would only say he did not think that anything more clever or satirical had ever been penned by a Potentate, and it certainly showed that the Ameer was then smarting under feelings of the deepest kind—feelings from which he feared the Ameer never recovered. After indulging in this sarcasm the Ameer curtly refused a very plain request of Lord Northbrook with regard to a General who proposed to pass through his territories. About that time—1873—Yakoob Khan, his eldest son, who had for years been on bad terms with his father, was summoned to Cabul, where he went on condition that he should not be detained. He was arrested, however. We know that Lord Northbrook wrote a letter to the Ameer on the subject, and there was no one in this country, he was sure, who would blame Lord Northbrook. If he had been in Lord Northbrook's place he would have been inclined to do the same thing, accompanied, perhaps, by other suggestions. But that proceeding, whether prudent or not, had always been resented by the Ameer, and over and over again he had looked back to it as one of the greatest grievances from which he suffered. He should not have mentioned this subject had not the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) brought forward the charge that the estrangement of the Ameer began in 1876. As great reliance was placed on that assertion by the opponents of the Government, it was important to meet it, and to show that there was not only an estrangement, but a decided feeling of injury in the mind of the Ameer before that time. We could not be much surprised at this; because at that period the Ameer's chief object was to obtain the recognition by the British Government of his favourite son Abdoolla, and he naturally thought that otherwise all the evils and misfortunes he had suffered himself would devolve upon his favourite son. He would now proceed to the second proposition—that there was no reason to believe that the Ameer entertained originally any real objection to receive British Residents in Afghanistan under certain conditions.

The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Grant Duff) seemed to attach greater importance to the testimony of Mr. Seton-Karr than to that of Captain Grey, simply because the former gentleman was the official Secretary. He was happy to say he believed he enjoyed the friendship of Mr. Seton-Karr; but that was no reason why he should not express his opinion that as Mr. Karr did not speak Persian, and as Captain Grey had a colloquial knowledge of that language, the latter would be the better authority as to a conversation carried on in Persian. At page 143 of the Blue Book it was stated that— From a reference to the secret records of the Persian Office, it appears that on the 17th March 1869 (while the Ameer was at Lahore) X. Y. reported the substance of a discussion which took place at Cabul on the receipt of the Viceroy's letter of the 9th January 1869. In this discussion the Ameer, Noor Mahomed Shah, and others took part, and the conclusion arrived at was that the British Government had no intention of interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. This discussion was followed next day by a private discussion between the Ameer and Noor Mahomed Shah, at which no third person was present. It turned upon the following passage in the Viceroy's lotter:—'It will be left to the Head of the Government of India year after year to determine what shall be done by the British Government in proof of its desire to strengthen your Highness' power, and what assistance in the shape of money and arms shall be given year after year for the consolidation of your Highness' Government and in evincing the good-will of the British Government.' Syud Noor Mahomed Shah observed that' it does not appear from the wording of the passage what are the wishes of the British Government. If the Government desires to ask for any place in Afghanistan wherein to establish a cantonment, it is impossible to comply with its wishes, considering the usage of Afghanistan. If the Government should desire to send its troops to this country under the name of an auxiliary force, this will alienate the tribes from us and unsettle men's minds. What is practicable is this, that the money and arms be given by the British Government; the men composing the troops should be provided by us, and the power and management should rest with ourselves.'


Who are you quoting from?


replied that he was quoting from the secret records of the Persian Office in India. This document, which would be found at page 143 of the Blue Book, purported to be a conversation with the Ameer and his friend in 1869 when he came down to Umballa.


Who is the witness?


The hon. Gentleman will find it all in the Blue Book.


The witness is X.Y.


Yes; I hope the hon. Gentleman will not follow the example of others who say that these documents are untrustworthy.


I want to see evidence that they are trustworthy.


said that, at any rate, all these documents were prepared ante litem; so that there could be no aspersions as to the wish of any individuals connected with the Government of India to put forward anything after the facts of the case were before the public. The document went on to say— Hearing this interpretation the Ameer said—'May God will that at the time of treaty the wishes and requisitions of the British Government be such that there may seem nothing to prevent our complying with them. I would agree even to this, that the troops be our own and the military officers and drill instructors be furnished by the British Government, and that a confidential Agent of the Government be stationed in Balkh and Herat!' Syud Noor Mahomed Shah said—' Be that as it may, at the present time the British Government has also its own objects in view. You are the same Ameer Shere Ali Khan who after the defeat at Candahar repeatedly asked for assistance. Why did not the English agree then? Now both the parties have their own objects. May God vouchsafe all that is good! Then it appeared that— On the 18th March X.Y. repeated a discussion that took place in the Saniman Boorj in the Lahore Fort on the 17th March, at which the Ameer observed that personally he would have no objection to an English Envoy being stationed at Cabul, but that owing to the turbulent character of the people it would not be safe. The same objection, however, did not apply to Balkh, Candahar, or Herat, and the arrangement by which an English officer should be stationed at these places would be beneficial to both Governments. A translation of this report was sent to the Foreign Office, and printed in extenso.


Read the context.


proceeded to read as follows:— The Ameer and his councillors are reported to have said—'The object of the British Government appears to be to place their own men on the Frontier. On every account the best plan would be that the Ameer arrange himself to procure intelligence and send it to the British Government. His Highness would be prepared to expend two lakhs of rupees annually for this purpose from his own treasury. On the 2nd April 1869 X.Y. reported that the previous night Syud Noor Mahomed Shah had represented to the Ameer that it would be advisable that the British Government depute Mahomedans to the borders of Afghanistan, Candahar, and Herat, and after the conquest of Balkh to Balkh, for the purpose of procuring information. That, however, was only the opinion of Noor Mahomed, and he had already directed the attention of the House to what was the opinion of the Ameer. He hoped hon. Members would observe the sentence which followed— No more than one European or Native news-caterer should be stationed at one place. The Ameer approved of this advice.


Read the last sentence.


read as follows:— X. Y. now states that, so far as he could ascertain at Umballa in 1869, it was the belief of the Ameer's councillors that he never agreed to the location of British Agents in Afghanistan. He was perfectly content to put the question in the way in which Lord North-brook put it; and this disposed of the contention of Mr. Seton-Karr and other persons. There was no trace in 1873 that the Ameer would object to the presence of British Agents in Afghanistan, excepting Cabul itself. At page 131 of the Correspondence this passage occurred— On the whole, however, we think that either the Ameer himself or his Minister, Noor Mahomed Shah, did in confidential communications with Captain Grey express a readiness to accept at some future time not far distant the presence of British Agents at places in Afghanistan, excepting Cabul itself. But our impression is that the intimation was intended to be contingent either upon the receipt of far more substantial assistance than was promised the Ameer at the Umballa Conferences, or upon the conclusion of a Dynastic Treaty, that is, upon obtaining the recognition, in a Treaty with the British Government, of his son Abdoolla Jan as his successor. Such a formal recognition His Highness was anxious to secure, but Lord Mayo, for obvious reasons, declined to entertain the proposal. That placed the whole case quite clearly and fairly. The truth was, that until the Ameer got alarmed in regard to the invasion of Central Asia, he looked much more to the safety of his own Throne from his family than to anything else. He hoped he had clearly established that up to the year 1876 there was no reason to believe that the Ameer would have objected to Residents being placed on his Frontier on certain conditions. He would next proceed to show that the demand that British Agents should be established in certain towns in Afghanistan was a demand which it was wise, necessary, and just for the Government to make. When Lord Salisbury assumed the Seals of the India Office in 1874 this country, it must be remembered, had undertaken very serious obligations with regard to Afghanistan, and he hoped he was not egotistical when he said that he took an opportunity of pointing them out to Her Majesty's Government at the time. The arrangement made in 1873 with Russia was the cause of an entirely fresh consideration of the whole affairs of the country; and from the very nature of the ease, from the very circumstances in which the Ameer was placed, and the unsettled state of Turkestan, and all the regions between Persia and Merv, it was perfectly clear to the Government that what was now called the old policy, or rather the old method of proceeding, should be revised, and our position re-considered. At page 56 of the Central Asia Correspondence it would be found that Mr. Doria wrote from St. Petersburg, on October 6, 1875, to Lord Derby, saying that Baron Jomini had read to him a paragraph from a despatch from Krasnovodsk, in which it was stated that the Ameer of Afghanistan was said to be intriguing and exciting ill-feeling among the Turkoman tribes near Merv, which, his Excellency added, it was very desirable should be avoided. It was, therefore, perfectly clear that the Russian Government was ready to cast upon us the responsibility for what occurred with respect to Afghanistan and Merv; and that was quite sufficient to induce the British Government to take into serious consideration the whole of our relations with Afghanistan. Lord Salisbury's object, when he came to consider the state of the Ameer's mind, and to read the documents that were forwarded to him from India, was to win back the Ameer, if he possibly could, to the disposition in which he was when he left the Umballa Conference, and to draw closer the relations between the two countries. Then was written the despatch of 1875, which had been so much commented upon. Lord Salisbury directed that measures should be taken for establishing a British Agency at Herat. A great deal had been said about the animus shown by Lord Salisbury at that time; and the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) had given the House to understand that he was guilty of a very high-handed proceeding in pressing the admission of an Agent at Herat. He did not think that was a fair charge. But in order to understand what was really in Lord Salisbury's mind and intention, they should read the concluding paragraph of his despatch to Lord Northbrook, in which he said— I have dwelt upon the importance of an English Agency at Herat exclusively for the sake of the information an English officer might collect. But it will have other material, though more indirect, results. It will he an indication of English solicitude for the safety of our allies, and may so tend to discourage counsels dangerous to the peace of Asia."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 129.] So that when he wrote that, Lord Salisbury had the most kindly intentions towards the Ameer. Then came Lord Northbrook's despatch objecting to that course. But considering what they knew regarding the advances made by Russia, and considering the communications which the Governor General of Russian Turkestan was making to the Ameer were becoming every day more frequent, was it not, then, the duty of Her Majesty's Government to ascertain what was really passing in Afghanistan, and not to be dependent on Native Agents for the information which should guide their relations with that country? At that time it was perfectly clear that their means of obtaining information were extremely unsatisfactory. Sir Richard Pollock's testimony on that point was thus referred to at page 137 of the Blue Book— Any Native Agent who took a perfectly independent tone at Cabul, and made no secret of reporting regularly to his Government, without reference to the wishes of the Ameer, all information that he believed to be correct, would very shortly find his position at Cabul unbearable. That showed that the means of obtaining real information did not then exist, and that the proposal to place British Agents in certain places was politic and necessary. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) was extremely indignant with Lord Salisbury; and the House evidently went with the sentiment which that hon. Gentleman uttered when he described the suggestion of Lord Salisbury to Lord Northbrook, that the latter should find some opportunity, some pretext, for pressing that matter on the Ameer, as "conduct unworthy of a British statesman." The words used by Lord Salisbury were, he thought, "find occasion." [Mr. CHILDERS: "Create."] It was very easy to put an evil construction upon anything. And it was impossible really to argue with anyone who came to the discussion with a foregone conclusion that some person or other, whose writing he was about to discuss, had been guilty of an ignoble action. But he asked the House to take that paragraph and compare it with one which appeared in Lord Northbrook's despatch in answer to one of these very communications. Speaking about the question of having a resident Agent at Herat—the advantage of which, the House should recollect, was never disputed for a moment by Lord Northbrook—that noble Lord himself, at page 133 of the Correspondence, wrote thus— We recommend that no immediate pressure he put upon the Ameer, or particular anxiety he shown by us upon the subject, but that advantage he taken of the first favourable opportunity that his own action or other circumstances may present for the purpose of sounding his disposition and of representing to him the benefits which would be derived by Afghanistan from the proposed arrangement. Well, as he read that, it was almost a paraphrase of Lord Salisbury's words "find occasion." Lord Northbrook, very naturally and very properly, did not wish to deal brusquely with the Ameer, but desired that the Ameer himself should afford or create an opportunity, and that when that opportunity was presented it should be taken advantage of to discuss the matter. There was really no difference between the proposition thus made by Lord Northbrook and that for which Lord Salisbury had been so much blamed. The proposal that an Envoy should be received was made and rejected. A Vakeel was sent down to Simla to have communication with Lord Lytton. It was at this time that Lord Lytton first became acquainted with the real feelings of the Ameer on the subject. He wished here to refer to what was called the "aide mémoire for the British Agent at Cabul," given at page 185 of the Afghanistan Papers. Lord Lytton had been accused of using at that time imprudent language, of bullying the Ameer, and of authorizing the Vakeel to use most imprudent language to the Ameer. It was no part of his duty to defend every word of the language which had been used by Lord Lytton to the Vakeel. But before the House came to any decision upon this question it must be understood that Lord Lytton did not wish his conversations with his own confidential Agents to be conveyed to the Ameer as expressing his views, but rather the aide mémoire, which was drawn up with the special intention that it should be presented to his Highness as the expression of the views of the Viceroy; and he defied any hon. Member to find anything in that document which was not of the most kind, considerate, and flattering character. The words of Lord Lytton's aide mémoire, to which he wished to call attention, were the following: — I authorise the Agent to tell the Ameer that I am glad to find it in my power to relieve his mind from many apprehensions as to my intentions, which appear to have been caused by circumstances previous to my assumption of the Government of India. 2. I authorise the Agent to tell the Ameer that, if His Highness wishes to make me his friend, I will be a warm and true, a fast and firm, friend to him, doing all that is practically in my power to stand by him in his difficulties, to cordially support him, to strengthen his throne, to establish his dynasty, and to confirm the succession in the person of his son Sirdar Abdoolla Jan. 3. I am, therefore willing to give him a Treaty of friendship and alliance, and also to afford him assistance in arms, men, and money, for the defence of his territory against unprovoked foreign invasion. I am further willing to give him immediate pecuniary assistance, and to give to his son, Abdoolla Jan, the public recognition and support of the British Government. 4. But I cannot do any one of these things unless the Ameer is, on his part, equally willing to afford me the practical means of assisting His Highness in the protection of his Frontier, by the residence of a British Agent at Herat, and at such other parts of that Frontier, most exposed to danger from without, as may be hereafter agreed upon. I do not even wish to embarrass the Ameer, whose present difficulties I fully sympathise with, by carrying out this arrangement until after the signature of a Treaty of Alliance between us, on terms which ought to satisfy His Highness of the perfect loyalty of our friendship; nor until after the Ameer shall have had the means of making known to his people that the presence of a British Agent in Afghanistan signifies that he is there without interfering in internal State matters, as the firm supporter of the Ameer and of the heir-apparent, to aid them with all the influence and power of the British Government in defending their country against foreign aggression, and to discourage attempts on the part of the disaffected to disturb its internal tranquillity or weaken the throne of His Highness. 5. It will be the duty of any such British Agents to watch the external affairs of the Frontier, furnishing timely and trustworthy intelligence thereof to the Ameer, as well as to the British Government. Should the Ameer at any time have good cause to complain that any British Agent has interfered in the internal affairs of the country, the Agent will at once be recalled."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, pp. 185–6.] What more could be said than was actually said by Lord Lytton in the document which he had quoted? He could not help thinking that if the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) was aware of the actual state of the facts at the time when he spoke he acted unfairly in basing this part of his case against the Government, not upon the aide mémoire, which was, but upon the record of confidential communications, which was not, intended to be laid before the Ameer as the expression of Lord Lytton's views and wishes. So far as he was personally concerned, it was no part either of his desire or his duty to justify the wisdom of Lord Lytton in stating, so freely as he did to the Vakeel, his own opinion as to the position of the Ameer; but he challenged the hon. Member for Bedford to show that Lord Lytton desired to convey to the Ameer any language that was really offensive. An attack had been made upon the Government for the manner in which the Conference was closed; and it was said by the hon. Member for Bedford that Lord Lytton took the step because he found that the British officers would not do what he wanted, which was to obtain an extension of Frontier, and that the Government were anxious to pick a quarrel with the Ameer. He did not think anyone could read the history of the Conference without concluding that Sir Lewis Pelly, who knew exactly the mind of the Viceroy on the subject, and was in close relationship with him, showed the greatest patience, temper, and skill in the way in which he managed the negotiations. Sir Lewis pelly's account of the whole business was perfectly clear; and it was not only grossly unfair, but inconsistent, for the Opposition to base their whole case upon confidential communications which had passed between the Vakeel and the Viceroy—communications which were never intended to be repeated to the Ameer—and to ignore altogether the aide mémoire used by Sir Lewis Pelly which was intended to be read to the Ameer, and which declared the opinions of the Viceroy. The negotiations for the Conference were broken off, and the whole case was fully stated in the final letter of the 15th of March, 1877, from Sir Lewis Pelly to Syud Noor Mahomed Shah, one passage in which was as follows:— If, however, as would seem to be the case, the Ameer, influenced by circumstances or considerations still unknown to the Viceroy, has completely changed his mind since he entered upon the negotiation (which, in its present form, was originated by His Highness), the very last thing desired or attempted by the British Government would be to pin His Highness pedantically to the fulfilment of an understanding from which he now wishes to withdraw, or the adoption of an arrangement which he does not regard with satisfaction. So far from wishing to urge upon his reluctant consideration the expediency of British Officers being appointed to assist him in the defence of his Frontiers, I am to inform your Excellency that the proposal of this arrangement was regarded by the British Government as a great concession; and that the British Government will most assuredly not allow its officers to undertake duties on behalf of Afghanistan involving a residence in any part of that country, unless their presence there is specially invited and cordially welcomed by the Ruler "of it."—[Ibid. p. 216.] It was also said that the Conference was broken off because Lord Lytton feared he should not be able, in consequence of it, to carry out his own peculiar views—a most unwarrantable statement. The Ameer was increasing his military strength, massing his troops on the Frontier, inciting his troops to a religious war, soliciting the support of the Akoond of Swat, tampering with the tribes, and corresponding with the border Chiefs. In such circumstances, Lord Lytton believed it would have been wrong then to continue the negotiations; but he did not close the door to their resumption between the months of March, 1877, and September, 1878. The Ameer, however, took no advantage of that. Finally, the Ameer, who had based his refusal to receive English Residents in the towns on the ground that he would, in that event, have to receive a Russian Mission, and that Christian lives would not be safe in his territories, received a Russian Mission at Cabul with great pomp and ceremony, and prepared to fire on a British Mission. It was a mistake to suppose that our relations with Afghanistan had ever been of a neutral character. Afghanistan had always been regarded as under British protection. All the negotiations between the Russian and British Cabinets in the years from 1869 to 1873 proceeded on that basis. We were looked upon as the protector of that country by every Power in Europe, and by the Ameer himself. Large subsidies of money had been given to the Ameer, and extensive supplies of guns and firearms of every description, so that his conduct, in the face of these facts, indicated base treachery. He should like to know what the result would have been had England sent a Mission to Bokhara, and had it been received in a pompous manner, a Russian Mission in the meantime being fired upon. He thought there would soon have been an end to the Ruler of Bokhara. The Viceroy had treated the Ameer with full consideration, and after all that had passed the Government placed Shere Ali in a locus penitentiœ. They gave him a month to consider, but it was all to no purpose. If there had been further procrastination, what would have been the effect on the tribes of the Frontier, who had already entered into friendly arrangements with the Representatives of the Viceroy, and with whom it was so essential, under any circumstances, to be on good terms? What would have been the effect on the Princes of India generally, who were looking on with anxiety? They had seen an insult offered to the troops of their Empress, and they spontaneously came forward with offers of aid to wipe out the insult. There was, in his opinion, nothing more gratifying in the whole of this business than the fact that from all parts of India Her Majesty had received the most cordial offers of the great Princes to co-operate by force and sympathy. The Nizam had sent from Hyderabad to offer his support; the Maharajah of Cashmere had offered to send a large number of troops into the field. The Maharajah Scindia of Gwalior, and the Maharajah Holkar of Indore, had done the same; and so had all the Rajpootana Chiefs, whose long lines of ancestry gave them a most commanding influence in the public life of India. All the great Rajahs of the Punjab, who 30 years ago were their enemies, had come forward to support them. Apart, therefore, from all other considerations, it behoved England to be careful not to do anything to discourage what was in the minds of the Indian Princes, or to tarnish in their eyes the honour of the Empire. But it was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich that the Papers had been "kept back." This was a very convenient phrase, and one that it was always desirable to fasten on a Parliamentary opponent. He could not help thinking, while the right hon. Gentleman was denouncing the Government, that he had laid himself open to a very obvious retort. If the House-would turn to the Blue Book, it would be found that more than one-half of this Book was "kept back" by the right hon. Gentleman himself. One hundred and seventeen pages of the Book recorded transactions which had occurred before the present Government came into power. It might be said that no opportunity had arisen for the production of the Papers; but he would be excused for mentioning that in 1873, when the discussion took place on the Central Asian Question, he (Mr. Bourke) expressed regret that the House had not at that time the opinion of the Indian Government upon this question. Several hon. Gentlemen had spoken about the Prerogative of the Crown being strained by the Government. He regarded that charge as the most serious that could be brought against a Government. He looked upon the Prerogative of the Crown as being just as much a portion of the liberties of England as trial by jury or habeas corpus. These rights had been given to the Crown to exercise for the benefit of the people; and the Constitutional Advisers of the Crown ought to be the last to suffer any interference with them. But he held there was no wiser Prerogative of the Crown, or one which contributed to, or was more necessary for, the liberties and safety of this country, than that which threw upon the Crown—or, rather, upon the Constitutional Advisers of the Crown—the responsibility and solemn duty of declaring war to be necessary. To deny that right would be fatal to the best interests of England. He believed that our commerce would not be safe for a single day in any part of the world if retribution did not follow upon insult. He believed that English life in many portions of the world would not be safe if quick retribution did not follow upon outrage to English life; and he thought it would be a serious gain to great military and arbitrary Powers if, restrained by no Constitutional shackles, as we were, they could inflict a blow upon our honour or our territory, and that that blow could not be returned without the dilatory process of a vote in Parliament. What would have been the consequences in the present case had they been compelled to make a representation to Parliament before undertaking the war? They would then, in all probability, have lost advantages which had now been gained. They would, in all probability, have found Afghanistan fully armed; they would have found it fortified; they might have been obliged to sacrifice much more of English life; and they would, no doubt, have been engaged in a protracted war. In addition to all that, if they had been compelled to consult Parliament they would have been landed in a diplomatic antagonism which, under the circumstances, might have brought on serious difficulties. The Peace Party said—"Why did you not go to war with Russia?" All he could say upon that point was that they had done what they invariably did in dealing with a weak Power—and which, he thought, was very much to their honour—they had submitted to that from the weak which they would not have endured from the strong. If any great State had given England a tittle of the offence which Shere Ali had given, there would have been war long since. Lastly, he had to refer to another point which had been raised in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) at Greenwich—with reference to the Russian Mission to Cabul. The right hon. Gentleman quoted two despatches—the first, in which Lord Salisbury wrote to Mr. Plunkett— Should it prove that there is any truth in the statement that a Russian Mission has proceeded to Cabul, you will express the hope of Her Majesty's Government that it may lie at once withdrawn, as being inconsistent with the assurances so frequently received from His Highness."—[Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), p. 150.] and that in reply, in which M. de Giers wrote to Mr. Plunkett— I should add that the Mission, which you erroneously attribute to General Abramoff, is of a provisional nature, and one of simple courtesy; it cannot, therefore, interfere in any way with the pacific assurances which you mention."—[Ibid, p. 164.] And the right hon. Gentleman founded upon that the theory that Lord Salisbury acquiesced in that construction. That might be, if these two passages stood by themselves; but the right hon. Gentleman omitted to quote these important words from M. de Giers' despatch— The dispositions of the Imperial Government.….have necessarily been affected by the political condition in which we were placed by the attitude of England during the recent crisis in the East. But he entirely denied that Her Majesty's Government had ever admitted that the Russian Mission to Cabul, being one "of a provisional nature and one of simple courtesy," was, on that ground, consistent with the engagements of Russia. But if the Russian Mission was at Cabul on account of the political condition of the relations between England and Russia, that was an answer the justice of which we could not dispute. That was the ground taken by Lord Salisbury. The provisional or courteous character of the Mission did not affect the question, but the relations between the two Bowers did; and the Russian Ambassador had admitted that the Mission was an infraction of the agreement. He was sorry for having detained the House so long. He had endeavoured to meet some of the arguments that had been advanced in support of the proposed Vote of Censure, and he had endeavoured to prove that the war was just and necessary. He hoped and prayed most sincerely that, as it had been undertaken in self-defence, it would come to a speedy conclusion. He believed there never was a war undertaken more strictly in self-defence—that was, the defence of our Indian Empire, which he trusted would ever be as dear to the House as our own homes and our own honour.


I have endeavoured to examine this question strictly on its merits, and to form an independent opinion, entirely apart from Party considerations. I have tried to guide myself by a sense of right and justice, having regard also to the lives and taxes which the inhabitants of Ireland—and of Scotland and England too—may have to expend on any foreign quarrel that may arise. I have had to record a good many votes against the Government on foreign questions on which the Government appeared to trench on the rights of this House, or where they appeared to be leading us into very undesirable wars. At last, when Her Majesty's Government at the end of the last Session brought us peace—peace with honour—and saved us from a war—at least kept us out of one—I felt no hesitation in recording my vote for them. It turns out now that while we were discussing the Berlin Treaty, and for months and years before that Treaty came under discussion, a series of proceedings were being carried on under the direct guidance of statesmen in this country, which were calculated, if they were not intended, to launch us into the war in which we are engaged. I confess if I had known when the Berlin Treaty was before us that the Government, while holding out peace on the one hand, was on the other engaged in the measures which have led to the present war, I should have hesitated before I recorded that vote. Within living memory there never was a time when such commercial depression and agricultural distress prevailed both in this country and in Ireland, and it is in the midst of a state of things like that that this war comes upon us. I have spoken of the proceedings of the Government as being calculated, if not intended, to produce the present war. I do not believe that the wise and prudent heads in the Cabinet, to whom we particularly owe it that we escaped war with Russia last Session, could be fully acquainted with the proceedings of the last three years between Lord Lytton and the Ameer; but I think it is evident that by one head or by two heads—and those ingenious ones—the diplomacy and negotiations of the last two years were intended deliberately to produce the war, though they give but a very poor justification for the aggression now made. All through it has been argued, and all through the negotiations have proceeded on this footing—that those negotiations were intended to enforce the reception of British Envoys in Afghanistan. I venture to say that after the statements that have been made, and the debates we have listened to, no one can believe that the reception of those Envoys in Afghanistan was the end and object of the negotiations. Why, we have been told by the most experienced Indian administrators that the Native Envoys we had in Afghanistan were sufficient to give us all necessary information. We were told furthermore—and the negotiations proved it—that the insistance on the reception of those Envoys could only have one effect, and that was to add to their refusal the irritation of the ancient and faithful ally we had in the Ameer. We are told all these things, and yet we are asked to believe that the First Lord of the Treasury, and an able statesman like the noble Lord who represents this country as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and who was then connected with India, conducted these long negotiations simply for the purpose of procuring the reception of British Envoys into a country in which it was admitted that the lives of British Envoys would not be safe, and where Native Envoys admirably performed all the duties that could be expected from delegates of any kind. There is further proof that it was never intended to make the reception of the British Envoys the end and object of the negotiations. When the first Envoy at the Peshawur Conference died, the Viceroy of India knew, as has been stated—and it remains uncontradicted in this House—that a second Envoy was coming, and that the second Envoy came prepared to concede what had been put forward as the pretext of those negotiations for two years. Then suddenly, and without any reason being given, the Conference of Peshawur was closed, because it was found that the pretext which was to lead to this war was about to disappear. Something further—the moment war becomes inevitable, I suppose in the one unguarded moment of his career, the First Lord of the Treasury comes forward, and says that the result of the war was to be an appropriation of territory. That was the object of the war. Was that a just object? I will not ask whether it would be worthy of the memory of our former conquests in India, because that is a delicate subject; but I will ask whether it is worthy of the principles which are supposed to govern this country in its foreign relations? It seems to me that it would have been more dignified and more worthy for this country to have negotiated openly with the Ameer for the cession of those territories, and to have said—"Give us those territories, which will be useful to us against our common foe, and our alliance will be cemented." Thus, under pretext of an object which would have been futile if persevered in, we have got into war, and I believe the result will be to lower the honour and prestige of this country. A few moments ago the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs congratulated us on the loyalty shown by enlightened Native Princes in coming forward with offers of assistance. Enlightened truly! They are enlightened as to the course the British Government will pursue towards any Native Prince who would thwart its purposes. They know that the sword of Damocles hangs over their heads, and that their safety depends on their offering assistance when required. We have been consoled, at an early stage of the Session, by the announcement that the people of India were to boar the burden of the cost; but it is a poor consolation to any generous mind in either of the two Islands we represent that the expense should be thrown on the wretched people of India, who have already greater burdens than they can bear. For my part, although I represent a population who complains of its taxes, and which can hardly bear them, I reject the consolation. If the spirit which dictates this war proceeds we shall find ourselves engaged in other contests, and the poor taxpayers of India may not be able to bear the cost of extended operations of the kind. A great deal has been said by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) on the infraction of Constitutional rights involved in the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government, and we heard from the Under Secretary of State the old doctrine literally advanced of the right of the Crown to declare war. There is no question of the right of the Crown to declare war—the question is whether, for the sake of the harmony which ought to prevail in a great Empire like this—where union is strength and dissension is weakness—the Crown ought to have declared war without consulting the other Estates of the Realm? Her Majesty's Government have put us in such a position that no man dare refuse the Supplies, because he will then be charged with failing to support the Government at a grave and critical moment. They take away the right of deliberation by Parliament; they take away the right of refusing Supplies. No Englishman would be willing to refuse Supplies when he knew the troops wore depending on them. This Ministry has uniformly deprived us of all real control over the foreign affairs of this country. I have heard weak men say that Parliamentary government is on its trial at present. That means that if Parliament does not assent to the proceedings of the Government—if it insists on the right of the people of these Islands to see that their money is wisely, honestly, and justly spent—Parliament must be in some manner passed over, and its influence set at nought. I entertain very little fear on this score. There have been occasions in the history of this country when the power of Parliament was put in opposition to the power of another branch of the Government, and put into that position by the unwise exercise of the authority of the superior branch; and if the present course was persevered in, and a reverse wore to happen to the arms of England, what branch of public authority would be in danger? Would it be the House of Commons, representing millions, whoso prosperity was interfered with—whose fortunes were spent, whose blood was lavished by the authority of Ministers—or would it be that authority which Ministers abused? Everyone must know which would be the victor. In the history of the country from which I come we have in the past seen such negotiations entered upon, and Treaties made and tortuous diplomacy exercised, just as they have been exercised against us for definite purposes. We have seen Native Chiefs and Native owners of property and Native sources of authority and administration trapped and led into these negotiations, and we have seen the framework of social disorders. We have seen property taken away from the people, and we have seen Chieftains deprived of their inheritances, and that, too, in not very remote days, for it is only 180 years ago since the thing was finished. We have seen all this fresh in our history, and it is the same thing as that which we are now carrying on in Afghanistan. You will conquer this Afghanistan Monarch—you will add strength to your Frontier; but where is your civilizing influence to govern now when you have driven Afghanistan into the arms of Russia?—if, indeed, you have not planned with Russia a nefarious scheme of dividing the territory among yourselves. ["Oh, oh!"] I make no hesitation in repeating a view which occurred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, and a view which has not yet been contradicted on either side of the House. ["Oh, oh!"] At any rate, if it has been contradicted, it is yet open to me to say that if you have no plan with Russia implicitly or explicitly, you have given Russia an excuse for doing North of Afghanistan what you have done to the South; and it is not by appealing to British justice, by appealing to your own spotless conduct, that you will prevent Russia from following your own course. If you want to do that, you will do that which will at last drive this country to go to war with Russia. I have felt that it is the duty of Irish Members to make this protest, though some of us have doubts whether we do not make some sacrifice of opinion by taking part in any but Irish affairs. I do not share those feelings. I have always felt, however small their weight, that Members coming here should discharge their duty according to the oath they have taken to be true to the Queen. It is their duty to stand up against what appears to them to be unjust to foreign countries. Perhaps we do not exercise as much influence as we ought; and perhaps those unfortunate dissensions which appear so amusing to you, but are so disastrous to us, prevent the voice of Ireland being raised, as it ought to be raised, in defence of the weak and in defence of right and justice in other countries. I think that if the voice of Ireland could be heard now it would be proclaimed against the unjust acts to which I have referred; and that I am acting in unison with my constituents, and the large majority of the Irish people, in joining the Liberal Party to-morrow in protesting against a war which it seems to me there is no necessity for, and for which, if there was a necessity, it is a necessity created by the conduct of the Ministry, and which necessity admitted has led in any case to a most unjust and un-Christian war.


said, they had been told that this war had been undertaken for the purpose of resenting the insult which England had received. Nobody doubted that an insult had been given; but the position which he took, and which was shared by many Members sitting on his side of the House, was that the collision which had ended in war ought never to have taken place. Before stating the grounds on which he supported this Vote of Censure he would for a moment refer to what had fallen from the last speaker, questioning the loyalty of the Native Princes of India. He had some knowledge of the feelings of those Princes, and that warranted him in saying that there was no foundation for any such assertion. He believed the policy pursued towards them continuously since the Mutiny had removed from their minds every feeling of distrust. He had in candour to say that he did not share in what had been said in the course of this debate in condemnation of the Secretary of State for India for initiating what had been called the new policy; because when he went into office hE had information as to what was going on in Asia which induced him to come to the conclusion that some vigorous measures should be taken with regard to our relations with Afghanistan, and he was not going to blame him for so doing. Further, he would say this—that if they were to maintain their supremacy in Afghanistan, Russia should have nothing to do with that country, and he believed that was admitted by all leading statesmen; and if they were to carry out that policy, it could only be done by their having an Envoy in some part of that country. Everybody who knew anything of Indian affairs would tell them that it was utterly impossible to learn anything referring to Indian States unless there was a Representative in those States, and to ask that an Envoy should be received in Afghanistan was a reasonable and proper request. There was another point to which he would refer, and it was this. It had been assumed throughout the debate that what was called the policy of masterly inactivity had been universally carried out since we entered into relations with Afghanistan, and that there had never been the suggestion of any other policy. Such, however, as he understood the Blue Book, had not been the case. It was, in fact, impossible to maintain a uniform policy—our policy must be changed according to circumstances; and it was a reflection on Lord Lawrence to say that he was unable to change his policy in the face of a change of circumstances. He would mention an instance of this in the conduct of Lord North-brook. In 1875, when it came to his knowledge that the Russians were making an advance upon Merv, did he recommend the policy of masterly inactivity? He recommended nothing of the kind. On the contrary, he said that, having regard to Turkestan, it would be desirable that we should have a resident Agent at Herat. There was another instance of this in the conduct of Sir John Lawrence in 1867, when it was rumoured that Shere Ali was negotiating with Russia to recover his position in Afghanistan by ejecting his brother, who then reigned as Ameer of Cabul. When that rumour reached Sir John Lawrence, did he suggest that nothing should be done? On the contrary, he said in his letters— Should the rumour prove untrue, of course the necessity for any unpleasant action will no longer exist. But if it turn o it to be founded on fact, then in that event we think that it might be highly..…for the interests of British India to declare the Treaty at present existing between us and Ameer Shere Ali at an end; and to openly assist the party in power at Cabul."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 20.] or, in other words, he declared that the proper policy, under the circumstances, was to declare war. No doubt further down he said it was not desirable to send a resident Agent into Afghanistan; but the distinction between going to war because of a refusal to secure a British Agent and going to war because of Shere Ali's intrigues in Russia was a distinction without a difference. He referred to these matters to show that there had been a great deal of unnecessary discussion with respect to the initiation of a new policy. The reason they were now at war with Afghanistan was not, as had been repeatedly stated, because a new policy had been initiated, but because Lord Lytton was sent out to India with a determination to have a war, and he did not believe in what had been said about the reluctance of Lord Lytton to engage in hostilities. He did not believe at all that there was that extraordinary repugnance on the part of the Ameer to receive an Envoy; and he felt that had the other conditions been different the Ameer would have accepted. But the fact was Lord Lytton never intended that the conditions of an excep- tional kind should be entered into, and he came to that conclusion after a careful perusal of that part of the Blue Book relating to Lord Lytton's administration. He admitted that the position of affairs when Lord Lytton went out to India in 1876 was one of extreme difficulty, and he (Lord William Hay) was the last man not to make full allowance for it. At that time our relations with Russia wore very much strained, and war with that Power was not only possible but probable. In Central Asia, on the Northern Frontier, there was a Russian officer, General Kaufmann—resolute, courageous, adroit, and not over scrupulous. In Afghanistan we had a country ruled over by a clever, energetic, but, at the same time, an affrighted Prince. He would not refer to the reasons which led to that state in Shere Ali's mind in which he refused the Mission. He believed that it was produced by various causes, not the least of which was the vulnerability of his Turkestan Frontier. He did not believe that Shere Ali was at any time thoroughly hostile to Great Britain; but that, on the contrary, he would have preferred an alliance with England to an alliance with Russia. What, in the face of these circumstances, was the duty of Lord Lytton? It was his duty to imitate the conduct of General Kaufmann, and to have done everything in his power in defence of the interests of his country; and he (Lord William Hay) would be the last to support this Vote of Censure upon that nobleman for anything he did up to the date of the Treaty of Berlin; but what he did complain of was the unworthy sentiment which prevailed in the despatches on this question. For instance, he found this expression in one of the letters— As regards the latter, our only interest in maintaining the independence of Afghanistan is to provide for the security of our own Frontier." [Ibid. p. 183.] Could they conceive anything more distasteful or abrupt? It did not appear that Lord Lytton cared an atom about the Chief or people of Afghanistan any more than if they were so many sheep upon the mountains, or, to use the expression of the hon. Member for Oxford, our only regard for Afghanistan was that it should act as a buffer between ourselves and Russia. As he had said, the spirit and tone pervading these documents were disastrous. Then fol- lowed the Conference at Peshawur. There was a story told of an officer of irascible temper being sent on an important Mission; and when it was asked why a person with such an infirmity should be entrusted with such a delicate duty, it was said he had been sent there to be a blister; but in saying this he did not wish to imply that Sir Lewis Pelly had been sent to the Peshawur Conference with any such intention: but from his knowledge of that clever and distinguished man he should say that he was the man least likely to effect an amicable understanding with the Ameer. He found no fault with what took place before the Treaty of Berlin was entered into; but the Treaty had effected a total change in the position of things. After the Treaty was signed it had become the duty of the present Government to make every representation in their power to the Russian Government to induce them to withdraw their troops from, and to recall their Mission from, the territories of the Ameer. He believed that the Government had very wisely and properly adopted that course; but, at the same time, to make their policy effectual, they ought to have sent instructions to the Indian Government to avoid the risk of collision with the Ameer. It was indispensable that that should have been done. The position in which Russia had been placed in consequence of this war was a most peculiar and unpleasant one. How was it possible for Russia to withdraw altogether from the position which she had taken up at Cabul when it was known throughout Central Asia that the war had been declared in consequence of her having taken up that position? To use an Eastern expression, if Russia withdrew from it now, her face would be blackened. Moreover, this war gave Russia the excuse she wanted for further extending her Possessions towards India. Had she been asked to withdraw her Mission, and had we at the same time acted in a conciliatory manner towards the Ameer, Russia would have had no excuse for doing what she was now doing—extending her forces to Merv, and perhaps, in a few years, to Herat. He believed that if Shere Ali had had a little time allowed him he would have come round, because he thought he was never really hostile to England. The Blue Book afforded evidence of his desire to be on friendly terms with England; and no better evidence of that friendly disposition could be furnished than the fact, that when choosing an asylum to which, he could send his relations in time of trouble, he looked not to Russian territory, but to India. He would further say that, in his opinion—and he had some knowledge of the country—the military position would not have been in the least degree imperilled or prejudiced if a little further delay had been allowed; it would have been just as good next spring as during the autumn of this year. When they considered how mischievous would be the consequences of provoking this war, there was really no explanation of it, but that the Government were determined to go to war. The right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) said he believed this war was undertaken because the Government considered it necessary to maintain the prestige of England. He heard a very brilliant speech the other night, in which the speaker said that of all the fruitful causes of war he knew the most fruitful was the dogma of "peace-at-any-price." If that were so—and no doubt there was some truth in it—he ventured, on the other hand, to say that of all the other causes fruitful of mischievous and unnecessary war, this doctrine of prestige was one that exorcised the greatest influence. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hall) said that prestige was like the credit of a bank or a mercantile institution. He agreed in that comparison; but what did the credit of a bank depend upon? It depended upon its resources, and upon the knowledge that those resources were adequately, carefully, and prudently administered. The prestige of a country depended exactly on the same conditions; and what he had to complain of was that the administration of this country was not at present conducted on sound and prudent principles. They had recently had melancholy experience of a bank sustaining its credit long after it had ceased to deserve it. It was badly managed, and not only that, but it was badly managed in secret. The innocent shareholders woke up one morning and found themselves on the brink of ruin. Our affairs were badly managed in India, and managed in secret; and we might wake up some day and find not only war declared, but the most disastrous consequences inevitable. It was because he sincerely believed that the management of the affairs of the State was now in hands that ought not to be trusted to manage them, and that mismanagement had led to an unnecessary and therefore unjust war, that he should heartily give his support to the Amendment.


said, that the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down had proved, at any rate, that any reason offered in support of the Amendment was sufficient to gain the approval of hon. Members below the Gangway, however much they differed among themselves. He desired to state, at the outset, that he considered it deplorable that they had been unable to carry on the debate on a great question of policy without importing into it imputations of dishonesty and fraud. Such a course was calculated seriously to lessen the dignity of that great Assembly. The hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs had thought it fitting in him to speak of Her Majesty's Government as being prodigal of everything but of authentic infomation. ["Hear, hear!"] He was obliged to hon. Gentlemen opposite for that cheer, as it showed that not only the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff), but other hon. Members, were content to make and to carry on those personal imputations. Another personal imputation had been made in reference to the despatch of Lord Cranbrook, which had been remarked upon in a similar way; but, for obvious reasons, he would not comment upon that matter. Nor would he quote the speeches which the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Greenwich and Pontefract (Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Childers) had delivered to their constituents. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had stated, in respect of the despatch of Lord Cranbrook, that in it the art of saying one thing and of suggesting another had been carried to such a pitch of perfection that he doubted whether the future, with all its development, would he able to improve it. He did not propose to say one word in defence of the character of Lord Cranbrook, or of his despatch. That he left in the hands of the House, in which the noble Lord had sat for 20 years. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the Blue Book involved mis-statements of fact amounting to reckless negligence, which he stopped short of saying raised suspicions of deliberate deception. That, as the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) observed, was saying, as nearly as it could be said in Parliamentary language, that the Blue Books contained untruths. Well, he listened with interest for the proof which the right hon. Gentleman might adduce in support of those accusations; and he was astonished—as he was sure hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway were also—at the mouse which the mountain in labour brought forth. It turned out that the right hon. Gentleman had armed himself with the microscope of prejudice, and having scanned the Blue Book thought he discovered certain inaccuracies, which, if true, were of very little importance, for what did they amount to? For his part, he was far from admitting that the right hon. Gentleman had adduced any conclusive proof of his assertions. The despatch of the Indian Government to the Home Government of the 10th May, 1873, was, the right hon. Gentleman said, intended to deceive. How could it deceive, when it inclosed the 52 documents on which it was based? In like manner, how could Parliament be deceived by the despatch, when, with the despatch, they received copies of those 52 documents? Then, again, it was said that the Instructions to Sir Lewis Pelly, which he road to the Ameer's Envoy, were intended to deceive him. It certainly could not deceive the Envoy, who was thoroughly acquainted with all the facts; and it could not deceive Parliament, to which it was presented, with the explanatory documents. The imputations cast upon Lord Salisbury—greatly, as he thought, calculated to discredit both Houses of Parliament —he would not refer to, as they had been satisfactorily refuted by the noble Lord. It was, however, interesting to remember how Lord Salisbury, who, when he, for reasons which did him the highest honour, separated himself from his Party, became the idol of the Party opposite, as being a most honourable and straightforward man, was now sought to be degraded by them, so that among them there were "none so poor to do him reverence." He ventured to think that Lord Salisbury would dis- regard the blame passed on him now as he did the praise bestowed on him then by the Liberal Party from the same unworthy motives. There were three questions of varying importance to which he desired briefly to refer. The first was, Who was responsible for the estrangement and ill-will of the Ameer? Next, was it caused by the policy of Her Majesty's Government? And, most important of all, was it true, as hon. Gentlemen opposite asserted, that that policy was not an honest policy, but was one used as a pretext for going to war? That was a serious assertion to make. A Government might err, and could, in consequence, be turned out; but if they adopted a particular policy as a pretext for going to war, they would be guilty not of an error, but of a grave and serious crime. When he heard those accusations so freely made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, he was reminded of an anecdote told of a scion of a distinguished Liberal house, who had attained the advanced age of three years, and who, having heard a great deal of political conversation, addressing his mother, said—"Mamma, are all Tories born bad, or do they only grow bad?" He did not know whether it was the original sin of Toryism, or the Toryism that had grown up that they were now accused of. Well, but to what was due the blame for the estrangement of the Ameer from the British Government? He believed it was due to the policy pursued by Lord Northbrook in 1872. The cause was to be found there—the effect, the evidence of his estrangement appeared subsequently, and was evidenced by his letter, in which he showed the greatest proof of hostility that had appeared in any epistle ever addressed by an Oriental Prince to the British Government. The Ameer demanded certain assurances from us, and he was far from saying that he ought to have received them. One was that we should protect him against aggression from Russia. His Envoy entreated that such an assurance should be given, and he received one which was vague and unsatisfactory. But they were now told that the assurance given meant the same thing. But, if it did, why was it not given in plain terms? Hon. Gentlemen opposite said that such an assurance would have been offensive to Russia; but as Russia had declared that she did not intend to interfere in Afghan affairs, in what respect could it be offensive? No doubt the assurances given by Lord Northbrook to the Ameer were very much the same as those given by Lord Mayo; but it should be remembered that circumstances had considerably altered in the interval. The Russians had advanced; and while, at the time of the Umballa Conference, the Ameer had barely attained official recognition, and was glad to have Lord Mayo's friendship on any terms, at the period of Lord Northbrook's Viceroyalty he came forward to say—"I have Lord Mayo's assurances, but I want something more definite," and was met with the answer —"No; we will adhere to our settled policy." It was alleged that the negotiations carried on by Lord Lytton were nothing more than a pretext for war; but Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon, who certainly could not be regarded as favourable witnesses for Her Majesty's Ministers, were in the Cabinet during the greater part of the time, and they saw no tendency in the policy of the Government to war. He had intended to deal with the Constitutional question, but he would not now take up the time of the House by doing so. He would only say, in conclusion, that he considered that the temporizing policy of the Ameer left the Government no other course than they had adopted. The Ameer temporized, in order to see whether he could come to terms with Russia. He (Mr. A. Gathorne Hardy) ventured to think that Her Majesty's Government had been treated, under circumstances of the greatest difficulty, as no other Government had ever before been treated. Their negotiations had been interrupted and their actions misinterpreted. The Opposition had shown but little generosity, and if the wish of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) were fulfilled—namely, a speedy appeal to the country—he believed the country would show more generosity than had the Members of the Opposition. He did not believe that the country was frightened by the Constitutional bogies that had been conjured up; but he believed it would support the Government, recognizing that, though under circumstances of great difficulty and danger, there might possibly have been some blundering, the Government had acted honestly, and had done its duty.


dissented entirely from the three pleas which were offered in justification of the war—namely, the so-called insult to our Embassy; the danger apprehended from Russia; and the necessity for a rectification of Frontier. The insult to our Embassy, it seemed to him, had no better foundation than one of those convenient telegrams of which, unfortunately, we had had so many, official or unofficial; and which, having served their purpose of inflaming the passions and exciting the supposed patriotic zeal of Englishmen, were contradicted. With regard to our jealousy of Russia, surely there was no reason for its existence now that "peace with honour" had been brought back from Berlin, and that Russia was one of our Allies. And as for fear of Russia, under whatever Government might exist, he hoped this country occupied too high a position to do anything derogatory or unjust from fear of Russia. The third, or "rectification of the Frontier," plea was of all three the one that ought to have least weight in an assembly of Englishmen. In plain language, it meant nothing more nor less than coveting your neighbour's property and removing your neighbour's landmark. Nothing could be politically right which was morally wrong; and all the three reasons alleged for the war appeared to him abhorrent to his own moral sense as well as contrary to the principles of hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Opposition side of the House. The policy of the present Government reminded him of the lines of Moore— Has love to that soul, so tender, Been like our Lagenian mine, Where sparkles of golden splendour All over the surface shine— But, if in pursuit we go deeper, Allured by the gleam that shone, Ah! false as the dream of the sleeper, Like Love, the bright ore is gone.


said, this was one of the rare occasions on which he was not content to give a silent vote, and it was with regret he found himself taking part in a "Party" debate on a grave Indian subject which ought to be looked at from a far higher point of view. But hon. Gentlemen opposite had chosen to depart from the healthy traditions of Parliament on such questions, and with them the responsibility of the matter lay. The debate, unfortunately, was not only to be regretted for itself, but also for the language imported into it, particularly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. He had always before listened to the right hon. Gentleman with pleasure and admiration, and more than often with instruction and advantage; but when he heard the right hon. Gentleman speak the other evening he said to himself—"How are the mighty fallen!" When he thought that the other day he was a powerful Minister of a powerful Party, always receiving for his opinions generous interpretation of motives, his language the other night was to his mind, he would say, deplorable. He could not better sum up his opinion than in the words of a favourite actor now living, in which he said—"Of all the shows that ever we did see, this is the most scorching exhibition of all." The right hon. Gentleman's speech was a scorching one, scorching in its terms, but certainly not from the strength of its arguments. Passing from that painful subject, he came to the indictment formulated against the Government. He would ask on what that indictment was based? and he thought the reply was that during the last 12 years —under a succession of Viceroys—a perfectly peaceful policy with regard to Afghanistan was pursued, and that all of a sudden, without adequate motive, and without the cognizance of the people of this country, that policy was designedly changed, and that Lords Salisbury and Lytton, acting in concert, so conducted their negotiations that they had virtually, and with malice prepense, brought on the war which was now upon us. That, if substantiated, would be the basest accusation that could be brought against public men; and, if so substantiated, they would certainly deserve to be driven from Office and from power. But what were the facts? Lord Lawrence and his successors pursued a policy which, perhaps, was fitted for the times in which they ruled—a policy designated by the high-flown title of "masterly inactivity." It was not a very appropriate title; for it was a policy of referring to a more convenient time and a later day subjects that might have been dealt with and grappled at the time. It was not necessary to say a word in disrespect of the three noble Lords, for they stood too high in public estimation to be affected by hard words. But he lamented, as did the country, that hon. Members in that and the other House should come home and, by implication, throw dirt on successors, who had to deal with the difficulties they bequeathed them. The case of Lord Lytton stood on different grounds. He was engaged in carrying the standard of the Queen in a far distant country, and consequently was not here to defend himself from the charges of misconduct that had been brought against him by the Opposition; and he regretted that the noble Lord (Lord William Hay) should have said that the present Viceroy went out to India with the settled purpose of provoking war with Afghanistan. When Lord Lytton read the debates, and found that all objections were centred on him, and that he had gone to India with the settled purpose of provoking a war—when Lord Lytton read that language, and saw that it was cheered by hon. Members below the Gangway, he would ask himself, was that the justice a man ought to receive from the British Parliament? There was no doubt but that his policy was the policy of the Home Government, because they were the last men to shrink from their portion of responsibility, and he should be ashamed to support any Government that attempted to shift their responsibility on to the shoulders of another. The point raised in the debate sorely touched the honour of Lord Lytton, for he was charged with having purposely, knowingly, and designedly so conducted the negotiations at Simla, and later on through Sir Lewis Pelly, as to make it impossible for the Ameer to come to terms and enter into a Treaty, and then carrying on until he had worked the Ameer up to give serious cause for offence. That was a view of the subject which it was impossible that he could take. It was not fair to Lord Lytton or Lord Salisbury; and here the indictment of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) broke clown. There was nothing in Lord Salisbury's instructions to Lord Lytton at which any high-minded statesman need blush, or anything in them that might not see the light of day. No secret was made of the fact that the instructions were founded upon the altered position of Russia in Afghanistan; and the flaw in the Amendment, and in the arguments by which it was supported, was that sufficient consideration was not given to the changed circumstances in which Lord Salisbury found himself Was a statesman responsible for the government of India to shut his eyes to what was going on in Afghanistan and on the Oxus, and continue to treat Indian subjects as in the days of Lord Lawrence, and in the early days of Lord Northbrook? Any Minister would have been bound to take the changed circumstances into consideration and to issue instructions accordingly. Speaking of the Ameer, Lord Salisbury said in his despatch— He may think himself bound to assert supposed rights which may trench on the claims of Russia or of her allies; and steps may be taken which, in the judgment of the Frontier commanders, may render a movement in advance necessary to the honour of Russia before your Government has had the opportunity of interposing either remonstrance or restraint. The chance that any of these opportunities would be offered for the establishment of a dominant Russian influence in Afghanistan would be materially diminished, if not wholly neutralized, by the presence of a British Officer in that country. The evils to which I have referred would lose their formidable character if warning's could be given to your Government, or advice tendered to the Ameer, in good time. They could only grow to dangerous proportions if their first commencement were hidden from your knowledge..…The case is quite conceivable, in which Her Majesty's Government may be able, by early diplomatic action, to arrest proceedings on the Frontier which a few weeks, or even days, later will have passed beyond the power even of the Government of St. Petersburg to control. On all these grounds, Her Majesty's Government continue to attach very serious importance to the presence of a British Agent in Afghanistan. I do not gather that your Excellency is inclined to differ from this judgment. But, in your opinion, the moment for giving effect to it will not arrive until the advance of Russia is further developed, and its forces have occupied Merv. In this opinion it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to concur."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 148.] This showed that the dominant idea in Lord Salisbury's mind was that the altered circumstances on the Frontier required a different treatment; and the burden of subsequent despatches was that we could do nothing with the Ameer until we could use our own eyes and ears within his dominions, Cabul being always excepted, and rightly, because our presence there would have been unfavourable to the authority of the Ameer with his own people, though it was far different at Herat and other places. But the Ameer would not consent, not because he could not protect them, which was a fair pretence to put forward in negotiations, but because he was afraid that if Resident Political Agents came into his country his dignity would suffer, and that in course of time he would lose his authority and his independent position. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members said "Hear, hear!" but did they mean to say that because of this we ought not to send Representatives there? The Ameer's ambition was to be placed on the same footing as the Shah of Persia, and the Shah had never objected to the British Consuls residing in his country. Was this an objection that we, having Treaty rights and material interests at stake, were bound to hold in regard? Was that a reasonable objection for the Ameer to make to the British Government after receiving at various times their subsidies of money and arms? He believed if Shere Ali had yielded that point we should have been at this moment on friendly terms—we should have had a British Resident at Herat, and would have had at the earliest moment information which would have enabled us to arrange by diplomacy matters which could now only be rectified by the sword. Then there was the Russian point of view. The Russians were making preparations for a state of warfare with this country. They were more on the alert than we were, and they took their measures in time. He read an extract from The Vedomosti, a St. Petersburg paper, published after the Treaty of Berlin, which said— General Stolieteff's Mission was a diversion intended to withdraw England's attention from the East to the far East. But we certainly did not mean to rouse the somnolency of Great Britain to the extent we have. Great Britain is actually preparing to destroy Afghanistan, and thereby deprive Russia of all the fruits of her numerous Asiatic campaigns—campaigns carried on for so many years with such enduring patience and at such an enormous cost. Are we now to shrink from our duty and deliver our ally to the enemy? If we postpone succouring Shere Ali till the English have established themselves in Afghanistan millions of money and numerous armies will be required to turn the invader out of those Passes now thrown open to us for nothing. To render English attacks upon Afghanistan altogether impossible, it is sufficient to send some money, some artillery, and some officers to Shere Ali. This will defend the Passes, on the maintenance of which depends the 'to be or not to be' of our position in Asia. It would have been impossible for any Cabinet to ignore that altered state of circumstances in Afghanistan. The question, of course, remained whether what had been done with Shere Ali might not have been accomplished by other means—whether by prolonged negotiations during the winter they might not have brought the Ameer to a better sense of his position, risking the effect of all the arms and men and money that might be poured into Afghanistan. But, under all the circumstances of the case, we had no alternative, after the failure of Sir Neville Chamberlain's Mission, but to show that we were in earnest, and would not permit the Ameer to say "nay" to us while he said "yea" to Russia. The alternative presented by hon. Members opposite was that we should have declared war against Russia—that it would have been more magnanimous and more to the purpose; but that argument had been commented upon in "anotherplace" and completely answered. After a diplomatic intercourse, renewed during the autumn, on the subject, we had no casus belli with Russia as regarded the Stolieteff Mission. Some hon. Members had asked whether the Russian Mission was still at Cabul? He did not know whether it was there or not; but if some members of it should still be there, from his point of view, pressure ought to be put upon Russia for their withdrawal, because it had been admitted in writing that the old understanding retained all its validity —that England had her exclusive rights in Afghanistan, and that Russia would maintain nothing but amicable relations. There need be no quarrel with Russia if she assented to that understanding. The case of the Ameer was far different; we had our own dignity and honour to defend in the face of India; and, in spite of the imputation of unworthy motives, he did not hesitate to express his opinion that Her Majesty's Government could not, under the circumstances, have acted otherwise than as they did. Indeed, had Gentlemen opposite been in their place they must have adopted the same course. Had they failed so to act, and continued to follow a policy of masterly inactivity, allowing Afghanistan to become subject to the dominion of Russia, they would have been arraigned before public opinion and condemned for two of the most damning crimes statesmen could be guilty of—the exhibition of moral cowardice and dereliction of public duty. With regard to the argument of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the present time, when the industry of the country was depressed, was inopportune for going to war, he asked them to consider what the consequences would be if such an argument were logically acted upon. If we were never to make war except when the trade of the country was prospering, nations desirous of attacking us would wait until trade was depressed, and then say—"Now that they have not the courage of their opinions we will make war upon them." He hoped that the Government would not be betrayed into the trap of prematurely saying what they did or did not intend to do under given circumstances, but that they would judge for themselves when the events arose. As this war had been entered upon to defend the Indian Frontier, it would be unjust to throw the whole expense upon the people of this country; but it would be worthy of a great nation if it shared with India a large proportion of the cost in a spirit of chivalry and generosity.


Sir, I am glad to agree with one remark of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. C. Beckett-Denison). The hon. Gentleman expressed his regret that this case which we are now discussing has assumed a Party complexion; and I am quite of opinion that it is a deplorable circumstance that when this House is sitting in judgment on the policy of the Government—a policy which involves most serious and most solemn issues—we cannot approach the consideration of that policy without being divided into sharp Party lines. I am quite aware that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House are disposed to believe that we, in attacking the policy of the Government, are actuated by Party motives, and possibly from a desire to disturb the Government out of the seats that they now occupy. We, on our side of the House, look across at our opponents, and our belief is that hon. Gentlemen, the supporters of the Ministry, with that conspicuous loyalty to their Party which they continually manifest, are prepared at the present moment to shut their eyes to the most distinct evidence in regard to this question; and I believe they are prepared to sacrifice their judgment, and that hon. Gentlemen, rather than vote in favour of a Vote of Want of Confidence, would swallow a great deal for the sake of Party. "Well, Sir, these are circumstances which we deplore. We have also heard a statement that the discussion of this Indian policy on Party grounds is a serious danger to our Empire in India. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for India in "another place," referring to this subject, used very strong language, and said if we make India a Party question the days of our Indian Empire are numbered. I quite believe that it is a danger to India if these matters of Indian policy are to be discussed as a Party question. I quite admit that it is very much to the interest of the Government of this country, in dealing with that Empire, that they should be supported, as far as possible, by the united voice of the Parliament of England. I can quite understand that in carrying out great operations, and when we are engaged in matters of very great delicacy, it is important that we should have a powerful Government. I can quite understand that the Government are embarrassed by the fact that there is a large and influential minority arrayed against them in this House, and that in the country there is a very great party against them. Sir, I admit that. But who are to blame for this feeling of Party on the question of our Indian Empire? I charge upon the Government the blame of making this a Party question. I say that the Government have taken an irretrievable step. They have declared a war without having consulted, in the slightest degree, the Representatives of the British people. They have ignored Parliament. And it is no answer to that charge to say that they have now called Parliament together. You called Parliament together. What for? To consult Parliament? Nothing of the kind. Parliament is called together; and in the Speech from the Throne certain accomplished facts are stated, about which it is impossible that Parliament can take any sufficient action. Now, Sir, what would have been the course if the Government had come down to this House some few months ago and had taken Parliament into its confidence? If full information had been laid on that Table—not with reference to accomplished facts, but in order to give the House an opportunity of expressing a judgment upon the policy and the circumstances brought to their knowledge—I know perfectly well that there would have been a certain amount of independent criticism from those Benches with hon. Gentlemen opposite, if this matter had not been absolutely determined beforehand. And there would have been a careful reading of the Papers; and with the feelings of that sense of responsibility which, I am sure, hon. Gentlemen opposite feel as well as ourselves, they would have taken up the solemn issues, and exercised their judgment upon them. The Government did not want the independent criticism of their own supporters. It would have had fair criticism from this side of the House, and also had the benefit of knowing what the public opinion of the country was with reference to these matters. If the Government had taken that course, there would have been no war. I have a very strong opinion that if the country had been in possession of information, and had been able to discuss the matter, I believe firmly that no war would have been declared. But if, on the other hand, the war had not been prevented, and the judgment of the House had supported the policy of the Government, I can only say that, under those circumstances, you would not have that strong antagonism that you are meeting with at the present moment. I believe that we should have approached the matter in a different spirit, and that a large amount of Party animosity would have been avoided. But the Government not only refused to consult Parliament, but they misled and hoodwinked Parliament. They did this, I am bound to say, by statements of such a character that it requires the greatest charity to believe that they were not made with a view to mislead. In taking this course the Government, as far as they are able, have made this House lose its hold on the Executive Administration of the country, and what will be the consequence if this course is persevered in? It so happened that on the 28th February, 1859, a very distingu shed Member of this House—a gentleman of the highest authority—made some remarks upon this subject. He said— If this House loses its hold over the Executive of the country, what happens? We fall back on a bureaucratic system, and we should find ourselves, after all our struggles, in the very same position which in 1640 we had to extricate ourselves from. Your Administration would be carried on by a Court Minister, perhaps a Court minion."—[3 Hansard, clii. 981.] These were wise words, and they were uttered by the right hon. Benjamin Disraeli; and now the Earl of Beaconsfield, as Prime Minister of England, is adding to the marvellous inconsistency of his career by endeavouring to lose the hold of the House of Commons on the Executive Government. The Government in their proceedings have treated with contempt the Parliament of the people, and they have magnified the Prerogative of the Crown. Now, Sir, I venture to say that that course is not calculated to promote the interests of the Crown. I believe that it is a dangerous and a revolutionary course, because it tends to disturb the settled relationship which exists between the Crown and the people. It has been said that the British Constitution is a compromise. There are the Three Estates of the Realm, and each of these Estates have certain abstract rights; and it is understood that if one of these Estates presses its abstract rights, and pushes them to the utmost, you must inevitably have a dead-lock and have danger. We charge upon the Government that they are doing this. They are pushing to an extreme and dangerous extent the abstract right of one of the Three Estates of the Realm, and I think that that is a danger. Now, Sir, I think that, in view of these circumstances, we ought to remember that in this country we have called into exist-once, by recent legislation, a great democratic power. We have enabled the people of this country to take part, by their Representatives in this House, in the Government of the country; and so jealous have we been of the liberties of the Representatives of the people in Parliament, that we will not allow the Queen to impose a single farthing of taxation, unless with the consent of the Representatives of the people; and yet, although we are so jealous of the right of the Crown to tax the people in the slightest degree, we are prepared to give to the Crown a Prerogative which in its operation may, by involving this country in war, involve us in very serious burdens. Does the Government think that the people will allow this Prerogative to continue to be exercised, without some control? Hitherto, the Prerogative to declare war has been concealed and tempered by the understanding that it would not be exercised, except in cases of unexpected and immediate emergency. I very much question whether any case of such extreme emergency could arise sufficient to justify the exercise of the Prerogative without Parliamentary sanction. But there has been no such emergency in this case that could be pretended for a moment. This Prerogative has been paraded before the country in its most repulsive feature; and the challenge clearly given to the country is—whether this Prerogative should continue or not? We may estimate very accurately what the result of the challenge will be. I have no doubt that the present House of Commons will be willing, by supporting the Government in the action they have taken, to sacrifice the rights of Parliament and maintain the Prerogative of the Crown. This struggle will not end in this House. The people who elect the House of Commons will take up this challenge, and I believe firmly —that the people will not consent that this House—to use the words of Mr. Disraeli— should lose its hold over the Executive of the country, or that the Administration should be carried on by a Court Minister or a Court minion. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite evidently cheer under the impression that the people of the country would consent to no alteration in the rights of the Prerogative. ["No, no!"] Well, I can tell hon. Gentlemen that this is not the first time that there has been a struggle in relation to the Royal Prerogative. Our forefathers had struggles in regard to the Royal Prerogative. ["Question!"] It is very close to the question. We are dealing, at the present moment, with the exercise of the Prerogative; and I say that our forefathers hated the very word, because they saw that the exercise of the Prerogative on many occasions had involved this country in serious difficulty. The result of the struggles in former days was the curtailment of the Prerogatives of the Crown; and I believe firmly that the result of the struggle we are now entering upon will be that there will be such a declaration on the part of the constituencies as will require that in future some restrictions should be placed on the right of the Crown to declare war. It is said that we have no right to complain in this matter. We are told that Parliament even now—although war has been declared under the Prerogative of the Crown—that Parliament has its remedy by passing a Vote of Censure upon the Government. We know perfectly well that that is futile—we know perfectly well that when war has been declared the House of Commons is powerless to deal with it, and the passing of a Vote of Censure on the Government would do little to alleviate or remove the injury which has been done. There has been a good deal said, in the course of this debate, as to the origin of the war; and no doubt the House of Commons, now that war has been commenced, are called upon to consider whether it is justified by facts laid before the House. I have carefully studied the voluminous documents laid on the Table; and I am bound to say that the conclusion I have come to is, that while Government have unnecessarily kept back information the House is entitled to receive, there has been an attempt, by means of Lord Cranbrook's despatch, to confuse the public mind as to the origin of the war; and that by disingenuous representations the Government seek to disguise the origin of the war, or to mislead the public as to why the war has been commenced. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Canterbury (Mr. A. Gathorne Hardy), who represented Lord Cranbrook in this House tonight, has left his seat: for I meant to tell him that certainly no one wishes to impute improper motives to Lord Cranbrook; we respect Lord Cranbrook, personally, most highly. But what we do say is, that this despatch to which his name is attached is, in our judgment, one which is not consistent with the actual facts of the case; we say that Lord Cranbrook has not fairly put the case before the public. Lord Salisbury, in "another place," has spoken of the "utter wretchedness" of this personal dispute between Lord Northbrook and other noble Lords connected with the Government of India. But it is by no means a mere personal matter—the question we have to deal with is this—Did or did not this despatch of Lord Cranbrook attempt to conceal an entire change of policy on the part of the Government, under cover of mis-statements which had the effect of throwing blame on the policy of the previous Government? On what ground can it be contended that the policy of Lord Northbrook and his Predecessors has had the effect of compelling the policy of the present Government? There can be no doubt that there has been a very decided change of policy. In 1877 the Chancellor of the Exchequer described in this House the two schools of policy in connection with the Government of India— The school which advocates what may be called a forward policy, and the opposite school, which is rather for keeping hack, and not committing us to advancing beyond our Frontiers." —[3 Hansard, ccxxxvi. 718.] And on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman said decidedly that he was of the latter school, and that he was opposed to our advancing beyond our Frontier. But at that very time the Government were reversing the policy of their Predecessors and were adopting the "forward school," which the right hon. Gentleman condemned. My complaint against Lord Cranbrook's despatch is, that it gives an entirely inadequate and a misleading account of the origin of the war. It appears to be an indictment against the Ameer of Afghanistan, prepared with all the ingenuity of an advocate, and with a very unscrupulous disregard of the actual circumstances of the case. I am not prepared to accept in any way the statement of the Government as put forward in the official documents as a justification of the war. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night resented the idea, thrown out by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, that the Government had been picking a quarrel with the Ameer, and declared that if the Government had been attempting to pick a quarrel it would have been guilty of a great crime. I do not mean to say that they intended to force a quarrel; but we are entitled to say, if their measures were such as necessarily to create war, that whatever their intentions were, they actually provoked a quarrel. Every step they had taken for four months could only have one result, and that was to bring about a war with the Ameer of Afghanistan. I will not trouble the House by referring to the Blue Boot, for I have no wish to trespass beyond the half-hour I have given myself. But I repeat that, step by step, the Government rendered war inevitable. Amongst other things, there has been an allusion made to the message which our Representative sent to the Ameer of Afghanistan, in which he threatens that if the Ameer did not come to our terms we would arrange with Russia, and wipe Afghanistan from the map. I think the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India denied that there had been any arrangement whatever between the Russian Government and Lord Lytton. Do I understand that the hon. Gentleman is prepared to deny that Lord Lytton had any understanding with the Russian Ambassador before he left England for India? I can tell the Under Secretary that it is notorious that Lord Lytton had several interviews with Count Schouvaloff before leaving England; and what we are entitled to know is this—Had Lord Lytton any authority for saying, in the most explicit terms, that Russia was quite willing to join us in pulling to pieces the Ameer's territory, and that we by such an arrangement with Russia might be prepared to wipe Afghanistan out of existence? I think the Under Secretary ought to tell us which alternative he accepts. Did Lord Lytton make this statement without any foundation, and simply with the view of alarming the Ameer of Afghanistan, or did he base it on truth? If it were based on truth, then I think we should know what that basis of truth is. I am bound to say that I feel that the Government, in declaring this war upon such insufficient grounds, have incurred a very grave responsibility. I cannot imagine a more solemn position for the Government to be placed in. When a doubt existed in a case against a prisoner he was given the benefit of it; but in this matter, although the question was full of doubt, the Government did not hesitate for a moment, but launched our armies upon Afghanistan, causing not only the loss of many of our brave soldiers, but great loss of life and destruction of property in the country we are invading. Not only did a doubt exist in the case, but the Government could not justify the war. If we wish to find out what the objects and justifi- cation of the war are, and we look to the Proclamation of the Viceroy, or to the despatch of Lord Cranbrook, or to the speech of the Premier at the Mansion House, we find very distinct and separate explanations given of the objects which the war is intended to promote. I think, under these circumstances, we are entitled to say that the Government have entirely failed in laying before the House and the country sufficient reason for taking this precipitate step. ["Divide, divide!"] No doubt the hon. Gentleman who cries "Divide, divide!" calculates upon a large Parliamentary majority; and I have no doubt tha the thinks that Parliamentary majorities, like charity, cover a multitude of sins. But Parliamentary majorities cannot free you from the requirements of justice, and cannot blot out the obligations of morality and religion. I believe this war, so commenced by the Government, is contrary to the obligations of morality and religion; I believe it is altogether repugnant to the Christian feeling of the country. We have been told that we ought to look upon this question with Asiatic, and not with European, eyes; but I prefer our standard to the standard of uncivilized and barbarous countries. Surely we are not going to ignore morality and Christianity in the policy of our Government—principles which have been laid aside and forgotten by the present Government. I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Whitbread) for affording me the opportunity of voting against this war; because I am convinced that however small our minority may be, yet in entering our protest against the war we shall be justified in the eyes of the country, and when history records present events, the calm judgment of posterity will condemn the reckless and hasty policy of the Government.


regretted that the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff) should have made an attack on the Marquess of Salisbury; but he hoped the hon. Gentleman would, on reflection, withdraw it. The charge was one of such a kind that it ought not to have been brought in an Assembly of Gentlemen against one whose conduct as a public servant, and as a former Member of that House, should have spared him from such an attack. Since the hon. Member for Elgin had made his speech, he had referred to the report, given in extenso in Hansard, of the Question put in June, 1877, by the Duke of Argyll, and the answer made to it by the Marquess of Salisbury, then Secretary of State for India, with regard to our relations with Afghanistan. In that House their rules required Questions to be put categorically, and as categorically answered by Members; but the practice in the other House was different; and unless hon. Gentlemen consulted Hansard, they might be under the impression that a distinct Question had been asked in "another place," and that an evasive answer had been given to it. That, indeed, was the charge made by the hon. Member for Elgin. The fact, however, was that the so-called Question occupied five columns of Hansard, and the reply to it three columns. In the course of his remarks the Marquess of Salisbury spoke as follows:— The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) alluded to the fact that the Ameer of Afghanistan does not allow a British Envoy to reside at his Court. The noble Duke evidently regards this refusal as an act of semi-barbarism, and said that the Ameer of Cabul was the only Potentate with whom we had relations over the globe who would not receive our Envoy. I am not prepared to dispute the liberty of action belonging to the Ameer; but the result is, that we are obliged to communicate with him in a more formal and open method than would be otherwise necessary, and that suggestions, explanations, and requests which, if we had ordinary diplomatic relations with the Ameer would be sent through a British officer residing at his Court, have, as matters stand, to be sent through some other diplomatic channel." — [3 Hansard, ccxxxiv. 1834–5.] The Marquess of Salisbury then epitomized the series of Questions, four in number, which had been put to him, and answered them all categorically, accompanied by the explanation that, for reasons of State policy, a more complete and positive answer could not then be furnished. The noble Marquess continued— With respect to the information asked for by the noble Duke, I can hardly give him much positive knowledge; but I think I can give him some negative information. He has derived from the sources open to him the following statement, as I understood him—that Ave had tried to force an Envoy upon the Ameer at Cabul —that we had selected for that purpose Sir Lewis Pelly, whose vigour of mind and action might possibly inspire apprehension in the Councils of a Native Prince— that we had supported this demand by a large assemblage of troops on the North-Western Frontier, and that we were preparing boats upon the Indus. Now, we have not tried to force an Envoy upon the Ameer at Cabul—wo have not suggested Sir Lewis Pelly as an Envoy to Cabul—the troops Avere assembled on the North-Western Frontier without the slightest reference to any such demand; and with regard to the boats on the Indus, I never heard of them until to-day. Our relations with the Ameer of Cabul have undergone no material change since last year. I do not believe that he is worse disposed towards us than hitherto, or that his feelings are in any way more embittered towards the British Government."—[Ibid.] All who remembered the Marquess of Salisbury's bearing as a Minister while in that House would admit that his answers to Questions were uniformly as clear, distinct, and accurate as any statements which could possibly be conceived; and he was sure that the noble Marquess' vindication of his own character "elsewhere" had been quite sufficient in the eyes of the country to put a stop to these charges on his personal honour. Passing from that subject, he had heard with great interest and satisfaction the statement made by many hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had formerly held office, that they would be prepared, if now in power, in these circumstances, not to go to war with the Ameer of Afghanistan, but to declare war against Russia. In 1873, however, when hon. Gentlemen opposite had an opportunity of arresting the advance of Russia, they were afraid to make known to the Russian Government what Lord Northbrook, their own Governor-General of India, wished to be communicated to that Power. In the Central Asia Papers, page 206, No. 12, appeared the following letter from the Foreign Office, dated August 25th, 1873, and addressed by Mr. Hammond to Sir John Kaye:— I am to request that you will state to the Duke of Argyll that Lord Granville would not think it desirable to communicate to the Russian Government, as suggested by the Indian Government, a copy of the former despatch, and so convey to it indirectly an intimation that any aggression by it on Afghanistan would be resisted by Great Britain with force of arms. Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought it right now, when a different feeling existed in the country as to Russia, to swim with the tide, and to suggest that they were bold enough to make an attack on Russia, if necessary, for the interests of our Indian Empire. If the communication which Lord Northbrook recommended Lord Granville to make to Russia had been made, it would have given notice to Russia to withdraw Generals Kaufmann and Tchernayeff, who were working upon the Tartar tribes north of the Oxus, and the present complications would not have arisen. It had been said, on what he thought questionable information, that the action of the Ameer was not of a kind to justify a declaration of war. If any hon. Member would take the trouble to consult Vattel's Law of Nations he would find that the Ameer had, in resisting the Mission of Sir Neville Chamberlain, committed an act which, between thoroughly civilized States, was understood to necessarily involve a declaration of war. Vattel thus laid down the law on the point— Every sovereign State, then, has a right to send and receive public Ministers; for they are the necessary instruments in the management of those affairs which Sovereigns have to transact with each other, and the channels of that correspondence which they have a right to carry on…Such being the rights of nations, a Sovereign who attempts to hinder another from sending or receiving public Ministers does him an injury, and offends against the Law of Nations. It is attacking a nation in one of her most valuable rights, and disputing her title to that which Nature herself gives to every independent society; it is offering an insult to nations in general, and tearing asunder the ties by which they are united……A Sovereign cannot, without very particular reasons, refuse admitting and hearing the Minister of a friendly Power, or of one with whom he is at peace. But in case there be reasons for not admitting him into the heart of the country, he may notify to him that he will send proper persons to meet him at an appointed place on the Frontier, there to hear his proposals. It then becomes the foreign Minister's duty to stop at the place assigned. It is sufficient that he obtains a hearing, that being the utmost he has a right to expect." —[Chitty, new Ed. 1834, pp. 453–5–6.] It was clear that if the Ameer of Afghanistan claimed to be a civilized Power and not a protected State, he had clearly infringed the law which he had quoted, and had justified the war against him; for he had opposed Sir Neville Chamberlain's Embassy at Ali Musjid, a fort, not in Afghan territory, but in Afridi territory, and if under the protection of any one, under ours. He supposed, however, we were not justified on that ground alone; but on the bold ground that Russia, having undertaken not to cross the Oxus or to interfere with Afghanistan, had sent a Mission to Cabul, and stimulated Afghanistan and its tribes to break off friendly relations with our Indian Government. He looked upon our neces- sity for entering Afghanistan with no fear; for he thought it would be advantageous that the time should come when the Sepoy and the Cossack should act as outposts on the Oxus, and when two civilized Powers could be placed in communication with each other without the intervention of savage tribes whom neither could control. He should give his cordial support to Her Majesty's Government.


I think that in this discussion Her Majesty's Government, and those who have been the champions of the course which they have pursued, have almost forgotten two important facts—the one, that they have been five years in Office; and the other, that the Military Expedition to Afghanistan is, after all, but an episode in the great drama of Berlin. I state, that hon. Members opposite have forgotten the former circumstance, because they seem on no occasion to be able to meet the arguments of the Opposition, except by a tu quoque. Even the right hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down (Sir John Hay) had no better answer to give to the argument, that if war was necessary at all just now it should have been undertaken against Russia instead of Afghanistan, than by referring to an incident which occurred in 1873. The Opposition have been charged, both in and out of the House, with having been mainly occupied in examining into the mind and feelings of the Ameer, instead of discussing the policy of the future, and the great questions which are at present before the House. I myself do not propose to continue the psychological analysis of the motives which actuated that Oriental Potentate; but it must be remembered that the Opposition did not start that discussion—they consider that they are bound to deal with the present—but they were informed suddenly one morning that, although right hon. Gentlemen opposite had been five years in Office, the irritation of the Ameer of five years ago had prevented their carrying out the policy of their hearts, and had embarked them on a war with Afghanistan. Is it not a preposterous case to set up, that a Government with a large majority, containing strong men who manage to have their own way, even against their own supporters, and possessing distinct principles, should, after five years in office, have been baffled entirely by the irritation produced five years ago upon the mind of the Ameer? All this is entirely beside the mark—the complications had been produced by the events of the last year; and therefore we need not look so far back as the year 1873 to be able to find the precise and definite causes which have produced those results. I maintain that Her Majesty's Government, with all the advantages derived from their public officers, and with all the documentary evidence which they themselves have supplied, have not been successful in proving the case they thus got up; and I maintain that the Cabinet had not proved that at the time when the Government acceded to Office the mind of the Ameer was in the state which they allege. But, with the permission of the House, I will remove the sphere of the discussion from Cabul to St. Petersburg and Central Asia. The Afghan Blue Book is a most interesting document; but the documents relating to Central Asia are more interesting still. Hon. Members opposite will admit that fact; and if Parliament has been summoned on this occasion to consider large questions—questions which we are told vitally affect the future interests of the country—it is not because we have to deal only with Afghanistan, but because our relations with a great Power are really in debate. I do not propose for a moment to shun the difficulties of that position; but I think that hon. Gentlemen opposite will find, when they have carefully studied these Central Asia Papers, that the study will not afford them satisfaction as to the course which has been pursued by Her Majesty's Government. The Military Expedition to Afghanistan is the direct result of the turn which the Eastern Question has taken. In fact, if I may use the simile, they were more concerned to discuss the history of the iron pots than of the pipkin which was to be crushed. Let me at once indicate one or two salient points. In April, 1878, the Indian troops were brought to Malta; in May an Emissary went from Tashkend to the Ameer at Bokhara, and the first steps were taken in regard to the Russian Embassy. Those were significant dates. Then came the further tension between England and Russia, and the starting of the Embassy for Cabul. If dates are matter of curiosity, I think it will be found that those I have referred to form a remarkable coincidence; for in the same week in July, when the Prime Minister and Lord Salisbury entered London in triumph, and proclaimed "Peace with honour" from the windows of Whitehall, the Russian Envoy was entering Cabul in triumph, with salvoes of artillery, not carrying peace and honour, but the embers of a war, and that not against Russia, but with Afghanistan. That was as distinct a breach of an honourable engagement as, I believe, was ever committed on the part of one great nation towards another. ["Question!"] We have been summoned to discuss these matters in a serious light, and asked not to confine ourselves simply to the consideration of points in the mind of the Ameer of Afghanistan; and I trust that hon. Members opposite will not prevent mo from discharging my duty, in discussing the entry into Cabul of the Russian Envoy—a circumstance which every Englishman must deplore, and which is deplored as much on this side of the House as on the other. I wish to make my point good by showing the connection that exists between the Eastern Question and the Afghan troubles. Following the example of an hon. Member who addressed the House a few moments ago—and who seemed to assume that the greatest possible importance ought to be attached to everything that issues from the Russian Press—I will quote an extract from a Russian newspaper, which is contained in the Blue Book, and was sent over from St. Petersburg to the Government, as an illustration of the state of public opinion there— The concentration of our influence on the Frontiers of the territory of the Empress of India would be only a natural answer to the English seizure of Cyprus"—the seizure of Cyprus—"and all the approaches to Asia. Such may be the unobtrusive, even peaceable, object of the military operations undertaken by the troops of the Turkestan military circuit." (It would be something like the Cyprus business.) "As our correspondent at Berlin truly remarked the other day— 'In Asia there are two political Powers confronting each other, and they must inevitably come into collision.' England wishes to be Russia's nearest neighbour in Asia Minor, and it is only natural, therefore, that Russia, in her turn, should desire to approach somewhat nearer to the English Frontiers in India."—[Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), p. 141.] Well, we have acquired Cyprus, and Russia might think it would be advantageous to her to acquire Bokhara and advance her territories to the Oxus. Possibly in that interview between Lord Lytton and the Russian Ambassador, before the former went to India, the mode of acquiring territory in this manner was made the subject of discussion between those distinguished statesmen. But in any case, this extract shows the connection existing in Russian minds between the Eastern and the Afghan Questions. The present Government acceded to Office in 1874; Khiva had been partly acquired by Russia at that time; and early in that year, as was pointed out by the right hon. and gallant Member (Sir John Hay), certain communications were made by the Indian Government to the India Office at home; and it had been made the subject of complaint that Lord Granville did not think it necessary to advise Russia of the attitude taken up towards that country by the Indian Government. The point is this—it is alleged that while the Opposition now said that the Government ought to deal with Russia, Lord Granville had preferred not to communicate to Russia the feeling entertained by the Indian Government at the period referred to. But we reply that the reason for this is perfectly plain—as would have appeared had the despatch of Lord Granville been published, instead of being only alluded to in a note—because at that moment an arrangement had been come to with Russia with regard to Afghanistan. This arrangement, made in the latter part of the year 1873, established the relations between Russia and Afghanistan on what was considered at that time, and what for some little time afterwards seemed, to be a satisfactory basis, and a basis which the present Government endeavoured to continue. About this same time the marriage was solemnized between the Duke of Edinburgh and a Russian Princess, and a thoroughly friendly feeling seemed to prevail. That was at the beginning of 1874; and Prince Gortchakoff, in an interview at that time with our Ambassador, took occasion to state that Russia considered Afghanistan as beyond the sphere of her action, and that they would strictly adhere to this policy, and the same declaration was made almost immediately afterwards by the Emperor himself to Lord Augustus Loftus. Lord Augustus Loftus remarked to His Highness Prince Gortchakoff that Her Majesty's Government had no doubts of the pacific desires of the Imperial Government, but that, unfortunately, those desires had been frequently counteracted by the military commanders, who acted on their own responsibility in contravention of the instructions of the Central Civil Government. His Highness immediately replied with great decision that— Although there was a party anxious for military activity and decorations, he felt that his influence was sufficiently strong to counteract such endeavours, and so long as he held power these efforts would be restrained."— [Ibid. p. 7.] That was the position of affairs in 1874, when the Government acceded to Office. But there was at that time a little symptom of a significant character, in the shape of a scientific expedition, which was going towards the Attrek. Before very long this became a scientific and military expedition, and attention was drawn to that portion of Central Asia situated on the Attrek. Notwithstanding these orders had been issued to the distant military commanders, a new General proceeded to issue a Proclamation, in which it was assumed that lie claimed authority over a large number of tribes who were not under the Russian power. This will be found in page 19 of the Blue Book, where attention is drawn to the phrase contained in a letter of General Llamakin, stating that—"Prince Michael has appointed me to be the supreme authority on the Attrek." I will not say that this led to a lively exchange of opinions between the Russian and the English Governments, because nothing is lively so far as St. Petersburg is concerned. Indeed, in reading over these Central Asia Papers I find the phrase "frank and friendly" is repeated throughout this volume in such innumerable instances, that I have been obliged to give up the endeavour to count them. But while the Foreign Office was constantly communicating with the Russian Government on friendly terms, despatches in a totally different spirit were issuing from the India Office, and being sent out to India; and this tendency becomes distinctly more marked when we reach the year 1875. I now proceed to that year, and beg the House to remember that in the beginning of that year the first great opening of the new policy was inaugurated by Lord Salisbury. Lord Salisbury wrote to Lord Northbrook, and, as has been confessed, and claimed by right hon. Gentlemen opposite and by their friends, in view of the Russian advance in Central Asia, a new departure was to be taken. I now come to a very remarkable despatch, with which I ask to be allowed to trouble the House. It is on page 24, where Lord Derby writes to Lord Loftus, as follows:— the Russian Ambassador called upon me on the 12th instant, being on the point of leaving England for a month, and expressed his wish to ascertain more clearly than he had as yet done the views of Her Majesty's Government on the Central Asian question. This question had been settled only the year before, but Count Schouvaloff appeared to think there was a change of policy, and he wished to ascertain more clearly the views of Her Majesty's Government. He had noticed a certain reluctance to discuss that question, and considering it of extreme importance to the mutual good relationship of the two countries, he was anxious that there should be a frank understanding. "I told him," wrote Lord Derby, "that I had of late abstained from conversation on the subject because nothing new had occurred." I think that new things were occurring in Asia, but in 1875 Lord Derby knows nothing about them. He says he abstained from conversation on the subject, partly because nothing new had occurred, or was occurring, in that quarter to which it seemed necessary to direct the attention of his Government, partly because I was reluctant to seem to indicate distrust or apprehension as to the course which the Russian Government might think fit to pursue, by unnecessarily requesting explanations as to their proceedings."—[Ibid. p. 24.] Count Schouvaloff proceeded to explain his views, of which it is sufficient to say that they were unfavourable to annexation; and he asked Lord Derby whether he was right in supposing that there was no intention, on the part of England, to advance further in the direction of the Russian Possessions, unless such advance were considered necessary for defensive purposes? Lord Derby replied that This view was undoubtedly correct, and that, so far from desiring to annex any part of Afghanistan, we should deprecate such a result as bringing only increased cost and trouble without advantage."—[Ibid.] Now, why did Count Schouvaloff go to Lord Derby and assure him that he was personally opposed to annexation? But the Russian Government were exceedingly anxious; and evidently there was something brewing, because only a month afterwards Prince Gortchakoff sends Count Schouvaloff an historical notice of the whole of the transactions which had taken place with regard to England and Afghanistan. In that despatch there is a very important point to which I especially call the notice of the House, and though it is rather an intricate one, I hope Her Majesty's Government will follow me. It appears to me that the despatch of Russia endeavours to shift from the position settled under the previous arrangement, that if there was any neutral territory at all it was beyond Afghanistan. The present despatch of the Russian Government speaks, as it were, of Afghanistan itself as the independent zone, and that they might approach its borders on one side, while we approached them on the other. The inference is clear—that if we advanced on the one side they would be entitled to advance on the other, and that acquires great importance at the present day; because if that was in the Russian mind at that time, a similar line of argument might be held now—narnety, that if we trenched on Afghanistan, she would be set free in a different direction. I think this is a matter which assumes considerable importance when we look at the action which we are taking at present in invading Afghanistan. There were two further Conferences which took place between the Russian and the English authorities, and they were practically to this effect—that Russia expressed a desire to put the question, why should not the boundaries of England and Russia in Central Asia meet and touch? Russia said—"As we are on good terms with Austria and Germany, why can we not join with England and live on friendly terms with her in Central Asia." The meaning of these despatches was that England should annex Afghanistan, and that Russia should annex Bokhara and the rest of the Khanates; that we should join; and, in effect, that Lord Lytton's simile of the iron pots should be carried out—the pipkin should be crushed between two great Powers. It seems to me a most remarkable co- incidence that, in 1875, Russia should have voluntarily sounded Great Britain as to why our boundaries should not meet, and then that, in 1876, Lord Lytton should go out after that interview with the Russian Ambassador, and that one of the first things committed to writing on the Indian side should be the suggestion that such a plan might, in certain eventualities, take place—namely, that there should be a ring of iron drawn round Afghanistan, and that Afghanistan should vanish. We see the threats of Lord Lytton assuming a more definite character than if they were but a kind of imagination on his part, to which no further importance should be attached. It appears to me, from a careful study of the Papers, that the policy of Russia is to be able to continue its annexations, England annexing at the same time in proportion. And I am not sure but that we must charge Her Majesty's Government with committing, at this present moment, an act which is, in some degree, intended to be directed against Russia, but which may be carrying out the very policy which Russia is anxious we should pursue, and that she is laughing in her sleeve at having outwitted the astute diplomatists of England, and that nothing is more desired than that we should endeavour to annex Afghanistan. I do not know how far such a view would be accepted by the Government. But I am bound to say that these sounding interviews were not wholly confined to suggestions. There was something more. Three or four months afterwards Khokand was annexed. Count Schouvaloff had called to say that he was personally averse to annexation; and a few months afterwards Russia finds herself under the deplorable necessity of annexing Khokand. But what motive had the Russians for proclaiming that they were obliged to annex it? Will it be believed that the reason alleged for its annexation was that "some individuals had been raising a religious war?" The parallel between their conduct, in the face of a Jehad, and our own went a little further. Later on General Kaufmann reports to his Government that at last there is an entire rupture with Khokand. He says—"The situation is cleared up"—that is to say, that they were free from "entangling alliances"—the very words Lord Lytton used when the negotiations with Shere Ali were broken off. It is clear that Lord Lytton had studied in the school of the Russian General; and the same operations under which the Russians have been annexing in Tashkend are now being applied by Lord Lytton in Afghanistan. During the rest of the year 1875 Her Majesty's Government, whether alarmed by the further progress of Russia or not, were still holding comparatively mild language in St. Petersburg; but early in 1876 a despatch was written, and they sent out fresh instructions by Lord Lytton on Lord Northbrook being recalled. ["No!"] No, he was not recalled; but it would only have been natural if such had been the case, considering the unfavourable view taken of his character and policy. The Under-Secretary of State for India said, with a certain amount of animation, that Lord Northbrook had disobeyed his instructions. It struck me as a remarkable statement to make with regard to the noble Lord, who had rendered such good services in India, and who, as was well stated by my hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff), was rewarded with an Earldom by Her Majesty. Lord Lytton succeeded Lord Northbrook, and went out with the celebrated despatch in his pocket. There was to be a new régime, and matters had assumed so important an aspect in the eyes of Her Majesty's Government that an entirely new policy was to be opened, and the Ameer was to be coerced into an offensive and defensive alliance. Still, the same course of negotiations was going on between England and Russia at St. Petersburg in, to my mind, a most unsatisfactory manner, though the statements are continually made that everything was open and above-board on both sides. This culminated in 1876, when Lord Beacons-field stated, much to the delight of the Russian public, that Never was there a better understanding than at that moment between the two Governments. At the same time, the Ameer was to be threatened, and that in consequence of the aggressions of Russia in Central Asia. It is impossible to reconcile these two policies, which appear to have been going on at the same time, of which a still more conspicuous instance is to be found later on. The House will remember the speech of the Prime Minister in May. Then the Ameer was to be coerced, and the Under Secretary, who spoke second this evening, stated that there was no intention that these views, which had been stated in such graphic language—these menaces, as he preferred to call them—should be communicated to the Ameer. It seems rather curious that Lord Lytton should make such a very elaborate statement to his own confidential Agent; but it was said to be like a man instructing his own counsel. I am not aware that it is usual to put down such instructions in writing, and then communicate them to Parliament in a Blue Book—indeed, anyone will see that it was intended to convey these threats to the Ameer. During this time the letters from General Kaufmann were increasing in frequency, and it is perfectly incorrect to say that the Ameer no longer communicated these matters to the English Government. That is not so. They were given to the English Government as late as 1876, and, what is more, they are all comprehended in the Blue Book. It seems strange that it should be argued that these matters were not communicated, while the very letters appear in the Blue Book.


It is perfectly true that the letters appear in the Blue Book; but they were forwarded by the Cabul Agent. After 1874, the Ameer never once asked the British Government what answers he was to send to General Kaufmann. That is the point.


Whether they were forwarded by the Ameer, or whether they were not, the Cabul Agent could only get them from the Ameer; and I fail to see the distinction. But it is stated here in the Blue Book that— The paper that came from the Russian Officers was opened, and the wax and seal removed in the presence of this very Agent of the British Government, who is now present here, and who was summoned for the purpose."— [Afghanistan, No. 2, pp. 12–13.] These letters from General Kaufmann were communicated seriatim to the English Government, and excited some natural apprehension; because Lord Lytton says in these Papers that now the time has come when these matters are to be taken into serious considera- tion. And here he would like to call attention to another point. We have had very elaborate arguments as to what was the intention of Her Majesty's Government in forcing Agents upon the Ameer. What was the chief motive? what was the natural motive? Was it not in order to get information? It was desired that English travellers should be allowed to move about in Afghanistan. I think hon. Members opposite will remember that one of the grievances alleged against the Ameer was that he would not allow Englishmen to travel in his dominions. Now, that was an unfriendly regulation; but will it be believed that at the same time when Englishmen were not allowed to travel in Afghanistan they were also, notwithstanding the statements of the Prime Minister as to the friendly relations of the two Governments, not allowed to travel in the Dominions of the Russian Czar; and that when we were forcing an Agent on the Ameer, we were recalling an English traveller who was in Khiva, and who might have supplied most valuable information? I am sure there is not an hon. Member in this House who does not remember the circumstance. The fact is, that in this case, as in so many others, we bullied at Cabul, but we flinched, at St. Petersburg; and at the demand or wish of the Russian Government we recalled Captain Burnaby. [An hon. MEMBER: By the Commander-in-Chief.] Was he recalled by the Commander-in-Chief? Then who set the Commander-in-Chief in motion? Ask the noble Lord who questioned the Government in this House. I should like to know how many hon. Members opposite do not think that Her Majesty's Government made a considerable mistake in this affair by yielding to the Russian Government. Captain Burnaby has returned, and has been led about the Black Country by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a fit representative of the pugnacious policy of Her Majesty's Government; while in his own person he has experienced the effect of what I must call as pusillanimous an act on the part of a great Power as has ever been committed. This is a fitting illustration of the whole of these negotiations, and it is in harmony with the position in which we find ourselves at present— namely, the position of making war upon Afghanistan because Russia has pushed too near the Oxus. But I am warned by the hour that I must be brief, and that, although I should have wished it, I must forego the task of following these proceedings through the year 1877. But I will only quote this interesting fact—that the Turkoman expeditions again commenced in 1877; during the war they were stopped; but in 1878, as soon as the war was over, again these restless movements of troops on the Attrek re-commenced; and we shall be very glad to know what General Llamakin is doing at the present moment. I will only make one more observation, and that is to express my astonishment that the Russian Government, in the person of Prince Gortchakoff himself, should be able to send such a despatch, as I find it is stated he has sent, denying categorically that General Kaufmann is acting at Cabul by means of Agents or any other means, when, as a matter of fact, these extremely important letters had passed. It seems to me that nothing can be more striking than the answer of General Kaufmann, when he informed the Russian Government that he was rather surprised at the question put to him, considering that copies of these letters were deposited in their Asiatic Bureau. Why do I make these remarks, but to show that opposition to Russian encroachment and Russian trickery is not a duty to be monopolized by hon. or right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but that it is a duty in which we are all concerned; and I am sure that both sides of the House will be anxious that, while we are debating on the state of the Ameer's mind, we should not lose sight of this far more important question. The Postmaster General has been rebuked by an hon. Member on his own side for having drawn such a fine distinction between method and policy. But while I and those around me differ from the method pursued at this moment by Her Majesty's Government, as an unjust as well as necessary method, I know I am speaking the sentiments of every one in this House when I say that, on one point of policy, we are all unanimous in desiring to maintain intact our Possessions in India. I do not forget that it has been said that these debates may do damage by forcing discussion which may weaken the hands of Her Majesty's Government.


wished it to be understood that the Government did not object to these debates.


I am aware that you do not object to them; but it has been said that the attitude of bringing on a continuous debate at the time when Eastern matters are in their present position is unpatriotic. I am prepared to say that this debate will strengthen the Government when it is seen that with regard to Russia it is not a question of pro-Russian or anti-Russian, but a question as to the means of getting out of a difficulty created by themselves. But I must make this good—that the natural result of the Eastern policy of Her Majesty's Government was to bring the Russians to Cabul. I have alluded already to the fact that immediately you brought the Indian troops from India to threaten Europe the Russians began to threaten; but still more important are the questions of Cyprus and Asia Minor; and it was at the same time when you were negotiating the secret Treaty with Count Schouvaloff that orders were sent for this Embassy to Cabul. It is because the Government pursued a policy which was certain to lead to this kind of retaliation—departing from the old ways of English diplomacy—that these negotiations are no longer carried on in the light of day, as formerly they were, and the consequence is that these surprises are sprung upon Her Majesty's Government. We have to thank Her Majesty's Government that, while they were negotiating at Berlin, the Russians stole a march upon us and, peacefully invaded Afghanistan. You ask us what is our policy? I have seen it stated that those who support this Motion are those by whom India is considered a burden. Sir, I think this is a statement that ought never to have been made; and it ought not to go forth, in language proceeding from a responsible person, that there is a Party in this House who consider India as a burden. The right hon. Gentleman does not think that if to-morrow, by some extraordinary result, we should assume Office, we should consider India as a burden. I believe that there are not five men on that side of the House who would endorse that view; but it has been stated by Lord Salisbury, in winding up a debate on this important subject in the House of Lords, and I cannot find words sufficient to express my indignation at such a charge having been made.


wished to observe that reference to language used in debate in "another place" was irregular.


I confess that it is irregular, and apologize for referring thereto. In this House we are continually treated with the courtesy which the right hon. Gentleman who led it so well knew how to show, and these reckless accusations against a great Party are less often heard here than "elsewhere." At the same time, we feel desirous of repudiating them on behalf of all who sit on this side of the House. At all events, we do not propose to be so shabby as to expect India to pay for the burdens to be imposed by this war. It might be supposed that if we thought India a burden we should be the first to reject such sacrifices as may be necessary to bear in its relief; but I have seen no symptoms of objection. It ill becomes those who have, at all events in the first instance, given the country and Europe to understand that they are not going to bear the first cost of their Imperial acts, to say that we consider that India is a burden. I cannot sit down without alluding to the most eloquent and convincing speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff), which brought out the question and the important problem to which we have had no answer whatever — namely, what are the advantages to be gained by the present war? The Under Secretary, who followed him, was silent as to this. Her Majesty's Government refuse to tell us their policy; we are to approve the war, but we are not to be told what the result of that war is to be. With regard to the scientific Frontier, there is no single point which has so far outraged the sense of justice of hon. Members on this side of the House as the idea that the war was waged against the Ameer for one purpose while its object is for another. This is a matter to which I hope those who continue this debate will address themselves; and I trust they will enforce and strengthen the arguments of my hon. Friend, showing that we cannot see how this scientific Frontier will effect all that is desired. Besides this, I should especially like to know whether this is the whole that Her Majesty's Government propose to do with regard to this great question which we are summoned to discuss with so much solemnity. Is it to be the answer to the Russian advance that we are to have a scientific Frontier; and, if so, are we going to give up the remainder of Afghanistan? We want to know how, after a successful war, you intend to stop the Russians? Do you intend to take any further steps? It should not be forgotten that the Government entered into a very extraordinary resolution with regard to the Frontiers of Asia Minor, when they said that if the Russians should pass those Frontiers they would defend Turkey with arms. They might have contented themselves with a similar policy in Afghanistan. But when it comes to Afghanistan they make war upon the Ameer, after having pledged the country to an enormous liability in Asia Minor, which appears to be so much further from India than Herat and Merv. There is no consistency in the policy of the Government. They are prepared to go to any length with regard to the Balkans, and yet to put up with the most evasive Russian reply with regard to the Mission to Cabul. You see that you have accepted as satisfactory the declaration that in consequence of the disturbed state of political affairs this Mission was sent; you would not have accepted the explanation that it was a mere Mission of courtesy; but you are prepared to accept that it was done under exceptional circumstances. This is not, to my mind, a sufficient explanation or apology. You may move up troops to the Frontiers of another Power without committing an act of hostility or a breach of engagement. But to break a promise under exceptional circumstances is no excuse. And it seems to me that there was on the part of Russia a distinct breach of understanding; and therefore I consider that Russia has not given a satisfactory answer with regard to her Mission to Cabul. I trust that we shall hear more from Her Majesty's Government on this subject. I have felt painfully—what I am sure many hon. Members have also felt—that this subject is so large and complicated as to render it almost impossible to do justice to it within the limits of debate. But I trust that in the imperfect observations I have made several points are clear. I hope it will be understood that we are unanimous in our desire that this war, whatever may be the circumstances under which it is undertaken, will be brought to a safe and honourable conclusion. We are unanimous in sympathizing with the troops which are engaged. We trust that the war will be conducted with vigour, which, as the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had stated, was the most merciful way of conducting it. We are also unanimous on another point—namely, that of satisfaction at the loyal behaviour of the Princes of India, and the loyal attitude of all our subjects in those regions. If any of them had been present during this debate they would have seen that if we differed as to the justice and necessity of this war we did not differ as to the desire that our Indian Empire should remain intact, and that the beneficial results of English government are to be preserved to their millions of population. I trust also they would have seen that in many parts of the House there was an intense feeling that the Princes and Natives of India ought to be treated with justice, and that much of the opposition which has been shown on this occasion is due to the feeling that this is an unjust war. But, whether just or unjust, let credit be done to the feeling that we English think perfect justice should always prevail. I think we are also unanimous on the point that in Afghanistan there is no room for Russia and England together. But we, on our side, have contended that the Government have not gone the right way to work to bring about the result which both desire. We charge you with having brought the Russian Agent to Cabul; but we are unanimous in the desire that this Mission should be withdrawn, and that English influence should be supreme, as it must be, in Afghanistan. We differ as to the means by which this is to be secured, and think that an immense responsibility rests upon those who brought on the war; but I trust it may be known, both in India and in Russia, that Afghanistan must not be allowed to fall under Russian influence.


said, as there were many hon. Members most anxious to address the House, and as his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) had fully dealt with that aspect of the subject, he should not go into the complicated and entangled question of the justice of the war with Afghanistan. He should simply deal with the expediency of our action on the North-West Frontier, which he thought might be divided into two branches; and before he spoke of the expediency of the war itself, he was inclined to separate from it the question of the advance upon Quetta. He looked upon this latter as a good movement on the part of the Government, because it was made without the risk of war. He thought all the writers on the subject of the advance of Russia on our territory agreed that if she attacked us she must come by way of Persia or the South Caspian. If she advanced from Persia, as the Prime Minister said she might, or by the South Caspian, as was his own opinion, she must probably pass by Quetta, and certainly by Herat, which could be menaced from Quetta. He therefore in no way blamed the Government for the advance on Quetta, over which place the Ameer had very small, if any, rights or control, while the object in view was of the very greatest importance. But he regarded the war with Afghanistan in a different light, and could not approve its object. He did not think we should go to war because the Envoys were not received by the Ameer. It was not Envoys that the Ameer objected to, but British Residents. But the public view at present was, that our object was a scientific Frontier; and it had been proclaimed by hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, that we would never have demanded a scientific Frontier if our Envoys had been received by the Ameer, but as soon as we saw that he would not admit our officers, we wished to rectify our Frontiers. It would have been a very good thing to know what that change of Frontier meant. There was one, and only one, natural Frontier, and anyone who looked on the map would see that it was the Hindoo Kush, which was 150 or 200 miles from our territory; but to obtain that we should have to annex a country very much larger than England. The rectification of our Frontier by the occupation of the other Passes would no doubt improve it as against Afghanistan, because we should then completely command Cabul; and if we advanced a little beyond Quetta we should completely command Candahar. There would then he nothing left to the Ameer but to become our slave, or to shift his dominion and go to Balkh, where he would then be completely under Russian control. The greatest writers on the subject said that all wars in a mountainous country were long and tedious, as much from the character of the inhabitants as from the features of the district. A war with Afghanistan was very different from a war against a people living in the plains. If we attempted to take a portion of Afghanistan by occupying the Passes at the head of the Khyber, and the Pass a little in advance of it, we should be engaging in a very long and expensive war. As there had never been a war of this kind in which breech-loaders had been in the hands of both the contending parties, no one knew whether improved weapons would, on the whole, benefit the civilized and regular, or the half-civilized and irregular combatant. He thought it possible that the Afghans might find that they could purchase breech-loaders of the Russians if the war lasted two or three years. Hon. Members seemed to think that if they had the Passes of Afghanistan we should be quite safe; but this was entirely fallacious. We should never be able to keep out an army by holding the Passes; although he admitted that holding the Passes would give us time to concentrate for a pitched battle. The time selected for this war was not a favourable one, and it could hardly be said that it had been forced upon us by the Ameer. We should have waited for a year or two. Afghanistan was not our main object; we ought to consider the political state of India, Persia, Afghanistan, and Turkey. It was of enormous importance to us that Russia should execute the Berlin Treaty, and to watch this was our main object at the present moment. As far as we could judge from the Papers, she was moving away some troops and bringing a larger number back again. She was raising Balkan levies, which would every day of the Russian occupation become more efficient and formidable. Russia, at the present time, was not on a peace footing; and it appeared to him that our great object was the execution of the Berlin Treaty, and not the raising of fresh complications elsewhere. He (Major Nolan) had advised the Government, before the Russians crossed the Danube, not merely to be neutral, but to observe an armed neutrality, and he would not have been then adverse to war—when Turkey was strong, and when the Russians were in a bad position—but he did not think we could now force the execution of the Treaty of Berlin with a crushed Turkey for our only Ally, although we should have some chance of this had we a great Power for an Ally. Every country in Europe had its reasons for not wishing to have a conflict with Russia, and would make their various excuses for not insisting, by war, upon Russia's going out of European Turkey. It would now be said that this was a private quarrel, and must be fought out between England and Russia. He thought that by our present move in Afghanistan we had imperilled the Berlin Treaty, and furnished a pretext to Russia. He believed we might be involved in a very serious war.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —(Earl Percy.)

Motion agreed to.

Debate further adjourned till Friday.