HC Deb 13 December 1878 vol 243 cc745-851

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.


said, that it appeared to him the remarks which fell from the Opposition side of the House, and especially from the front Opposition Bench, were distinguished by a degree of acrimony very unusual, and such as had not characterized previous debates. Charges had been made of the gravest character and hurled at the heads of Her Majesty's Government. And the greatest master of the English language in the House had tortured his mother tongue to find words to frame his charges, which almost amounted to an accusation of forgery and fraud on the part of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman had managed to make those charges without violating the Rules of the House; but he doubted very much whether such a course of proceeding did not greatly tend to lower the dignity of Parliament. The climax, however, was reached last night, when the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff) thought it consistent with his duty to read an extract from a private letter written long ago by one who, alas ! was no longer present among them to explain what he had written, and had read that letter for the express purpose of impugning the veracity of a Government of which Lord Mayo, if he were still alive, would have been a distinguished ornament, and of which his brother was at this moment a valued Member. But as an attempt to impeach the bona fides of the Government, the feat of the hon. Member was eminently futile, for the action of Ministers must be criticized by the light of public documents officially presented to Parliament, and not of unexplained statements and private letters which were never intended for the public eye. He hoped, however, the example set by the hon. Gentleman, of quoting from private and unauthenticated letters, was one which would never be copied in that House. He would not dwell further upon these matters, because he believed the public was very little interested in the disputes which had been going on between Ministers. Turning to the question then under discussion, the real point at issue seemed to him to have been very clearly stated by the hon. Member for Bedford, when he said the conscience of the country required to be assured that the present war was just and necessary. He might omit the word "just," because he did not believe that a war could be necessary unless it could be shown to be just. But how were they to find that out? Those who had spoken from the Ministerial side of the House had given their reasons for believing it to be just and necessary; and the only way, it seemed to him, in which hon. Members opposite could prove that the present war was unnecessary, was by showing that the difficulties which we had to meet could be overcome by some other means than those which had been adopted by the Government. That question was dealt with very fully by the Postmaster General, who put to the House a number of dilemmas which would have to be confronted, and from which he asked the House to extricate him. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, indeed, in replying to the speech of the Postmaster General, contended that it was not fair to ask the Opposition to state what course they would pursue in a position of affairs which he said had been brought about by the errors of others; but, admitting the force of that argument, he thought if it could be shown that the Opposition before the present Government was in power was already in a situation so embarrassing that they had never been able to recover from it—that one step taken after another rather increased than diminished their difficulties—the Government might at least demand that some hon. Member of the Opposition should state what they could have done to extricate themselves from difficulties which their own errors had created. The right hon. Gentleman had taken the Postmaster General to task for not quoting from the Blue Book; and he would therefore trouble the House with a few quotations for the purpose of showing that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends were not free from blame in connection with the present question. Now, he regarded what had occurred in 1873 as being the turning-point of the whole question. Russia had at the time made great advances in Central Asia. Shere Ali was alarmed at those advances, and applied for encouragement and assistance to the British Government, who had always professed to be his ally. The answer sent out by telegraph from this country, on the 26th of July, 1873, by the Duke of Argyll, was as follows:—"Cabinet" —that word included the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich and his Colleagues— thinks you should inform Ameer that we do not at all share his alarm, and consider there is no cause for it: but you may assure him we shall maintain our settled policy in favour of Afghanistan, if he abides by our advice in external affairs."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 108.] The settled policy referred to was set forth in the despatch, dated the 1st of July, 1869—than which he knew nothing in the whole of the Papers or in Parliamentary literature which contained a more grim piece of irony—in which it was stated that while no British soldiers should ever be permitted to cross the Frontier to coerce the rebellious subjects of the Ameer; that no European officers should be placed as Residents in his cities; that no fixed subsidy or money allowance would be given him for any named period; that no promise of assistance in other ways would be made; and that no Treaty would be entered into obliging us under every circumstance to recognize him or his descendants Rulers of Afghanistan; yet that we were prepared to give him all the moral support in our power, and that, in addition, we were willing to assist him with money, arms, and ammunition whenever we deemed it possible or desirable to do so. Now, the policy which was thus announced, and which was called an intermediate one, reminded him very much of the game of "Heads I win, tails you lose;" and it was his settled conviction that from that time Shere Ali gave up all hope of real protection from us, and determined to throw himself into the arms of Russia, for in the following November they found him writing in friendly terms to General Kaufmann. The Ameer knew that he was a weak Power between two strong ones; and unless England were prepared to give him the assistance at once that he had a fair right to expect, he (Earl Percy) could not see what he was to do but to look for assistance from the other Power. He did not mean to say that the Ameer had not other causes of complaint. It was, however, curious to see how often a statement that had been over and over again refuted was repeated in the debates of the House. He had supposed that it had been proved to demonstration that the sending an Envoy was not the cause of the Ameer's disaffection, and that he had at one time even been anxious to receive one. ["No!"] If the fact was still doubted, he would quote from a letter written by the Agent at Cabul to the Commissioner at Peshawur on April 14, 1872, in which the Ameer had said that "if the British Government preferred to depute an English officer to him he should, have no objection to that course." That, then, was not the real cause of Shere Ali's discontent. There was another reason, equally weighty and more probable—namely, our interference on behalf of Yakoob Khan. To his astonishment the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) the other evening had said that he highly approved that course. Certainly he had not imagined that that act would ever have been endorsed by the other side of the House; and, as that was one of the more or less immediate causes of Shere Ali's alienation, it was all the more necessary for the Opposition to say what steps they would have taken and what remedies they would have proposed—to quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich—to retrieve the errors of the past. But though he cordially approved the policy of the present Government, he could not fail to see that it had one defect—a defect, however, for which they were not responsible: that it had come too late. They were only shutting the stable door after the steed had been stolen. The policy of masterly inactivity towards Russia which had been pursued for the last 40 years had borne its fruit. Before every advance of Russia in Central Asia she had taken care to assure us that she had come to the very limits of her Empire; that accidental circumstances made the advance in question necessary; but that she had no desire for any increase of territory. But we had been deceived on each occasion. Once, indeed, we had fought Russia, and had stopped her advance in Europe; but no sooner had the Crimean War ended than we allowed her to destroy the Circassians, who in some measure barred her advance in Asia. Then, again, we had had assurances from her in 1864, followed by her advance to Tashkend; and at last, in 1871, she announced her intention of tearing up the Treaty of Paris, so far as it related to the Black Sea. The policy of masterly inactivity was then in vogue, and the Government of the day "saw no cause for alarm whatever." Finally, that same policy had permitted the Russian advance to Khiva; and, less than two years ago, had deluged with blood the whole of the East of Europe. Even at that time the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite, which still fettered the country, was far from being prepared to stem the tide of Russian conquest; indeed, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich was perfectly ready to help Russia to drive the Turks out of Europe. He hoped he had not spoken of Russia with bitterness. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Ridley) in his remark that aggression was very often unavoidable; and that we, remembering our own conquests in India, could hardly complain of Russia succeeding in a similar exploit in another part of the world. So far from any intentional acerbity of speech towards Russia, he had only wished to show the danger of the policy of masterly inactivity. It was by no means a new policy, seeing that it had its parallel in the animal kingdom, in the conduct of those birds who, when pursued, buried their heads in the sand, and owed their destruction to their imagined security. Before many years hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House would be in Office. ["No, no!"] Well, he hoped he was wrong; but suppose such an event to take place, they would have again the same spectacle which they had had for the last 40 years. The consequence of the constant change of Governments in this country was that they would never be able to compete in foreign policy with Russia. She could always outwit them; and a change of Government in this country was, so far as foreign policy was concerned, tantamount to a revolution. With this constant shifting and changing policy we could not expect to be able to meet a Power which had extended her conquests without cessation on a uniform plan for the last 200 years to an extent which had never been equalled since the creation of the Roman Empire. Our policy of masterly inactivity meant, as Lord Napier of Magdala had said, "receding from difficulties till they became serious dangers," and had been allowed to continue far too long. They had a serious duty to perform as Members of that House; and he hoped that the House and the country would show by their voice that they appreciated the change which had been made in the counsels of Her Majesty; and that they preferred the policy of the present Government to that of a Ministry which had neither skill, knowledge, nor courage to face the difficulties and dangers which confronted them.


said, he was prepared to forgive the noble Lord who had last spoken for the hard words he had applied to Her Majesty's Opposition in consideration of the consolatory prophecy they had just listened to with respect to the change that was likely to take place in their position. He thought one sophism had been employed in that debate by which they were not likely to be deceived in that House. Certain journals were very fond of declaring that they had nothing to do with the past and had only to consider the present. That was a doctrine very pleasant and natural to journals, which, like the ephemeral insect, had a term of life of 24 hours. It was often expedient to them to forget the past. But the House of Commons had a very different function. They had to judge of a policy and to determine the justice of a war; and in so doing they must consider the past circumstances on which that policy was founded, and the causes by which that war had been occasioned. The noble Lord himself, and others on his side of the House, showed that they themselves admitted this; and therefore he brushed away this nonsensical rubbish, which he was sure would not occupy or command the attention of the House for a single moment. The questions they had to decide in that debate were these—had the policy of Her Majesty's Government been wise, and was the war a just one? The noble Lord the Postmaster General had heaped a great deal of abuse upon the old policy, and had used strong epithets about it, and the noble Earl who had just sat down seemed to share in his opinions. He was not himself a pedantic adherent of the old policy; but he thought it was a very good one in its time, for it was agreed to by eminent statesmen, both in India and England. To talk of it contemptuously as "an old, exploded policy" might suit the noble Lord the Postmaster General; but he did not think the noble Lord was a very great authority on Indian affairs. He admitted it was impossible to have a fixed policy, for when circumstances changed, the policy must be modified to suit the new situation of things; and if Her Majesty's Government justified the new policy on the ground that the old one required to be modified, he would not quarrel with that position. Now, in argument, he held it to be the best thing to grapple with the good points made by his adversaries, and not to waste powder and shot upon the bad ones. Therefore, he should very briefly dismiss what he called the bad points on the other side. He regretted, however, that a great deal of recrimination had been used which was quite beside the question; and he could not absolve hon. Gentlemen opposite from a share of the responsibility of introducing it. For instance, the Government contended that the policy of Lord Northbrook was the cause of the estrangement of the Ameer, and led to what followed. They said Lord Northbrook was too cold and cautious and repellent, and that when they came to deal with the Ameer they came too late, for they found him angry. But he did not think this view was just; and, at any rate, Her Majesty's Government were not entitled to advance it. If they thought, just before they took Office in 1873, that Lord Northbrook was too cold, too cautious, too repellent to the Ameer, and that he had been held back from going further, not by his own judgment, but by the influence of the Government, why did not they give him further and different instructions in 1874? But the remarkable fact was that though in 1874 Her Majesty's Government were in Office, they never thought for one moment of sending instructions to Lord Northbrook to offer better terms to the Ameer—to go further and secure his loyal and cordial support. If they thought Lord Northbrook did not go far enough, they were guilty of the most culpable negligence if they did not give him fresh instructions. In 1875, it was true, they did give fresh instructions to Lord Northbrook. But what were they? Not to offer better terms; but Lord Salisbury, in his despatches to Lord Northbrook, urged him to demand conditions which were of a most odious and obnoxious character. Therefore, the Government were not entitled to say that what had happened had happened because Lord Northbrook did not offer sufficiently good terms to the Ameer, because they themselves did not on the two subsequent occasions make any other offers. Why, then, did the Government say that Lord Northbrook was too cold, too cautious, too repellent—he might almost say, too costive in his offers to the Ameer? What were these instructions given in 1873? Lord Salisbury wrote that the Viceroy ought, by superior intellect and force of character, to triumph over the stubborn prejudices of the Ameer. Well, they had tried that superior intellect and that force of character, and they had not triumphed over the stubborn prejudices of the Ameer. During all that time they were not disposed to be the least degree more liberal than Lord Northbrook and the Duke of Argyll had been. He would now pass on to another point that had been brought forward, and, as he thought, had been much misunderstood. They said that the course they had taken had been made necessary because the Ameer had entered into objectionable communications with Russia. But the Papers proved that this was utterly untrue. Before the Government began their operations with the Ameer in the beginning of 1876, there had been no communications between the Ameer and Russia of a character of which they could, in the least degree, complain. It was true there were communications, as there always had been since the time of Lord Mayo; but the English Government had not disapproved them. In 1870 Shere Ali received a communication from General Kaufmann on the 15th of May, and he wrote to inform Lord Mayo of it, and, in reply, Lord Mayo wrote back to the Ameer— These letters will, doubtless, be, when rightly understood, a source of satisfaction and an additional ground of confidence to your Highness."—[Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), p. 185.] In fact, Lord Mayo congratulated the Ameer on having received these letters, and suggested to him, and advised him, to send a most cordial and friendly answer. It had been said that these communications originated in the time of Lord Northbrook. They did not. They originated with Lord Mayo, and were continued by subsequent Viceroys. In 1875, the present Government conducted an amicable negotiation with Russia on the subject of Afghanistan; and throughout the whole of the Correspondence which then took place there was not a word of complaint by the English Government that the Russian Government was holding improper communications with Shere Ali, and why was there not? If it had existed, that surely would be the first thing complained of. Was not the explanation that at that time there was no complaint to be made? Even in the instructions of Lord Salisbury to Lord Lytton there was not a word of complaint of these communications, although in those instructions the policy to be pursued was very fully set out. Why? because even then there was no reason to complain. The first complaint, indeed, was contained in Lord Lytton's telegram of September 16 and in his letter of September 18, in which he says—"the Ameer no longer communicates with us, and asks us what answer he shall give." Just so. That complaint was in September. It was in July that you had done the mischief, and it was in consequence of what you then said that he acted in this way. The Government were really responsible for the attitude of the Ameer, and their policy could not be defended on any such ground as that. Having thus swept away what he called the false points raised, he would next grapple with the real and true points at issue. The rupture of the communications to the Ameer was not the cause of the Government's policy, but the effect of their conduct. They said they were obliged to alter, or modify, the old policy for two reasons—because the Ameer was sore and alienated, and because Russia was advancing. Those were two very good reasons, because they acted and re-acted on each other. It did not signify much if the Ameer was sore if Russia were not advancing; or if Russia were advancing, provided the Ameer wore staunch. But if Russia were advancing and the Ameer were alienated, things might turn out very awkwardly indeed. Had Her Majesty's Government taken the line of regarding that as a good reason for making a better offer to the Ameer, with the view of conciliating him, he should have said that they were perfectly right. He should have supported them in making any offer and in paying any bribe that would have secured to us the friendship of the Ameer, which he was aware was of vital importance to our Indian Empire. He made these admissions, because he wished to get at the actual fact that the Ameer was sore and irritable and suspicious, and that we wished to gain his friendship and to secure his alliance. But the question he had to ask Her Majesty's Government was, how did they proceed in these circumstances? Had they adopted methods best calculated to gain their end, and had the result of the course they had taken been to secure for us the friendship and the cordial alliance of the Ameer? If it were desired to mount a plunging, restless horse, it would not do to approach him flourishing a whip, and, when mounted, it was not desirable to begin jogging at the curb and sticking the spurs into his ribs; otherwise the rider would meet with a fall, just as we had met with a fall in Afghanistan in 1842. How did the Government begin to approach the Ameer? Instead of conciliating him, and so securing his friendship, they began by announcing that they were going to send Sir Lewis Pelly to Cabul. Did they think that that was the most agreeable way to approach the Ameer? Was that the way Lord Mayo dealt with him in 1869, or Lord Northbrook dealt with him in 1873? They knew his objection to receiving an Envoy, and the one met him at Umballa and the other received his Prime Minister at Simla. Why did not the Government follow this example? Her Majesty's Government must have known that if anything would make the Ameer irritable and discontented, it was to send an Envoy to him at Cabul. Then, whom had they selected as their Envoy? They had chosen Sir Lewis Pelly. He was a man of great ability; but, most unfortunately, with his name there were ominous associations, for he was the man who had just before been employed to depose the Gaekwar of Baroda. That he considered very bad diplomacy. He did not care to cast much blame upon Lord Lytton in this matter. He had had the good fortune to enjoy the friendship of that noble Lord for some time; and he did not desire, in the discharge of a public duty, to say a word that would imperil a continuance of that friendship. He believed that Lord Lytton had merely performed his duty in carrying into effect the instructions he had received from the Home Government. Therefore, he was surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer that evening speak as if he declined to accept the responsibility of a phrase used by Lord Lytton. He should hold the Government responsible for everything Lord Lytton did, and for every word he spoke; and he should no more think of blaming him for what had happened than he should of blaming the gallant General Roberts or Sir Samuel Browne in the Khyber. Above all, he did not blame him for the instructions sent out by Lord Salisbury, "to create opportunities of approaching" the sore and suspicious Ameer. That was language, he was happy to say, which was new in the instructions of English statesmen, and he was glad that Lord Northbrook made a worthy answer to so unworthy a suggestion. When it was made to him he told Lord Salisbury what his Lordship ought to have known. He told his Lordship not only that that was a course which ought not to be pursued, but that it was a course which was sure to fail, and that the only chance of success lay in honestly and frankly approaching the Ameer and telling him what we meant. But when Lord Lytton received those instructions to "create an opportunity," what occurred? In his despatch in reply he rightly interpreted the meaning of the Secretary of State, for he said—"I found a pretext." A pretext! That was not a nice word. They were going to approach a man whom they desired to conciliate, and whose confidence they wished to secure, and they used a pretext! And what was the "pretext" made use of? It was that of announcing to the Ameer the assumption by Her Majesty of the title of Empress of India. When the Secretary of State for India instructed the Viceroy of India to employ that grand new title of Empress of India to delude an Indian Prince, it was not a fortunate way of inaugurating the new title. Lord Salisbury had congratulated Lord Lytton upon his having the qualities of a Scotchman. He did not know whether the Scotch Members of that House would regard that left-handed compliment as very flattering. Lord Lytton, at all events, understood it to mean what was called "smartness" in America, although it had other names in other countries. He should say that a man who created opportunities and found pretexts was guilty of what was termed "sharp practice" in England. And it was the fundamental fault that he found with our policy in dealing with the Ameer that we had preferred "sharp practice" to being frank and open. His first great charge against the Government was that they had endeavoured to "bamboozle" the Ameer. They went to him with a pretext, and thought he would not find them out. But Lord Northbrook told them that he would, and he did. Yet they were told in proof of his hostility that at this interview he was suspicious. He had heard of these men as barbarians and savages; but, for his part, he thought the Prime Minister of the Ameer conducted himself at Peshawur with the greatest ability. To go to this man with the pretexts and opportunities that they had found, and yet think he would not be suspicious, showed an amount of pettiness and blundering diplomacy which it was impossible sufficiently to condemn. Our Native Agent told us the Ameer would be glad to come to terms, if he was convinced of our meaning real business; but that we must be clear and open in our communications, as the Afghans had come to suspect a secret meaning in all we said. And was the Ameer far wrong in that supposition? By sending Sir Lewis Pelly upon one pretext, in order that he might do another thing, they raised a suspicion of our conduct at the very outset. To this request for the reception of Sir Lewis Pelly the Ameer was said to have sent a hostile answer. The Ameer wrote that before he received Sir Lewis Pelly he would rather know what we meant; and then the Government said—"Here is this stupid, hostile, obstinate fellow who won't be satisfied by our pretexts." A more unfair, a more unjust, and a more ungrounded cause of war, in his opinion, had never been put forward. What was the consequence? On July 5 they wrote an angry letter, which was calculated to destroy all chance of a satisfactory arrangement with the Ameer. The Indian Government said they would not receive his Envoy because he would not receive theirs. Was that the conduct of Lord Northbrook's Government? They received the Ameer's Envoy, though he would not receive theirs. They adopted the course which was most likely to succeed. On July 8 the Indian Government wrote a letter to the Ameer, threatening that if he would not do what they liked they would have done with him. From that moment his communications with Russia began. In the telegram of September 16, and the despatch of September 18, Lord Lytton said that now the Ameer had ceased to ask advice from them; now he was dangerously communicating with Russia. They had refused, at first, to receive his Agent at all; but at last they consented—and it seemed to him one of the few sensible things they had done—that the Native Envoy should come to Peshawur, for the purpose of ascertaining the views of the British Government, and those views were frankly communicated to him. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had been challenged that night on the important preliminary statement which was made before the Conference. What is there," said the Viceroy, "to prevent us from providing for the security of our Frontier by an understanding with Russia, which might have the effect of wiping Afghanistan out of the map altogether f If the Ameer does not desire to come to a speedy understanding with us, Russia does; and she desires it at hisexpense."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 183.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not like that passage. Anybody who heard his answer that night must have seen that the Government felt the pinch of that part of the case. And that extraordinary statement admitted of being viewed in two aspects. It was true, or it was not true. If it was true, what did it mean? It was what might be called, in the language of the auction-room, a sort of international "knockout"—that was to say, if they could not buy the man whom they wanted to conciliate at their own price, they were to settle the matter elsewhere. If it was not true, what was to be thought of that style of negotiation? He knew that in the Court of Chancery, if a man was found to have made such a proposal to a creditor, it would set aside the contract for fraud. He asked again, was it true or not true? Was it to go forth to India that this was the way in which the Government dealt with Eastern Princes—that they went to them and made statements of a particular character, for the purpose of influencing and compelling them to take a certain course, but that they afterwards came forward in the House of Commons and said—"Oh! it was not correct?" That was a transaction materially affecting the reputation of the British Government, and also affecting the maintenance of its authority in India, and a clear and distinct account should be given of it. Well, at Peshawur, they professed to offer the Ameer certain terms, and they imposed on him a certain condition. It was said that Lord Northbrook had offered him terms too narrow, too cautious, too reserved. They offered him no better terms. It was true they offered him a Treaty. He would not weary the House by going into the details of that Treaty; but anybody who compared them with the assurances offered by Lord North- brook would admit that, in the main, the terms offered in that Treaty did not exceed the assurances offered either by Lord Mayo or by Lord Northbrook. The Ameer's Prime Minister, in answer to the proposals made at Peshawur, said he had got those things already under the Treaties of 1855 and 1857, and that he also had the assurances of Lord Mayo in writing, and likewise those of Lord Northbrook. The Indian Government declared the Treaty of 1857 to have expired; and, as to what had passed between Lord Mayo and Lord Northbrook, they said they were only verbal assurances. When he looked at those transactions he condemned them as regarded their bearing on the Ameer, but far more because they would ruin our moral authority and influence in India. What was meant by drawing that distinction between Treaties and verbal assurances? Of course, there was a difference between the two. There was a difference between a promise and a deed; but what would be thought of the man who, when another came to claim from him the fulfilment of a promise, turned round and said—"You might have got a deed, and you only got a promise?" That was the exact parallel to this case. He referred to pages 218 and 219 in the Afghanistan Correspondence; and he maintained that, explain it away how they might, the language held by the Viceroy on the distinction between verbal assurances and Treaties was most dangerous language, and likely to be most mischievous to our authority in India. It was, in practice, found very useful for the Government to give assurances on which the Indian Princes might rely where Treaties might not be convenient; but when the transactions contained in that Correspondence went forth to India, the confidence of the Native Princes would be shaken in assurances such as those given by Lord Mayo and Lord Northbrook to the Ameer. That was one of the gravest items in the indictment against the Government. Such was the character of the offers made at Peshawur; and he was not surprised that the Ameer was not at all inclined to accept them, because he had got quite as good before. But then what was the sine quâ non—the condition precedent— which they imposed on him? They said they would not discuss or enter into the negotiation with him unless he ab initio, and before all things, swallowed the condition, which they knew was the most obnoxious thing they could impose on him. All the Indian authorities had told them so—they knew he had always resisted it—and yet wanting to be conciliatory towards the Ameer and anxious to secure their influence in Afghanistan, was it fair to tell him that if he did not agree to accept a resident British Minister in his country they would renounce all their former arrangements with him? They might be wise in desiring to have a resident Minister in Afghanistan—he thought they were wise in desiring that; but all their former arrangements and assurances had been based on the principle that he was not to have a resident Agent; and they had no right to repudiate all previous understandings unless he would accept that condition. If they wanted that condition, they ought to have conciliated him by offering him handsome terms, and then at the end of the thing have said—"Dear Sir, we have done all that you wish, and now will you not waive the objection you had before?" To that there might not have been the smallest objection, and they might have achieved legitimately that which they desired. But that was not at all their course. They put it in the forefront of their battle; they said—"You shall give us the thing which you always have disliked giving us, and if you do not we will not discuss or negotiate, but we will repudiate everything that has gone before." It had been sought to show, by quoting Captain Grey's testimony, that the Ameer was once ready to accept a British Agent, and that having afterwards objected to receive one was evidence of his hostility. But the evidence as to that entirely broke down. A letter had been addressed by Lord Mayo to the Duke of Argyll—an authority which the noble Lord who had spoken last would respect—explaining exactly what was done in 1869. It had been supposed that Lord Mayo had gone too far in his pledges to the Ameer. Now, in that letter Lord Mayo said— The only pledges given were that we would not interfere with his affairs; that we would support his independence; and that we would not force European officers or residents on him against his will. The very thing that Lord Mayo promised should not be done against the will of the Ameer was forced upon him as a condition which if he did not swallow the negotiations would be broken off. That was unfair; it was impolitic; it rendered successful negotiations from the first impossible. In diplomacy you do not begin with an Ultimatum; but here the Ameer received an Ultimatum at the outset. That was a preposterous proceeding on the part of the Government. And there was this curious fact, which should be borne in mind. The Ameer said before the Envoy was sent—"I dislike this very much; but rather than quarrel with the English I will ultimately accept it. Only allow me to send my Envoy to Peshawur." In other words—"Only let me state my arguments against your proposed conditions, and if you still insist I will yield." What could be fairer than that? It was a proceeding to which, at all events, Her Majesty's Government could not object, because it was made the basis of the Salisbury-Schouvaloff agreement. He had always thought it was an effort of original genius to protest at the outset, but to state you were willing to yield; but now it appeared to be an Asiatic patent which Her Majesty's Government borrowed from the Ameer of Afghanistan. It was an ingenious method of settling matters, and Her Majesty's Government made use of it in settling matters in Berlin; they protested, but, as it was known they would, they ultimately gave way. Well, the negotiation was broken off, and Lord Salisbury, in his despatch, approved what had taken place, and he used language which was new to the Foreign Office, for he said—"You were quite right to take advantage of the death of the Envoy." Lord Salisbury was always taking advantage; he was always creating opportunities; he was always finding pretexts—and such was the new spirit of our foreign policy. What did they think would be its effect upon the Princes of India? The Government summoned the Envoy of the Ameer to Peshawur; they created opportunities; they invented pretexts; they knew that in the end he was prepared to concede that which was demanded; and then they took advantage of the death of the Envoy to close the negotiations. And that was the foundation of this just and necessary war; and in their telegram to the Viceroy the Government congratulated him that his proceedings would get rid of all entanglements. What were these entanglements? As he understood, they were the verbal assurances given by Lord Mayo and Lord Northbrook. They wished to repudiate all liability to the Ameer, and that was the way they terminated the sublime negotiations which were intended to conciliate the Ameer, and secure the cordial support of Afghanistan. Well, it did not belong to any man to dive into the motives of another; but all he could say was this—that if the object of Her Majesty's Government was exactly the opposite of that which they professed; if they desired to break with the Ameer; if they desired to lay the foundation of a war with him; if they desired to annex his territory and rectify their Indian Frontier, they could not have found a more successful method of doing so than that. This he did say—that the method they pursued, and the manner in which they pursued it, were indefensibly wrong from first to last. What could they expect to occur? In March, 1877, they had shaken the dust of the Ameer off their feet, and he turned to the Gentiles. What else could he do? As he stated in his letter, he saw the Russians approaching his Frontier; he saw himself deserted by the English, who denied all liability on their part to defend him; he was plied by his powerful neighbour, and he received a Russian Mission. How could he be expected to do anything else? Then Her Majesty's Government came to Parliament, having made this terrible and deplorable mess —["Oh!"]— yes, mess—by want of straightforwardness, temper, and common sense, and they asked—"In the name of Heaven, what are we to do now?" It was just like a ruined gamester, who had lost all his fortune, asking what he was to do; or like a man who had attempted suicide and half cut his throat asking what he was to do. When men got into such scrapes, how could they be aided? What did the Government do? The next stage was to find an opportunity to take in Parliament. These transactions were no sooner finished—no sooner had they forfeited the friendship of the Ameer and alienated Afghanistan, which was the bulwark of our Indian Frontier—than they were interrogated on the subject in Parliament. They were asked, was it true that they were forcing an Envoy on the Ameer, whether the Ameer was alienated, whether their policy was changed? That was a very grave matter. It went a great deal further than India; it struck at the very root of Constitutional government and Parliamentary control. The negotiations had broken down; the Ameer had been driven into the arms of Russia. There was only one way in which they could repair the disaster, and that was by a free and full discussion in Parliament. If Parliament condemned the proceeding, the policy would have been changed. On the other hand, if Parliament approved it, the war would have been justified. The Government adopted neither of these national and Constitutional courses. They were prevented by a statement. He would not condescend to criticize the words of people who spoke by the card; but he said, without fear of contradiction, that the answer given to the question asked was calculated to produce, and did produce, an impression that nothing serious had happened; that no change had taken place in policy; and that things stood as they had before in Afghanistan. He was not one of those who believed that negotiations ought to be conducted on the Table of Parliament. If Lord Salisbury had stated that affairs were in a critical and delicate state; that the matter, as he thought, ought not to be proceeded with; and that he should reserve any statement in Parliament, he would have been supported. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman opposite was always supported when he made such an appeal. Or Lord Salisbury might have said that he could not enter into details, as circumstances had arisen which made it necessary to change the former policy; he would then, too, have been supported; but he did neither of these things. What he did was to give to the English Parliament and nation an absolutely incorrect impression as to the state of affairs. Therefore he said with great regret, but he said it deliberately, that a course like that, taken not upon that occasion merely, would have this mischievous effect—that the assurances of Ministers henceforth could not, and would not, be regarded with that implicit credit with which they had hitherto been received. There was another feature of an extremely disagreeable character in these negotiations. The Conference at Peshawur was closed on the 30th of March last year, and it was not till the 10th of May following that a despatch on the subject was written by the Viceroy. Now, the Viceroy, unlike the Secretary of State, could not act alone; he was obliged to act with his Council. Well, as we now know, the policy of the Viceroy was protested against by one-half of the Members of the Council; but no hint of the difference of opinion among them was at that time allowed to transpire. On the 18th of April the last dissenting Member of the Council resigned; and it was not till after that date that the first despatch of the Viceroy in regard to the Conference was written. Thus, but for circumstances which he had seen complained of, the English nation would have been left in total ignorance of the very important fact that one-half of the Indian Council had dissented from the policy pursued by the Viceroy. Now, this secrecy and want of frankness was of most serious import to our Parliamentary system. He did not claim for Parliament a voice in all negotiations—that was impossible; but it often, and indeed generally, happened, that in matters of great public importance past Governments in this country had sought the sympathy and support of Parliament rather than attempt to conceal from it what was going on. The Government now boasted of their new policy. Why did they not boast of it in 1877? Why did they try to persuade us that there was no new policy at all then? If the old policy deserved the epithets which had been applied to it by the Postmaster General, why did we hear nothing of this in 1877? What the Government wanted—nothing else could explain what happened—was that nothing should be known about their new policy, and they took the course of smuggling it through. Well, what happened next? The Russian Mission went to Cabul, and the Government were then placed in an almost impossible situation. They thought they must send a Mission also, and he did not say that they were wrong—he thought, perhaps, they were right. It was the result of the difficulties which the Government had manufactured for themselves. But even then, considering what had passed, they ought to have sought a friendly solution, which, even then, he thought was not impossible. They ought to have made the matter as little humiliating to the Ameer as was possible under the circumstances. What happened? Our Mission was ordered to start on a certain day, and the time of its arrival was postponed somewhat in consequence of the death of the Ameer's son and heir, but still was pressed forward without much consideration for his feelings under the circumstances. Gholam Hussein was told to go on and force the Ameer into consenting to what was an odious and painful thing before the period of mourning was half over. It would be seen from the Papers that the conduct of our Envoy towards the Ameer must have been horrible and heart-rending. [Admiral Sir WILLIAM EDMONSTONE: Oh, oh!] Well, perhaps nothing would rend the heart of the hon. and gallant Admiral. Being made of the old British oak, it would take a good deal to rend his heart; still, he knew the hon. and gallant Admiral to be a most amiable man, and thought he would have respected one who had lost his son and heir. At all events, the conscience of this nation would have been quieter if the Government had had patience and waited until the days of mourning were over before compelling the Ameer to give an answer. The Ameer begged and entreated, and his Vizier swore that if the Government would have a little patience he would consent to receive a Mission at Cabul. But the Ameer was not listened to. The Government treated him differently from what they treated the Turks. They waited for months and years for the fulfilment of Turkish promises of reform, but would not wait for the answer of the Ameer a week. Gholam returned from Cabul on the 6th of October, and, no doubt, made a report to the Viceroy. Why was not that report produced? They had asked for it over and over again, but had never got it. Sir Neville Chamberlain's letter of the 12th of October showed that the Ameer would, if he had been shown a little indulgence, have ultimately received our Mission honourably; and, the Russian Mission being withdrawn, everything might have ended satisfactorily. But, no; such a course would not have suited the purposes of the Government, and so war was brought about. Well, what had been the result of all this? Had the Government secured Afghanistan? What was the present position of Afghanistan? What were the Government going to do with it? They proposed to set up a "scientific Frontier," of which no definition had been given by the Government, but which was understood to mean a line extending somewhere from about Jellalabad down to Candahar, and thence to Quetta. That, however, was but a narrow strip. What was to be done with the rest? If they did not know, he would tell them. We had made the Afghans our enemies, and in taking our scientific Frontier we should be making a present of Afghanistan to Russia. The result of the policy of the Government would be to make Afghanistan an Asiatic Bulgaria. The Afghans would detest us and love the Russians, as the Bulgarians did. That was the result of these negotiations. A more dangerous or more mischievous result than this—the natural and inevitable consequence of the policy of the Government—it was impossible to conceive. Do not let it be supposed that the Opposition disparaged the value of Afghanistan; on the contrary, they thought it more important perhaps than the Government did. But what was the meaning of the Russians having conciliated and secured the affections of the Afghans? It meant that Russia was increasing her influence over these parts and getting to the eastern flank of Persia, and that we were losing the only chance we had of countervailing that influence by making a present to her of Afghanistan. Every acre of Afghanistan which we did not occupy was secured by Russia. What were the Government going to do? Were they going into the course which they themselves had condemned by giving up the whole of Afghanistan to Russia? He charged the policy of the Government in this matter with exactly the same vices and injurious consequences as he charged their Eastern European policy. The Government had been opposing Russia for years, and what had been the result? The Government were to have secured Afghanistan to England exactly as they were to have maintained the integrity of the Turkish Empire, and a pretty job they had made of both. The result was that, during their Administration, the Government had been playing the part to Russia very much that the wind did to the kite, enabling her to soar. What they had done for Bulgaria they were now doing for Afghanistan. In the course of the past three years Russia, thanks to Her Majesty's Ministers, had made more progress than she did under the reigns of Peter the Great and the Empress Catherine put together. The Opposition predicted what would happen if Russia were allowed to make war against Turkey single-handed, and the anticipated consequences had followed from the policy protested against. The Government were told by Lord North-brook what would happen if this policy were pursued towards Afghanistan; and the result had been that we had lost Afghanistan, just as we had lost half of European Turkey and allowed it to go practically to Russia. If this went on long enough, Russia would overshadow the earth under the influence of the same policy. This was only part of a still greater question. They had been told that they were to take these matters on a broad issue. He took it on the broadest issue of all. The Government said they had got a new policy in Afghanistan. Yes, they had got a new policy in Afghanistan, and the noble Lord who spoke last said they had got a new policy in Europe too. [Earl PERCY remarked that he had not said anything of the kind.] He was sorry that he misunderstood the noble Lord. Well, the keynote of that policy was sounded the other night by the guiding and animating spirit of that policy. And they knew what it was. It was a denunciation of the deleterious doctrines of those upon whom the Divine blessing was once pronounced—those who sought peace and pursued it. It was not here a question of the Afghan Frontier. We were here face to face with the dangerous spirit of this new policy in Europe. No word had been spared, every endeavour had been endorsed, to arouse the suspicions of this nation—to exasperate its animosities—to provoke the pride of a high-spirited people. It seemed to him that they were going to make other wars inevitable, as they had made the Afghan War, to cover the deficiencies of the Government. They had roused a spirit which they could not repress; they had summoned this war spirit as their slave, and it had become their master; they had made this little shabby war to gratify the war spirit at the expense of a people who could afford it less well than ours. How far were we today off a great war? That was what he wanted to know. The policy of the Government was an Imperial policy! Yes, it was an Imperial policy—it was a servile imitation of the Imperialism of the Second Empire. That Empire began after a little war. It had a Mexican expedition. It was to exalt the Latin races. It was to gratify the pride of the French people. But the popularity of that little war flickered out, as the popularity of this war would flicker out. But then the Second Empire was obliged to have a great war—a war to rectify the Frontier of France, and they were to march to Berlin. Yes; the policy of the Government was not a policy of peace. Some of them might go farther and some might go less far in that direction. The Attorney General was one of the advanced guard, and he remembered the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech at Preston. The hon. and learned Gentleman was a most frank and independent man; when he differed from the Government to which he belonged he never was afraid to say so. He had told his constituents that the policy of the Government was wrong, and that if he had been at the head of affairs he would have made war with Russia long ago. And, therefore, they would have in him the best and truest exponent of this new blood-and-thunder policy. Yes; he knew it well. The Government had hoisted the old red flag of the Tory Party—the bloody red flag of the Tory Party—and he knew what the Tory Party was, and the crew that sailed beneath it; it was a gaunt and grisly company. [Laughter.] That was no personal observation. The company of which he spoke, which sailed under that flag, was war, taxation, poverty, distress. The Liberal Party had its flag too. It was the old flag. It bore very different words—the old words of peace, retrenchment, and reform. The time was not far distant when these two flags were going to meet in a General Election. To his mind, the sooner the better. There had been some single skirmishes since the last General Election; and in this Session some private Members had taken their seats who bore the latest voice of the country, and three-fourths or four-fifths of them would record their vote in condemnation of the Government policy. Well, they knew the flag of the Government, and what the flag of the Liberal Party was too. For his part, he was not for this new, bastard, Imperial policy. He was for the old policy. The noble Lord would not contradict him now. The noble Lord described it as an interlude in the policy of the last 40 years. Yes; he was for the old policy of the last 40 years. During that period it had been the happy fortune of the Sovereign of these Realms to preside over the advance of this nation in a period of unmixed, almost unbroken, prosperity and peace. He feared that Her Majesty's present Advisers were preparing a very different future for her reign if this interlude continued. It seemed to him that during the last 40 years which the noble Lord condemned the prayer which was daily offered for the Throne had been answered, that peace and happiness had been established on the foundation of truth and justice. Every man in this House knew that in this English land to-day there was neither peace nor happiness; and he would vote in condemnation of the Government to-night because he believed that that unhappy result was mainly due to the cause that the Advisers of the Crown had departed from the paths of truth and justice.


said, the attack of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Oxford was altogether so terrible that it almost seemed like temerity on his part to rise for the purpose of combating some of his statements, which, however, he hoped he should do calmly and dispassionately, and with a little less thunder than his hon. and learned Friend had used, and with arguments more relevant to the matter in hand. It was certainly very gratifying that the hon. and learned Gentleman contemplated the consummation of the prophecy of the noble Lord who spoke first with such great satisfaction. The possibility of its confirmation was not accepted with so much satisfaction by some hon. Friends behind him, and one hon. and gallant Member exclaimed against it in a very loud tone; and if there were the slightest probability of the prophecy being realized, he was sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman would accept an office of profit under the Crown. The hon. and learned Gentleman commenced by saying that we ought in this matter to have regard to the past as well as the future, and he alluded to some ephemeral journals which contended that the past ought not to be taken into consideration, remarking that he brushed away all that rubbish; but it was unnecessary that he should have had to brush it away, for it was introduced by himself. No one in this House had contended that it was not perfectly right and just to regard the past as well as the future; therefore he might have spared himself the trouble of sweeping this rubbish away. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman that it was a wise and judicious plan to grapple with the sound and good arguments of your adversaries; and he should be willing and anxious to act on that maxim if there were any sound arguments to meet. Now, let the House consider what had been the burden of the speech just delivered. In the first place, the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the policy of 1873 was the right policy, and that the Ameer was not estranged by what had happened in 1873; but that he was estranged by the ridiculous policy of the Government in attempting to force Agents on him to reside in his territory. Now, was the Ameer not estranged by what took place in 1873? Let them forget all this declamation and bring their minds to bear upon the Blue Book; and could anyone, he would ask, read its contents with care and attention so as to understand and grasp them without being convinced that the Ameer was, at all events, seriously displeased before 1873? On the 5th of May, 1873, the Ameer wrote a letter to the Commissioner of the Viceroy, setting forth his alarm at the progress of Russia in Central Asia, describing in most graphic language how tribe after tribe had been conquered by her arms; how they were likely to take refuge in Afghanistan; how Russia would come down upon him demanding their surrender; how the Russians would pick a quarrel with him. He implored the Government of India to come to his rescue and send him succour in the shape of arms and money. The letter was full of earnest entreaty to the Government of India. He said—Don't let there be any hesitation in this matter, but yield to my entreaty, and yield at once. He did not say that the Government of India were bound to yield; but he did say that their action was very likely to cause disappointment and anger in the mind of the Ameer. He had set before them the danger of Russian progress; he had warned them of the helpless condition in which he would be placed if they did not come to his aid; but the Indian Government replied that they did not recognize the danger which stared him in the face. They could not conceive it possible that Russia would invade his territories; that if his territories were invaded they might perhaps at some future time come to his succour, and send him money and troops; but they would not promise—that must be left entirely to their own discretion. The Ameer asked for bread, and they gave him a stone; he implored their succour, and they met him with a hollow diplomatic mockery. It was, therefore, very likely the Ameer would be angry. The Ameer's view of the situation in 1873, barbarian though he might be, was more accurate with regard to his position than that of the Indian Government. He was seriously offended with their refusal, for it amounted to a refusal of aid. He wrote a letter, dated the 13th of November, 1873—a sarcastic letter, as full of disappointment and bitterness as any ever written by an Eastern Potentate. He told the Indian Government in terms of irony, almost of insult, the effect which their refusal to give him any definite promise of assistance had produced on his mind. But, said the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Ameer did not enter into any communication with Russia; but that was not so. He had communication with Russia over and over again. He had communication with Russia on the 16th of November, 1873, the 4th of September, 1875, and on the 3rd of February, 1876, he had a long letter from General Kaufmann, not one of which communications was sent to the Indian Government.


I beg my hon. and learned Friend's pardon. The letter of General Kaufmann was communicated by the Ameer to the Indian Government.


Yes; it was communicated, but no advice was asked, as was usual when the Ameer made known his communications from Russia. All these communications took place before there was the slightest intimation on the part of the Indian Government that the Ameer was desired to allow a British Envoy to reside in his territory. What conclusion could be come to but that the Ameer was irritated and annoyed at the treatment he had been subject to at the hands of the Indian Government, and was preparing, to some extent, to throw himself into the arms of the Russian Government? It was most important to consider what was the position of the Ameer with regard to his engagements. He considered himself much wronged in the course of conduct pursued by the Indian Government; and he was under a misapprehension with regard to the engagements that had been entered into with him by the Indian Government. The Ameer was under the idea that engagements had been entered into by the Indian Government with him that the former did not acknowledge. If the Government of Lord Northbrook had been perfectly desirous of being frank, open, candid, and straightforward with the Ameer, they would have told him that the engagements were not binding, and that he did not put a proper construction upon them. It was said, by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Oxford and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, that there were other engagements apart from Treaty obligations; but the only Treaty, so far as he could learn, and the only one that could be said to be in force and binding, was the Treaty of 1855. The Treaty made in 1857 was made for a temporary purpose, which had been served long ago. But then it was said these were promises which had the binding effect and force of Treaties. He had no doubt but that the Ameer was under the impression that these were unfulfilled promises of the binding effect of Treaties; but he (the Attorney General) submitted, with the greatest confidence, that the Ameer's mind should have been disabused of that idea earlier than it was. The declaration of Lord Mayo had not, nor did his Lordship ever intend that it should have, the force of a Treaty. He declined to enter into a Treaty in reference to one particular subject; and then he gave the declaration which was not intended to have the effect of a Treaty in any way whatever. The House would find in the Blue Book, page 107— The Earl of Mayo informed the Ameer at Umballa, in the spring of 1869, that although the British Government did not desire to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, yet, considering that the bonds of friendship between the Government of India and His Highness had lately been more closely drawn than heretofore, we should endeavour, from time to time, by such means as circumstances might require to strengthen the Government of His Highness; and that we were willing to assist him with money, arms, ammunition, and in other ways, whenever we deemed it desirable to do so. The hands of the Government of India were left absolutely free as to the occasions on which and the circumstances under which such assistance was to be given to or withheld from the Ameer. In a letter, dated the 15th of September, 1873, from Lord Northbrook's Government, there was the following passage:— From conversations with the Envoy we were led to believe that the Cabul Durbar had interpreted the friendly assurances of Lord Lawrence and Lord Mayo to mean that the British Government had bound themselves to comply with any request preferred by the Ameer. It was necessary, therefore, in the first place to remove any incorrect impressions on this score, and in repeating to the Ameer the assurances given to him at the Umballa Durbar, we have given the Envoy distinctly to understand that, while the policy adopted towards Afghanistan by Lord Lawrence and Lord Mayo will be maintained, the British Government reserve to themselves the right of judging as to the propriety of any request preferred by the Ameer."—[Ibid. p. 109.] What did that passage convey? Why, that the assurances of Lord Lawrence and Lord Mayo had no binding effect; that they were mere assurances, and nothing more; and that the Ameer was not entitled to rely implicitly upon them. Surely, if Lord Northbrook's Government had been really desirous to deal with the Ameer openly and fairly, and to tell him exactly the position in which matters stood, they would have taken more care than they had manifested to inform him that he ought not to rely upon the assurances being carried into effect? Things went on; the Ameer was sullen and reserved. He had sought the assistance of the Indian Government; that assistance was refused; he retired into his territories; and no communications passed between the Ameer and the Government of India during 1874, 1875, and some portions of 1876. Well, the present Government had come into power, and when Lord Salisbury became Secretary of State for India, it was felt that this state of things was very much to be deplored. It was felt by Lord Salisbury and the Government that it was most important for this country to have a proper understanding with the Ameer—to have a thorough, honest alliance with him; and it was also felt that the Ameer had not been treated altogether with that frankness with which he might have expected to be treated. Then a determination was come to that an interview with him should be sought, and that a real Treaty—a real alliance—should be suggested to him upon certain conditions. A great deal had been said about the harsh usage to which the Ameer had been subjected, and every epithet which ingenuity could devise had been hurled against the Government for what they did. But if hon. Gentlemen would consider the matter dispassionately, they would ask themselves whether the conduct of the Indian Government towards the Ameer was not perfectly fair and prudent. What they said to themselves, in effect, was this—as was shown in the Parliamentary Papers—"The Ameer has been under a misunderstanding. He has an idea that this Government is under obligations to him which it is not. It is very desirable that his mind should be instructed on this point, and that an alliance with the Ameer—a permanent and solid alliance—should, if possible, be established." There was some difference of opinion about the matter. He did not blame Lord Northbrook for having had a difference of opinion with Lord Salisbury; but it was finally arranged that an opportunity should be sought for opening up negotiations with the Ameer; and that in the course of the negotiations his true position should be pointed out, and he should be told that the Government of India, on certain conditions, were perfectly prepared to give him, not vague, uncertain, and delusive promises, but an absolute offensive and defensive Treaty, under which they would recognize the heir he had appointed. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in the midst of his thunder, had thundered out something about a pretext which was to delude an Indian Prince, and about some sharp practice on the part of Lord Salisbury. But when all Lord Salisbury did was to wish to open diplomatic communications with the Ameer, and to propose a per- fectly fair, just, and equitable arrangement—a binding Treaty, offensive and defensive, with a recognition of the succession on the one side, and, on the other, what was necessary for our protection—namely, permission to our Agents to reside, not in Cabul, but in certain parts of Afghanistan—was it fair in his hon. and learned Friend to describe that as "a pretext to delude an Indian Prince?" Nothing in the world could have been more straightforward. Possibly hon. Gentlemen opposite might think that frankness and candour when applied to an Eastern Potentate were misapplied; but he ventured to think that if there had been more frankness and candour before 1876 we should have been better off. Hon. Gentlemen might say that when the occasion would have arisen, and at the proper time, we might have given him such a Treaty. That was the language of Lord Northbrook. But Lord Salisbury and his Government wished the language to the Ameer to be this—"You have with us no Treaty of any kind except the Treaty of 1855. The assurances given are mere assurances. You have no right to rely upon their performance. If you will only yield to this condition; if you will only allow our Envoys and Agents to be stationed on the Frontiers of Afghanistan at convenient points, so that we may be able to get information of what is going on and see if there is any danger of your Frontier being attacked; we will enter with you into a binding Treaty, offensive and defensive, and we will recognize the successor to the Throne whom you may desire." Communications were opened; the Ameer said he did not wish to have a Mission at Cabul, and the Government at once acquiesced. Then he suggested that a British Agent should be sent to Peshawur to meet an Envoy from him, and that was agreed to. The British Agent did come; the Viceroy explained his views in frank, clear, and unmistakable language. The Envoy of the Ameer, however, apparently was not armed with the powers to consent to what were to be conditions precedent, and he made long explanations of the Ameer's grievances. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had complained of the conduct of the British Agent; but he could point out, if he had time, how entirely unjustifiable those complaints were. However, he would not now detain the House. The Ameer's Envoy, no doubt, exhibited great reluctance to acquiesce in the suggestion that British Agents should be sent to Afghanistan; but if hon. Gentlemen would reflect upon what had passed from May, 1873, to the beginning or middle of 1876, when these negotiations were going on, they would come to the conclusion that it was no wonder the Envoy should have shown this reluctance. For what had been done? The Ameer had been disappointed; he felt that when he had appealed to the Indian Government he was cruelly repulsed; therefore, he lost all confidence in the Indian Government, and he sought for solace, support, and protection elsewhere. But the Ameer's was a weak power, and he did not like to have a quarrel with the Indian Government, if he could avoid it. Let hon. Gentlemen read the accounts of what took place between Sir Lewis Pelly and the Ameer's Envoy, and they would come to the conclusion that the Envoy was determined not to yield, or certainly not unless he were absolutely forced to do so. ["Hear, hear!"] Well; was it desirable that we should force our Treaties down the throats of any Power? The object of the Indian Government was to make a Treaty with a friendly Power—a Treaty which would be acceptable to the Ameer and of advantage to ourselves. When, therefore, Sir Lewis Pelly and the authorities at Peshawur found that the proposal was distasteful to the Ameer, and that he would do almost anything rather than accept it, surely the Government of India ought not to be upbraided because they thought it would be fair to insist no further, and to allow things to remain as they were. Some hon. Gentlemen apparently attempted to make out that the negotiations at Peshawur were improperly broken off; that the Ameer was deprived, by the action of the Indian Government, of some rights he had before enjoyed; that some Treaty obligations which we had undertaken were repudiated; and that the Ameer was discarded, so to speak, from our friendship. That was not the case. In proof of this assertion, he must trouble the House with one passage from the letter of Sir Lewis Pelly which put an end to the Conference. Sir Lewis Pelly says— The British Government has no sort or kind of quarrel with the people of Afghanistan. It sincerely desires their permanent independence, prosperity, and peace. It has no conceivable object, and certainly no desire, to interfere in their domestic affairs. It will unreservedly respect their independence, and should they at any time he united in a national appeal to its assistance it will doubtless be disposed, and prepared, to aid them in defending that independence from aggression. Meanwhile, the Afghan people may rest fully assured that so long as they are not excited by their Ruler, or others, to acts of aggression upon the territories or friends of the British Government no British soldier will ever be permitted to enter Afghanistan uninvited. But the British Government repudiates all liabilities on behalf of the Ameer and his dynasty. The British Government does not, indeed, withdraw from any obligations previously contracted by it; but it absolutely and emphatically denies that it has ever incurred any such obligations as those imputed to it by your Excellency; and it further affirms that it will never, in any circumstances, undertake such obligations without adequate guarantees for the satisfactory conduct of the Ameer. At the same time, the British Government will scrupulously continue, as hitherto, to respect the Ameer's independence and authority throughout those territories which, up to the present moment, it has recognized as being in the lawful possession of the Ameer, and will duly abstain from interference so long as the Ameer, on his part, no less scrupulously abstains from every kind of interference with tribes or territories not his own. The Ameer, therefore, so long as he remains faithful to those Treaty stipulations which your Excellency has involved on behalf of His Highness, and which the British Government fully recognizes as still valid, and therefore binding upon the two contracting parties, need be under no apprehension whatever of any hostile action on the part of the British Government."—[Ibid. p. 220.] Here, then, was an express declaration of Treaty obligations. We said, in substance, to the Ameer—"If you do not like to enter into a Treaty you may decline to do so, and your position will then be exactly the same as it was before." If hon. Gentlemen doubted the accuracy of what he was stating, he would ask them to read the speech delivered by the Duke of Argyll in the House of Lords in 1877, in which the construction he had placed upon the letter of Sir Lewis Pelly was fully admitted. He submitted, therefore, with perfect confidence, that the Indian Government were unfairly treated when it was alleged that they improperly broke off the Conferences at Peshawur, and that by so doing they prejudicially affected the position of the Ameer. It appeared to him that this great issue had not been debated in altogether a worthy spirit. He did not see why hon. Members should be saying the responsibility for the change in the Ameer's conduct lay with this or that Government. In his opinion, the action of the Government of India in 1873 estranged the Ameer; but the policy then pursued might, for aught he knew, have been quite right. Still, the circumstances of 1873 were not those of 1877 and 1878. The Government of 1873 were under no obligations to exhibit any other policy. If they estranged the Ameer, that was a result to be deplored; although they ought not to be censured for it. On the other hand, he did not think it fair or reasonable to accuse the present Government of having taken strong action against the Ameer, and of having incurred his enmity in consequence of making a reasonable request to have British Agents in his territory. Perhaps that request might have annoyed the Ameer; but they were now discussing the question whether this deplorable war—for all wars were deplorable—in which we had been compelled to engage was a just one or not. The Ameer's position was this—For years he had been on friendly terms with the Government of India—For years he had been acquainted with the understanding, to put it no higher, which the Government of India had come to with Russia—that Afghanistan should be outside the sphere of Russian operations altogether. Over and over again, in early days, the Ameer had acted on the faith of that understanding. On the faith of the understanding that he was on friendly terms with, and, in a certain sense, under the protection of, this country, he had received from us large presents of money and of arms, and had obtained advantages which he would not have otherwise enjoyed. In addition to all this, the Ameer was bound by positive Treaty obligations. By the Treaty of 1855 the Ameer—or, rather, his Predecessor—solemnly engaged that the friends of this country should be his friends, and the enemies of this country should be his enemies. This, then, was a distinct and positive agreement; and if the Ameer was guilty of any unfriendly act towards us, he was guilty of the breach of a Treaty, which, accord- ing to all International Law, this country was entitled, if it chose, to regard as a casus belli. There had been no denial of this proposition. The House had listened to a long speech from a distinguished international lawyer—a speech filled with all sorts of topics, good, bad, and indifferent; but containing no word of denial of the principle which he had just laid down as to the rights and powers of the Government. Russia advanced through Asia, and the Ameer received at Cabul a Russian Mission. Was this country to do nothing, or to sit still and not utter a word, when the Government found the Ameer acting openly in this manner? The Ameer was bound to be friendly towards us; and we had a right to test his obligation to show friendship at a time when he was found to be contracting relations with another Power. If England had not done this, she could not have hoped to retain her self-respect, and certainly not the respect of the peoples of India. This being admitted, what other action could Her Majesty's Government take, except to require that the Ameer should receive an Envoy from us, as he had from Russia, and then to send a Mission of dignity, which should command the respect of the Ameer and his people? This requirement was addressed to the Ameer, who declined to answer. He was then asked again, and after much delay, no answer being returned, the Government determined to act. The Government sent a Mission, which was met at a fort outside the territories of the Ameer by his emissaries, and compelled to turn back, the process being accompanied by both force and insult. Nothing was then open to the Government but to take the proceedings which had been entered upon; and to those who said the war was not a just one, he would put this question—What right could be more clear as justifying a war than the deliberate breach of a Treaty obligation? The objectors next said, that in order for the Government to be held blameless, it must be shown that the war was not only "just," but "necessary." This last was rather a military question than any other, and he knew nothing of military science; but he thought the question of necessity was answered in the affirmative by the testimony of a General so eminent as Lord Napier of Magdala, who expressed his belief that our North-West Frontier of India was weak; that its weakness subjected our Indian Empire to great danger; and that, in fact, the continued existence of that Empire depended upon the Frontier being maintained. That line would be safe, and India would be safe, if the Ameer chose to be our friend and firm Ally. If he did not so choose, there was nothing for it but to take steps to induce him to come to our way of thinking; and, that failing, to adopt some other measures for our own protection. It had been said that we threatened the Ameer by going to Quetta; a statement and argument as futile as that used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, who went the length of asserting that we had insulted the Ruler of Afghanistan by making a bridge across the Indus, without first having obtained his consent. He, for one, was glad the Government had taken the other measures which he indicated a few moments back. He would not detain the House further than to say that he hoped the war would be a short and decisive one, and that it would be so conducted as to cause the least possible suffering upon the people of either India or Afghanistan. If it was thoroughly successful—as he hoped and believed it would be—the peoples of India would bless the Government for the course which they had taken—aye, he thought the people of Afghanistan would also bless them, because this war would probably save them from the fate of Khiva and of Khokand.


said, that had he not obtained the opportunity of explaining his vote he could not have voted against the Government. It would be seen, from what he was about to say, that upon one or two points he happened to be unable to agree with the course taken by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread). He did not agree with the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Gladstone's) vehement indictment against the Government. There were, nevertheless, grounds on which it was impossible for him to support the Motion. He thought no patriot could view our divided councils at this crisis without mortification and alarm. The spectacle was due in no small degree to the Government. When one considered the policy pursued by the Government during the last two and a-half years; when one saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer carried away by the extreme policy inaugurated by other and more dangerous men, and contrasted his mild speech at the outset of the Eastern Question with his present support of a Jingo policy, one could not fail to perceive that an education had been going on upon that side of the House opposed to the best interests of the country. The conduct of the Government had been at once cowardly and audacious. It had been audacious in this—that, trusting to the immovable and inconsiderate votes of a vast majority, the Government had used the Prerogatives of the Crown in a manner in which no Government had dared to use these Prerogatives since the time of Queen Anne. They had been cowardly in endeavouring, by secret manœuvres, to shield themselves from the operation of public opinion, and to commit the country to responsibilities of the very gravest possible character. With the general indictment against the Government upon the circumstances under which this war had arisen he cordially agreed. The only doubt in his mind was, whether this was a proper and convenient or a safe time in which to hold such a discussion as was now being taken. The effect of it upon foreign nations could only be depreciatory of the power, influence, and prestige of this country. The Government, whatever faults they had committed, were entitled to generous treatment from their opponents. The day might come when the Liberal Party in power might require the exercise of similar generosity at the hands of their opponents; and the precedent now created might afford an excuse for the factious division of the country in the face of a foreign enemy. We were at war, and he believed we were at war with the approbation of the majority of the people. ["No, no!"] His hon. Friends behind him had, perhaps, superior opportunities for information. But he did not hold the opinion without taking pains to ascertain its accuracy. He felt that, strongly as he suspected and condemned the character of the Government, it was hardly fair—if, indeed, it were wholly Constitutional in practice—to convey to foreign nations, and especially to Russia, the impression that there was any division in the determination of this country to resist, to the utmost of its resources, an attempted menace on the part of others. The combination in the Liberal Party of peace-at-any-price men and extreme humanitarians had undoubtedly conveyed to the country a false impression as to the general opinion of Liberals with regard to the continuation and permanence of the Empire, and to the maintenance of British interests; and were he asked to try to gauge the state of the public mind at the present moment, he would be inclined to say that its feeling was this—that confidence in the Government was much decreasing, and that, on the other hand, confidence in the Opposition was not increasing. But the Government, at all events, were professing to carry out what the people of the country believed to be a definite purpose—the ensuring of the safety of the Imperial interests of the country; and whatever wild or unwarrantable definitions of the term Imperial might be given by flashy Ministers when they were making flashy speeches at the Guildhall, the word Imperial had a real meaning, and might indicate a true policy. The people of the country did believe in the British Empire; and, regarding it as worth preserving, looked with just suspicion on those who talked lightly and contemptuously of an Imperial policy. The great edifice of our Empire, and the edifice of trade and commerce built upon it, depended in no small degree on the manner in which we insisted to all the world that we should maintain them. Had the Ministers come down with a policy intended to meet this feeling, and properly carried it out, it might have been adopted with unanimity on that side. No doubt when the nation, fearing danger to the interests of the Empire—which at all hazards must be preserved—turned to the other Party and found—as he feared they did, though it was not unnatural—that the Opposition not only criticised, but hampered the actions of the Government—as they often did properly, though they failed to give voice to that which the country desired—they were thrown into a state of difficulty, disunion, and discontent. The wider and more important issues should not be lost sight of amidst the invectives of partizans. What the country desired at this moment was a truly patriotic policy Constitutionally carried out. It wanted straightforward dealing and fair play. It would neither be dragged at the chariot wheels of personal government, nor would it be embarked in the unseaworthy craft of faction. The charge which he brought against the policy of Her Majesty's Government was, that it appeared to be more the policy of a Party—a policy carried out for power—than for the good of the nation; and that the present Administration had most effectually and thoroughly played into the hands of Russia. With regard to this Afghanistan trouble, Lord Lytton's action might have been ill-advised and premature—he believed it was; the Viceroy might have been tricky—he would not say so; but the impression produced upon him by the Afghan Papers was, that we ought not, and we need not have been, at war with the Ameer. But it was the Central Asia Papers that called for the principal attention of the House; and one felt on reading these Papers that the Government was bound, in some way or other, to put a stop to the advance of Russian influence in Afghanistan. In saying that, was he separating himself from the general opinion of his Party? It was the undivided opinion of all the Governments and all the Viceroys. It would be, in his opinion, most unsafe to allow Russia to obtain such influence as would enable her at some future time to use the disaffection of Afghanistan for the purpose of paralyzing the influence of England in India. It was a highly desirable thing to check the advance of Russia; but the time and action for doing so were badly chosen. When the Treaty of Berlin was signed, Her Majesty's Government should have called upon the Russian Government to withdraw their Envoy, and then proceed to establish our influence in Afghanistan. The manner of their action was indiscreet; but then he felt bound to admit that, at the bottom, there lay an unquestionable disposition to resist any encroachment of Russia on Afghanistan. He thought the action against the Ameer was too severe, and he entered his protest against these proceedings. While feeling that, on the one hand, something might be said against the manner in which the Opposition had acted, he could not say too much against the manner in which the Government, while professing to carry out the policy which the people of the country had deeply and sincerely at heart, had taken advantage of the situation in order to establish the footing of their Party in the country, and in order to maintain themselves in power at the expense of other than the free principles of a great nation.


said, that he would not have thought it necessary to address the House, on the present occasion, if he had not called attention to the Central Asian Question in the years 1875 and 1876. At that time he had pointed out—and many hon. Members agreed with him—that the progress of Russia in the East might, in all probability, be attended with danger to our Indian Empire; but no one, though almost all had anticipated a crisis sooner or later, had expected its immediate arrival. Indeed, the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had said that it would not occur in the time either of our children or of our grandchildren; but it had come already. With regard to the present debate, he must remark that it had been marred by personalities. The question was one of great moment. The question was not what this or that Viceroy or Government had said or done, but was one of simple facts. What were these facts? In 1869, when Shere Ali met Lord Mayo at Umballa, there was perfect good feeling between him and the Government. That was undeniable, and was largely due to the great qualities of Lord Mayo, which the Duke of Argyll justly complimented in a letter to the papers. Those qualities were of the highest order; but, independently of them, there was no doubt that for some period after 1869 there was a cordial alliance with the Ameer. Why had that alliance now ceased? That was the plain question that the House had set itself to answer. The hon. and learned Attorney General had put this case well when he asked whether the war was forced upon us, and whether it was a just and politic war? while the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition had pronounced it an unjust war; but, to his amazement, he had followed that remark by a most warlike speech, than which no Jingoism could have been more earnest. He admired the patriotism of the noble Lord, but it was strangely inconsistent; for if the war was unjust, he could not see how hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House could go heart and soul into the mili- tary operations. There was also another inconsistency about the noble Lord. If he desired the success of our Army, why did he come down to the House and, not only there but out-of-doors as well, excite the feelings of the people against the Government at such a critical time? Was it right, by way of wishing success to the British arms, to make speeches which, when telegraphed to India, would infallibly convey the idea that the counsels of the country were divided, and that the people were not united in carrying on a war which, he maintained, was for the honour of the British Empire? He had the greatest feeling for the position of the Ameer. There never was any country so unfortunately situated as his, placed as it was between two colossal Powers, on the North and the South, both of whom were gradually encroaching on his dominions, narrowing the circle around him, and threatening to crush him. It reminded one of the striking story which appeared some time ago in Blackwood—"The Man in the Iron Shroud"—where the prisoner saw the iron walls of his cell gradually closing on him, and about to crush him to death. That was, at the present moment, the situation of the Ameer. The question for the Ameer was not what Power he should like to ally himself with, but what Power he had to fear the most. After the Crimean War the prestige of England was very great, not only in Europe, but in the East. It might be only a coincidence; but it was an undoubted fact, that during the long period of Liberal Government which had since elapsed that prestige diminished, and especially when the Treaty of Paris, for which Englishmen had fought and bled, was torn up by Lord Granville. That diminution of prestige must have naturally had the effect on a country like Afghanistan, which, on the other hand, saw Russia advancing like an ever-advancing tide upon her. Russia had, in fact, been advancing rapidly from the year 1740, since which period, after the absorption of about 1,500 or 2,000 miles of territory, she found herself with the Oxus as her boundary, and so in direct water communication with the Frontiers of India. That Shere Ali was alarmed at this progress would appear from a letter by him in 1873— 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 strong forts throughout the northern Afghan border. And again, he said he wished the British Government would set apart some property, either in India or in Europe, for my support, in order that if, which God forbid, a serious difficulty constrains me to quit Afghanistan, I may retire there with my family and children."—(Afghanistan, No. 1, pp. 110–11.] He knew that when he mentioned the progress of Russia it would be objected that we had the assurances of the Emperor that he did not wish to extend his territories; and that was true; only they were not the safeguards generally supposed, and had not the validity often claimed for them. But those assurances had been given over and over again, and on each occasion Russia had made a considerable advance in Asia within a few months afterwards. In 1869 Sir Douglas Forsyth was told there was no intention of advancing in Central Asia; yet a few months afterwards the territory was pushed forward 500 miles. In 1872 Count Schouval- off had been sent specially to this country to give the Emperor's word that Khiva should not be annexed; and within a few months of that time Russian troops were on the banks of the Oxus, and Khiva had fallen practically into the hands of Russia. After those occurrences, he would ask, what confidence could be placed in the assurances of Russia? Did not the Russian Mission to Cabul indicate danger to us in Central Asia? That was really the question they had to decide. And on this point he would quote the opinion of Lord Palmerston, who, in a letter addressed to Lord Russell, had said that a Russian force in occupation of Afghanistan might convert it into the advanced post of Russia, and would lead to great expense, require great efforts, and might create considerable damage. The hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff) had declared that "any aggression on the dominions recognized as those of Shere Ali means war with England." Lord Derby, in a speech in the House of Lords, in 1874, had assured the House that to maintain the integrity and the territorial independence of Afghanistan was, and ought to be, a most important object of English policy; and a similar opinion had been expressed by M. Terentyeff, by M. Ferrier, by Fuad Pasha, and many others; while M. Frederick von Heilward had declared, with regard to the increasing influence of Russia in Central Asia, that "the British statesman ought to have foreseen it and nipped it in the bud." Opinions such as these showed that it was no light matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had asserted that we had made war upon the Ameer in consequence of the Russian Mission; but, as he understood the matter, they had done nothing of the kind. The Russian Mission had opened our eyes to the fact that, in case of a war with England, Russia would have pushed her Forces towards India. We were thus forewarned, and were now taking precautions to be forearmed. The Government were perfectly justified in endeavouring to secure our safety in Afghanistan. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had been in power during the last two years, and had acted in accordance with the views he had so loudly expressed, the Russians must have occupied Constantinople and Gallipoli and held the Dardanelles. They had heard a good deal of the policy of "masterly inactivity; "but, in his opinion, it might be better named the policy of "masterly imbecility;" and it was perfectly providential that they had a Government in power who were anxious and ready to maintain the honour and dignity of the country.


said, after reading over carefully the official Correspondence and listening attentively to the defences of the Ministers, he felt that the country had been engaged in an uncalled for, an unjust, and an indefensible war. The war, if it had not had its origin in deceit and misrepresentation, had only been made possible by a suppression of the facts. At the very outset the public mind was inflamed by false reports with regard to insults that had been received, by the Ameer's Representative having threatened to shoot Major Cavagnari, and the alleged insolent answer of the Ameer to the English Government; but he thought that, for conciliation and kindness of tone, the Ameer's letter would compare most favourably with the letters he had received. These "lies"—these "Eastern fables"—came from their countrymen in India; but he did not, of course, blame the Government for that. What he did blame them for was that while these tales were going about they did not give out to the public the authentic information which must have been in their hands, and they afforded misleading assurances to Parliament and the country. It had been asserted that there had been no change of policy on the part of the Government with regard to the Ameer; but one result of this debate had been to show not only that there had been such a change of policy, but that the Government actually took credit to themselves for having changed their policy to suit what they termed the altered circumstances of the case. But, assuming that there had been a necessity for altering their policy, the question arose whether that change of policy had been carried out in a friendly and in a conciliatory manner? Was it probable that the policy of sending a British Agent to Cabul would prove acceptable to the Ameer? Lord Salisbury, in giving his instructions for this new policy to be carried out in a despatch of the 19th of November, 1875, had said— The first step, therefore, in establishing-our relations with the Ameer upon a more satisfactory footing, will he to induce him to receive a temporary Embassy in his capital. It need not he publicly connected with the establishment of a permanent Mission within his dominions. There would be many advantages in ostensibly directing it to some object of smaller political interest, which it will not be difficult for your Excellency to find, or, if need be, to create."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 149.] He had heard a good deal respecting Russian diplomacy—its tricks and its unreliability; but he did not think that it could bear off the palm in this matter. He should like to hear a better defence than had yet been offered for breaking off the Peshawur Conference at the very time when the Ameer seemed most disposed to concede all our demands. The termination of that Conference no doubt showed that we were in earnest, but not for peace; and had we been outspoken and frank to the Ameer there would have been something to recommend the course we had taken. It was alleged that we required a new scientific Frontier for the purpose of preventing an invasion that was hardly practicable, and which we had satisfied ourselves we had no cause to dread from Russia, which had been almost as faithless, almost as unscrupulous, and almost as aggressive in Central Asia as we had been in Southern Asia. The logical course would have been to grapple with our great enemy in those parts of the world; but we had preferred to attack a weak Power in order, for political considerations, to obtain a cheap and easy triumph. He did not wonder that a war commenced in such circumstances was unpopular with the great mass of the people of this country. With regard to the feelings of working people, whose opinions he had exceptional opportunities of knowing, as they had always been his dearest associates and companions, he had received several letters from them in connection with meetings they had held upon the subject, one of them representing nearly 40,000 miners in the county of Durham, all these latter denouncing the war which had lately been entered into. During the last few weeks he had met some thousands of working men and interchanged opinions with them, and had not come across one single man who believed that we were in the right in this affair. He had not met one who did not believe that we were engaged in an unjust and a cowardly war. A good deal had been said about the depression of trade. He believed that such depression had never been more severe than now; it was universal; all trades were affected. Capitalists were losing money; many were failing in business; the wages of working men were being reduced in all directions. He knew hundreds of honest, intelligent, industrious men—men who were the very backbone of our wealth and independence—who at the present time could scarcely get bread to eat. He did not say that we should never go to war except during times of prosperity—that would be a very foolish doctrine—but he did say that there never was a time when, before entering on war, there should be more thoughtful deliberation. That deliberation had not been given. He did not blame the Government for the depression of trade, for that was, he knew, a matter over which Governments had very little control. At the same time, while the evil had not been originated by the action of the Government, it had been very greatly intensified and prolonged by their fussy and meddling policy. They had been told lately that the Government was not carried on by newspaper paragraph writers, but by Sovereigns and statesmen. Well, the business of the world was carried on by thinkers, workers, and merchants, and not by soldiers, adventurers, and buccaneers, who, sword in hand, went into other people's territories to carve out for themselves a "scientific Frontier." He should like to have heard more consideration given to the Constitutional question—Whether the Government had the right, irrespective of Parliament and of public opinion, to declare war? He was not going on that question to give an opinion which he knew would have no weight with the House. But he did say that if the Government had acted Constitutionally—if it were in the power of a few men, however eminent, to declare what thousands of people believed to be an unjust war, and what was admittedly an unpopular war—then it was a mockery to talk of our being a free and self-governing people, and the sooner the Constitution was changed the better. There was scarcely a redeeming feature in connection with the war. It was true our soldiers were fighting gallantly, and he admired their valour; but he was sorry they were not engaged in a just cause. For that not they, but others, were responsible. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) had spoken as if it were wrong to imitate the good deeds of Russia. But why should England not imitate Russia's good deeds? What we were about to do was to imitate one of the worst deeds of Russia, and to appropriate the territory of the friendly mountain tribes, by whose good-will we had been enabled to get so easily into Afghanistan. The war only required one thing to complete its infamy, and there were signs that the Government were about to give it that finishing touch. To do this let them, while exempting from increased taxation the highly-paid Indian officials, many of whom had clamoured for that war, throw the greater part, if not the whole, of its burdens on the patient, dumb, and famine-stricken millions of India, who had no articulate voice, and who were now groaning under the military despotism of our Empire.


said, he was sure they all lamented the existence of that war, but the question was, Who was to blame for it? When the present Ameer succeeded, without external aid, in establishing himself on the Throne of Afghanistan against all rival claimants, it was generally felt that some special precaution in regard to that country was necessary beyond the previous policy of masterly inaction, in order to preserve the interests of our Indian Empire. Lord Lawrence's Government had proposed, as an alternative policy to that of stationing English officers in Afghanistan, that we should come to a clear understanding with the Court of St. Petersburg as to its projects and designs on Central Asia, and that that Court should be given to understand that it could not be permitted to interfere with the affairs of Afghanistan and the States contiguous to our Frontier. That policy was accepted by the Home Government, who lost no time in carrying it out. Lord Lawrence's despatch came in January, 1869; and in March of the same year they had the celebrated declaration of the Russian Government that the Imperial Government regarded Afghanistan as being entirely outside the sphere in which it was called upon to exercise its influence. There was not very much in that declaration when they came to analyze it; but it satisfied Lord Clarendon; and in the following November both Governments agreed to abstain from all ambitious views and unfriendly feelings towards each other, and that the more frankly Central Asian Questions were discussed between them the less likely were they to come into collision. They all knew how the promises of Russia as to her interference with Afghan affairs had been kept; and it should be remembered it was upon a reliance that Russia would fulfil her engagements in that regard that the policy of Lord Northbrook depended for its success. The Papers in the hands of hon. Members showed the series of letters addressed between 1870 and 1872 by General Kaufmann to the Ameer, and the reply of that Potentate. In one of them, the fourth, the General—whose Government had undertaken to exercise no influence in Afghanistan—informed the Ameer that a former subject of his, who had been a General in the Russian Army, was about to settle down in his native country, and he re- quested that he might be re-instated in his ancestral estate, and—more important and more suggestive still—that he might be allowed to enter the service of the Ameer. At length, in the year 1872, the letters of the Russian General aroused the apprehensions of the Ameer's Government, and it was reported to the Indian Government that they entertained fears as to what the designs of Russia really were. All these facts were known to the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, although they were directly opposed to the policy of Lord Clarendon. The right hon. Gentleman declared that it was impossible to draw a distinction between a Mission of courtesy and a Mission of business. He (Mr. Gorst) should like to know if the right hon. Gentleman could make any distinction between a letter of courtesy and a letter of business? and letters had been going from Tashkend to Cabul for some years, while the right hon. Gentleman was in office, without any protest or remonstrance on his part. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) asked why the present Government did not object to this Correspondence. He (Mr. Gorst) was surprised that the hon. and learned Member should put such a foolish question. If hon. Gentlemen had complained of the Correspondence, the answer would have been that it had been sanctioned for many years by the Government of the right hon. Member for Greenwich. It appeared that soon after the receipt of the letter which excited the concern of the Ameer's Government, the meeting in December, 1873, at Simla, between the Ameer and Lord Northbrook, took place, at which the assurances which had been given to the Ameer by Lord Mayo were qualified and explained away; and it was a remarkable fact that from that date no letter from the Representative of Russia to the Ameer and no reply of his appeared in the Blue Book. Nevertheless, it appeared from a letter of General Kaufmann's, incidentally quoted at page 64 of the Central Asia Papers, that subsequently to the Simla Conference General Kaufmann, while at St. Petersburg, received at least two letters from the Ameer, one of them announcing the important fact that the Ameer had appointed Sirdar Abdoolla Jan his heir-apparent. During the succeeding years Her Majesty's present Government were disturbed by movements of the Russians in Central Asia, of which, however, they could get no information, except indirectly through Persia. They had, therefore, he contended, good reason to doubt the sincerity of the Russian promises with regard to Afghanistan and to desire to establish a British Agent at Herat. Before any active step had been taken to inaugurate this policy, they had a further proof of Russian duplicity in the denial of Prince Gortchakoff that General Kaufmann was acting at Cabul, while there were actually two Russian Agents there, and repeated communications with the Ameer were carried on. It was perfectly evident that Russia carried on a process of seduction in Afghanistan from 1870 to 1876, and that before the policy of Lord Lytton had been put into operation, it accomplished its object by making the Ameer our enemy. For the difficulties that had arisen in that quarter, therefore, he blamed neither the present Government nor the late Government, but Russia, who had flagrantly broken her understanding with this country.


Sir, before I address to the House the few remarks I wish to make upon the question before us I think it is due to the House, as well as to myself, to state the reason why I rise on this side of the House, instead of upon that from which I have formerly addressed it. It had not been my intention to say a single word in this debate, although I have carefully studied the Papers and made up my mind upon the question; but the course of the debate in this House, and in "another place," has shown me that the sole remaining cause of the war is a supposed necessity for altering the North-West Frontier of India. That, Sis, is a military question which all military men of any standing in the Army have studied, and upon which they have very strong opinions. It is a question wholly removed from Party politics; and I am sure the opinion of military men on one side of the House is as good as that of military men on the other. But I know well from past experience that if I rise on the other side of the House to state an opinion, although it be only a military opinion, that is not concurred in by some hon. Members opposite I meet with interference, annoyance, and even obstruction which prevents my speaking freely. I do not refer for a moment to the courteous Member for Mid-Kent (Sir William Hart-Dyke), or any of his officially recognized assistants. Their conduct is always marked by courtesy and kindness. But there are some self-constituted lieutenants who think it their duty when a Member is not speaking in accordance with their views to cause him great annoyance. I have, therefore, thought it best, Sir, on this occasion to rise in the freer atmosphere on this side of the House. I wish, in the first place, to refer to what I consider the origin of the war which we are now discussing. I consider that it took its origin in the measure that was announced on the very first day that I took my seat in this House in 1876. On that occasion a measure was brought into Parliament, and I formed the opinion that that measure contained the germs of a policy which would bring trouble upon this country. That measure has developed itself into what is now called "Imperialism." It has now, in my opinion, resulted in this war. Sir, I would wish to mention to the House what has not yet been stated, and which I think a very remarkable circumstance. The measure to which I allude, and which was announced to the Government of India on the 28th February, 1876, was not brought before this House for the second reading of the Bill until the 9th of March, and it did not receive the Royal Assent until the 27th of April. But, notwithstanding that, we find that on the 28th February, 1876, Her Majesty's Government sent to India detailed instructions for carrying into effect an Act of Parliament which was not passed till two months afterwards. I think, Sir, that was an instance of disregard for Parliamentary procedure which would be dangerous to Parliamentary government. The despatch to which I refer is addressed to the Governor General, Lord Lytton, and will be found at page 156 of the Blue Book. It is not couched in language notifying an expected measure to be taken into his consideration and to be prepared for when it should be passed into law—explicit instructions are given to the Viceroy as to how his duties and relations were affected by the assumption of the Imperial title by the Queen, as if the Royal Titles Act were already a measure upon which Parliament had decided. I think if hon. Members had known, during that heated discussion on this question, that two months before it was passed, and while we were discussing it in this House, the instructions for carrying it into effect were already in India, they would have been very much surprised. Now, Sir, it appears to me that the responsibility of this war rests upon the shoulders of one individual. It was announced at the Lord Mayor's dinner by the Prime Minister for the first time that the Government thought it necessary to have a rectification of our North-West Frontier in India. Military men immediately inquired who was the author of this rectification. No one had ever heard of such a proposal. It had never been officially brought before the public in any document. Military men had always congratulated themselves upon the strength of the North-West Frontier. Nature had given us a better Frontier than we could have devised for ourselves. But when this Paper was laid before Parliament, it appeared in a Memorandum from Lord Napier of Magdala. I find in that Memorandum this paragraph— Our policy of masterly inactivity, or rather of receding from every difficulty until what were matters easy of suppression have grown into serious dangers, has continued too long, and if it is maintained, will load us to disaster. That was the opinion given by Lord Napier of Magdala in a Memorandum dated May 30 this year, and recorded at page 226 of the Blue Book. But if you look to page 134 of these Papers you will find there a despatch from the Foreign Department of the Government of India, dated Simla, June 7th, 1875, with six signatures, including that of Lord Napier of Magdala, in which it is said— Much discussion has recently taken place as to the effect that would he produced by a Russian advance to Merv. It goes on— To anticipate the Russian occupation of Merv by any active measures or specific Treaty engagements would, in our opinion, be more likely to prejudice rather than to advance the interests of Her Majesty's Indian Empire. … We would impress upon Her Majesty's Government our conviction that such relations will best be secured by a steady adherence to the patient and conciliatory policy which has been pursued by the Government of India for many years towards Afghanistan."—[Ibid. p. 135.] That opinion was signed by Lord Napier of Magdala; and the House and the country have a right to know the distinct reasons which have caused him now, in the year 1878, to change the strong opinions which he expressed, in 1875, in concert with the Government of India. Something more is required than a telegram of two lines, read by the Prime Minister in "another place." That telegram stated that Afghanistan in the hands of another Power may deal a fatal blow to our rule, and that an advanced position is necessary for our safety. Lord Napier, in the Memorandum which he sent home in May, 1878, said— It has been frequently asserted, by people with pretensions to speak with authority, that we shall be secure if we remain within our mountain boundary. But this is at variance with all history. A mountain chain that can be pierced in many places is no security if you hide behind it. India has been often entered through her mountain barrier, which was never defended. India waited to fight the battle in her own plains, and invariably lost it."—[Ibid. p. 226.] But my opinion is that the country ought to be very cautious how it acts upon that opinion, even although it comes from one whom I respect so much as Lord Napier. In opposition to that opinion I would give that of the Archduke Charles, who, writing in the beginning of this century upon what the French call La Grande Guerre, stated that a great many Generals adopt the erroneous opinion that a country must be protected by the establishment of a long line of posts, and neglecting the essential principle of concentrating on decisive points, forgetting that by so doing they threw all the advantages into the hands of the enemy when he brought his whole force to bear upon a single point. The opinion of General de Faure, of the Military School of Instruction of Switzerland, is that the best method of repulsing an aggression consists in concentrating as much as possible, and in occupying in force all positions from which rapid advances upon the attacked points can easily be made. The last opinion I will quote is that of a distinguished officer of our own—General Hamley—who, in a work he wrote some time ago, said that whenever the theatre of operations was in a mountainous country, and although bodies of troops might manœuvre in the hills, the main action of the campaign will be in districts which will be practicable for the movement of large armies. It is a very singular circumstance that that distinguished officer this very afternoon delivered a lecture upon this very question at the United Service Institution, under the presidency of Sir Henry Rawlinson, and I was pleased to observe that he still held his formerly recorded opinion—that it was not necessary to take a single yard of country in front of that which we now possess in order to keep that country in a proper state of defence. After the events of 1842, the Duke of Wellington wrote to Lord Ellenborough that "No extension of our territory is desirable in India, even if a war for conquest could be justified;" and in the House of Lords he said— Your Lordships would reject Afghanistan and Cabul, even if they were bequeathed as a peace-offering by Shah Shujah to England. In a despatch from the Government of India, while he was a Member of it, addressed to the Government at home, Lord Napier said— Should a foreign Power, such as Russia, ever seriously think of invading India from without, or, what is more probable, of stirring up the elements of disaffection or anarchy within it, our true policy, our strongest security, would then, we conceive, be found to be in previous abstinence from entanglements at either Cabul, Candahar, or any similar outpost; … in the construction of material works within British India."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 44.] With these opinions before them I think I have a good right to ask why the Government have adopted a policy of extending our Frontier in that direction? It seems to me that if we advance at all in that direction we must advance so as to include the whole of Afghanistan—so as to obtain ample room for our armies to move, and to be supplied by the plains beyond the mountains. If we were to do that we should find ourselves in a position of considerable difficulty if Trance should attempt to carry out the design frequently attributed to her of annexing Belgium. No doubt we had entered into Treaties engaging us to defend Belgium in any such eventuality; but it would be awkward for us to raise our hands to prevent France from "rectifying her Frontier" in that direction, if we ourselves had annexed Afghanistan for a similar reason. It had been said that the Indian Frontier had never been invaded; but it must be remembered that India had never been attacked, since we had had it. If it ever were attacked, I am convinced that our present Frontier would be most gallantly defended. The Under Secretary of State for India has stated that during the last 28 years there have been 19 expeditions comprising 58,000 men. That gives an average of 2,000 men. I think it a very fortunate thing that the Frontier can be defended with so small a force. Too little pains have been taken to avoid the extremity of war. I find in a telegram from Sir Neville Chamberlain the following very remarkable expression:— Cavagnari reports that we have received a decisive answer from Faiz Mahomed, after personal interview, that he will not allow Mission to proceed. … Make another attempt to-morrow morning, and try to bring Faiz Mahomed to reason, or make him fire upon us."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 236.] "Or make him fire upon us!" That expression appears to indicate a very remarkable frame of mind, and to some extent goes to show that sufficient pains have not been taken to avoid this unfortunate contact. In the words of Sir Charles Metcalfe deprecating in the strongest manner a somewhat similar proposal, he said— It was a trick unworthy of any Government, which, when detected, could not fail to excite jealousy and indignation; and might not, impossibly, lead to war. I have thought it my duty, intending to vote for the Resolution of the hon. Member for Bedford, to explain to the House why I do so, because I fear the country is embarking in a most serious and hazardous policy.


said, he hoped if he were surrounded by any of the self-constituted lieutenants of the Conservative Whip, they would not bring to bear upon him the system of annoyance of which the hon. and gallant Member (Sir Alexander Gordon) complained, and which he said compelled him to have recourse to the serener atmosphere of Opposition in order to state his opinions. He (Mr. Plunkett) contended that the alleged change of policy on the part of the Government did not begin with the letter which was sent to the Ameer's Commissioner at Peshawur in July, 1876, and he held that it could be satisfactorily proved that at that time there was a secret Russian Agent at Cabul. There had been evidence that the Envoy was at Cabul at that time; and on the 14th of September there was a complaint from our Foreign Office on the subject. So that the point so strongly urged by some of the leading speakers opposite simply fell to the ground. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) urged that the present Government had changed the policy of never sending a Resident Agent to Afghanistan. If, however, the words of Lord Mayo were to be taken as promising for all time that we should never send a Resident, it must be also taken that we had promised we should never for all time send British troops into Afghanistan, or enter into a Treaty with the Ameer, which was absurd. Accusations had been made against Members of the Government in connection with the Papers which had been produced, which perhaps it would be better not to allude to. Attacks made by hon. or right hon. Members in presence of each other were within the limits of Parliamentary debate, conducted on a fair field, and before the most generous Assembly in the world; but when they attacked those who were not there to answer for themselves, it should be with more moderation than had characterized the language lately used against the Viceroy of India. He did not complain of the language used by the hon. Member for Bedford or the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt); but there was a point on which he thought they were almost entitled to ask for some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). In the speech he made at Greenwich the other day he accused the Government of what really amounted to fraud and deceit, because, he said, they had suppressed three letters, which were the cause of the war. Now the three letters which the right hon. Gentleman said had been suppressed were identical with the letter to which he had referred, and the right hon. Gentleman had the substance of the letters in his hand when he brought against Lord Lytton this portentous charge of dissimulation and fraud. The right hon. Gentleman having described them as startling and astounding, expressed a hope that some explanation would be afforded of them. After making that speech and before he spoke in this House, the right hon. Gentleman might have consulted the Papers, where we were distinctly told the letters were copies of one another and might have acknowledged that he had been mistaken, but he took no such course. The letters were given in extenso in the Papers, where they were stated to be copies of each other, and this was what they said— I write this friendly letter to inform you that the 16th or 17th September has been fixed for the departure of a Mission of high rank from the British Government to Cabul, and that the Mission will start whether Nawab Gholam Hussein shall or shall not by that time have had the honour of waiting on His Highness the Ameer. The object for which Mission is deputed is friendly, and the refusal of free passage to it, or interruption, or injury to its friendly progress will be regarded as act of hostility. I am to explain that the Mission will not in any case enter capital of Cabul before expiry of the month Ramazan. In conclusion may you keep well."—[Afghanistan, No. 2, p. 21.] He (Mr. Plunkett) had no difficulty in seeing how the matter stood; but he probably read with less prejudice than the right hon. Gentleman. He listened attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who, he regretted, did not appear to feel himself bound to make some retraction of so baseless a charge.


said, that having begun with the notion of a friendly Mission, we had gone on to a rectification of Frontier; and if the result of the present war should be a rectification of Frontier we should certainly be driven, as soon as we had crossed the crests of the mountain ranges, to pour down to the valleys oh the other side as surely as water poured down a hill. We must go further if we advanced at all. He would therefore offer a view of this question which, as far as he knew, had not been presented to the House. It had been assumed in this debate that we were deeply interested in the maintenance of Afghanistan as a free, strong, independent and friendly territory. Its freedom and independence, indeed, might be limited so far that it must be free from all influence and all control except our own. In a very able paper, Sir Bartle Frere, with whom in many points he did not agree, had made some observations marked by very good sense. He pointed out what had been proved by experience over and over again—that, if two civilized States have between them a Power less civilized that Power will be a source of embarrassment to both. Now, he maintained that so far from being a source of embarrassment to us, if Afghanistan ceased to be friendly, our position in India would be improved, even if Russia embodied Afghanistan in her own territory. And why? For this reason—we should be near our base, while Russia would be far from hers; we should have an admirable position such as we had now, Russia would have no position whatever; we should be well supplied and Russia ill supplied; and we should have all our forces at our command, while Russia would be at a great distance from her supplies. When he had the privilege three years ago of travelling in India, he went up to the very country to which the debate had reference, and he took the utmost pains, by consulting all authorities, to investigate the Frontier question. As the result of his inquiries he found a general concurrence of opinion among all authorities, civil and military, which fully confirmed the views expressed by the hon. and gallant Officer near him (Sir Alexander Gordon) in favour of the present Frontier, and protesting against any advance of it. Holding that opinion, he read with the greatest dissatisfaction the Central Asia Papers from end to end. More than that, the opinion which he put forward was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government. The Prime Minister himself had said that it was a wholly impracticable proposition to cross our present Frontier; and the present Foreign Secretary, who had a longer acquaintance with Indian affairs than the Secretary of State for India, had expressed a similar opinion. He believed that we might defy all Russian intrigue in India as long as we governed that country justly and honestly. He would now take into consideration what were our relations with Afghanistan when the present Government came into Office. The Ameer was not less favourably disposed towards us then than he had been for a long time before. Indeed, how was it possible for the Ameer to care very much for us? We had shown, over and over again, that we did not care the least for him or his dynasty, and that all we cared for was the maintenance of Afghanistan. He was astonished to hear hon. Members com- plain of Sir John Lawrence keeping himself aloof from the contest between the Ameer and his brother. It had been argued as if we ought to have known from the first that Shere Ali would be settled on the Throne; whereas, in fact, that result was brought about by a mere accident—the death of his brother. The Ameer had nothing to thank us for, and the particular things he desired were those which the Government absolutely refused to concede. Lord Salisbury, on coming into office, started this question of improving our relations with Shere Ali without even ascertaining whether they could be improved. The noble Lord, bent on doing something, was led step by step, from Mission to Mission, until at last he got to the question of the rectification of the Frontier. When the Duke of Argyll asked Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords what he was going to do in this matter, he made an answer which had been defended by hon. Members opposite. The defence amounted to this—that Lord Salisbury was speaking by the card; that he himself said so; and that everybody who heard him must have been aware of the necessity of paying great attention to his remarks so as not to misunderstand them. Surely Lord Northbrook, who was in the House at the time, must have listened most attentively to Lord Salisbury's remarks. Well, Lord Northbrook on that occasion made a short speech, in which he said that the policy of previous Governments had been to show the Ameer our desire to assist him with our advice whenever he required it, and not to press upon him the presence of British Residents in his territories, unless he really desired that they should go there and would give them a welcome. Whatever the intention of Lord Salisbury was, it was evident that his reply was misleading, and that it actually did mislead a man most competent to judge the question, as was shown by the speech of Lord Northbrook. More than that, Lord Salisbury heard those remarks of Lord Northbrook, but offered no correction of the misapprehension, although he corrected the statement of another noble Lord in reference to another question. This misleading policy on the part of the Government had recently received several exemplifications, and no time ought to be lost in stamping it with the reprobation of Parliament. All these transactions, the progress of which was marked, as he had shown, by the circulation of misleading despatches and telegrams, culminated in a war which the House was now asked to pronounce to have been alike unjust and unnecessary, those who opposed the war being described, amongst other epithets, as devotees of peace at any price. He denied the accuracy of the description as far as he was personally concerned. They were told that it was impossible to appreciate the insulting and sardonic character of the Ameer's reply to Lord Lytton unless they knew the Persian language; but what knowledge, he would ask, had Lord Lytton of Persian? It was, perhaps, about on a par with his knowledge of the Servian language, and those who paid any attention to current literature knew the extent of Lord Lytton's knowledge of Servian. His reason for supporting the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Bedford was that, being jealous of his country's honour, and anxious for her welfare, he saw that the policy of Her Majesty's Government tended to degrade the national character, and, at the same time, to set an evil example to the people of India, who were placed under our charge for education as well as for government.


said, the debates upon this great question had been marked by the exhibition of great talent; but there had been a good deal of bitterness displayed on account of the supposed suppression of information. He did not think that these suspicions were justified to the extent that had been urged. He desired, however, to recall to hon. Members the fact, that the House had placed itself at a great disadvantage in relation to every subject connected with India. By successive Acts Parliament had cut off every source of independent information. Formerly, India was governed by the East India Company, regulated to some extent by the Board of Control. The Directors of the East India Company were capable of being elected Members of this House, and some of the Directors were always Members of this House. Parliament afterwards exhibited its consciousness of the necessity for the preservation of independent information, and of its authorised communication to this House, touching the government of India; for by the Act of 1853, not more than three nominees of the Crown were added to the Court of Directors, while the Government was retained in the hands of the Company. Again, by the Act of 1858, which transferred the Government of India to the Crown, Parliament retained seven Directors elected by the East India Company, as independent experts, in the Council created by that Act, and among other reasons in order that the Council might serve as a source of independent information for this House and for Parliament; but he must remind the Members of the late Administration, that India was now governed under the Acts of 1869, chaps. 97 and 98, by which the independence of the Council of India was wholly suppressed. The first of those Acts constituted the Government of India not in the Council, as it stood in the Act of 1858, but directly in the Secretary of State for India; and, instead of retaining seven Members of that Council, elected either by the East India Company, or self-elected by the Council, they made every Member of that Council the nominee, the creature of the Secretary of State. By passing those two Acts the House had, in his judgment, deprived itself of the means of obtaining that current information, from any source independent of the Minister of the day, which was really necessary for the exercise of its functions in relation to the Government of India. He (Mr. Newdegate) had felt the effects of that. He proved it from this fact—He had looked through Hansard to ascertain how far subjects connected with India had been considered by that House during the last three Sessions. In order to ascertain the time devoted by the House to Indian subjects, he counted the pages of Hansard, and he had the figures here, and they proved that little more than one-thirtieth part of the time of the House during the last three Sessions was devoted to Indian subjects. That was a natural effect of the lack of current independent information with respect to Indian affairs. But for the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), to whom all honour was due, the House would have remained altogether without information. When, however, hon. Members on the Opposition Benches rose and complained that they had been kept too much in the dark, he could not help reminding them that it was by their own Acts, passed during a Liberal Administration—the Indian Acts of 1869—that they had effectually provided against receiving independent information by having access to the Minutes of the Council and the independent opinions of experts. This was a very serious change, because it had always been held that it was essential to the safe government of India and to the retention of our Indian Empire that the action of "party" in this House and in Parliament should be, as far as possible, limited in its effects on the government of India. And what had they now? A Secretary of State, who must be a party-man, invested with the sole government of India. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) evidently entertained some feeling of this kind when he sought some opportunity, apart from the proceeding on the Address to the Crown, so that the party feeling and action of this House should bear upon the actual Government in India; since his Motion was couched in words condemnatory of the past conduct of the Government. The Government refused him all facilities; and he (Mr. Newdegate) ventured to recommend the hon. Member at once to appoint his Motion for some day at the command of the unofficial Members of the House. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) interfered. That right hon. Gentleman was more responsible than anyone else for the fact that the question before the House, which was intended to be a substantive Resolution, had been converted into an Amendment to the Address, thus giving the substance of the Amendment an immediate and distinctively party character—a character which, if too often repeated in its proceedings and maintained in its debates on Indian affairs, would incapacitate the House, in the opinion of the country, from exacting from Ministers their due responsibility for the government of India; because, if the action of parties in the House were to be represented in the Government of India, the reproach of Shere Ali would be verified, and the Natives of India and their local Rulers would not know from year to year what policy or what treatment they were to expect from the Government of India. Nothing could so completely shake their confidence; nothing could tend so essentially to endanger our Indian Empire; and beyond this, what would be the effect of this Amendment, if it were carried, upon the position of our Army in Afghanistan? He was old enough to remember the events of 1838, 1839, and 1840, and the present circumstances were in many respects wonderfully similar. In 1837 the Russian agent Vichovich was reported to be engaged in intrigues at Cabul. He was reported to have been poisoning the mind of Dost Mahomed, the Ameer, the father of Shere Ali, against this country and her government of India. It was a Liberal Government who, in 1838, dispatched an expedition to Afghanistan. That was an ill-omened expedition; it was dispatched at too late a period of the year; and when he asked himself how he would vote that night, he could not help thinking of the present severe weather, and the position of our troops in Afghanistan. When, on the previous day, the hon. and learned Member for the City of Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) lauded the old policy in preference to the new, the hon. and learned Member's speech touched a chord which vibrated, for he (Mr. Newdegate) was not in love with this new policy. It appeared to him that this war in Afghanistan was to be traced directly to the fact of the present Government having sent Indian troops to Malta last year—a measure in condemnation of the manner of doing which he had recorded his vote. He traced the present war directly to that expedition; and what had been the effect of it in other respects? Hitherto it had been the habit of that House to abstain from introducing into questions relating to European politics subjects connected with the government of India; European politics must ever be a matter of party debate and party action in that House. Now, if that House were habitually to adopt party action on questions relating to India, that would endanger our Indian Empire. If Indian subjects were to be mixed up with European politics, how would they be able to preserve continuity and stability in the government of India from the disturbance of the party action, which was inseparable from subjects connected with European politics? At that hour of the night he would not presume further to trespass on the kindness of the House. But if he recorded his vote against the Resolu- tion of the hon. Member for Bedford, I which he felt he must do, he should do so from a sense of duty—of duty to our Army in Afghanistan, a duty dictated by the conviction—that if our Army should now hastily retire from that country we should never be able to re-establish our old position there. Hon. Members opposite should consider what would be the effect of the success of that Amendment. At that moment, when our troops were far advanced into a dangerous country in winter, would, under such circumstances, hon. Members condemn the work of our Army and their action? [Cries of "No!" from the Liberal Benches.] At all events, by the success of that Amendment they would condemn the cause for which our Army was fighting. He was not in love with the new policy; but what chance had they, he asked, if the Amendment were carried, of reestablishing the old position? In his opinion, the time had not come when it might be safe to condemn—as he himself might possibly be disposed to condemn—much of the past in the administration of the affairs of India, as it had now affected our relations to Afghanistan.


I am surprised that the hon. Member who has just sat down should have based the opposition he is about to give to the Amendment upon the effect which, if carried, it would have upon our Armies at present serving in Afghanistan. I think it has been made pretty clear, by those of my Friends who have had the opportunity of speaking, that whatever may be our opinion as to the justice of the causes which have led the Government to embark in this war, that there is no difference among us as to the necessity of supporting, by every means in our power, the gallant troops who are now engaged in it; and in no speech that has been delivered in any part of this House have I heard one single remonstrance against the opinion so expressed. And. I am the more surprised that the hon. Member, who is generally so staunch a supporter of all Constitutional doctrines, should have put forward such opinions; because it seems to me to amount to nothing less than an assertion that when once the Government has involved the country in a war, the Houses of Parliament are to be debarred from expressing any opinion as to the justice of the war, or the policy of the Government that has led to it. The hon. Member also referred, in terms of some regret, to the personalities which have been introduced into this debate. I hope to be able to avoid the use of any personalities; but I must say that there is one thing which is still more to be regretted than the use of personalities, and that is the conduct which renders personalities natural or necessary. No doubt that is, and always will be, a matter of opinion; but as to the personalities that have been introduced into this debate, I can only say that we are ready to leave to the judgment of the House and of the country whether the personalities that have been introduced, or the conduct that has led to them, is the more deserving of censure. I stated, on the first night of the Session, that there was no difference of opinion among us as to the necessity of supporting Her Majesty's Government in the prosecution of this war until an honourable conclusion has been reached. I also stated that it seemed to me Her Majesty's Government had a perfectly legal right—and I believe, strictly speaking, a Constitutional right—to involve the country in that war. But while I expressed that opinion, I believe I intimated—and if I did not do so then, I must do so now—that it was a very different matter whether it was wise, or prudent or Constitutional, in the strictest and best sense of the term, on the part of the Government, to involve this country in such a war, without giving Parliament or the country any opportunity of expressing, or even of forming, any opinion on the policy which had led up to it. I can well understand that, in the course of long and protracted negotiations on a subject well-known and understood by the country, a critical moment may arise when it may be the duty of the Government to commit the country to an appeal to arms before it is able to take the sense of Parliament formally upon the question. But I must say that I do not recollect that there ever was any precedent for the country finding itself committed to a war, while ignorant not only of the immediate cause which has provoked a declaration of war, but of the whole course of the circumstances and of the policy which have led to it. It cannot be denied that up to a very few weeks ago Parliament had not re- ceived from the Government the slightest information of the change of events in India and Afghanistan, which have been the cause of this war. It will not be asserted by the boldest Member of the Government, or by their boldest supporter, that any information has been vouchsafed to us by them, either in the form of Parliamentary explanations, or in the form of Papers laid before Parliament. Nay, more, I think they will not be unwilling to acknowledge that information which might have been laid before Parliament has been deliberately withheld. I said I would endeavour to avoid all personal recrimination; and I am not, therefore, going to enter into a subject which has been already so freely discussed—the correctness of the answers which have been given in this or the other House of Parliament when information as to our relations with Afghanistan has been asked for. The excuse which has been put forward with regard to the nature of those answers, is that nothing was stated in them which was not the fact; but I do not think that the Government themselves will deny that, in the replies to interpellations which were addressed to thorn, they did not communicate the whole state of the case either in this or in the other House. We are told that there were reasons which prevented a full and frank statement on the subject. Now, what I want to know is, without entering into the personal question, what those reasons were which induced the Government to abstain from making a free and full communication to Parliament—what reason existed why the Government should not have laid those very Papers which are now before us on the Table of the House? [An hon. MEMBER: They were not wanted.] The hon. and gallant Gentleman says they were not wanted. Does he mean that they were not asked for? ["Hear, hear!"] Exactly. My answer to him is that we were not in a position to know the real state of the case, and did not know what to ask for. But I would again ask, what was the reason which prevented the Government from laying the Papers on the Table? I suppose we shall be told that at that time, in 1877, our relations with Russia were, as the expression goes, somewhat strained, and that it was not desirable in a matter of this kind, which involved, to a certain extent, our relations with Russia, that a full disclosure should be made of the unsatisfactory state of our relations with Afghanistan. If that was the reason, it seems to me to be a totally inadequate one. Does the Government suppose for a moment that the Power with whom at the time our relations wore supposed to be strained—that that Power of whose cunning and astuteness in diplomacy we have heard so much—was not accurately informed of all that passed between them and the Ameer, and that when they were concealing information from the House of Commons that they wore concealing it from Russia also? I doubt very much whether they could for a moment have laboured under that impression; but even if such information with regard to our relations with Afghanistan would have been communicated to Russia in consequence of its having been laid before this House, I think the advantages gained from laying it before Parliament would have far outweighed any advantage obtained by concealing it. If we had been furnished with this information, there would probably have been debates in this House on the subject; and no doubt the Government would have been blamed then, as they are blamed now, for what we should have considered then, as we consider now, the clumsy and blundering manner in which these negotiations have been conducted. They would, unquestionably, have exposed themselves to an attack of that sort. But I think the result of an open discussion in the House of Commons, at that time as now, would have been to show, on the one hand, to the Government of Afghanistan, that no intention existed on the part of the Parliament or the people of this country—whatever intention might have existed on the part of the Government; and I will not impute anything of the kind to them—to interfere in the slightest degree, or to diminish to the smallest extent, the independence of their country. On the other hand, I think the result of the debate would have been to prove to Russia, that however great may be the desire which is felt on all sides of this House to remain on friendly terms with her, that no interference on her part with the integrity or the independence of Afghanistan would meet with the smallest countenance or approval from any Party, or portion of a Party, in this House. I think that a great advantage would have been conferred by a full discussion of the subject in this House; and it seems to me that, in order to avoid what might have been a Party embarrassment, the Government has withheld from this House and from Parliament information which Parliament had a right to expect that it would receive, and which it would have received with the greatest benefit to India, and even to our relations with Russia and Afghanistan. Passing from that point, I must put aside at this hour of the night a great number and variety of topics which have been the subject of much controversy and debate during the last four nights. I must put them aside—not because they are minor subjects, not because they are trivial, not because they are unimportant—but because the time at my disposal and the patience of the House would not be sufficient to enable me to go into them. I may, however, just refer in one or two words to some of the subjects which I cannot enter into at greater length. Charges have been made against the accuracy of the statements contained in the Papers laid on the Table. These charges have been designated as "trivial;" but, for my part, I cannot think that any question affecting the strict accuracy of the Papers which are laid before this House can ever be unimportant; and I must say that, so far as I have heard, no answer has been made, scarcely any answer has been attempted, to the impeachment brought by my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) against the accuracy of much that is contained in these Papers. There is another subject which has been made a subject of considerable controversy, and it is far from unimportant. Much has turned upon whether the Ameer of Cabul has or has not ever at a previous time expressed his willingness to receive a British Resident. That is a subject well worthy all the attention which it has received, but it is one which it is useless to enter into, except at considerable detail; and it is one, therefore, which I must leave to the judgment of the House, after having heard all that has been said on the subject on both sides. There are still more important subjects upon which the controversy has been extremely keen—almost bitter— on both sides of the House: I refer to the conduct of Lord Lytton and the Indian Government in the proceedings preliminary to and during the Peshawur Conference; and, again, as to the conduct of Lord Lytton and his Government in the measures taken in the autumn of this year for securing the reception of Sir Neville Chamberlain's Mission, and especially regarding the imperious haste—as it is described on this side of the House—with which the Mission was pressed on the Ameer, and the manner and the nature of the Ultimatum which was finally addressed to him. These, Sir, cannot for one moment be described as minor points; they are subsidiary, perhaps, to the main issue; but they are by no means of a minor character. Without a thorough examination of the points which I have indicated, it is impossible for the House to decide upon what was the character of the policy of the Government; and it is impossible to decide, without a thorough examination of these points, whether the object of the Government has really been to bring about a better understanding and better relations between themselves and the Ameer; or whether, on the other hand, their object has been to impose conditions upon him which would, practically, have reduced him to the position of a vassal of the Sovereign; and, in the event of his refusing to accept them, to find the ground for a dispute with him to invade his territory and to destroy his power. It is impossible to form an opinion upon these all-important questions, without a thorough examination of the mode and the spirit in which the negotiations were conducted; and I cannot help expressing my gratitude—and, I think, I may say the gratitude of all who sit on this side of the House, at any rate—for the great care and labour and ability with which these questions have been entered into by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), my hon. and learned Friend who addressed the House this evening, and others, who have entered at great length into this part of the subject. I wish also to say to the House, that if I refrain from following their footsteps in a minute canvass of all the steps of the negotia- tions in the year 1876, and in the present year, it is not because I am not fully sensible of their importance and of their relevance to the subject now before us; but simply and solely because I feel that I could not enter into them without going again into that minute examination of the Papers laid before us, which I know that I, at least, have not the power of making sufficiently interesting to the House to justify me in asking it to listen to me at this time of the evening. Passing by these subjects, then, although by no means neglecting them, I want to ask the House to turn its attention for one moment to what I am afraid may, perhaps, alarm them, though I think they need not feel any undue alarm on the subject. I am going to refer for a moment to the despatch of Lord Cranbrook of the 19th November of this year; and I do not think the Government can complain that I should make it the text of a few observations. The Government have themselves put forward that despatch as a summary of all these proceedings and negotiations, and they cannot, therefore, complain if I refer a little to that despatch. I want to refer to the 9th paragraph, and that maybe an intimation somewhat alarming to the House, after all the controversy that there already has been on the subject. I can assure the House that I do not desire to refer to it in any spirit of personal imputation or recrimination—I do not desire to recur to that paragraph for the purpose of shifting the blame of what has occurred from one Administration to another; but simply because I think by reference to the 9th paragraph I can best place before the House what I want to advert to. If this debate is to be of any service to the country and both sides of the House—who I am sure desire that it shall not be in vain—it will be in that it will enable the country to form a better and a more balanced judgment upon the circumstances which have led to the departure of the Government from the old policy and the adoption of the new. There have been, as we all know by this time, for many years among Indian statesmen two policies. One has been described for some years—although I do not accept the sufficiency or the aptness of the description—as the policy of "masterly inactivity;" and the other, I believe, has been described as the "forward policy." Almost every statesman who has been responsible for the management of Indian affairs up to a short time ago—every responsible statesman—has been a supporter of what is described as the "masterly inactivity" policy; and certainly no Member of any Government has ever been a warmer or more able advocate of that policy than the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who I presume will follow me. I suppose he will not deny that, warm advocate of that policy as he has been, he is now forced to abandon it; and what I think will be one salutary effect of this debate will be, that the country will more completely understand what is the difference between these two policies, and what are the reasons which have induced the Government to abandon that policy which they formerly supported, and what are the reasons why we think that they have been utterly and completely wrong in doing so. I think the account given in the paragraph of Lord Cranbrook's despatch is calculated not to inform, but to mislead the country. The impression which is suggested by that paragraph is that in 1873 there existed a difference of opinion between Lord Northbrook and the Government of India and the Government at home, and that he was prevented by the Government at home from doing something which he considered necessary in the interests of India. I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite have come forward to say that they are willing to accept Lord Northbrook's statement, that there was no such difference of opinion. But that is not a satisfactory way of settling the matter. What we maintain—and what we think is shown from the Papers—is that upon the Papers that have been presented there never was any reason to suppose there was any difference of opinion between Lord Northbrook and the Government at home. I am prepared still further to assert, that not only was there no difference between Lord Northbrook and the Indian Government and the Government at home, but that for two years there was no difference upon the main principles of his policy between Lord Northbrook and the present Government. This point was referred to—and ably referred to—by my hon. and learned Friend earlier in the evening; but it seems to me so important, that I think the House will excuse me if I say another word or two on the subject. The impression sought to be conveyed in this despatch is that Lord Northbrook was prepared to make certain assurances to the Ameer of Afghanistan, but was prevented from doing so by Her Majesty's Government. Shortly after that time that Government was succeeded by the present Government, and a little time after that—early in the year 1874—Lord Derby made a speech in the House of Lords upon this subject. I will not read extracts from that speech—I am prepared to read one or two if I am challenged— for I think the Government will admit that it is not an unfair account of Lord Derby's statement to say that when he was challenged in the House of Lords and asked what view the Government took of the assurances which had been given by Lord Northbrook in the Conferences of Simla in 1873, he certainly did not in any way seek to extend or to explain those assurances. If anything he rather indicated, although he did not complain of what Lord Northbrook, under the instructions of the late Government, had done and said, that, in his opinion, he had said quite as much as was prudent, and quite as much as the Government which he represented were willing to say. Perhaps it may be said that Lord Derby was a very cautious Minister, and that subsequent events have shown that his views upon those subjects were not in accordance with those of the rest of the Administration. But Lord Derby was, and remained for a long time after that speech, a Member of Her Majesty's Government. He was the Member of the Government who was put forward to reply to the questions of Lord Napier and Ettrick upon this subject. The then Indian Secretary (the present Foreign Secretary) sat by his side, and his statements were accepted by his Colleagues as the exposition of the views of the Government. I might further prove my point by a more detailed reference to his speech, but it is not necessary for me to do that; because for two years after the accession of the present Government to Office, I am prepared to assert—and these Papers show it—that no instructions were ever addressed to Lord Northbrook directing him to extend, to strengthen, or to explain the assurances which had been given in 1873 by Lord Northbrook to the Ameer of Afghanistan. It is true that despatches were addressed in 1875 to Lord Northbrook, directing him to try a new policy—a policy that was, to a certain extent, new with the Ameer. But that policy had nothing whatever to do with the assurances which he had given, or was authorized to give, to the Ameer. On the contrary, it was Lord Northbrook himself who pointed out to the Government, if they were determined to insist upon that reception by the Ameer of a British Resident which they thought necessary, that the only way in which there was any chance of such a proposal being accepted was to extend the assurances he had been authorized by the late Government to give. Not even in their reply to Lord Northbrook, in December, 1875, was there the slightest hint or the slightest indication that, in the opinion of the Government, it was desirable to extend these assurances. That, Sir, seems to be a not unimportant fact. In these circumstances, what is the use of the Under Secretary of State coming forward in this House at the present time and telling us that Lord North-brook's assurances to the Ameer were so vague and misty that it was impossible for him to understand them, and that he was not surprised if they puzzled the Minister of the Ameer? Why is there any controversy between us on this subject when it is proved, beyond the possibility of doubt, that up to the year 1875 there was no difference between either the Indian Government, or the late Government, or the present Government, as to the nature and the extent of the assurances and engagements which it was right and politic for this country to enter into with Afghanistan? Sir, it is true that a difference of opinion, which we shall very soon see was to bear fruit, did arise between the present Government and Lord Northbrook. The Government thought it was desirable—they thought it was necessary—that conditions should be imposed upon the Ameer of Afghanistan which had never been imposed upon him before. They thought it necessary that he should be required to admit British Residents, not to his capital, but to various points in his territory. I am perfectly willing to admit— and it has been admitted by my hon. and learnedFriend—that that was a demand which it was perfectly legitimate on our part to make, and which it is possible it might have been in the in- terests of the Ameer himself to accept. There was only one objection to it, and that was the objection which was pointed out by Lord Northbrook and the Indian Government, that all experience showed, and all Indian authorities believed, that this condition would never be willingly accepted by the Ameer, and that it could not be pressed upon him, except at the cost of forfeiting his friendly alliance. The Under Secretary of State, or an hon. Gentleman opposite, has said that subsequent events have proved that Lord Northbrook was wrong and Lord Salisbury was right; but has experience proved that? Why, the Government have tried the experiment with their own Viceroy and with their own Envoy. They had in their hands the selection of the time, the circumstances, the manner, in which the proposal was to be made; and therefore we may assume that it was made under what I suppose they thought would be the most favourable circumstances; and it has failed—utterly and completely failed. Was Lord Northbrook right, or Lord Salisbury right, in this matter? Sir, I am not going to argue now whether when the Ameer declined to accept the conditions which you sought to impose upon him you had, in strict justice and equity, a right to take advantage of that refusal to repudiate the engagements—the verbal engagements, but still the engagements—which had been entered into by various previous Viceroys as to our relations with him. I am not going to argue the justice of the course which you took. I do not want to argue that at this moment; but were your proceedings politic? I will concede, if you like, for the purposes of that argument, that you had a right when the Ameer rejected your proposal, and the condition which you thought it necessary he should accept, to re-consider your relations with him. Well, you have considered them, and what has been the result? You had, I am thankful to say, not three courses open to you, but you had four; and I will enumerate them in the order in which it seems to me they were most likely to be advantageous to this country. You might have had, first, a friendly Afghanistan—that is, the Afghanistan which you tell us we might have had, and of which we missed the opportunity. Well, that may be; but it does not lie in your mouth to say it; because, as I have just shown, you had two years and more in which you might have recovered that opportunity which you say we lost, and in which you might have gained the friendly Afghanistan which you say we neglected to obtain. The second policy open to you was that you might have had what I will describe as a sulky Afghanistan—that is, the Afghanistan which you say we left you. I do not think you can describe the condition of things in Afghanistan as we left them in any more unfavourable terms than that, and you might have many a worse bargain than that. There was not much that you wanted from Afghanistan. It is perfectly true the relations of its Ruler were not friendly. He was unwilling to do a favour to you, and he was unwilling to accept one from you. But there was very little we wanted him to do. All we wanted of Afghanistan was that it should preserve its independence. We wanted it to be as jealous of interference from any other quarter as it proved itself to be of interference from us. And that was the condition in which we left Afghanistan. It was not, perhaps, the most satisfactory condition; but I maintain it was not an unsatisfactory condition. What was the third alternative? You might have an unfriendly, an alienated, a hostile Afghanistan, and that is the Afghanistan which you have secured by your Peshawur Conference. That is the Afghanistan which you have secured by your letters, your interviews, your threats, your allusions to iron pots and earthen pipkins; by your hints about an understanding with Russia; about the iron band which was surrounding the territories of the Ameer; about the rectification of Frontier which was to be made without reference to, or consideration for, the feelings of the Ruler of Afghanistan. That is the alienated and the unfriendly Afghanistan which you have secured. Then there is one policy worse even than this, and it is that which you appear to me to have begun, and which I am afraid you are determined to carry through. That is the policy of the military occupation either of the whole or a part of Afghanistan. That is the fourth and, as I believe, the worst policy of all. On this part of the subject I really hardly know where to begin or what arguments to use. Up to this time there had been so com- plete an agreement among all authorities, military and civil, as to the impolicy of a military advance upon, and the occupation of, Afghanistan, that the difficulty is not to find, arguments against it, but to select from the arguments against it. This is, to a certain extent, a military question, upon which I am not competent to speak; but I have not observed that we have been favoured with many military arguments in the course of this debate and upon the side of the Government. I am not aware that we have been favoured with any military arguments at all. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) to-night addressed to the House what appeared to me to be a very sound and a very powerful military argument; but I have not heard from the other side of the House any military opinion upon this subject at all. Indeed, Sir, we have not been favoured with a great deal of information during this debate from the front Bench opposite. The noble Lord the Postmaster General, who certainly has never been considered to be a very high authority on the subject of India, is the only Cabinet Minister who has addressed the House during these four nights. Although the military administration of India is not immediately in his Department, I should have thought we might have been favoured by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War with the opinion of his advisers on the expediency and the advisability of a military occupation of Afghanistan. I am averse from troubling the House by reading extracts at this time of night; but I have said I am not a military authority, and I do not think I can do better—I feel certain I cannot express my views more shortly—than by reading one or two extracts from the opinions of military men of high distinction, who I do not think have been referred to in the course of this debate; and I simply read them because I can bring the views I entertain more shortly and much better before the House in that than in any other way. The first is the opinion of Sir Henry Greene, who is certainly not an advocate of the masterly inactivity policy, and who, I believe, is one of the advocates of a forward policy. Writing in 1873, and alluding to the Afghan tribes, he says— The country bordering on the valley of Peshawur and skirting the Pass leading from Jellalabad to Ismael Khan is held by various tribes of mountaineers, numbering perhaps 200,000 men, who in many a border fight against other tribes have shown their high courage. To occupy the valley of Jellalabad we should have to pass through and leave in our rear the most dangerous and numerous of these tribes, and we should also leave in our roar some of the most difficult defiles of the Jellalabad Pass. Having arrived, we should be surrounded by similar mountains, inhabited by the same warlike tribes, and the communications with Peshawur would be always most precarious. They are the most intractable people on the whole border country, and the necessity of sending frequent expeditions among them has proved this. It appears to me, therefore, that to place a force in their midst would be to place it in a position of great jeopardy. Consequently, I think our safest plan is to hold the Valley of Peshawur and to complete, as far as possible, the railway to Lahore, in order to re-inforce the garrison at Lahore as quickly as possible when necessary. That is the opinion of Sir Henry Greene as to the occupation of Afghanistan. I have another extract which I should like to read, from an authority who, I dare say, will not command much respect from that side of the House. I do not quote it as an authority, but because the view is well put, and because it is the most convenient form of expressing my own opinion. It is a Memorandum by Sir William Mansfield, the late Lord Sandhurst. He says— I can conceive of no greater political mistake than a course which would unite the whole population of Afghanistan in actual hostilities against us, and so compel us to meet their hostility on ground most unfavourable to us and entailing great waste of our forces. I believe nothing could be more true than that, supposing that at some future time Russia and England were engaged in a struggle for Asiatic dominion, that party will enter on the contest with great advantages which has abstained from forestalling events by an invasion and annexation of Afghanistan. If it is assumed that Russia wishes to invade India through Afghanistan, it would become necessary to hold the country very strongly, otherwise the population would rise to drive out the invading army, and its forces might be divided in a most dangerous manner on ground most unfavourable to itself. In this manner Afghanistan would be a cause of weakness to Russia, and so would become our worst ally. If we invaded Afghanistan the problem would be exactly reversed, and Afghanistan would become our worst enemy. We should have to hold it with a force of some 40,000 or 50,000 men, and at the same time to meet Russia with a great strain upon our resources, and under conditions most unfavourable to ourselves. That is the most important part of the despatch, and nothing can be more true than the case which is there put hypothetically. This question is not discussed very much in the Papers laid before us. There was one passage, however, in a despatch from Lord Lawrence, which expresses the same ideas in very much the same language. So much for the military opinion upon the military occupation of Afghanistan. I know it is said that military opinions expressed two years ago are now very much overweighted by the necessity of doing something on account of the advance of Russia in Central Asia. Well, Sir, I want to know exactly what this advance in Central Asia is which has so alarmed the Government and impressed upon it the necessity of doing something. I referred the other day to a despatch contained in these Papers—a despatch written in answer to one by Sir John Lawrence, pointing out not only what had been done, but what was likely to be done by Russia—which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) very properly reminded me was 10 years old. In that despatch the Government said that they felt not the slightest jealousy or alarm in reference to Russia in Central Asia. It was pointed out with extraordinary accuracy, as far as I am able to judge, not only what those designs have been in the past, but what they were likely to be in future years; and the right hon. Gentleman put the assurance aside with the utmost calmness, and stated that we had not the slightest cause for alarm. That is not the last pronouncement of the Government upon the subject of the advance of Russia in Central Asia. I cannot now go into details; but the House remembers very well the speech of the Prime Minister in this House, in 1876, in which he expressed—I thought in a very reasonable and sensible way— his views with respect to that advance in Central Asia. Now we have these Papers, expressing, in the most frank and friendly manner, their perfect comprehension of the course of events, and the entire absence of alarm and jealousy, both Governments being on most amicable terms. We know very well, while the Government were making speeches in this House, and were writing frank and friendly assurances to Russia, that they did feel alarm; that in 1876, when Lord Lytton went out, or when the despatches to Lord Northbrook were written, the Government had begun to consider that the state of things affecting the Russian advance was extremely grave, and demanded measures which they were pleased to call "of timely precaution." They may be right; but what I want to know is, what the particular advance of Russia was that they considered altered the situation, and made these measures of timely precaution, involving the invasion, and perhaps the annexation, of Afghanistan a necessity to us? I stated very generally the other night my ideas upon the Russian advance. That advance may be a very serious one; but I do not care to be put aside generally by such a reply as—"Oh! the advance of Russia has been terrible, and something must be done." It is more business-like, and more prudent, to look the matter boldly in the face, and to say where we are threatened, and to point out the exact danger to which we are exposed. Is the actual invasion of our Indian Empire the danger which we may expect? I cannot imagine it is that. The Prime Minister himself has put aside that view; for Lord Beaconsfield at the Guildhall the other night said that Her Majesty's Government entertained no apprehensions of the invasion of India by our North-West Frontier. The noble Lord said the "aspect of the country is so forbidding, that I do not believe any invasion of our North-West Frontier could be possible." It is true that Lord Beaconsfield is a great authority; but there is a greater. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council does not agree with him, and contradicts him in the flattest possible manner. He says it is a great mistake to suppose there is no danger of invasion. He says that the configuration of India and Italy very much resemble each other; that no country has been so often, or so successfully, invaded as Italy; that India has also frequently been invaded.


I am very sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. What I said was that the only reason why the Afghans did not invade India was because we were a greater military Power; and I also pointed how, under certain conditions, we might cease to have this immunity from invasion.


I understood the noble Lord in his allusion to say that Italy and India, in their configuration, very much re- sembled each other; that Italy had often been successfully invaded; and that India had also been previously invaded; and if the argument was not pointed to the danger in which India stood of a formidable invasion, I really should like to know what point his observation has. It is true that India has often been invaded, and through these Passes; but I want to know whether India has ever been held before by a Power such as ours; and whether the danger of an invasion of India is not every day becoming a danger less likely to occur? In the opinion of most men, I believe, the invasion of Afghanistan in 1838, under the influence of a scare somewhat similar to the present, was a great mistake; but, at all events, Lord Auckland's Government at that time had some excuse which the Government of this day cannot plead. Our power in India was not the same as it is now. Our power in India has been greatly consolidated since 1838. Our policy in India has been greatly consolidated by the wise administration of a succession of Viceroys, not the least of whom is that Viceroy whose name has been so often mentioned in these debates, and whose name has been mentioned with scarcely sufficient respect from the opposite benches. I am not certain; but I am rather under the apprehension that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. E. Stanhope)—I hope I am not misrepresenting him— made some somewhat disparaging remarks upon Lord Lawrence's conduct at the time of the Mutiny. [Mr. E. STANHOPE: It was not I.] I beg your pardon; but disparaging remarks have been heard from that side of the House, and there can be no doubt that a violent attack has been made upon Lord Lawrence by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel), and we have not had the conduct of Lord Lawrence vindicated, as I should, under those circumstances, have expected. But I am sure that when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer rises he will not fail to notice these matters, for he is in so responsible a position for everything that Lord Lawrence has done with reference to the North-West Frontier. There is one other paragraph in the despatch to which I must direct notice. Writing in 1867 the right hon. Gentleman says, addressing Lord Lawrence —"Your Excellency is so intimately acquainted with the general views of the Government, and with the whole condition of Afghanistan, that the Government feel we may safely leave it to your discretion to act as you think best, in case any emergency should arise." Now, Sir, I think, if the Members of the Government who have spoken before had their position in this matter in view, they would have taken an opportunity of vindicating the character and policy of Lord Lawrence from the attack which has been made upon him from that side of the House. Since 1838 the power of England has been greatly strengthened and consolidated in India; and in no respect has a greater or more remarkable change been made than in the improvement of our systems of communication. In 1838 it would have taken weeks, perhaps months, to mass any considerable portion of our military strength on our North-West Frontier. Now, in consequence of the system of railways and other improved means of communication, we could mass our whole available military strength in a comparatively short time to meet an army far from its resources and with difficult communications. It does seem to me the wildest idea that ever disturbed any Government in this country to think that there is the slightest danger to our rule in India from an army, manœuvring far from its base, with difficult communications, issuing through the narrow denies and Passes of Afghanistan to meet the disciplined forces—Native and European—of England ready to crush them. I know that actual invasion is not the only danger in that region—there is the danger of intrigue. That, I fully admit, is a more real danger than the one to which I have referred. But it is one which cannot be removed or done away with—on the contrary, it might be increased by any action in the direction of an advance to Afghanistan. What is the argument? It is, as I understand it, that if the Russians are permitted to acquire an influence in Afghanistan, they will make use of it by intriguing across the border of the Native States, in order to make them unfriendly. Is that prevented by our advancing and occupying either the whole or any part of Afghanistan? Suppose that we do occupy the whole; we do not get rid of Russian intrigue— on the contrary, Russia can intrigue from Bokhara. Russia has, then, the same opportunity to cross the border into Afghanistan, and into a far better field to work in. Supposing it is only the rectification of the Frontier, the annexation of a part of Afghanistan would give Russia a far better opportunity for intrigue in the remainder, and provide her, at the same time, with the very means. Either you displace the present Ameer from his Throne, or you have him hostile to you, enraged by the loss of a part of his territory, and what more convenient plea can Russia have? Supposing you drive the Ameer out of his Kingdom across the border, has not Russia an equally good instrument for intrigue; and how does the Government explain, how will it prevent the possibility of Russian intrigue advancing? I believe, on the contrary, such a course will hasten and facilitate any operations that Russia may desire in that direction. I am happy to admit—and have admitted—the possibility of danger; it must be dealt with; it must be met as one of the facts which cannot be ignored. No one can suggest that Russia can be put back. It is a difficulty which the Government must face, and face as best they can. It is for them to prove that the only way it can be dealt with is by an advance to meet Russia. If it is to be dealt with, I believe, in the opinion of the most eminent statesmen, that Russian intrigue will be best met by a wise and prudent administration of our own dominions. But supposing that it has to be met and dealt with by some direct means, then sooner or later we must deal with Russia herself. I am not advocating any rash or hasty proceedings with regard to Russian intrigue. I do not know what explanation Russia may give of her advance; but I am quite sure that you will not stop Russian intrigue by merely punishing a subject upon whom Russia is practising. You will not stop Russia by punishing or even by dethroning the Ameer—you will only give her new and increased opportunities of playing her game more effectually than she would be able to do in any other way. For these reasons, it appears to me that the policy you have adopted—a hostile policy—-is about the most unwise which you could have chosen. We have been asked very often in the course of this debate—"What would you do under the circumstances?" I think the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich is a sufficient answer. It is a question which I do not think any Government has a right to put to any Opposition. How are we to say, when we think that your conduct has been a succession of mistakes, what is the precise position which we should have taken under the circumstances? But I will say—although I do not admit that the question is one to which we are bound to give an answer—that there are one or two things which I think it is possible we should do. I will say that, whatever the result of this war, the more speedy its conclusion and the greater its success the better—I will say that, whatever the result of this war, no permanent occupation of any part of Afghanistan, contrary to the wish of any of its inhabitants, ought to be sanctioned. I believe that any strategical advantage which might be gained—I doubt whether the balance of military opinion is that any advantages would be gained—would be dearly purchased with the lasting ill-will of the whole of the people of Afghanistan. It will be difficult, certainly, but it may not be an impossible task to convince the people and the Ruler of Afghanistan that we do not desire to interfere with their interests; and I believe that no proof, no better proof, could be given to them than that after a successful war we should retire within our own boundary without annexing one inch of their territory. I do not think we could find any more effectual or better barrier against any possible dangers we may apprehend from the advance of Russia than the conviction that such a proceeding on our part would give to the minds of the people of Afghanistan of our real desire for their independence. What have the people of that country done to lead us to suppose that they have already sacrificed their independence to Russia? It is we—and we alone—who have thrown them into the arms of Russia; and the only policy in my mind by which the errors of the last two years can be repaired is to replace once more in the minds of the Afghan people the conviction that their independence is as great an object to us as it is to themselves. There is one more indication of policy I may suggest. Whatever else may be done, I think the present Viceroy should be recalled. I admire the genius of Lord Lytton, and I believe that in Europe his diplomatic talents would be useful; but I cannot help saying that as a military diplomatist in India he is a mistake. Sir, I think that Lord Lytton should be recalled; because he appears to me to be the incarnation and embodiment of an Indian policy which is everything which an Indian policy ought not to be. Except when some danger or some trouble, such as the present, threatens us, we do not see or hear very much of what goes on in India. But when during the last two years we have had a glimpse of what is passing in India, what have we seen of Lord Lytton? We have seen him at one time mimicking at Delhi the forms and state of the Mogul Emperors, and obscuring in the minds of the Princes and of the people of India the real nature and the real sources of the greatness of our rule, by endeavouring to impose upon them an imitation of the pomp and state of former days. We have seen him at another time fidgeting about the harmless eccentricities of the Indian Press. Now, in these Papers we see him—I do not think the sight is calculated to impress respect for our rule in the mind of any Indian Prince—at this Conference at Peshawur, addressing the puzzled and frightened Envoys in a letter, which seems to me to be composed of language borrowed partly from a lawyer's letter, and partly from a tale of The Arabian Nights. Sir, I am afraid that if we are to part with Lord Lytton, we shall have to part with something besides. I do not expect that Her Majesty's Government will recall him. I do not think it would be just or generous to do so. Lord Lytton has faults; but all Lord Lytton's faults are not the faults of Lord Lytton alone. I own he has faults—great faults—but his fault has been that he is only too faithful an embodiment of the policy of the Government he represents. This policy is either a part of, or the result of—or perhaps both—of the policy we have had for the last two years. Her Majesty's Government have boasted of a spirited foreign policy, and all the time they appear to me to have acted like men possessed with the most abject and most unworthy terror. Not a movement could take place in any part of Europe or Asia, but that it was discovered by the Government that some harm was threatened, that some danger impended to English interests or English honour. An insurrection takes place in Bosnia—the Government immediately rush off to buy shares in the Suez Canal. The Bulgarians revolt against their oppressors, and there is immediately a cry of "British interests in danger." Well, Sir, it is not difficult to find a reason—Her Majesty's Government seem to me to have no confidence in the strength of England, or in the resources or energy of Englishmen. Like most men who are deficient in true courage, they make great parade of their courage and of their power. They bring over 8,000 Indian troops to Malta, and they leave it to be understood that behind them are the whole troops and resources of the Indian Empire. All this time that they are parading this demonstration of Indian troops, Russia is preparing, without ostentation and without anybody knowing anything about it, a trap which they felt quite certain Her Majesty's Government would fall into—which Her Majesty's Government have fallen into, and which has given occupation to the 8,000 Indian troops in Afghanistan. It will be fortunate, indeed, if it does not give occupation to troops from England also. I hope—I cannot express any confident opinion—that this is a policy of which the country has had nearly enough. I agree with the opinion which has been expressed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt). I do not care how soon the country has an opportunity of expressing its opinion on this policy. We have been told—and I have no doubt we shall be told still more freely and more openly in the country than we have been told in this House—that we are indifferent to the honour and the greatness of our Indian Empire. The imputation has not been made, that I know of, by any hon. Gentleman in this debate. It is one which is so false that I can scarcely condescend to deny it. But there are some of us who have read something of the way in which that Indian Empire was raised and was extended. There are some of us who have watched that Empire contending with difficulties and dangers which, compared with any that now threaten us, are as the mountains and gorges of the Himalayas com- pared with the hills and valleys of an English county. We have read also the history of the events which led to and which caused the only check that in recent times our arms have ever received in India, and the only blow which our power, and, if you like, our prestige, in India has ever received; we have watched Lord Canning, and the band of heroes by whom he was surrounded in the midst of the tremendous dangers of the Indian Mutiny, meeting them with the calm courage of Englishmen. It is, Sir, because we believe that the present policy of Her Majesty's Government is founded rather upon an imitation of the errors which have marred than of the wisdom which has saved our Indian Empire, that we ask the House to-night to express its condemnation of the policy which has resulted in its present position.


I must confess, Mr. Speaker, that I am somewhat puzzled at the motives which can have actuated the noble Lord in the last few sentences he has addressed to the House. We have heard from him a temperate and, I will not deny, a well-argued speech upon matters of great importance which have been brought before us in this debate. But towards the end of that speech the noble Lord, without any accusation having been levelled against him—as he himself confesses—indulged in an outburst of patriotism, and of admiration for the greatness of this Empire, and especially of our Indian Empire, which, I confess, had it not been for one or two casual expressions, I should have felt great difficulty in understanding. But a word or two which fell from the noble Lord furnished us with the key of the matter. He gave us very clearly to understand that this was not a speech addressed to the House of Commons, but was intended for the hustings. Well, Sir, when the proper time may come for meeting our constituents, we shall not be afraid to measure swords with the noble Lord. Meantime, let us understand what it is that we in the House of Commons have to-night to decide upon; and let us consider frankly what the issue is which the noble Lord has raised. I thank him for the distinct way in which he has raised that issue towards the conclusion of his speech. Throughout these long de- bates we have been sometimes rather at a loss to know what the precise issue was that we were met here to try. Sometimes one point, sometimes another, was presented to us; but tonight, at the close of the debate, the noble Lord, in his character of Party Leader, has very frankly and fairly said that the real and true object of the whole matter is to turn out the present Government. ["No, no!"] I hear cries of dissent. I do not know whether they proceed from the opposite side of the House; but the statement of the noble Lord could hardly be plainer. I may say for myself and for my Colleagues that we in no degree complain of an attack so directly and fairly made. There was only one point in that attack which I did hear with regret and with some degree of pain, as coming from the noble Lord. It was when he commenced his attack upon the Government by suggesting that the first thing to be done was to recall the Indian Viceroy. In that he was anticipating, of course, what came afterwards; because anything more impossible—anything more disgraceful—than that the Government at a crisis of this importance, and in the pursuit of a policy for which they themselves are responsible, should recall him who is charged with the conduct of that policy in a distant part of the Empire, it would be impossible to imagine. The noble Lord did not intend that; because he said immediately after that the recall of the Viceroy must inevitably mean also the downfall of the Ministry. Of course, it must; and, therefore, I would ask him why, with his patriotic feelings so loudly expressed—and I have no doubt so honestly entertained—did he use language which is calculated, as long as we have our Viceroy in India, to shake his position there? Turn out the Ministry if you can; replace them if you will; and when you have taken their places, recall the Viceroy, and substitute another in whom you have greater confidence. But, for heaven's sake, while he still remains in that anxious and important charge, do not endeavour to debase him in the eyes of those over whom he rules by heaping on him epithets and appellations which are not directly connected with his policy, but which are calculated to lower him in the eyes of those amongst whom he is now placed. A greater injustice was never done to any man. His policy, and the policy of the Government, is, of course, a fair subject for criticism. But I am bound to say his merits are systematically ignored and overlooked, and that he is "checked like a bond slave, all his faults observed and conned by rote." Everything which can be urged against not only his policy, but the minor incidents of his life, is brought against him; and we are taught—and our fellow-subjects and the Native Princes of India are to be taught—that this man, the Representative of the Government and the power of England in that Empire, is such as the noble Lord has represented. I will appeal to the condition of India as against the patriotic outburst of the noble Lord. Never was there a time when the people of India were more loyal; never was there a time when the Native Princes were better affected to our Government than at the present moment, and in all those matters on which you challenge our policy. You say we were wrong in bringing the Native troops to Malta. [Opposition cheers.] Yes, of course you do; and that we were wrong in organizing this expedition into Afghanistan. But this, at all events, you will not deny—that in this expedition, and in all these movements, we have had not only the Native soldiers, but the Native Rulers cordially and heartily with us, and in favour of your present Governor General. Is not all this something of an evidence of the regard and the respect with which the policy and the conduct of England are regarded in that portion of our dominions? Do you suppose that we should have been able to obtain, and to retain, that respect and that cordial support on the part of our Native soldiers and Native Princes and Indian subjects if we were for a moment liable to all the charges which have been brought against us? Now, Sir, I am most reluctant at this late hour of the night to detain the House at any great length; but it is necessary for me to throw myself upon the indulgence of the House. The noble Lord has truly said that but few of the Members of the Cabinet have addressed the House. Indeed, my noble Friend the Postmaster General is the only Member of it besides myself who has done so. But we have been supported by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bourke), by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India (Mr. E. Stanhope), and by my noble Friend the Vice President of the Council (Lord George Hamilton)—all three of whom are thoroughly acquainted with these subjects, and all three of whom, I venture to say, have done their part in this debate in a manner that leaves nothing to be desired. If others of my Colleagues have not spoken, it has been from no indisposition on their part to take their share in the labour of the debate, but from a feeling that there were many Members who wished to speak, and from a natural desire not to interfere with the opportunities of these hon. Members. As I said a little while ago, we have been a little confused by the issues that from day to day have been raised in this debate; and I venture to think that it will be of the greatest importance that we should endeavour to clear our minds as to the real issues presented to us by this Motion. Before I proceed to this, I am bound to take notice of—I will not call them side or bye—issues which have been raised, and which it is impossible to leave unanswered. I do not intend to go into these questions of detail as to the accuracy of certain parts of the Papers—properly raised and very ingeniously argued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone)—because I think he was very fairly and very fully answered by my noble Friend the Vice President of the Council (Lord George Hamilton). [Ironical laughter from the Opposition.] Be that as it may, these are questions which the House has before it; they have been argued on both sides; and it only remains to give the verdict on the pleadings on the one side or the other. There are, however, one or two questions upon which it is my duty to say a very few words. We have been charged with a great many offences; with offences against Parliament, against the law, and against the Constitution. Though I hope, considering the very large field that I have to travel over, and the important questions that I have to raise, that I may be excused from going too minutely into these questions, yet it is impossible that I should not take some notice of them. With regard to our violation of the law, my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich says that is a sin which we are so very much accustomed to commit that we have almost rendered the House callous to it, and that he hardly thinks it worth while to take notice of such a trumpery thing. With regard to that, therefore, I will not go into details. I do not for a moment admit that we have in any degree violated the law. I believe that we have entirely kept within it, and that we are perfectly in consistence with the law in its letter and in its spirit. But I will not argue that question, for it has not been much discussed. Well, then, it has been said that we have been guilty of reticence, and even of worse than reticence, in misleading the House; and very severe remarks have been made both upon my noble Friend, Lord Salisbury, my noble Friend, Lord Cranbrook, and myself, with regard to some of our sins of omission and commission. I do not intend to go at length into those matters. My noble Friend, Lord Salisbury, has been spoken of in this House in a manner which I think was unworthy of the Member who used the expression. The language of the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff) was such as under no circumstances should have been used in this House; but I do not think that is worthy of any serious remembrance. My noble Friend has explained in the House, where the statement was made, the grounds of his statement—and I think we may leave the matter very well where he has placed it—that he was called upon to answer particular questions, and that he answered them with reserve. [Opposition cheers.] Yes; with a reserve which he stated at the time that he was exercising. He stated that he was obliged to speak with reserve, and could only give negative answers. I think that anybody who would take the trouble—which I suspect very few have done—really to read the whole of the conversation which then took place, will form a very different opinion of my noble Friend's language from that which has been so current in this House. With regard to Lord Cranbrook's despatch, that, perhaps, occupies different ground, and upon that my noble Friend has spoken at length and with great energy in the other House. I have endeavoured, on previous occasions, to explain generally what our views are; and I utterly deny that there was anything unfair or unreasonable in the statements contained in the celebrated 9th paragraph of that despatch. We accept entirely the disclaimer by Lord Northbrook of the construction which we have put upon his part of the transaction; but I say now—as I have said before—that to persons reading those telegrams, and comparing one with another, the impression which was made on our minds was, I think, a very natural impression. At all events, it was a case in which, whether the Viceroy was overruled by, or whether the Viceroy coincided with, the Home Government, does not really very much matter to the main argument of the despatch, which was that the policy adopted in 1873, either dictated by the Government at home, or by Lord Northbrook himself, was a policy which produced a certain effect. With regard to myself, I really do not know whether I am accused seriously of having attempted to mislead the House in the speech to which reference was made. The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) told me that I was to be compared to a dentist trying to soothe a timid child by holding out quieting and soothing promises and statements. I have read and re-read the discussion to which reference is made, and I can see nothing in what I said that was, in the slightest degree, chargeable either with misleading the House, or with failing to give proper information. The question then raised was the question of Quetta. Now, I frankly admit—it is no admission, because I readily say—that at the time I was at the India Office the question of the occupation of Quetta was the particular form which was then given to what is called the "forward policy;" and I have always been—and I have been reminded that I was and always have been—an opponent of what is called and known as the "forward policy." Quetta being then the word which was, as it were, the flag of that policy, when I heard there was something going on about the occupation of Quetta, I frankly admit that I became somewhat alarmed. I came down to the House and saw my noble Friend, Lord Salisbury, and my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State (Lord George Hamilton), to know what it was. I was told what it was, and it was this—It had no connection with the forward policy, or with any idea of advancing to meet the Russians; but the occupation, as it was called, of Quetta was the movement of a certain number of troops in company with one of our Commissioners with a view to the settlement of certain questions which had arisen in Khelat. It was a totally different question from that of an advance to anticipate Russia. When I was challenged particularly by the noble Lord after that discussion to say what I had to say upon that subject, I began by admitting that I was not very well acquainted with the details of the matter, and then I repeated my own articles of faith. I held them, and I still hold them, and I deny that I misled the House. Passing from these personal matters, I wish to take notice of two very serious statements which have been made in the course of this debate. They are serious statements, because they go forth with the imprimatur of Members of authority in this House, and because they are calculated to have great effect in India, and to do great harm in other countries, by giving the impression that there is something underhand and discreditable in the style of our proceedings, and in the way in which our diplomacy is conducted. A great deal has been said about an expression which was used by my noble Friend, Lord Salisbury, in his despatch of the 19th of November, 1875, directing, or recommending, the Government of India to find, or, if need be, to create, an opportunity of communicating with the Ameer, in order to induce him to reconsider his views as to the reception of a friendly Mission. [Mr. FAWCETT: To find a pretext.] I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. These are the exact words used by my noble Friend— The first step, therefore, in establishing our relations with the Ameer upon a more satisfactory footing, will he to induce him to receive a temporary Embassy in his capital. It need not he publicly connected with the establishment of a permanent Mission within his dominions. There would be many advantages in ostensibly directing it to some object of smaller political interest, which it will not be difficult for your Excellency to find, or, if need be, to create."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, p. 149.] That seems to be regarded by hon. Gentlemen opposite as a most objectionable passage. But let me just say something about it. It occurs in a despatch of November 19, which is an answer to a despatch written from Simla on the 7th of June, and signed by Lord Northbrook and the Ministers of his Government. This was the recommendation of Lord Northbrook and the Members of his Government— we recommend that no immediate pressure be put upon the Ameer, or particular anxiety be shown by us upon the subject, but that advantage be 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."—[Ibid. p. 133.] So that, to my mind, the chief difference between the first proposal and the second letter is, that the one was written by Lord Northbrook's Government and the other was written by Lord Salisbury. I can conceive of no fair interpretation which can be put upon Lord Salisbury's words which distinguishes them from the words of Lord Northbrook. I do not wish this to be considered as if it were a mere matter of retort. It was said the other night that nothing was more common in diplomacy than that opportunities should be taken to seek some reason for discussion when important subjects were involved, which it was not thought desirable to approach too abruptly. Murmurs were heard at that, as though there were something discreditable in such conduct. I venture to say that I could find scores upon scores of such instances—some of them taken from Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich himself. But I do not wish to take modern, and perhaps Party, precedents. I will take an authority which I think will be recognized as one that is above suspicion. Certainly, there is no statesman whose name and whose praise have been more frequently in the mouth of the right, hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich than those of Mr. Canning; and there is no Englishman whose name stands higher, for everything that is honest and, straightforward, than the name of the Duke of Wellington. Well, let me read from an Instruction given by Mr. Canning to the Duke of Wellington, in the year 1826— His Majesty the King having been pleased to make choice of your Grace to convey to the Emperor Nicholas His Majesty's congratulations on his Imperial Majesty's accession to the Throne of Russia, I have received His Majesty's commands to take advantage of the favourable opportunity which your Grace's access to the Emperor and to his Ministers will afford, for ascertaining the real views of the new Emperor with respect to the affairs of Turkey and Greece, and for endeavouring to come to some direct and confidential understanding upon that subject with the Court of St. Petersburg. I will leave myself there; and I can only express my own conviction that these words are an illustration of the old saying—that one person may steal a horse, while another may not look over a hedge. We have had some very serious remarks made upon the apparent disregard and repudiation of their assurances by the Government. Nothing more serious, I think, can be alleged than that the English and the Indian Governments are indifferent to the sacred-ness of the assurances which may be given, however those assurances may be given. There has been no repudiation, that I can find, of verbal assurances, or of any other. What I understand by the repudiation of an assurance is, that if an assurance is given, and if the occasion arises upon which that assurance is relied on, and it is not acted up to, then I consider there is a breach of faith which is, in the highest degree, to be condemned. But what was the case here? There was no repudiation whatever of any assurance upon which we were called upon to act. What took place was this—Notice was given to the Ameer that, in consequence of uncertainties which had arisen from the different constructions which were put upon verbal assurances which were vague, and to which he attached one meaning and others another, it was desirable to put an end to those assurances and to substitute for them a clear, well-defined, carefully drawn-up Treaty, which would be intelligible, and from which there would be no escape. That was what was done, not that we drew back from our verbal assurances. I have heard it said—it was said by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whit-bread) himself—that he believed Shere Ali put a more favourable construction for himself upon the words of Lord Mayo than they were intended to bear. So he did also upon the words of Lord Northbrook; and it was because there was this great difficulty of dealing with him, because he put different constructions upon mere loose verbal assurances, which could be repeated one way by one person and another way by another person, that Lord Lytton desired that a Treaty should be substituted. That is the whole explanation of that of which such incorrect accounts have been given. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am anxious to come to a clear understanding as to the real issue before us; and in order that we may have that clear understanding of the issue, it is important that we should have a clear understanding of the occasion and the causes of these hostilities. That is a point which has been very much obscured in the course of the discussion. We have been told by some that we have gone to war to get a scientific Frontier; by others that we have gone to war to punish the Ameer for the sins of Russia; and various other statements have been made which I think will be dispelled by a consideration of what the real cause and the real occasion of the war was. What was the immediate occasion of the hostilities? It was that a friendly Mission sent by the Government of India to the Ameer of Cabul was repelled by him, in territory not his own, by force and under circumstances which gave his act the character not only of a defiance, but even, to some extent, of a menace. It was absolutely impossible, when matters had been brought to that pass—[Cheers]—no; let us go step by step and listen to me—it was absolutely impossible that after that we could do anything but that which we did. After giving the Ameer the fullest opportunity of recalling and apologizing for his conduct, we could have done nothing less than take the steps which we did. We could not have remained inactive. As I said the other day, the security of our Frontier and our dominion in India depends upon the conviction of the Indian people that we are both just and strong; that we are strong not only in the sense of having strength, but of being prepared, if necessary, to use it. What would be the consequences if any of our subjects should be under the impression, which the Ameer himself was under, that there was a greater power than ourselves, and that we were afraid to meet that power? Depend upon it any faltering or quavering at that moment would have been productive of the most serious and fatal consequences. It is said—"You might have gone and reckoned with Russia." But the point was not that Russia had sent a Mission to the Ameer, but that the Ameer had refused our Mission. The connection of the sending of the Russian Mission was this—that, in the first place, it disproved and cut from under his feet the ground upon which he had always refused to receive our Mission. He had said—"I cannot receive it, because I cannot with safety allow Europeans at my Court; and secondly, because, if I did so, I should be obliged to receive the Russian Mission also." A Russian Mission had been received—and received under circumstances which seemed to show anything but a friendly feeling of the Ameer towards ourselves. I should like to read a very few, but very significant, words from the conversation at Simla, on the 7th of October, 1876, between Sir Lewis Pelly and the British Native Agent at Cabul— Another reason advanced by the Ameer for declining the Mission was, that a pretext would thereby be afforded to the Russians for deputing a similar Mission to Cabul; that the circumstance of their having given assurances to the contrary would not stop them; that the Russians broke Treaties at pleasure, were very pushing in their policy, and feared no one. Let me call attention to the next few lines— The recent political history of Europe showed that the English were unable to compel the Russians to adhere to Treaties, and were equally impotent to arrest Russian aggressions."—[Ibid. p. 181.] That was very shortly after the Black Sea Treaty had been torn up. It would never have done for us to allow that idea to get abroad in India. It is bad enough that it should be in the mind of the Ameer of Afghanistan; but if it should be supposed in India that we are unable to stop Russia, I will leave anyone to consider what the consequences would be. I was cheered just now when I said that it was when matters came to this pass that we were obliged to do what we did. I have, of course, to acknowledge the fact, and that is what I am about to come to, that the main issue raised by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) is not so much as to what was done after the Mission had been repelled, as it was a condemnation of the policy which he says led to its being so. I imagine the hon. Member would accept that as a fair description of the greater part, at all events, of his speech. He has endeavoured to show that the bad state of feeling between us and the Ameer, which immediately gave rise to this repulse, was produced—if you are to believe him, entirely produced—by the action of the present Government. The hon. Member has a most convenient mode of dealing with these questions. He was complimented, in the course of the debate, on his skilful handling and management of the Blue Books. I quite admit he has a very skilful mode of managing them. The other day he gave us a history of these transactions in a manner which was quite agreeable to listen to, from the skilful and easy manner in which he dealt with a complicated and difficult task. But there is one part of his method which, I must confess, I thought was more to be admired than imitated, and that was the cool and quiet way in which he began at page 129, as if there had been nothing before that. At page 129, after the first despatch that Lord Salisbury wrote, things, it appears, began to go wrong. Ex illo fluere et retrò sublapsa referri spes Danaûm. We can hardly admit that the whole of the mischief really arose from the conduct that was pursued after page 129, and from nothing else. The hon. Gentleman, when he was managing and reading his extracts, found occasionally that there was one great secret for making his tale complete and consistent, and at the same time not wearying to the House, and that may, perhaps, be best described by the title of a little book, some of us I dare say have seen, Where to Stop and Why. The hon. Member read and laid great stress upon a portion of the Memorandum of Dr. Bellew and his communications with the Envoy at Peshawur. He read a good deal, telling us at the same time that this Envoy was particularly free and frank in his communications with Dr. Bellew, as he certainly was. In particular, he read us a passage to show how it was that the confidence of the Ameer had been turned from the British Government. But he stopped short just before this curious paragraph—"Now I will tell you what has turned the Ameer's confidence from your Government." Considering he was particularly confidential to Dr. Bellew, that was surely worth knowing— But what came to pass in the time of Lord Northbrook? I will now tell you. Lord North-brook wrote to the Ameer on behalf of Yakoob Khan. … to send him back to Herat. The Ameer was angry, and resented this interference."—[Ibid. p. 195.] and he goes on to explain what his grievances are. They turn out to be this, which has remained, as we know by subsequent evidence, in his mind, and remains there—rankles in his mind, as the chief grievance he has against us. Do not let it be supposed that we find fault with Lord Northbrook for his interference. No. But the argument addressed to us is that anything we have done which has caused offence to the Ameer must be wrong; while anything done by Lord Northbrook which gave offence to the Ameer is to be judged on its own merits. That has run all through this debate. There are two standards. There is one which is two applied to us, and another which is applied to our Predecessors. I am sorry that I am now obliged to go into a matter of considerable importance, though it seems to be rather of a personal nature, which has been put to me very distinctly, and in a manner which I cannot possibly avoid answering, especially by the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff), by the noble Lord, and by others. It has been said to me—"What is the explanation of your own turn of policy? How is it that you who, according to these despatches, appear at one time to have been, and are known to have been, an advocate of one policy, have completely turned round and become an advocate of another?" Well, I do not admit the charge; but in order to explain my position, it is necessary that I should endeavour to clear up another matter which, I think, has not been made quite clear in any of these discussions, and that is what the policy of Lord Lawrence actually was. Certainly, as I understood and accepted it—and as I think I shall be able to show I had very good grounds for believing it to be —that policy was different in several respects from what it has sometimes been reported to be. It was a policy which, if pursued to its consequences, and under the circumstances which have since arisen, must necessarily have led to the views we now entertain. The views of Lord Lawrence have been stated in many ways. They are officially recorded in despatches in this Blue Book. But I have asked for, and received, the permission of Lord Lawrence to read some extracts from private letters addressed to me by himself while I was Secretary of State and he was Governor General upon this subject, in which he expresses himself with more freedom, and which, I think, will show rather more clearly what his real views were. This is a letter which he wrote to me at the very first moment of receiving by telegraph the information that I had been appointed to the office of Secretary of State. It was a letter which he wrote in order to put me in possession of his views upon many of the particular topics of the day, and part related to the affairs of Afghanistan. He says— There is only one other subject on which I wish at present to trouble you. Hitherto we have steered clear of all Afghan troubles; we allowed the contending factions to fight out their own battles on their own resources. The Ameer Shere Ali has been, I anticipate, practically beaten without hope of recovery, unless he receives foreign aid, or some very extraordinary turn of fortune should take place. His only hold of Afghanistan is the possession of Herat and the country in its vicinity. He is not a man, however, to sit down and content himself with the remnants of his kingdom so long as he has life. He has now sent down one of his Envoys to the Commissioner of Scinde. … Until I hear what this Chief has to say, I can come to no definite conclusion; but I anticipate he comes to seek aid from us, and probably with an intimation that he will be compelled to seek assistance from the Persians, or even the Russians. Now, it is one thing to leave the Afghans alone to fight out their own battles, and quite another to stand by in the same attitude when others are interfering. I do not think there is much to choose between the two parties in Afghanistan. I do not think that either of them is in the least degree to be trusted if any strong inducement were to arise in which it was the interest of the ruling power to turn against us. I do not think any one Chief if he were to obtain supreme authority could count on retaining it for six months. But though little inclined to interfere, and with little expectation of doing real good, I think, on the whole, it would be the best course, if Shere Ali adopt the policy I have indicated, to tell him plainly that though we have not helped him yet we have taken no part on the other side. That we still cannot consent to send him aid, yet so long as he can hold Herat by his own power we will continue to maintain our Treaty with him, and recognize him as the Ruler of Herat. But that if he should resolve on calling in the aid of Russia or Persia, and either of those Powers should send him material aid, it would lead us to give assistance to his enemies, the two brothers who are now in possession of Candahar and Cabul. That was a letter which was written by Lord Lawrence on the 9th of March, 1867. Subsequently he wrote a letter on the 18th of August, in which he refers to a rumour that Persia had designs on Herat. He goes on to say— Neither of the Afghan parties are in the slightest degree trustworthy, and both would equally use us for their own purposes. … If the news which I send you prove true, I am for helping the party now in power with money and arms to maintain their position. Of the two parties I rather prefer the one which is out, that of the Ameer Shere Ali; but this seems to me to be one of secondary importance. If he fail to recover power we shall have done good service to his enemies. If he succeed his position would be precarious, and he would, in all probability, he willing to make common cause with us. In that case I should help him. There would be no treachery to the other party in this, for I would lot them know in the first instance—indeed, they already know—that such would be our policy. All Afghans are prepared for such changes. They understand that we do not care for this or that Chief; but that we desire Afghanistan should not fall into the hands of any foreign Power. In this feeling the great body of the Chiefs and the people would go with us. These are the letters which I received, and which preceded the official letter which will be found in the Blue Book. When that letter arrived I circulated it among my Colleagues in the Cabinet, and I made some memoranda of my own upon it, from which I will read a short extract showing my own views. I wrote— I think that it would be reasonable that we should either hold ourselves absolutely aloof from Afghanistan politics and recognize the de facto Ruler of the day, whoever he may he, or that we should so far ally ourselves with one Chief as to support him with arms and subsidies, as Sir John Lawrence proposes, should occasion require it. But I cannot bring my mind to the proposal that we should subsidize first one and then the other, according as accident brings up Shore Ali or Abdul Rahman to the head of affairs. I have great confidence in Sir John Lawrence's knowledge of the Afghan character; but I doubt whether such a course as this would be compatible with our own, or would be understood by the public. I think, however, that he might safely tell Shere Ali that any tampering with the Persians as respects Herat will lead us to give aid to his rival. That shows the principle of the policy of Lord Lawrence at that time, and such it continued to be—that is to say, we held the great object to be to exclude the influence of any foreign Power in Afghanistan. Well, then, there is the other point in Lord Lawrence's policy. The other point was, that we were not to be led by a fear of the advance of Russia into advancing beyond our own Frontier to meet her; and he argued that against those who said that it was desirable that we should counteract the efforts of Russia in Bokhara or the other Khanates by advancing ourselves into Beloochistan, Quetta, and other parts. Lord Lawrence always said—"That is a wrong policy. Wait until Russia comes nearer, till you see the real moment of danger has arisen, and then defend yourselves within your own Frontier." At the same time, he says in one of these letters—"I am not ignorant of the faults of our own Frontier." That was accordingly the policy England adopted. The hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs speaks of this policy as Lord Lawrence's second policy, and then asks me why I have changed my policy? If Lord Lawrence, who has spent all his life in India—and of whom no one can speak too highly for the great services he rendered to England, or for his knowledge of the Indian character, and especially of the Afghan character—was himself induced to lay aside his first policy and to take up his second, surely it may not be thought unreasonable that one who had come so recently to the study of Indian affairs might also be allowed to have a second policy. But I do not admit that it is a second policy. I say it is a development of the first, according to the change of circumstances. So long as the Russians were only moving in Central Asia, so long as their movements were confined to Bokhara, or Khiva, or any of those Khanates, although we might find reason for remonstrating against some of their proceedings, I think it was not a case for advancing beyond our Frontier to meet them. But when there was a Russian Mission sent to Cabul, and sent avowedly because there was an unfriendly feeling between England and Russia, avowedly because Russia thought that was a point at which we were vulnerable, I say all the circumstances on which Lord Lawrence founded his policy of inactivity, of not advancing, were so completely revolutionized that the very arguments which we supported in one case and in the one policy would, I think, have supported us—would certainly have supported me—in taking a totally different view of what was to be done in Afghanistan. This is a matter upon which there has been no inconsistency whatever. I do not wish to throw any blame upon the Russian Government for sending a Mission. The world was, as it were, turned upside down at that period; and when that happens you must not be surprised to find a few chairs and tables out of their places. No doubt when the state of our relations is considered, it was not unnatural that Russia should send a Mission to Cabul for the purpose of seeing what it could do there that might be injurious to us. But though not unnatural it was very significant. It showed that these bugbears were now becoming pretty tall bugbears. It was all very well, in 1867, to take up one ground on the understanding that the Russian advance in Central Asia would stop there. I believe we should have been acting very foolishly if we had advanced to meet it half-way. But it is a very different thing when the circumstances are changed. That is the explanation of the policy which Her Majesty's Government have pursued, and which, to a certain extent, has been, no doubt, a departure from the policy of the past. It has been a policy forced upon us by events. I can only say for myself that when we had to consider what was to be done when we heard the Russian Mission was at Cabul, the alternatives which presented themselves to me were these—If we had done nothing it would have been a weakening of our position and an alarm to our population. It is said—"Why not go to Russia?" Well, we remonstrated with Russia; but, as I have said, the grievance against Russia was one not easy to remove quickly. That, also, would not have met the particular difficulty with which we had to deal, which was the impression produced in India by these manifest advances of Russia. What would the people of India have known of your negotiations with St. Petersburg or Livadia, of all the notes passed and the explanations given, and the promises made, and the orders sent, and the delays which would have taken place in the reception of those orders, and all the while the Russian Mission a fact, and received and made a great deal of in Afghanistan? If we had taken more peremptory measures for its withdrawal, that might have brought about a more serious conflict than that in which we are at present engaged. What we proposed to do was to meet in the most friendly and, at the same time, the most efficacious mode the difficulty in which we were placed. We thought we would send a friendly Mission to counterbalance the Russian Mission at Afghanistan. Had it been received—and we had every hope that it would be received—all the difficulty would have been got over without any quarrel whatever. Unfortunately, the matter had gone too far. We have been told that we have been vicariously punishing one man for the sin of another. The course we took was with no idea of punishing anybody at all. Our object was to counteract the move of Russia by that which we believed to be at once the most salutary, and, at the same time, the most efficacious course. So far as the Border Tribes are concerned, nothing can be clearer than our duty to them. We applied to them to give us a safe conduct. They gave it through their own territory, where the Ameer had no business; and when they had done that, they said—"Give us protection. We have for your sake incurred the wrath of the Ameer—he is our enemy," and we were bound by every consideration of justice and policy to give it to them. I thank the House for having listened to me with so much patience and at such an hour. There is much more that one could say; but I think I have said enough to make good my case. I will merely repeat that the views of the Government, and more particularly the personal views of my noble Friend, Lord Salisbury, and myself, might, perhaps, have been more charitably considered by those who remember what our views in former times have been. I was glad to see the noble Lord the Member for the Haddington Burghs (Lord William Hay), and hearing him speak in the House. I could not help remembering that the last time we crossed swords in an Indian debate was at a time when I was carrying out a policy initiated by Lord Salisbury, but somewhat coldly looked upon by Members of the Liberal Party, for the restoration of the Principality of Mysore to a Native Ruler. I think it is hardly from those who have held such views as that, that you would expect to find a policy of annexation proceeding. Nothing can be more contrary to our feeling, nothing can be more contrary to our principles, than such a policy as this. On the other hand, charged as we are, and still may be for some little time longer, in spite of the noble Lord, with the fortunes and the destinies of this great Empire, we intend to do our duty by it, and not to be deterred by any misrepresentations that may be made of us.


said, many Members who had had great experience of India, and who had held the highest offices there—such as the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing), the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock), and others—had desired to speak. They would have an overwhelming case, if they asked for an adjournment; but he acknowledged that it would be most inconvenient, as that was the last day of the week. He hoped, however, it would be understood that those Members who could not do so now would have an opportunity of expressing what they now felt on the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett).

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 328; Noes 227: Majority 101.

Agnew, R. V. Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C.
Allcroft, J. D. Bentinck, G. W. P.
Allsopp, C. Beresford, Lord C.
Allsopp, H. Beresford, G. De la P.
Anstruther, Sir W. Beresford, Colonel M.
Arbuthnot, Lt.-Col. G. Birley, H.
Archdale, W. H. Blackburne, Col. J. I.
Arkwright, A. P. Boord, T. W.
Arkwright, F. Bourke, hon. R.
Assheton, R. Bourne, Colonel J.
Astley, Sir J. D. Bousfield, Col. N. G. P.
Bagge, Sir W. Bowen, J. B.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Bowyer, Sir G.
Balfour, A. J. Brady, J.
Baring, T. C. Brise, Colonel R.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Broadley, W. H. H.
Barrington, Viscount Brooks, W. C.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Bruce, hon. T.
Bates, E. Bruen, H.
Bateson, Sir T. Brymer, W. E.
Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H. Bulwer, J. R.
Beach, W. W. B. Burghley, Lord
Bective, Earl of Burrell, Sir W. W.
Benett-Stanford, V. F. Buxton, Sir R. J.
Cameron, D. Gilpin, Sir R. T.
Campbell, C. Goddard, A. L.
Cartwright, F. Goldney, G.
Castlereagh, Viscount Gordon, W.
Cave, rt. hon. S. Gore-Langton, W. S.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Gorst, J. E.
Chaine, J. Goulding, W.
Chaplin, Colonel E. Grantham, W.
Chaplin, H. Greenall, Sir G.
Charley, W. T. Gregory, G. B.
Christie, W. L. Guinness, Sir A.
Churchill, Lord R. Hall, A. W.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Halsey, T. F.
Close, M. C. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Clowes, S. W. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.
Cobbold, T. C.
Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B. Hamilton, Marquess of
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hamilton, hon. R. B.
Coope, O. E. Hamond, C. F.
Cordes, T. Hanbury, R. W.
Corry, hon. H. W. L. Harcourt, E. W.
Corry, J. P. Hardcastle, E.
Cotton, W. J. R. Harvey, Sir R. B.
Crichton, Viscount Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.
Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Heath, R.
Cubitt, G. Helmsley, Viscount
Cuninghame, Sir W. Herbert, H. A.
Cust, H. C. Herbert, hon. S.
Dalkeith, Earl of Hermon, E.
Dalrymple, C. Heryey, Lord F.
Davenport, W. B. Heygate, W. U.
Denison, C. B. Hick, J.
Denison, W. B. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Denison, W. E. Hill, A. S.
Dick, F. Holford, J. P. G.
Dickson, Major A. G. Holker, Sir J.
Digby, Col. hon. E. Holland, Sir H. T.
Douglas, Sir G. Holmesdale, Viscount
Dyott, Colonel R. Holt, J. M.
Eaton, H. W. Home, Captain D. M.
Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W. Hood, Captain hon. A. W. A. N.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Hope, A. J. B. B.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Hubbard, E.
Egerton, hon. W. Hubbard, rt. hon. J.
Elcho, Lord Isaac, S.
Elliot, G. W. Jervis, Col. H. J. W.
Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H. Johnson, J. G.
Emlyn, Viscount Johnstone, Sir F.
Estcourt, G. S. Jolliffe, hon. S.
Ewart, W. Jones, J.
Ewing, A. O. Kennard, Col. E. H.
Fellowes, E. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Finch, G. H. King-Harman, E. R.
Floyer, J. Knight, F. W.
Folkestone, Viscount Knightley, Sir R.
Forester, C. T. W. Knowles, T.
Forsyth, W. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Foster, W. H. Lawrence, Sir T.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Learmonth, A.
Freshfield, C. K. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Leo, Major V.
Galway, Viscount Legard, Sir C.
Gardner, J. T. Agg- Legh, W. J.
Gardner, R. Richardson- Leighton, Sir B.
Leighton, S.
Garfit, T. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Garnier, J. C. Leslie, Sir J.
Gathorne-Hardy, hn. A. Lewis, C. E.
Gathorne-Hardy, hn. S. Lewis, O.
Gibson, rt. hon. E. Lewisham, Viscount
Giffard, Sir H. S. Lindsay, Col. R. L.
Giles, A. Lindsay, Lord
Lloyd, S. Ryder, G. R.
Lloyd, T. E. Salt, T.
Lopes, Sir M. Sanderson, T. K.
Lowther, hon. W. Sandon, Viscount
Lowther, rt. hon. J. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Macartney, J. W. E. Scott, Lord H.
Mac Iver, D. Scott, M. D.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Makins, Colonel W. T.
Mandeville, Viscount Severne, J. E.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Shirley, S. E.
March, Earl of Shute, General C. C.
Marten, A. G. Sidebottom, T. H.
Master, T. W. C. Simonds, W. B.
Mellor, T. W. Smith, A.
Merewether, C. G. Smith, F. C.
Miles, Sir P. J. W. Smith, S. G.
Mills, A. Smith, rt. hn. W. H.
Mills, Sir C. H. Smollett, P. B.
Monekton, F. Spinks, Serjeant F. L.
Montgomerie, R. Stafford, Marquess of
Montgomery, Sir G. G. Stanhope, hon. E.
Moore, A. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Moore, S. Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.
Moray, Colonel H. D. Starkey, L. R.
Morgan, hon. F. Starkie, J. P. C.
Morris, G. Steere, L.
Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R. Stewart, M. J.
Mulholland, J. Storer, G.
Muncaster, Lord Sykes, C.
Naghten, Lt.-Col. A. R. Talbot, J. G.
Newdegate, C. N. Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Newport, Viscount Tennant, R.
Noel, rt. hon. G. J. Thornhill, T.
North, Colonel Thwaites, D.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Tollemache, hon. W. F.
O'Leary, W. Torr, J.
O'Neill, hon. E. Tremayne, A.
Onslow, D. Tremayne, J.
Paget, R. H. Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-
Palk, Sir L. Turnor, E.
Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Verner, E. W.
Peek, Sir H. Wait, W. K.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Walker, O. O.
Peel, A. Walker, T. E.
Pemberton, E. L. Wallace, Sir R.
Pennant, hon. G. Walpole, rt. hon. S.
Peploe, Major D. P. Walsh, hon. A.
Percy, Earl Walter, J.
Phipps, P. Warburton, P. E.
Pim, Captain B. Ward, M. F.
Plunket, hon. D. R. Watney, J.
Plunkett, hon. R. Watson, rt. hon. W.
Polhill-Turner, Capt. F. C. Welby-Gregory, Sir W.
Wellesley, Colonel H.
Powell, W. Wells, E.
Praed, C. T. Wethered, T. O.
Praed, H. B. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Puleston, J. H. Wilmot, Sir H.
Raikes, H. C. Wilson, W.
Read, C. S. Woodd, B. T.
Rendlesham, Lord Wroughton, P.
Repton, G. W. Wyndham, hon. P.
Ridley, E. Wynn, C. W. W.
Ridley, Sir M. W. Yarmouth, Earl of
Ripley, H. W. Yeaman, J.
Ritchie, C. T. Yorke, J. R.
Rodwell, B. B. H.
Roebuck, rt. hn. J. A. TELLERS.
Rothschild, Sir N. M. de Dyke, Sir W. H.
Round, J. Winn, R.
Russell, Sir C.
Acland, Sir T. D. Dundas, J. C.
Allen, W. S. Earp, T.
Amory, Sir J. H. Edge, S. R.
Anderson, G. Edwards, H.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Egerton, Admiral hn. F.
Backhouse, E. Ennis, N.
Balfour, Sir G. Evans, T. W.
Barclay, A. C. Fawcett, H.
Barclay, J. W. Ferguson, R.
Barran, J. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Bass, A. Fitzwilliam, hn. W. J
Bass, H. Fletcher, I.
Baxter, rt. hn. W. E. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Bazley, Sir T. Forster, Sir C.
Beaumont, Colonel F. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Bell, I. L. French, hn. C.
Biddulph, M. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Blake, T. Gladstone, W. H.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Gordon, Sir A.
Brassey, H. A. Gordon, Lord D.
Briggs, W. E. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Bright, Jacob Gourley, E. T.
Bright, rt. hn. John Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Bristowe, S. B. Grant, A.
Brocklehurst, W. C. Gray, E. D.
Brogden, A. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Brooks, M. Hankey, T.
Brown, A. H. Harcourt, Sir W. V.
Brown, J. C. Harrison, C.
Browne, G. E. Harrison, J. F.
Bruce, Lord C. Hartington, Marq. of
Burt, T. Havelock, Sir H.
Cameron, C. Hay, Lord W. M.
Campbell, Lord C. Hayter, A. D.
Campbell, Sir G. Henry, M.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Herschell, F.
Hill, T. R.
Carington, Col. hon. W. Holland, S.
Cartwright, W. C. Holms, J.
Cave, T. Holms, W.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Hopwood, C. H.
Cavendish, Lord G. Howard, hon. C.
Chadwick, D. Howard, E. S.
Chamberlain, J. Hutchinson, J. D.
Chambers, Sir T. Ingram, W. J.
Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E. Jackson, Sir H. M.
Cholmeley, Sir H. James, W. H.
Clarke, J. C. James, Sir H.
Clifford, C. C. Jenkins, D. J.
Cole, H. T. Jenkins, E.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Johnstone, Sir H.
Collins, E. Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir U.
Colman, J. J.
Corbett, J. Kingscote, Colonel
Cotes, C. C. Knatchbull-Hugessen, rt. hon. E.
Courtauld, G.
Courtney, L. H. Laing, S.
Cowan, J. Laverton, A.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Law, rt. hon. H.
Cross, J. K. Lawson, Sir W.
Davies, D. Leatham, E. A.
Davies, R. Leeman, G.
Delahunty, J. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Dickson, T. A. Leith, J. F.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Lloyd, M.
Dillwyn, L. L. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Dodds, J. Lubbock, Sir J.
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Lush, Dr.
Downing, M'C. Lusk, Sir A.
Duff, M. E. G. Macdonald, A.
Duff, R. W. Macduff, Viscount
Mackintosh, C. F. Rathbone, W.
M'Arthur, A. Richard, H.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Roberts, J.
M'Lagan, P. Robertson, H.
M'Laren, D. Russell, Lord A.
Maitland, J. Rylands, P.
Maitland, W. F. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Marjoribanks, Sir D. C. Samuelson, B.
Marling, S. S. Samuelson, H.
Martin, P. Sheil, E.
Massey, rt. hon. W. N. Sheridan, H. B.
Matheson, A. Simon, Serjeant J.
Meldon, C. H. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Middleton, Sir A. E. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Milbank, F. A. Stanton, A. J.
Monk, C. J. Stevenson, J. C.
Morgan, G. O. Stewart, J.
Morley, S. Stuart, Col. J. F. D. C.
Mundella, A. J. Sullivan, A. M.
Muntz, P. H. Swanston, A.
Mure, Colonel W. Tavistock, Marquess of
Noel, E. Taylor, D.
Nolan, Major J. P. Taylor, P. A.
Norwood, C. M. Temple, right hon. W.
O'Beirne, Major F. Cowper-
O'Brien, Sir P. Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
O'Conor, D. M.
O'Conor Don, The Trevelyan, G. O.
O'Donnell, F. H. Vivian, A. P.
O'Gorman, P. Vivian, H. H.
O'Reilly, M. Waddy, S. D.
O'Shaughnessy, R. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Otway, A. J. Weguelin, T. M.
Palmer, C. M. Whitbread, S.
Palmer, G. Whitwell, J.
Parker, C. S. Whitworth, B.
Pease, J. W. Whitworth, W.
Peel, A. W. Williams, B. T.
Pender, J. Williams, W.
Pennington, F. Wilson, C.
Perkins, Sir F. Wilson, I.
Philips, R. N. Wilson, Sir M.
Playfair, rt. hon. L. Young, A. W.
Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Price, W. E. TELLERS.
Ralli, P. Adam, rt. hn. W. P.
Ramsay, J. Kensington, Lord

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Address accordingly read a second time. [See page 88.]

Address agreed to:—To be presented by Privy Councillors.

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